Ultimate One-Ton HD Challenge: Milford Hill Climb

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Wherever possible, we like to get access to a truckmaker's proving grounds when conducting our big comparison tests. Not only does it give us a chance to see where these full-size pickup trucks are designed, engineered and eventually produced, but it also provides a controlled environment for our competitive events.

This time GM was kind enough to offer its Milford Proving Ground facility for the first portion of our 2014 Ultimate Heavy-Duty Challenge. We were able to use the 7.2 percent grade that climbs 1,600 feet. Some might recall our 2010 Heavy-Duty Shootout during which we pulled 10,000-pound engineering trailers up GM's 16 percent hill climb. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts and top-secret vehicle testing in that track area, we were not able to use that climb for this Challenge. However, we found that the 7.2 percent hill climb was perfectly suited for towing 16,000-pound trailers.

We tested for fastest times to 40 mph, as well as quarter-mile times and speeds, at wide-open throttle, to give us another look at time and speed performance, but this time with a rather significant grade involved.

Each of the three trucks jumped off the line in different ways, with the Ford F-350 making the fastest times in the first 60 feet, but the gear shifts felt much more solidly linked, with less space between them than in the GMC Sierra 3500. Meanwhile, the Ram 3500's Aisin transmission almost seemed too smart about making sure not to send too much of that Cummins inline-six torque to the rear end, almost feeling like it wanted to incrementally send torque to the rear axle. No doubt that will help the driveline live a longer life, but it was bit frustrating when trying to get good times.


During our zero-to-40-mph test runs, the Ford just nipped the GMC by 1/100th of a second (statistically that's probably a tie); both beat the Ram, which was more than 33 percent slower.

During our full quarter-mile runs (no surprises here either), the Ford just edged out the GMC on the flat-out runs, but the Ram did a tremendous job making up time some time through the middle and end of the 1,320-foot run, missing a winning time by less than a second.

How We Did the Testing

We ran the test with Cars.com Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek behind the wheel and RaceLogic VBOX expert Joe Lachovsky in the passenger seat, collecting data. Each truck was run up the hill with the windows rolled up, air conditioning off and the transmission in Drive with the Tow/Haul setting on. In most cases, the trucks executed the best times using a small amount of brake torqueing before Bruzek mashed the throttle to the floor.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears


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Overview | Milan Dragway | Fuel Economy | Milford Hill Climb | Milford Braking | Davis Dam | Davis Braking | Eisenhower Pass | Eisenhower Braking | Results


" Meanwhile, the Ram 3500's Aisin transmission almost seemed too smart about making sure not to send too much of that Cummins inline-six torque to the rear end, almost feeling like it wanted to incrementally send torque to the rear axle"

Interesting note. Does anyone know if there's some type of torque management on the Ram? Could explain the slow starts in the acceleration tests and the gap being closed by the 1/4.

plus the cummins is a v6, which is most impressive it keeps up and matches the other 2 with the tests, either way, looks like Ford wins again

Wow gm did good ,,just imagine the next dmax ,,,,,,

@nitro. Please dont say that the 6.7cummins is a V6. infact. dont post again. ever...

Ford have more torque and hp and the result is not exceptional ,,,

Don't forget, also geared lower.

I own a new Ram, but I have to say GM knows how to get the power to the ground. Still prefer my Ram though.

It sounds like Ford and Ram are exaggerating their numbers for their new motors. It looks like Ford and Ram's new motors have finally caught the Duramax. But with the new Duramax coming out next year, it will be back to the drawing board for Ford and Ram.

Seems like both the V-* diesels hit a brick wall during the 1.4 mile runs while the Ram just keeps going.

Still I think these tests are a waste of time for all the makes as none of the trucks are used in this manner, these are useless tests for the real world.

FORD wins again!!!

@Ramadan little Horn 1500 -

"Still I think these tests are a waste of time"

Of course you do.

In your itty bitty Jihadist mind all you need to know in the name of idol you worship..... Ram.

The rest of us are actually interested in the results.

I don't see anywhere in the article that it mentions whether or not all 3 trucks were able to hold 40mph the whole time. I'm assuming that they did since these aren't the diesel's of 20 years ago.

Who hear stops at every hill and takes off to climb it from a standing start?

Another stupid test that just does not happen in the real world. In the real world you will already be doing the speed limit when you start up the hill.

Pickup Truck dot Com has become a joke.

@Ram, are you really that thick? It's an extreme comparison to show a difference. Do you really want tests where there are more unreliable variables? I suppose you would want it any way that gets Ram to win.

Ram / Cummins have never been about drag racing. The test results show that clearly. Still, at the end of the day, the Cummins just pulls like a truck engine should - and gets the job done. After owning a '92, '95, '03 and now a new SRW 3500 '14, I can see the steady progress and improvements made over the years. I will contend that the new Ram is a bit slow off the line, but once the turbo kicks in, it pulls hard! Over the last month, I have pulled a 15,000# Toy Hauler 5th Wheel all over Colorado (Vail Pass, North to Walden, Up in the hills to the Flattops and to Silverton over Red Mountain Pass) and the combo of the Aisin/ Cummins and the excellent exhaust brake make towing a breeze. Up the hills at any reasonable speed I need to go and more importantly, down with the control and minimal braking due to the exhaust brake. Plus, the interior is very very comfortable for driver and all passengers. Prior to buying, we actually considered the new GMC, but in the end, stayed with the Ram / Cummins combo. Absolutely no regrets.

@Ramadan little Horn 1500 - Enough with the whining excuses.

Have you ever driven down a single lane industrial road governed by VHF communications?

One has to pull over into "pullouts" to let loaded trucks go past. These pullouts are often before corners or before one hits a long hill.

Ever been in heavy traffic and you have to stop?
California has stop lights governing on-ramps to control the flow of traffic.

I do agree that there aren't too many people who drive full throttle from a dead stop with a 25K load but they need to test these trucks empirically.

I'd like to see these trucks run down gravel roads with steep wash boarded hills and hairpin corners.

If one isn't going to test the trucks that way then there is zero need to order them with 4x4.

Another thing I thought of, maybe the turbo on the Cummins is larger than previous years, or larger in comparison that it leaves the line softer until the turbo spools. It seems backwards that the V8s are quicker off the line and the I6 catches them on the top end, especially with the higher redline of the V8s.

There are a few reasons Ram did not fair well in the drag race tests. One is most likely TQ management which seems rather aggressive in the HO platforms. Two, a V configuration engine will always rev faster and higher than an inline engine. The real advantage of an inline engine is torque (isn't THAT what a diesel engine is all about?) and over 20% fewer rotating parts compared to a V8 which translates to a lower maintenance and operating cost through the life of the engine. These are the main reasons why you will not see a V8 in any modern Class 8 trucks.

Oh and to answer the comment regarding the turbo, Ram is still utilizing a VGT turbo (I think all of the big 3 are) so low end spool is not affected like it would be running a fixed housing.

One thing I would be interested in and I probably missed it, is which gearing is each truck running in the tests. I know Ram offers 4.10 3.73 and 3.42. I'd bet money Ford is still using the mountain crawler 4.30s which is a big advantage in the short line drag races.

opening paragraph states they're 3.73 rear ends. These comments are funny and emotional. They're all awesome trucks. I'm happy to be shopping for a new right now.

Ram is junk, no one but a idiot would invest in one. LAST AGAIN The Dog Lamb

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