Ultimate Three-Quarter-Ton HD Challenge: And the Winner Is …

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To determine the winner of our 2014 Ultimate Three-Quarter-Ton Heavy-Duty Challenge, we considered all the test data we had gathered over the full two weeks of testing, as well as our scoring and notes from our judges, who drove these trucks across thousands of miles and in various weather and terrain conditions.

Our charts report all the data we collected and the point totals that those results translate to. The judged section of our test was done by three automotive experts: Aaron Bragman, Cars.com Detroit bureau chief; Kent Sundling, operator of MrTruck.com; and Mark Williams, PickupTrucks.com editor. They scored each truck in six categories on a 100-point scale. Those categories were: engine performance, seating comfort and ergonomics, technology and entertainment, ride quality, visibility and value. For this comparison test, our experts' totals represent about 40 percent of the overall points awarded to each vehicle.

Interestingly, of the 16 empirical tests we conducted, the 2014 Ram 2500 won the most events with 10; the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 won three and the 2015 Ford F-250 won three. However, the Ram did not collect the most points in the empirical section. That happened because we allocate points equally in each event based on the percentage difference from the winning time, speed or distance. In several cases the winning and second-place scores were separated only by fractions, so many scores were very close. The Ford F-250 finished ahead in data points by a very small number, winning just three of 16 events but placing very close to the winner in many others.

Where the Ram 2500 did much better than either of the other two competitors was in our qualitative scoring, impressing each judge enough to get a unanimous first-place finish.

 

First Place: 2014 Ram 2500 HD

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Empirical score, 1,553 points; judges' score, 1,515 points; total, 3,068 points

The Ram HD 2500 is our pick for best overall three-quarter-ton pickup equipped with a gas engine.

It dominated our test events, winning 10 of 16 events and scoring a first-place finish with each of our judges. The Ram definitely offered the best interior and had the best ride of the three, comfortably traversing just about every smooth and broken tarmac surface. Even though it sat below our $50,000 price cap, it still provided a lot of technology and features that the other two players could not match: the RamBox, adaptable rear coils, hidden storage, a top-notch information center and more. Our biggest complaint about this truck was that it didn't have side steps, which is practically a requirement unless you are 6 feet 5 inches or taller. Other nitpicks had to do with the fact that Ram tried to pack too many features into the truck; having the Tow/Haul and trailer brake controller relatively low in the center stack makes both a challenge to find in a hurry. Still, if we were going to choose the best all-around three-quarter-ton player in the field today, the Ram 2500 would be at the top of our list.

 

Second Place: 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD

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Empirical score, 1,539 points; judges' score, 1,445 points; total, 2,984 points

The Chevy Silverado won three different empirical events, two in our level-ground brake testing and one in the loaded fuel-economy test. If the Chevy is a good example of anything, it's a testament to how much you can do with a smaller pile of cash. It's difficult not to look at the recent 2015 upgrades as a compromise decision in which someone up the chain of GM command decided to focus on improving the interior and exterior look without fully addressing substantive issues with the HDs' conventional front short- and long-arm independent front suspension and old-as-dirt leaf spring setup. Despite those shortcomings, the judges consistently scored the Chevy better than the Ford; the Chevy provided a confident look and controlled feel when running in transport or on test tracks. If there was a glaring weakness, we couldn't find it, but these new powertrains did expose a few vulnerabilities during our most punishing and heaviest test events.

 

Third Place: 2015 Ford F-250 Super Duty

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Empirical score, 1,560 points; judges' score, 1,395 points; total, 2,955 points

The Ford was the least changed truck since our last HD test; each of its competitors have undergone significant interior, exterior and, in some cases, mechanical upgrades. We like the 6.2-liter V-8 engine; it's a strong performer and it did very well in just about all of our contests. However, we found the most problems surrounding the truck were underneath in the form of the suspension's challenged ride quality, both when loaded or empty. None of the other trucks sagged as much as the F-250, which showed a pronounced droop in the rear end when loaded. Likewise, when loaded, the ride was floaty and wobbly — especially when taking corners. Additionally, the look of the factory trailer hitch is bulky and ugly, and not nearly as integrated and well-designed as its competitors. Yes, the Ford F-250 did come out on top during our 16-event empirical portion, but fell a healthy distance short of the competition (we can't help but wonder what would have happened with 4.30:1 gears) in ride quality and overall interior design and quality.

Editor's note: We'd like to thank RaceLogic for collecting much of our test data, to GM for the use of its proving grounds, to Roush and Load Trail for the use of its heavy-duty trailers and to the editorial staff at Cars.com who helped and supported PickupTrucks.com in putting together this monster comparison test.

To download the results of each test, their corresponding scores, and the judges' totals, click here.

 

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

 

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

Comments

"The Ram had the best ride of the three, comfortably traversing..."

Re: comfort and ride quality

Comfort:
Chevy 90 from MW and 90 from KS
Ram 85 from MW and 85 from KS
CHEVY WINS UNAMIMOUSLY

Ride Quality:
Chevy 90 from MW and 90 from KS
Ram 90 from MW and 85 from KS
Split vote, but CHEVY WINS with the edge given by KS

Best ride quality and comfort. Good job Chevy!

We like the 6.2-liter V-8 engine; it's a strong performer and it did very well in just about all of our contests. However, we found the most problems surrounding the truck were underneath in the form of the suspension's challenged ride quality, both when loaded or empty. None of the other trucks sagged as much as the F-250, which showed a pronounced droop in the rear end when loaded. Likewise, when loaded, the ride was floaty and wobbly — especially when taking corners. Additionally, the look of the factory trailer hitch is bulky and ugly, and not nearly as integrated and well-designed as its competitors.

Chevy also had best braking. Good job Chevy!

Ram had best speed at WOT. Meh job Ram!

Value? Chevy wins again! The new Ram is only as good a value as the Ford, the least changed truck. So adding all that stuff to the Ram did not add value.

Chevy: MW 95 and KS 75 = 170

Ram: MW 90 and KS 70 = 160

Ford: MW 80 and KS 80 = 160

It's plain to see that the Ford came out on top on a "factual" basis and the other two took 1st and 2nd on a "opinion" basis. Whatever floats your boat, but I'll make my choice based on facts and not feel good emotions when I make my next truck purchase.

Is it me or does it seem that PUTC always do these test right before Ford brings a new SD to the market? I'm just saying for all the guys who keep harping that PUTC is all "pro Ford" should just stfu already.

As far as my first comment goes we all know the new SD is coming, probably by next year. We can already guess that it will be aluminum body on steel frame and the rumor of the moment is that the frame is getting a major revamp. Considering how old the current setup is and how well it did against RAM and GM still says a lot. The big question is how the hell can a pickup win on empirical data and still come out dead last? I think the test should strictly be won or lost on the empirical data and then have the judges on a separate page say what they liked or disliked about each truck.

Lastly for the next run up Eisenhower grade have all the trucks pull the same weight. Which ever truck has the lightest payload capacity then have each truck pull that weight, then turn around and have each truck pull its maximum for a good comparison.

Best empircal score, best confidence to GWVR ratio, best visibility, best empty fuel econ, 2nd best braking. All done with the least changes. Good job Ford!

I'd say Ram needs to work on that braking. It took Ram 11 feet more than the Chevy to stop loaded, and 9 more feet empty.

Ram had the worst fuel economy, the worst value less comfort and ride quality than the Chevy eventhough the Chevy had old as dirt leaf springs.

Ram was not confident going up the Eisenhower Pass when it was at its full weight rating.

So Ram did have better interior decorator's design and speed, these are many things Ram needs to work on for next time.

Which truck breaks down more?
Which truck has the highest maintenance and repair costs?
Which truck has the highest resale value?

The majority of the people buying a heavy duty pickup doesn't even know that PUTC exists. They didn't see this comparison test and most never will. They buy a truck based on its reputation!

I see few readers with half of brain. I am not pointing any fingers, just repeat, RAM is faster than competition with the same load, handles better and on top of that, it can pull 3000 lbs more than competition.
Yeah, Ford is a winner. LOL.

Oh well, Ford Jihadist are here.
Posted by: zviera | Aug 11, 2014 2:43:05 PM

The radical Ford fans waging a Holy War against Ram fans have been humuliated again.

Note to Ford fans: Covert to Ram or keep being defeated!

Ram best ride? No according to the truck guys.

Ride Quality:

Chevy 90 from MW and 90 from KS
Ram 90 from MW and 85 from KS

It's time for Ram fans to speak up against radical Ford and GM fans. Ram dominated with the fastest times and Ram had the best ride! These are the facts Ford and GM radicals cannot deny.

And Ford, at the diesel challenge, don't bother bringing your slim jim frame because Ram has something for you to snap into. BANG!

http://youtu.be/-1ygpO-OrME?t=33s

@Ken
RAM can handle also offroad better than competition, Chevy, it would get stuck at curb just to try offroad.

yea, but the F-150 WON that last 1/2 ton shootout!
I own the F-150 so that makes me the winner over the Ram 1500.
so your Ram victory is only 50% you may have won the heavy duty but Ram FAILED on the 1/2 ton test!
I'm sick of you Ram crazies how you brag about your stupid truck with the sissy push button shift and whimpy coil springs!
bla-bla-bla the more you brag the more I hate Ram,,,, so keep it up! I'll hate you more!

this test wasn't fair, they were bias by pointing out all the good things about Ram and leaving out the bad things
Hemi can stick that frame twist test up his a**

I am happy that real world RAM 2500 Mpg is much better then All1 tried to present a while ago.

http://www.fuelly.com/car/ram/2500/2014?engineconfig_id=9208&bodystyleconfig_id=&submodel_id=

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2014/07/max-towing-wars-ford-f-450-versus-ram-3500-hd-part-ii/comments/page/7/#comments

I knew he was pulling rabbit from the hat. There goes his another myth about RAM 2500 HEMI 6.4: poor mileage loaded, poor payload, poor towing numbers and coil spring sag. What happened to the Ford leaf springs. Did they melted from seeing 6.4 HEMI pulling 3000lbs more?



Still no response from putc on why the trailers weren't equal at the Eisenhower tunnel. Go figure.

I'm actually ok with them doing the testing that way. However if they are going to do that then they need to do what they have done in the past and award more points to the vehicle with more capacity.

Just look back at the 2013 light duty shoot out. All the trucks pulled the same trailer but in that test the ford was given "bonus" points for having a higher stated rating.

Come on putc what gives? Maybe I should make up a test and say that the ford and chevy need to tow 22k. Well guess what they aren't rated to do it so I guess they just lose or have to make 2 trips.

@ecodiesel1
Very good and valid point. PUTC should rewrite their numbers and move RAM 2500 to the 1.st place even in Empirical score.
No other test needs to be done, just go by the same rules all the time.
Any comments Mark Williams ? Please?

Any test that excepts Mark Williams as an expert tester should not be taken seriously. Unless it consists of this creepy guy handing out candy at the school yard from his stalker van.

I am so very disappointed that Pickuptrucks.com did not use the same weights. These are simple and easy things to do. I understand taking into account their respective manufacturer ratings, but it was an obviously erroneous judgment of values to not keep the test equal while allowing the vehicles to be the variable. Also, they did not note the temperatures of the transmissions and engines.

I am grateful for the test here, but I am losing faith in pickuptrucks.com and paying more attention to TFLtruck.com and Trucktrend.com who do much better work and serve the reader.

Especially after pickuptrucks.com published an article a couple of months ago instructing pickup truck owners to put new tires on the front of their vehicle. DANGEROUS and wrong. Many readers commented and alarmed the public, but pickuptrucks.com still did not retract the article and publish a correction. It is still on the web!

ALWAYS PUT YOUR BETTER TIRES ON THE REAR SO YOU DON'T FLIP OR SPIN YOUR VEHICLE WHILE BRAKING. MORE GRIPP ON THE REAR KEEPS YOUR VEHICLE STABLE AND KEEPS IT POINTING FORWARD. Especially on pickups. Just feel sad to see such bad journalism. The information here can be found on other websites who do it better. I wouldn’t say much if it was just a case of laziness, but it has got DANGEROUS to report so irresponsibly.

I am so very disappointed that Pickuptrucks.com did not use the same weights. These are simple and easy things to do. I understand taking into account their respective manufacturer ratings, but it was an obviously erroneous judgment of values to not keep the test equal while allowing the vehicles to be the variable. Also, they did not note the temperatures of the transmissions and engines.

I am grateful for the test here, but I am losing faith in pickuptrucks.com and paying more attention to TFLtruck.com and Trucktrend.com who do much better work and serve the reader.

Especially after pickuptrucks.com published an article a couple of months ago instructing pickup truck owners to put new tires on the front of their vehicle. DANGEROUS and wrong. Many readers commented and alarmed the public, but pickuptrucks.com still did not retract the article and publish a correction. It is still on the web!

ALWAYS PUT YOUR BETTER TIRES ON THE REAR SO YOU DON'T FLIP OR SPIN YOUR VEHICLE WHILE BRAKING. MORE GRIPP ON THE REAR KEEPS YOUR VEHICLE STABLE AND KEEPS IT POINTING FORWARD. Especially on pickups. Just feel sad to see such bad journalism. The information here can be found on other websites who do it better. I wouldn’t say much if it was just a case of laziness, but it has got DANGEROUS to report so irresponsibly. j

@Tom#3 - fleets generally will buy lowest bid. Some fleets do look at durability data.
The company my brother works for had a fleet of GM 1500's and HD's.
They now have a fleet of F150's and GM HD's. That does line up with durability data from Vincentric and JD Power.

I do think that PUTC does the best testing because they do the best job of explaining test criteria.

look at the test criteria and prioritize it based on your own hierarchy of criteria.

I have 3 suggestions:
1. Run all of the trucks on the same brand of tires.
2. Run the trucks at the same cargo/trailer weight and 90% of max.
3. Show empirical and subjective separately (like you did).

Great job PUTC - you guys run the best tests.

The Ram aced 10 of the 16 tests but came up seven points short of the Ford F-250 Super Duty, due to the way points were calculated. Last-place scores in fuel economy and braking made the difference.

http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/08/ram-2500-wins-heavy-duty-showdown

GUTS

GLORY

RAM

I don't know about you but I don't race HD trucks. I giive up a little speed in trade for not coming in last in fuel economy and braking and durability.

They should have made them all pull the maximum load rating of the Ford, then the Chevy and finally the Ram. If a truck is not rated that high then that truck does not compete and loses points.

Clearly Ford is way behind. No wonder they refused to adopt the SAE J2807 standards until the can do a complete ground up redesign of their trucks.

Ford fan boys on death watch.

BUNK!

In addition to best braking, and fuel economy loaded, I also like how Chevy had best ride quality as rated by Mr. Truck and Mark Williams, comfort, and overall value. I point this out to the Ram fans because speed is not that important in a HD.

I'm sorry, but Ram gets automatically disqualified by me. I know some people really like Ramboxes. But Ramboxes take up bed space that I need for hauling.

Ramboxes are optional Chris. They just happened to be on that truck. I agree with you that they do take up space I could use.

Yawnnnn.....who buys a gasoline powered 3/4 truck these days anyway when a diesel is superior in every way?

@Douggy
Somebody who doesn't like frozen urea , running engine in limp mode all the time.

The comments are interesting.

The Ram J!had show that they are poor winners as well as poor losers.

It does look like Mark is trying to clean up the comments section.

Kudos to PUTC on both counts (test and blog moderation).

@Lou
There is not such a thing as RAM losers.
Ford ? That's the different story.

Robin Williams just died. RIP. Sieze the day, boys. Don't waste it arguing about pickup truck winners and losers. None of us are going to change our minds anyway.

@Chris
I just read about it before I switched to PUTC again.
Poor guy. Depression is horrible thing. RIP.

I'd say the Ram should have its tow capabilities cut back to 3500-4000 lbs to better match the quality of its brakes.
While at it they should look into their cylinder deactivation feature, maybe someone forgot to plug in the system during assembly.

Looks like Ford could throw in a rear sway bar and an extra leaf or two, as the engine, transmission and brakes are obviously very good.

Chevy just needs to focus on them recalls.

Great test, thank you PUTC. Kind of humorous, when "winners" keep crying like losers- I don't get that.
I like empirical data, can it be debated certainly, but only to a point. Opinion scoring can be flailed all day long. At the end of it all I respect the results overall. The "Ram" brand(Dodge) has come along ways from being Dear Old Dads Garage Experiment, I applaud their progress.
Ram fans quit the crying about carrying 3K more, This should be a clarion call to be more realistic in rating claims. I do not speak ill of Ram, I used to run a SnoFiter that did a mean job of plowing, even when the clutch had gone bad. It is just crazy the amount of way over the top fanboyism for the Ram. Put down the crack pipe and step away from the silly putty. Credibility goes up when crazed fanaticism goes down. This goes for the glue sniffers of the GM and Ford brands as well.

@FXDX1450
You didn't get that. We just celebrate loud about RAM 2500 win.
You know, when you lough too much, it sounds like crying after a while. Don't get confused please by your wishes.

@zviera - before you make a statement like that you should look at the PUTC results board for the last 4 years.

The fact that you and other Ram!stan! clansmen are bragging proves my point in relation to poor winners.

The Ram 2500 would be a good truck for you. It is a Ram, a gasser, and you would be unlikely to overload it with your current tow/haul needs.

A win win for you.

Good thing they didn't have to let Toyota's half ton Tundra in the contest. Pound for pound it torches Dodge, Chevy and Ford.

Tundra payload on a crewcab is like 1400 lbs. It couldn't even carry the bags of rock salt.

Where are all the crazy people who kept accusing this site of being biased toward Ford? Now all of a sudden they are 100% accurate. Congrats to Ram. When's the diesel test coming?

Toyota brought 1,200 lbs of payload to the 2013 shootout. In the HD shotout the competitors had to carry 2500 lbs of rock salt plus two passengers. Sorry but Tundra does not compete at this level.

next year's shootout will be interesting for sure. All-new Super Duty, new Duramax engine, and a tweaked Cummins

@zviera.

No confusion on my part or others- crying/ whining is always that and nothing more.
Celebrating a win is expected, the rest well.... not so much.
Competition is always a good thing, it has made all brand trucks better than they were and for that we are all winners as truck owners.

@FXDX1450
I agree on that.

@Lou
I told you that RAM 2500 HEMI 6.4 is going to be my next truck long time ago.
So it's win,win,win situation for me, because it's not a Ford.
It would be just win,win for All1 , because it's not a Ford.

@Zviera

Did you ever get around to posting that video to back up your 1,371 lb payload claim you stated you had in your truck even though Ram's numbers even states your truck configuration doesn't even have 1,300lbs payload before options? Still waiting on the that so let me know when you post it.

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It is funny how "getting Rammed by a Big Horn" says Ford is lying about their towing numbers and will fail when put to the test. Well, this is just about the most extreme test you can get and it looks to me that the F250 6.2L did very well towing the numbers Ford has given it up the Eisenhower pass. Not only in power, but also in braking and towing confidence.

Looks to me Ford is more realistic in the numbers it has given this truck. In the words of PUTC " It almost seemed like the gross combined weight ratings for the Ram and Chevy were a bit too high in relation to how their engines and transmissions performed. Yes, all these trucks were pulling the same loads, but the Ford was the only one that pulled to the limits with confidence." Sounds to me like the other brand failed at towing the numbers it's manufacturer has given it, and said manufacturer should probably lower it's rating because I doubt customers would like to be going up this mountain road at 35 mph in 1st gear at 4,500 rpm when towing the weight they have given it.

The Eisenhower pass test is also the most realistic of all the tests to me and the one that people that tow are most concerned about. Tests like those tell me more about how a truck will react more than 0-60 mph or 1/4 mile tests. I want to know how a truck feels when towing. Is it a confidence feel or does it have that uneasy back end bounce? Does it have enough power to get me up the hill at a reasonable speed and time or is it too underpowered to tow the rated weight it is given to even go faster than 40 mph the whole way? Does the engine braking and brakes work well when going down a mountain road or should I be concerned with too much excessive heat from tapping the brakes all the time because the engine brake does not work well. Those that tow are more concerned about tests like these, the braking test, and the mileage drive than all the other short distance tests.

I will have to give my hat off to Ram for winning the all around shootout. It performed as expected and how I stated it would in the 0-60 and 1/4 miles tests where it's extra HP gave it the clear advantage. However, in the long distance real world tests that are most important for my needs and wants out of a truck, the Ford performed the best from what I am reading.



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