We know fuel economy is not a huge issue for this segment, but since we had all three gas-engine choices together, we thought you might want to know how they compared in head-to-head driving when empty and near max payload.
During our empty runs through the small towns and townships to the northwest of Detroit, the best-performing empty truck of our test was the Ford F-250 Super Duty, just edging out the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 by a little less than 3/10ths of an mpg and beating the Ram 2500 by more than a single mpg.
What surprised most of us after our loaded runs (which included two passengers in each truck on the same route, this time with a full 2,480-pound payload) was how close the final numbers were to what the trucks had run empty. The Ford had the widest spread, at 1.4 mpg, while the Chevy was just 7/10ths of an mpg different and the Ram just 4/10ths of an mpg.
Speaking of the Ram, try as we might, it was difficult to figure out when and where the Ram's 6.4-liter Hemi cylinder deactivation program kicked in, and with these numbers it's difficult to tell exactly how much benefit it's really providing. It's too bad the truck doesn't have a screen setting that allows you to see when it kicks in. This is where GM does it right, allowing a driver to select an information screen that tells the EcoTec3 driver what cylinder mode the engine is in at any given moment. (Note: The Vortec 6.0-liter V-8 used in this test was not an EcoTec3 engine and does not offer cylinder deactivation.)
The winner of the fuel economy loaded test on our 150-mile loop was the Chevy with 14.09 mpg, and the winner of our empty run was the Ford with 15.1 mpg.
How We Did the Testing
Each of our three-quarter-ton pickups was driven at the same time, on the same route, with the same amount of weight. We started in Ann Arbor, Mich., and found a 150-mile route that incorporated equal parts highway and city driving, with rural two-lane roads and congested main streets full of stoplights. We ran all trucks with the air conditioning on, recirculation off and windows up. At each designated rotation spot (we had three on each loop), we shut off the engines immediately after parking and did not start until we were all ready to pull out of the parking lots together.
We topped off each truck at the same filling station near our hotel, using the two-click method, allowing the pump and nozzle to let us know when each tank was equally filled. At the end of our mileage route, we used the same gas station, pump and method when calculating the actual mileage and fuel results.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears
Chevy Silverado 2500 HD 6.0L V-8
Ford F-250 Super Duty 6.2L V-8
Ram HD 2500 Hemi 6.4L V-8