We ran all the trucks several times to determine the best strategy to get the best zero-to-60-mph number. The biggest challenge with some of the vehicles (the ones with the biggest engines) was to get them to launch effectively off the line as fast as possible without spinning the tires too much.
During our empty runs at the beginning of the day, the GMC Sierra 1500 ran a blistering 5.91 seconds to 60 mph and had Cars.com Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek, our test driver, questioning the validity of the recorded number. He backed it up several times.
This result shouldn't surprise many people given that the Sierra 1500 does have the largest engine in this group of pickups, a 1st-gear ratio of 4.56:1 with a fast-running and smart 8L90 eight-speed transmission, and a relatively low 3.42:1 axle gear.
The GMC's time beat the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (also equipped with the new 6.2-liter V-8 and eight-speed transmission) by the smallest of margins; it recorded a 5.92-second run. This was impressive given that the Chevy had 3.23:1 axle gears.
The Ram 1500 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 (with 3.92:1 gears) came in third with a 6.68 time, while the Ford V-8 (the smallest engine of our group) came in at 6.78 seconds. The Tundra's 5.7-liter V-8 came in last with 7.05 seconds, largely due to the lack of grip of the BFG All-Terrain off-road tires.
Not surprisingly, results here were similar. After the appropriate cool-down period for each truck after its empty runs, we loaded 31 bags of rock salt (40 pounds each) into the bed to give each truck 1,240 pounds to haul. This payload was an arbitrary amount of weight, but the truth is we believed this to be a "normal" amount of weight a typical truck owner would likely think his or her half-ton pickup should be able to carry comfortably.
Thirty-one bags barely covered the floor bed of any of our trucks, so it seemed reasonable to us that by keeping the weights identical for each truck (as opposed to calculating a 90 percent-of-payload number for each), we could make this a more practical and real-world test. This one is pretty simple: same weight in each truck.
As to how each truck's weight-carrying capacity compared, when including 175 pounds for our test driver, two of our competitors had plenty of payload weight to spare (GMC and Ford), one was pretty close to our number (Chevy), and two others were over their calculated payload rating (Ram and Toyota).
Once again, the GMC Sierra clocked the best zero-to-60-mph run loaded in 6.94 seconds, while the Chevy ran close behind at 7.09 seconds. The Ram, even though several hundred pounds over its payload rating, ran a respectable 7.72 seconds, with the Ford 5.0-liter at 8.08 and the Tundra at 8.34.
Visually, the Tundra TRD Pro, with its softer rear suspension leaf springs, was the only competitor that looked like it was struggling with the weight, while the GM trucks did not show any rear-end sag when loaded.
How We Conducted the Testing
We conducted all track testing at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz. We brought our five 2015 test trucks to the track on the same day, ran them with the same RaceLogic VBOX computer, had the same driver behind the wheel (just one person in the truck for the runs) and ran all the trucks in the same direction down the newly surfaced quarter-mile racetrack.
Conditions at the track were consistent throughout the day; temperatures ran between 70 and 73 degrees with a blanket of high clouds above and no wind. Since we were not concerned with how fast our times were relative to other media or testing outlets, the numbers we provide here are uncorrected, allowing you to compare each run time directly. Bruzek used a combination of left-foot braking and right-foot throttling to get the trucks to launch smoothly yet aggressively.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears