We just had another opportunity to pit comparably-equipped Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram's heavy-duty pickups against each other lugging 12,000 pound trailers up and down enormous hills. And you know what? I liked a little something about each of them.
(Full disclosure: Ford invited me to Daniels, West Virginia where they made myself and a big band of other journalists perform the usual ceremony of getting free food, booze, and a bed in exchange for sitting through a PowerPoint deck. And then we could drive trucks.)
Ford put on the event but they were classy enough to bring comparably equipped rival trucks for direct comparison. I drove each of them in rapid succession, and have summarized the most glaring highs and lows of the lot to help you figure out which brand you might gravitate toward.
You might say to yourself; "Hey, this is only a comparison between three specific trucks, how's this mean to translate to other models or trims?" It doesn't, but after driving and sitting in a lot of trucks this year I'm here to tell you many of these bullet points pretty well translate to each brand's lineup. That said, the specs listed here definitely only apply to the specific trucks driven.
Each truck tested was a diesel, dual-rear-wheel, upper-trim, full-four-door, four-wheel drive model with what I could call "most" options. Each truck had a 3.73 axle ratio. We drove in 2WD.
What We Towed
Pretty much the longest RV trailers I've seen. They were about 30' long weighing in at 12,000 pounds a piece.
2015 Ford F-350 King Ranch
Maximum tow rating with a gooseneck trailer: 23,500 lbs. BEST
Engine: Power Stroke 6.7 (440 hp/860 lb-ft of torque) BEST
Base MSRP: $50,395
- Great engine.
- Unequivocally the fastest truck, even up the big hill.
- Sounds more refined than rivals.
- Styling couldn't be more stale, next to the rivals it looks downright bad. Told a Ford rep they were "brave" for putting their truck against upper-trim competitors at their event. I had to shake my head gravely when he said "thanks!"
2015 Ram 3500 Laramie
Maximum tow rating with a gooseneck trailer: 22,550 lbs.
Engine: Cummins 6.7 (370 hp/ 800 lb-ft of torque)
Base MSRP: $45,350 BEST
- Very stable.
- Chrysler Uconnect is superior to Ford SYNC and Chevrolet MyLink.
- Lovely interior, though decidedly flamboyant.
- Comfiest seats of the lot; big and soft.
- Slowest of the pack.
- Engine could be called "unrefined," some have said "clattery" (not me though).
- Ok, belt buckles on the rear seat pockets are a bit much.
2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD 3500 LTZ
Maximum tow rating with a gooseneck trailer: 22,900 lbs.
Engine: Duramax 6.6 (397 hp/ 765 lb-ft of torque)
Base MSRP: $47,630
- Sharpest throttle response.
- Best exhaust brake/cruise control integration; vehicle manages its own speed best.
- Duramax sounds lovely at idle.
- Nice, modern interior.
- Handling somewhat twitchy, truck wanders more easily than rivals.
Each truck made it up an down the hill (try to contain your amazement). I liked the Ford's powerplant, the way the Chevrolet managed its own speed, and the comfort of the Ram. I have a favorite based on what's important to me, but I think an argument could be made for any of these trucks.
These the bullets points wrap up everything that stuck out in my notes. What are your priorities? What characteristics have you observed about these brands that I failed to pick up on driving these heavy-duty trucks?
Please ask questions about any specific details you're interested in and I'll do my best to elaborate on what you see here!
Images: Andrew P. Collins