Summarizing The HD Truck Comparison From PickupTrucks.com
If you haven’t already seen it, on Monday PickupTrucks.com published a massive, comprehensive test of HD trucks from GM, Ford, and Ram. The goal of this comparison was to find out who made the best 3/4 ton gas truck, 3/4 ton diesel, and 1 ton dually diesel.
You can read the full comparison here, and if you have the time I highly recommend it. It’s a great insight into all three trucks as well as a fantastic example of what it takes to complete a true, exact comparison.
It also raises an interesting question: If all the trucks are essentially equivalent, how do you pick the right truck?
The Results Are Close
If you read the whole comparison and look at the charts, you’ll find that the differences between these trucks are really pretty small. I would summarize it this way:
- The GM trucks ride and handle very well loaded or unloaded, and their all-around performance makes them a great choice for almost any task. However, the interiors aren’t as nice and the style is older.
- The Ford trucks are incredibly powerful, but that power isn’t as well managed as the other trucks. Both the Ram and the GM trucks have better “driveability.” The Ford’s interior and style is second to none.
- The Ram trucks aren’t as powerful, but they do a lot of things very well. Towing and hauling performance is only “adequate” in comparison, but the Ram has good road manners, good style, and a nice interior.
Some interesting tidbits:
- The Ford didn’t have the latest power update, and it was limited by the traction control software. I got the feeling that testing the truck with traction control/stability control OFF would have improved the Ford’s results.
- The GMC and Chevy were tested as the same truck. I think this is critically important, because GM provided these trucks for this test. If the GMC HD and Chevy HD truly were different, GM would have made that clear. This is one more sign that there’s no appreciable difference between a Chevy and a GMC.
- The Ram’s 5 speed transmission killed it. If the Ram had a 6 speed like GM and Ford, it might have won.
How To Choose The Right HD Truck
If you’re a die-hard BRAND X enthusiast, your mind is already made up. You buy whatever brand you like and you feel good about it because, according to the tests, these trucks are all pretty close.
If you’re open to any possibility, your decision is much tougher. While there are some areas where one truck performs better than the others, there’s no clear all-around winner. Don’t get me wrong – the trucks are not the same in terms of pulling ability, braking, etc., but it seems like you give a little in one area to make up for it in another. Unless you really need a truck that does one specific task well, there’s no clear performance advantage to be found.
Therefore, the decision should be based on comfort, safety, quality, and finances. Since all these trucks are inherently safe (anything this massive will do well in a typical crash), it really comes down to comfort and finances:
- Is the truck comfortable? Are you going to enjoy sitting in it on a cross-country trip?
- Which truck costs the least with the equipment you want?
- How good is resale value?
- How much is insurance?
- What truck gets the best gas mileage for your typical use?
- Which truck has the best quality?
While it’s easy to answer numbers 1-5, there’s no clear answer to number 6…and that’s the rub. Comparison tests are great for figuring out which truck can do a certain task better than another, but quality isn’t so clear cut.
Quality Is Unknown
None of these manufacturers have had a bullet-proof reputation for HD quality over the last 15 years. Dodge HDs were often described as a great engine surrounded by a mediocre pickup plagued with front-end problems, brake problems, etc. Ford’s SuperDuty was plagued with engine and transmission problems. GM HD’s have had a nice mix of transmission problems and general quality issues, etc.
JD Power doesn’t rank HD trucks. Consumer Reports offers some ratings, but they think the best truck on the market has a V6 and tows 5k lbs (Ridgeline). Manufacturing quality reports from Harbour don’t draw a clear distinction between Ford, GM, and Chrysler…there are no authoritative studies to support quality claims from one brand to the next. Perhaps the quality is all pretty even too.
If I had to choose one truck – based on all the criteria listed – I might go with the Ram HD Diesel. It’s the least expensive diesel of the bunch by a large margin (about $8k), it has great resale, I know I would be comfortable, and the operating costs of the Cummins are usually very low.
Having said that, the Ford’s power would be nice when pulling up I-70…and if I’m going to spend the money on a Ford, I really owe it to myself to consider the GM too.
What do you think? Which HD truck is best? Be sure to vote and comment below.
Filed Under: Auto News