The 2013 Canadian Truck King Challenge took on the task of evaluating the three Detroit-designed one-ton pickup trucks from Ford, Chrysler and GM last month. This is the fifth year the challenge has been held; each year looking at a different segment in the truck market. Last year, for instance, we tested the five most popular half-tons — however this year the HD segment (which has had the most recent updates) deserved some scrutiny.
- Grab handles on the A-pillars are right in my line of sight. No good.
- Steering feel (while towing) is vague, with not much on-centre feel. It’s noticeable during quick lane changes over cambered lanes.
- Has some steering column shake on rough roads.
- 0-100km acceleration, with trailer, was 21 seconds. Very quick — anything under 30 seconds is considered adequate when towing.
- Like flat rear floor.
- Big, easy to use vents.
- Not much storage in the centre console — though there is storage under the middle front seat.
- No 110V outlet; no auto up windows.
- I like the satellite 7-pin hookup inside the box.
- Like seeing the gear number in the dash display.
- Confident brakes.
- Pushes around a bit while towing.
- With payload squats the most of any truck. Rides fine, just looks bad.
- With payload light on the front end.
- Seats are firm but not supportive — 54 minutes in and my butt hurts.
- Narrow front passenger foot well. Not comfortable for a long drive.
- Pre-wired auxiliary switches are a good feature.
- Like the heated/cooled seats, and reverse camera.
- Quiet cabin.
- Truck has good visibility.
- Gas pedal position leaves nowhere for the leg to rest.
- Console cup holders are too low.
- While towing the overall ride is smooth; acceleration is great; transmission shifts up and down smoothly.
- Like the engine braking.
- Trailer brake controls are well placed. Brakes in general are good.
- Over bumps the trailer jerks the truck and the front end comes up a bit.
- When the front end comes up the steering gets light.
- With payload the truck has a comfortable ride; feels confident with good brakes.
- With payload the truck squats too much. The steering gets lighter.
- Like the front bench-seat option.
- Info cluster is easy to operate — offers good info; displays what gear you are in all the time.
- Lots of acceleration; holds flat through the corners.
- Middle console storage is poor; seats get hard over time.
- Like the dedicated fifth-wheel power outlet in the box.
- Trailer brake controller is well positioned.
- Steering is light while towing.
- Brakes are strong for towing.
- Power mirrors are convenient.
- While towing truck feels soft in hard corners.
- With payload the truck feels planted; minimal body roll.
- Powerful engine; transmission shifts are sometimes harsh.
- Good interior, best info screens; most amount of electronic info.
- Flat floor in back, good seat.
- Front seats hard.
- While towing nose feels light; accelerates well; brakes OK; some push/pull in crosswinds.
- With payload squats too much; doesn’t look level — drives better than it looks.
Chev Silverado 3500
- Console is just one big odd-shaped hole.
- There are no dash pockets.
- The radio and Nav screen is placed too low; long way to look down.
- 0-100 km acceleration time matches the Ford. However 5th gear is a much taller ratio — yet stays in that gear even on grades.
- The Silverado had some chassis flex resulting in some ride surge.
- The front suspension was easily the smoothest riding without the unsprung weight of the others.
- There was no steering column shake.
- Nice steering feel, well weighted light but not over boosted. Nice smooth ride; good throttle response.
- Like the three position heat seat — comfortable.
- Nav system is easy to use.
- Good mirrors.
- No auto-up windows; no grab handle on driver’s door.
- Climate buttons are too small and fiddly — way too low.
- Dated looking interior.
- No 110V outlet.
- Needs a dead man’s pedal.
- I’m most confident in this truck. Easiest to keep between the lines while towing.
- Good brakes.
- Independent front suspension handles nice.
- Could feel bumps through the steering wheel.
- Exhaust brake works well.
- With payload found the interior noisy.
- Good crew space.
- Like the console storage; comfortable back seat; large convex side mirrors; good cupholders and headrests.
- Transmission is smooth, no lag.
- Control buttons are very small; awkward location for HVAC controls.
- Lots of cabin noise.
- Interior is drab — boring.
- Find the shifter is too close to the steering wheel.
- When towing tracks well — even in winds. Good acceleration. Brakes are smooth. Side mirrors, non-mechanical and very good.
- With payload stays level. No body roll, smooth ride.
- Didn’t like the plastic bedliner — too slick and covers tie-downs.
- Steering is easy to control — feels the most direct; nimble.
- Not the softest ride, but comfortable.
- No deadman pedal.
- Small center console buttons; console too low. Climate control screen too low.
- While towing: steering feedback is minimal; crosswind control good; take-off is effortless; hood design helps road positioning; brakes engage instantly, feel strong.
- With payload body roll is minimal.
- Comfortable over bumps, very good cruising.
- Most direct steering of the three.
- Tie-downs inaccessible because of bedliner; bad bedliner.
- Worst interior — dated, too plastic, control buttons too small; info screen too low to view.
- Seats are best part of cabin. Quiet inside.
- While towing steering is firm with little feedback.
- Power is ample; tranny is strong and very smooth.
- Truck attitude under load is level, controlled, confident.
- Plastic bedliner stinks.
- Backseat not comfortable.
- With payload squats the least; drives well — no body roll.
Dodge RAM 3500
- 0-100km acceleration was 28 sec. Slowest of the three. However, tons of low-end torque. Would climb moderate grades in sixth gear while the other two had to downshift.
- Steering precision was better than Ford, not as good as GM.
- The Ram had the best interior — best thought out, attractive with very nice seats.
- Good grab handles to get in.
- Very quiet — much quieter inside than the Chevy.
- Large open console and huge covered storage. Double glove box.
- Like the heated steering wheel, full-size pass-through door handles inside and out.
- The prettiest of the three.
- Only one with a 110V outlet.
- Has auto-up windows.
- Power seat is hard to adjust, moves in multiple directions at once.
- Very firm ride; too harsh.
- Heavy steering when empty, better when loaded.
- Steering wheel too thick for small hands.
- With payload: no lateral stability and its soft over bumps; lots of body roll.
- For towing: simple, effective mirrors; good exhaust brake; steering is heavy.
- While towing: brakes felt spongy; the trailer pushes and bumps the truck; slowest acceleration of the three.
- Beautiful interior; good placement of console, buttons and controls. Attention to fine details.
- Lots of storage; quiet cabin; seating is comfortable; good space and legroom.
- Like the heated steering wheel and seat heat/cool options.
- Do not like the side view mirror size.
- Slight wobble in steering.
- While towing: transmission clunks in up/down shifts.
- Felt every bump on the road.
- Jerky, slow acceleration.
- Engine is strong — in towhaul does not struggle; exhaust brake good.
- Longhorn interior has great style/character.
- Center stack layout is very sensible, easy to use, not cluttered.
- Like the heated steering wheel.
- Trailer brake controller badly positioned.
- Spongy brake feel.
- Quiet interior.
- Exhaust brake is effective, sounds good.
- While towing holds a straight line on the highway.
- While towing: works too hard off the line; the ride is rough; the steering feels heavy; chassis flex is noticeable; occasional clunky down-shifts.
- With payload: spongy suspension gives no confidence; lots of body roll; spring back from bumps is too aggressive.
- Best interior of the three; best looking design.
- Electronics, info screens are old.
- Engine has lots of torque, but is slow off the line with load.
- While towing too much push/pull on body; feel flexing in frame.
- With payload suspension is soft, spongy; lots of body sway – feels bad.
- Good exhaust brake.
- Like the mirrors, heated wheel, seating, storage and consol layout.
So, what were the conclusions?
Well, in short, we collectively came up with the following insights:
- The Ford and Chevy were very close in all areas while the Ram just wasn’t in the same league this year.
- The Ford and Chevy both handled the towing weight and payload weight well — however the suspension on the Chevy was better. Meaning it sat more level under load, it squatted less, and in general felt better while driving.
- Steering feel was best on Chevy, under all conditions.
- As an empty truck everyone loved the Ram best — interior-wise and design-wise. However that love was lost once weight was added.
- Fuel consumption on the Ford and Chevy was almost identical; however the Ram was a distant third.