King of the Hill – Chevrolet Duramax – Ford Powerstroke – Dodge Cummins
GMC Sierra 3500 Heavy Duty
Let’s start with GMC Sierra 3500 Heavy Duty. This is basically identical to Chevrolet Silverado. General Motors releases this machine under both names, but they are essentially the same. The truck has a trailering capacity of 20,000 pounds on a fifth-wheel trailer, and roughly 6000 pounds of payload capacity. This is the first 3500 model from General Motors, to receive the uber-trim Denali. The truck is offered with wheels starting from 17-inches up to 20-inches for better grip on the roads. This, coupled with the 14-inch diameter and 1.57-inch wide brakes ensure an enhanced control on roads as well as countryside alike.
Now coming to the engine, it is a 6.6 L Duramax V8 diesel engine. The power-plant produces a whopping 397 hp of power, and 765 pound-feet of torque at 1600 RPM. It sports a solid 16:1 pressure ratio, while the common rail piezoelectric injector supplies fuel at a high pressure of 30,000 psi. The glow plugs are designed keeping the cold temperatures in mind, which promise instantaneous engine starts within a maximum of 3 seconds, even at minus 20 degrees.
Dodge Ram 3500 Heavy Duty
This Heavy duty 3500 was tagged “Big Red”, almost as soon as it was released and a single look at it will convince you that the clichéd name is well-earned. The truck is fitted with a 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel engine, which manages a sound 350 hp and 650 pound-feet of torque. Although these numbers may fail to cheer you up, wait till you read further. This beast can tow a maximum of 22,800 pounds and carry a payload of up to 5,200 pounds. With no loads to tow, the vehicle can give a mileage of about 16.6 mpg, which is not much, but decent enough for a pickup truck.
The base models of the Ram come with antilock disc brakes, while the higher trims are equipped with an electronic trailer brake controller and power-adjustable pedals. It might slightly difficult to load the trailer as the 4-wheel drive chassis is high at a ground clearance of 7.5-inches.
Ford F350 Super Duty
With F350, Ford has really pulled out all its big guns. The fully-boxed frame and C-shape design together ensure that even after thousands of miles of travel, there is hardly any effect on the rigid structure of the truck. A new addition is the 6.7-liter V8 Turbo Diesel engine, which produces a torque of 735 pound-feet of torque at 1600 rpm. What is notable about the engine is its impressive 390 hp of power it supplies to the powertrain. If you are wondering what this means in the real-world terms, it simply means that this workhorse from the Ford stable can pull up to 24,400 pounds, and carry payloads as high as 6,500 pounds. That is some serious performance even for the likes of pickups.
F350 employs common-rail diesel injection, and quite similar to its GMC counterpart, produces enormous pressures of 30,000 psi, to ensure higher fuel atomization and better combustion. The King Ranch Trim provides better comfort levels.
Clearly, what you have here are close competitors with no clear winners, at least on the numbers front. Then again, ask any pickup truck owner, and he will tell you, why numbers never tell the whole story. That is why, Marc Heitz Chevrolet from Oklahoma City took it upon themselves to test the vehicles in the real world. I am sure by now you are wondering – what are the criteria these machines are tested on by the dealer? Well, one thing we can tell you is some of these are very relevant and easily overlooked points. Click on the video to see the pickups perform on the tests and know the results yourself. However, without revealing too much, let me tell you what these trucks are up against.
Obviously, this is a standard test, in the sense that this particular test is used to gauge almost all cars, pickups and bikes. It gives a good understanding of which vehicle accelerates faster and which one of them reaches a higher speed as they complete the sprint. It is a good mix of both and hence a better measure of engine power. In standard tests, Ram has been clocked at 0-60mph within 9.1 seconds, compared to 8.8 seconds of F350 and Sierra’s 7.5 seconds. Now, Sierra clearly seems to get a head-start, but will it manage enough speed to keep the other two behind itself by the time it finishes the race? Now that’s a question you will find an answer to in the video.
The Ram comes fitted with an electronic brake controller, which is standard in all trims of this model. Although the diesel exhaust brake is present, its performance is on the poor side. The F350’s brakes on the other hand, fare even worse than the Ram. The Ford takes not only quite some distance (about 160 feet in standardized tests) to stop, but also produce a burning smell, presumably of the braking material. GM has claimed exceptional braking capabilities for their Sierra/Silverado, however, we suggest you judgment until you see the results on this one.
Similar to the above tests, we have 0-55 run test, exhaust brake test, suspension test, and transmission test, to arrive at the true King of the Hill. We can’t tell you more, but what we can tell you is this – prepare for some surprising results here. Some of the things that you took for granted when it comes to your favorite trucks, might get dispelled. So go ahead and click on the video only if you are ready to know who the One True King is.