The 2012 Ram 1500 has won this year’s Canadian Truck King Challenge. So there it is; and for some car awards that statement might be enough.
But, you dear reader will want to know why – and that need to decide for yourself is just one reason that you – a pickup buyer is a unique person in Canadian life and culture. However looking past your obvious need for practicality and utility – there is also a love of pick-ups in Canada, particularly the so called half-tons’, that seems rooted in our pioneer heritage and our spirit of self-reliance in this big, empty country. That’s why evaluating trucks the way you use them is the prime mandate of the Challenge and this year is the fifth time we have run this uniquely Canadian Truck King Challenge.
2011 Ford F-150, Crew Cab, 4WD, Platinum, 3.5L EcoBoost V6, six-speed automatic. MSRP $64,449.
2012 Toyota Tundra, Double Cab, 4WD, TRD Off-road Package, 5.7L i-Force V8, six-speed automatic. MSRP $43,975.
2012 Nissan Titan, 4-door Cab, 4WD, SL CC, 5.6L V8, five-speed automatic. MSRP $ 52,2282012
2012 Ram 1500, Crew Cab, 4WD, Laramie, 5.7L Hemi V8, six-speed automatic. MSRP $54,825
Testing the contenders
To be dead fair to all the trucks we also borrowed five brand-new equalizing hitches from Equal – izer. These spread the load across the chassis of each truck and achieved a level attitude for each entire rig regardless of the various wheelbase lengths.
Who brought what?
The Test Itself
We five drivers cycled through the five trucks and trailers over a 300 km route that included a long portion of hilly terrain up through the Haliburton Highlands, in heavy rain no less, (which is something we call the “Truck King Curse” we have never had dry weather for the Challenge) and with grades of up to 9 per cent.
A full day was spent towing these trailers on main and secondary roads – with a final section of highway where speeds of at least 100 km-h were maintained. After returning the trailers we re-fuelled and calculated real-world towing fuel consumption. And that was just our first 10-hour day.
Something else new this year was the spreading of the pain during testing. Wives, girlfriends and one husband accompanied judges and were more than vocal in adding their opinions and observations to those of the drivers – plus they got stuck making all the notes.
The second morning the rain stopped, for a while, and we headed to RoofMart in Oshawa, ON where we picked up pallets of singles, supplied by IKO, and drove a 200 km route with this 1,800 lb payload on each of the trucks. We kept track of the fuel consumption during this test as well.
Finally we drove the trucks empty for 150 km and finished with an off-road section that unfortunately, this year, was interrupted by an Act of God. The abandoned Colonization Road I use near Head Lake, ON was blocked by downed trees. Too bad because it’s a very nasty, muddy bit of off-road.
So as darkness closed in on our second long day of testing the judges agreed that because we weren’t able to cycle everyone through the pickups in the equal time allotments needed the off-road would not be scored and we dropped the category from this year’s winning calculation.
The results reflect the actual scores awarded by the judges (three categories – 0-10), and their personal overall choices (first through fifth). We have our opinions and you’ll have yours, but we feel that we come by them honestly.