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For full 2013 results, click over to the Kings of the Canadian Truck King Challenge page.

For 2013, the Canadian Truck King Challenge decided to concentrate on HD trucks; testing the Ford F350 head to head with the Chevy Silverado 3500 and the Ram 3500.

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To test payload, the trucks were loaded with 4,800 lbs. worth of shingles.

Each of these was the Crew Cab, long box, 4WD, diesel powered version equipped with a removable fifth-wheel hitch.  Our testers were two 2012’s (the Ram and Ford) along with a 2013 Chevy.  While we prefer to always have same year models we conceded that the Ford is virtually unchanged for 2013. The Ram though will be substantially changed next year – but it’s unavailable till the end of the first quarter of next year. So, we appreciate Ram being involved, because while we were already aware of the planned changes for 2013; namely Cummins diesel updates, new chassis, new air suspension and the like, having the 2012 really demonstrated not only the area’s that were lacking but also how it compared to both the Ford and Chevy that were both new in 2011.  In essence they have offered a truck doomed to lose – yet already knowing that they are changing almost everything we could be critical of this year speaks to its competitiveness.

Testing this year was conducted in and around London, ON in southwestern Ontario. The first day we ran the trucks empty from Toronto (200 km) to London – then we hitched them to three similar fifth-wheel RV trailers. These weighed in at around 14,500 lb each. We than spent the day doing a 400 km tour with the judges (of which there were five) switching up every 80 km.  Each judge therefore was able to spend at least an hour hauling with each truck – plus being a passenger on two legs where they were asked to evaluate the interior design, comfort and conveniences in each truck from a crew perspective.

It’s worth mentioning right here that this is the fifth time we have run the Canadian Truck King Challenge in the last six years – only skipping 2008 – when the industry was in crises.

How we decide what to test has to do with the normal life cycles of trucks. In this case the three HD pickups are the newest offerings from the manufactures with the Ford and Chevy being all new in 2011 and the Ram being new in 2010.  Curiously though, as mentioned earlier, the Ram will be coming to us as an almost-new 2013 in the early spring. For those who have been around for a while they know this short three-year run is almost unheard of. Trucks typically have a generational life-span of between five and seven years.  Well, that’s what it has been historically, but moving forward I can see the market heating up. Competition is growing ever fiercer; in part because the buyers are demanding more and more capability.  Payload and Towing capability keep rising – engine output is growing – interior comforts and electronic conveniences are expanding.

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Trust me – this is not the industry leading the market. This is the market (that’s you and me) demanding more from the builders.  This statement is the indicator that the nature of the typical buyer of HD trucks is also changing.  How so?  Well Fleet buyers traditionally look for a fair saw-off between capability and price, as they buy in bulk. But the rise of small business (the one to five truck markets) is much more interested in capability and comfort – they still want a decent price, but are less likely to go for the cloth seats and rubber floors. And I think it’s also fair to say they do care how the truck looks.

What all this means from a testing point-of-view is that we as judges work to put ourselves in those shoes.  Not to mention that as much as 30% of this HD market is purchased by retired recreational-only haulers.  They too have specific needs, including having comfortable space for the grandkids.

So, with all this in mind we towed our fifth-wheel trailers through wind and rain (because it always rains during Truck King.  Just lucky I guess.) On highways and byways.  After a full day of towing, we put the trucks to bed.  The following day was dedicated to payload.  As with any test we had to go with the lowest published weight and this year that was the Ram at 4,600 lb.  Roof Mart, an IKO company, in London loaded us up with pallets of singles which weighed in at 4,480 lb.  The dimensions of each pallet were 4-feet wide, 4-feet high, by 5-feet long.  Watching the trucks drop under that weight was fascinating.  We then set off on a 300km loop, down to Lake Erie and back, where we once again cycled through the trucks as judges.

WHAT WE TESTED

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2012 Ford Super Duty F350 – Crew Cab, DRW w/8ft box, 4WD

PRICE AS TESTED: $74,263.00

BASE PRICE: $59,799.00

· Engine: 6.7L HV Power Stroke  HP – 400 @ 2800 rpm; Torque – 800 lb.-ft. @ 1,600 rpm

· Transmission: TorqShift heavy-duty six-speed automatic with SelectShift

· Wheelbase: 172.4 inches

· GVWR:14,000 lb

· GCWR: 30,000 lb

· Dry Weight: N/A

· Box Size: 8ft.

· Payload: 6,680 lb

· Tow rating (Conventional): 17,500 lb

· Tow rating (5th wheel): 21,700 lb with a 3.73 rear ratio

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2012 Ram 3500 – DRW, Crew Cab, 8ft box & 4WD Longhorn

Price as tested: $74,305

Base Price: $72,940

· Engine:  6.7L HO Cummins Turbo diesel I-6 (standard on 3500 series)

· HP – 350 at 3,000rpm

· Torque – 800 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm

· Transmission: 68-RFE  – six speed automatic

· Wheelbase: 169.5″

· Dry Weight: 7,589 lb

· GVWR: 12,300 lb

· GCWR:  28,900 lb

· Box Size: 8ft.

· Payload: 4,650 lb

· Tow rating (Conventional): N/A

· Tow rating (5th wheel): 20,650 lb with a 4:10 axle

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2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Crew Cab, DRW w/8ft box, 4WD LTZ

Price as Tested: $74, 400

BASE PRICE $56,950.00

· Engine: Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V-8  HP – 397@ 3000 rpm Torque – 765 lb.-ft.@ 1600 rpm

· Transmission – Allison 1000 6-speed automatic (with Duramax 6.6L)

· Wheelbase:167.7 inches

· Dry Weight:7,997

· GVWR: 13,025 lb

· GCWR: N/A

· Box Size: 8ft

· Payload: 5,028 lb

· Tow rating (Conventional): 18,000 lb with 3.73

· Tow rating (5th wheel): 22,600 lb with a 3.73 axle

WHAT WAS THE RESULT?

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 visually better. Meaning it sat more level under load, it squatted less, and in general felt better while driving.  Ford also took hits for a light front-end under load and twitchy steering.

· We had little or no criticism of the Chevy powertrain – the diesel is strong, smooth and the transmission flawless in its operation. Ford and Ram both registered minor concerns with their transmissions. Nothing serious (during our testing), however noticeable roughness in operation.

· As an empty truck everyone loved the Ram best – interior-wise and design-wise. However that love was lost once weight was added. Its suspension was spongy and it exhibited too much body roll.  The Cummins engine while very strong (torque) was slow in acceleration.

· Where the Chevy excelled was in the work aspect of the Challenge. It towed well, handled payload best and exhibited the most confident driving characteristics.  The interior though is old, dated and dash controls small and awkward – this is Chevy’s shortfall right now.  So, while the Ford interior is superior, it’s higher score in that area wasn’t enough to eclipse the Chevy’s sterling work record.

· Once all the numbers, driving opinions and fuel calculations were added up the 2013 Chevy Silverado was named this year’s Canadian Truck King Challenge winner.


For a full spread of 2013 results, and to read to the judges comments, click over to the Kings of the Canadian Truck King Challenge.