2018 Heavy Duty Pickup Challenge Results

The first real snow of the season was pelting the HD Silverado I had just picked up from the General Motors plant in Oshawa, ON. This diesel powered 2500 had just 1,500 km on the clock and it had been shiny and clean – but was now splattered with freezing salty slush. It was now just another dirty pickup truck heading north through the back roads of the Oak Ridges Moraine.

This was just one of the three HD pickups my colleges and I were driving to IronWood in the Kawartha Lakes where we do testing for the annual Canadian Truck King Challenge and if I could, I’d have picked a nicer day.

The weather, as I said, was nasty but not unusual for late November and I remember thinking that for truck testing, in Canada, it was actually appropriate. Because unlike the magazine awards that come out of the deserts of California or Texas, Truck King is homegrown, tattooed red and white and very often frozen.

Heading to the Head Lake region of central Ontario marked the 11th year we had assembled and tested pickup trucks head to head; and this year we started with the three 2500-series HD diesel-powered trucks from the Big Three.

This year, we’ve also begun filming and releasing more than ever before, so you can also follow along with Truck King TV. Checkout this embedded video to see what we’re up to!


On hand we had:

2017 Ford F250 FX4 Lariat (*there are no changes for 2018)

  • https://www.facebook.com/TruckKingChallenge/

  • Engine: Power Stroke 6.7L V8 turbo-diesel
  • Horsepower: 440
  • Torque: 925
  • Transmission: TorqShift, six-speed, SelectShift automatic
  • Drive: 4WD with selectable two-speed transfer case
  • Wheelbase: 159.8”
  • Cab: Crew Cab – 4-door
  • Box: 6’ 9”
  • Rear axle ratio: 3.55 with electronic differential locker switch
  • GVWR: 9,900 lb
  • Payload limit: 3,350 lb
  • Bumper Tow limit: 17,600lb
  • Special feature: FX4 adds off-road tires and underbody protection. Base MSRP: $62,249.00 Price as tested: $92,364.0

2018 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 LTZ Z71

  • https://www.facebook.com/TruckKingChallenge/

  • Engine: Duramax 6.6L V8 turbo-diesel
  • Horsepower: 445
  • Torque: 910
  • Transmission: Allison six-speed automatic
  • Drive: 4WD with two-speed transfer case with hill descent control
  • Wheelbase: 153.7”
  • Cab: Crew Cab 4-door
  • Box: 6’6”
  • Rear axle ratio: 3:73 with auto-lock differential
  • GVWR: 10,000 lb
  • Payload limit: 2,513 lb
  • Bumper Tow limit: 13,000 lb
  • Special feature: Z71 adds off-road tires, skid plates & Ranchero shocks.
  • Base MSRP: $ 62,865.00
  • Price as tested: $ 79,805.00

2018 Ram 2500 Limited Tungsten Edition

  • https://www.facebook.com/TruckKingChallenge/

  • Engine: Cummins 6.7L I6 turbo-diesel
  • Horsepower: 370
  • Torque 800
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic *note Ram still offers a six-speed manual
  • Drive: 4WD with two-speed transfer case
  • Wheelbase: 149.5”
  • Cab: Crew Cab – 4-door
  • Box: 6.4”
  • Rear axle ratio: 3.42 with anti-spin differential
  • GVWR: 9,900 lb
  • Payload limit:
  • Bumper Tow limit:
  • Special feature: auto-leveling rear air suspension
  • Base MSRP: $69,995.00
  • Price as tested: $92,105.00

Normally the entries arrive at the 70-acre IronWood test site days before the judges so we can prepare them for hauling and towing and shoot video for our YouTube channel – Truck King TV. In the meantime they are all outfitted with digital data collectors. These gadgets plug into the OBDII readers on each vehicle and transmit fuel consumption data to a company in Kitchener, ON, (MyCarma) who records, compiles and translates those readings into fuel economy results from all the test kilometers we run.

These results are as real-world as it gets. We collect fuel consumption numbers for the empty runs, then loaded with payload (1,500 lb) and also consumption while towing (10,000lb). Each segment is measured during repeated test loops with the trucks being driven by the judges – one after the other. The complete fuel consumption report will be available here on our website very soon.

The Head River test loop itself is a combination of road surfaces and speed limits. At 17 km long it runs on gravel, secondary paved road and highway. There are three full stops and a five-minute idle period between loops. Speed limits vary from 50 to 80 km-h and the road climbs and drops 90 meters off an escapement–like ridge line several times; plus it crosses the Head River twice at its lowest elevation.

The judges score the trucks across 19 different categories – covering styling, occupant environment, noise/vibration/harshness, powertrain performance, vehicle dynamics and performance while empty, with payload and while towing. It’s these averaged scores that lead to an overall number.

And this is how the trucks faired during testing. Final scores are shown as total out of a possible perfect 100.

  • 2018 Ram 2500 – 72.4
  • 2017 Ford F250 – 75.4
  • 2018 Chevy Silverado 2500 – 80.7

 Congratulations to the Chevrolet Silverado for winning the 2500 HD segment at this year’s Challenge. The Chevy 2500 is also the overall winner of the 2018 Canadian Truck King Challenge.

Detailed scoring on the half-tons will be released soon.

So, while numbers often tell the tale, what follows are some comments that the judges recorded during testing. I ask them to record short comments/impressions on whatever strikes them as they are driving – good and bad – for each of these trucks. What follows is a cross-section of comments from all the judges on each one of the entries.

  • https://www.facebook.com/TruckKingChallenge/

2018 Ram 2500 Limited Tungsten Edition


  • Rear air suspension is great – auto-levels
  • Ram has the best trailer safety chain hookups
  • Only truck that has an analog DEF gauge in the dash
  • Seating and interior design still holding up well after several years without change
  • Excellent exhaust brake – rarely need brakes on long grades
  • Manual flip-up tow mirrors, very nice

  • https://www.facebook.com/TruckKingChallenge/

  • Cabin is noisy and the steering feedback chatters
  • Ride is stiff and noisier than the others
  • Cummins has the most turbo lag of the three.
  • Brakes can feel slightly spongy.
  • Still no damped tailgate from Ram
  • Passenger foot well is very constricted
  • Control buttons in centre stack are small and very low
  • Does not pull as well as Ford or Chevy when towing

2017 Ford F250 FX4 Lariat


  • Transmission shifts are smooth.
  • When towing it pulls strong and transmission doesn’t falter
  • Power Stroke has massive torque
  • Variable steering ratio works well – high speed and low speed
  • Tow mirrors are powered, heated and large
  • Flat floor in rear seat area is an excellent design feature
  • Has an electronic DEF gauge
  • Multiple camera’s offer good visibility and help hooking up

  • https://www.facebook.com/TruckKingChallenge/

  • Felt more body-roll than I’d like when driving empty
  • When towing the front end seems light
  • Very busy buttons/controls/screens
  • Trailer safety chain hookups at the hitch are small and too far under the bumper
  • Power tailgate with the integrated pull-out step makes it heavy to close

2018 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 LTZ Z71


  • Having Wifi in the truck is sweet
  • The overall handling can be described as nimble
  • Cabin noise level is very low
  • Exhaust brake and gear downshifts (while towing) worked well together
  • Allison transmission is so solid
  • Interior layout – simple, functional, neat and bright
  • Rear bumper step – smartly designed
  • Damped tailgate
  • Towing switches (trailer brake controller, 4WD, etc) well located
  • Steering feel, under load, good

  • https://www.facebook.com/TruckKingChallenge/

  • Suspension washes out in hard corners
  • No tow mirrors – (have to be ordered separately)
  • Standard bedliner is very slippery when wet
  • DEF tank hangs too low – real danger of getting cracked

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