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Truck King Challenge February 2015

Who rents a drag strip, borrows seven-ton fifth wheel trailers and has five respected automotive journalists race one-ton trucks head to head? We do. The eighth annual Canadian Truck King Challenge did just that (and much more) to clearly show truck buyers who is the best of the best for 2015.


January 9, 2015
By Howard J. Elmer

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Who rents a drag strip, borrows seven-ton fifth wheel trailers and has five respected automotive journalists race one-ton trucks head to head? We do. The eighth annual Canadian Truck King Challenge did just that (and much more) to clearly show truck buyers who is the best of the best for 2015.

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Big Three heavy duty pickups faced off again in the 2015 Truck Challenge. In addition to the usual load-pulling and fuel-consumption tests, this year’s competition also took the trucks for a spin on a speed trace in Grand Bend, Ont. Your winner: the GMC 3500.


 

This year, three heavy-duty pickups from Ram, Ford and GMC ran head-to-head at the Grand Bend, Ont., MotorPlex drag strip while towing 15,000-pound trailers as just one part of two intensive days of Truck King testing. The outcome? The GMC Sierra 3500 beat the Ford and Ram in each heat. It would also go on to win the title.

But, back to the drag strip. A curious fact emerged during this testing. On paper, the GMC boasted the least amount of horsepower and torque among the competitors. Yet it won each race. We ran it several times, with the trailer and without. It pulled away from its competition each time. And that’s the difference between real-world testing and paper tigers.

Here are the quickest quarter miles from each truck taken from multiple runs:

  • GMC: 16.098 seconds when running empty, 21.932 seconds with trailer attached.
  • FORD: 16.542 seconds when running empty, 23.303 seconds with trailer attached.
  • RAM: 16.927 seconds when running empty, 23.581 seconds with the trailer attached.

The trap speed for all three trucks (at the quarter-mile line) was always plus/minus one mile per hour of 80 MPH. Trap speed with a trailer attached, again for all three trucks, was also plus/minus one mile per hour of 60 MPH.

GM’s heavy duties are not new to the Truck King podium. The Chevy Silverado HD took the title in 2013 but failed last year mostly due to its dated interior. This year that’s changed with a significant interior refresh. But what really put it over the top are new electronic systems for 2015 that can only be felt, not seen. And those can only be really appreciated when towing.

After eight years of testing trucks most readers are familiar with our methods and while locations sometimes change, the methodology remains the same. We use multiple qualified automotive journalist judges who drive the trucks back to back in the same conditions on the same day.

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This real-world energy test utilized the MyCarma/FleetCarma monitoring process. All vehicles were equipped with cellular on-board loggers capable of measuring real-world fuel consumption. All results were measured using a FleetCarma C5 logger. These units plug into the OBD port of the vehicles and obtain both standard and proprietary signals required for energy analysis. The specific setup and configuration was done on-site by a FleetCarma support technician.


 

We always start with empty loops, then we add payload and finally towing (with the payload removed). Over the years we have always kept track of our fuel consumption during each of these tests, however, our pencil and paper calculations were replaced last year with electronic data readers that take that information directly from the trucks computer. These readers are plugged into the OBD port on each truck and record speed, distance, time and even hard acceleration and braking events. Needless to say, this is much more accurate in determining fuel consumption. This was our second year using the readers – they will be standard testing equipment during all Truck King events from now on.

Once again we spent two days driving around southwestern Ontario. The first day we ran the trucks empty from Toronto to London (200 km). Next we loaded up at Patene Building Supply in London. Supplier IKO has helped us out for several years now by preparing pallets of shingles to use as payload. In this case each pallet weighed 4,080 pounds, exactly. The dimensions of each pallet were four feet wide and four feet high by five feet long. After loading we took the shingles for a 200-km ride, switching up trucks every 30 minutes.

The next morning saw us hooking up fifth wheel travel trailers at our other partner’s place of business: CanAm Trailer Centre. We hitched them to three similar fifth-wheel RV trailers. These weighed in at around 14,500 pounds each. We then spent the day doing a 300-km tour with the judges, which included a three-hour stop at the drag strip in Grand Bend.

As always, each judge (five for this competition) scored each truck independently and the final outcome is an average.


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