Which Heavy Duty Pickup Really is Best-in-Class?

Which Heavy Duty Pickup Really is Best-in-Class?

Ram and Ford have been locked in a confusing best-in-class claim war for over a year, and last week more gas (or should we say diesel) was poured on the fire. 

Ram announced that its 2016 Heavy Duty pickup trucks would be available with a “best-in-class” 900 lb-ft of torque and a maximum tow rating of 31,210 lbs, eclipsing Ford’s maximum torque and tow rating by 35 lb-ft and 10 lbs, respectively.

That very day, Ford issued a press release on its 2016 heavy duty pickups, claiming a “best-in-class” torque rating of 865 lb-ft and max tow rating at 31,200 lbs.

With lower numbers, this seemed like an error, or perhaps Ford didn’t have time to amend its release before seeing Ram’s new HD numbers. But Ford made it clear that this was no mistake.

“[Ford] Super Duty continues to have best-in-class horsepower (440) and standard torque (865 lb-ft),” wrote Ford Truck Communications Manager Mike Levine in an e-mail. The key word in his response was “standard,” as the 900 lb-ft of torque and subsequent max tow rating for the Ram HDs are only available if you get the upgraded Aisin transmission, allowing Ford to claim best-in-class standard torque.

SEE ALSO: Ford, Ram Fight Over HD Truck Tow Ratings

16_SUPD_LineUp_mjThis may be technically true, but the first line of Ford’s press release reads, “2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty provides best-in-class maximum towing of 31,200 pounds.”

Is Ford’s release misleading? Ford doesn’t think so.

“There are no changes planned for our release, as the Ram HDs with the claimed ratings are not yet available for sale,” Levine said.

Ram says its updated HDs will hit dealers in the fourth quarter of 2015. So, can we assume that Ford will keep claiming its best-in-class tow ratings until the Ram HDs hit dealers?

What does Ram have to say about all this?

“RAM currently holds the titles for most torque at 900 lb.-ft. and towing capacity at 31,210 pounds,” says Ram Truck media relations manager Nick Cappa.

Clearly, neither company is ready to back down from its claim of being best-in-class, regardless of the holes in their reasons for doing so.

The controversy started last year when Ram announced its max tow rating was moving to a best-in-class 30,000 lbs for the 3500 HD. Ford quickly shot a rebuttal, saying that the F-450 could tow a maximum load of 31,200 lbs, and, therefore, was best-in-class.

Ram quickly pointed out that the rating was for an F-450, which is in a different class than its 3500. But Ford shot back, saying that despite its name, the F-450 is technically a class 3 pickup truck, thanks to its gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 14,000 lbs., putting it in direct competition with the Ram 3500.

SEE ALSO: AutoGuide.com 2015 Heavy Duty Truck Comparison

GMC-Sierra-3500Where does GM stand in all this? Well, its HD trucks seem lackluster on paper with 765 lb-ft of torque and a max tow rating of 23,200 pounds. But after running through AutoGuide’s testing process, which included hitching up 15,000 lb trailers and loading 4,000 lbs worth of shingles in the bed, the GMC Sierra 3500 came out on top of the AutoGuide.com 2015 Heavy Duty Truck Comparison beating out the Ram and the Ford, and proving that numbers never tell the whole story. And GM never made best-in-class claims.

Truly, this best-in-class battle really only has one loser: the consumer. It seems trivial that automakers are fighting over a few pound-feet. As if the process of buying a new vehicle wasn’t convoluted enough, shoppers are being forced to read between the lines to sort out for themselves exactly which truck is “best-in-class.”

Discuss this story at our Ram Trucks Forum or our Ford Trucks Forum

  • Even the tow rating are at what percent of max load? Manufacturers do not rate the maximum tow due to consumers always overload the vehicles. Just curious…

  • smartacus

    Torque and Towing Too close to tell.
    The deciding factors will be everything else.
    -Do they both require AdBlue blinker fluid?

  • TravisRVandeusen

    ty tyt tyt

  • craigcole

    Frankly all of this back and forth is getting out of hand. Pretty soon everyone will be driving tractor trailers!

  • bcl187

    I want a ram 3500

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  • Eric Gilbertson Sr

    I would take a Cummins anyday over the powerstroke. Do yourself a favor if your in the market for one of these trucks, open the hood and take a peek. You can’t even see the engine on the powerstroke anymore and everything is liquid cooled so a radiator leak is disastrous. In relative terms the Cummins is still a simple I6 gear driven stump pullin torque monster.

  • colepole

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  • Spot

    I’ll take the f-450,if I recall correctly in your so called fair test the Ford was f-350 CCSB with single wheel with tall gears. The Dog (last place in the test) and Chevy were were both dual wheeled low geared long beads more suitable for a towing test. Even with the odds stack in favor of Dodge and Chevy the Ford as equipped almost won. Let’s retest with a f-450 with the same gears and duals.

  • Jeff

    The one loser is the consumer? Nah. Quit looking at a few measly numerical points on paper and buy whichever one you like without worrying about it being noticeably weaker than the competition. The only way you lose is when you pay 4 prices for a pickup truck, which is what all the makers charge.

  • Jeff

    Too bad dodge doesn’t make any extra cab versions (not quad cab or mega cab).

  • Sidney Porter

    The Ford F450 was running 410 gears the Ram 3500 was running 373 gears per Deisel Power magazine, an Gm’s LML 3500 W/373’S AN 397HP out done both Ram an Ford with less advertising 765lb. torque an 43 less HP THAN FORD an 12HP MORE THAN RAMS high out put engine 385HP W/Aisan Trans.
    I purchased the 2015 GMC Denali 3500 dually, the only complaint I have is GM is advertising an exhaust brake when it only has an enhanced transmission brake, I’ll get kick back on that, but an exhaust brake works at any speed an the so called DMAX, exhaust brake only works below 55mph that’s when the trans. Starts down shifting.

  • Sidney Porter

    U R on the wrong subject, this is not an advertising site, so take u’r BS elsewhere, if what u Clam was true u wouldn’t be telling anybody about it, that would cutt u’r so called income, so STFU.

  • Phil Hyde

    Horsepower. Why isn’t the Dodge mentioned? Because it’s probably still anemic. Torque just gets you moving – HP keeps you moving. Real-world towing with the Ford is better.

  • 2MileHi

    That ad pops up everywhere. Ignore it.

  • 2MileHi

    You’re onto something. I’m gonna buy me a Peterbilt SX15 Cummins Engine 550 hp. With sleeper. Won’t gotta tow nothin’!

  • ZTedster

    “With competitive manufacturers, the winners are the consumers.”

    I could not agree more.

    I have a 2002 F350 7.3 single wheeler. 360,000 miles and still going like the day I drove her off the showroom floor. I bought Ford because of the body style, and am quite certain RAM and GM make trucks just as well built. Just not quite as purdy as mine! 🙂

  • Sidney Porter

    How many times have u changed the glow plugs?

  • ZTedster

    Never replaced any glowplugs. I did have one cracked injector cup at 300k so I replaced all of them.

    A nipple on the hpop came loose at 165k and the guy who fixed it stripped it so I had to get a new hpop. After that I work on the truck myself. At 220k I replaced the fuel pump.

    One set of shocks, a tie rod, 4 sets of Firestone HTs, and many oil changes and 2 tranny fluid flushings with new filters and that’s it.

    I’ve kept her bone stock. Went a little wild and switched to K&N air filter and threw in a pair of jayzee step rails.

  • Diesel Driver

    LOL, I can’t even come close to affording one of these monster power trucks so I guess I’ll have to just opine that it all comes down to what you like. Do you like Government Motors and their tax dollar supported business, er, I mean their trucks (Chevy = GM) if you do, buy one. If you like V-8’s and their crowded underhood mess buy a Ford or a Chevy. If you like Fords buy a Ford. Me, I like the 5.9 cummins inline 6. Has enough torque to pull anything I am ever going to pull and it’s paid for. The money I’d spend on a newer truck can be spent on upgrades like a gear vendor O/D and hood louvers and a twin turbo to keep the EGT down. LOL I pulled my 30 foot Toyhauler from CA to AZ today on Interstate 40 and the only time I had to downshift was when big trucks blocked both lanes trying to pass on a grade. Dorks! 22 psi and 1200 EGT a couple of times but that’s within the bounds of ok. I don’t have to buy DEF, I don’t have to worry about a particulate filter being clogged. 161,000+ miles and I figure it’s just now getting well broken in. I am thinking about putting a P-pump on it if the VP44 goes out though. Cost about the same and never break again. Maybe a bit more for the required mods but that’s money in the bank and it’s EMP proof. LOL

  • Diesel Driver

    Don’t ignore it. Flag is so they get the trolls blocked maybe. Worth a try anyway.

  • Diesel Driver

    That’s funny because that’s the one thing I don’t like about my 01 Dodge, the backwards rear doors. I can deal with it… LOL I might consider putting the cummins into a nice Ford 4 door though. I am going to put a 4BT in my 1990 bronco which has about the most anemic 351 I’ve ever seen.

  • Diesel Driver

    My brother in law already did. Pulls a 35′ fifth wheel trailer with a 2 axle truck. Forgot the brand but it’s got a 335 horse Detroit Diesel. That tractor has some cools stuff, automatic greasing of bushings and ball joints amongst other things. Ug, 8 mpg though.

  • Diesel Driver

    Not all of us overload. Nor do all of us speed. I’m in an extraordinarily rare group of people who don’t do either. I get passed a lot…

  • Diesel Driver

    The thought just occurred to me, does the Cummins still have solid lifters? That was something that really surprised me when I learned that my 01 has solid lifters that need checked periodically. Sheesh. Low RPM engine should have hydraulics.

  • John Daly

    It depends how you look at it. Solid lifters dont leak or stick. They are only required to be checked and adjusted every 100k miles approx. and its pretty straight forward. I like the cummins simple robust construction. Just as others have noted I am at 138k miles on my 2005 and it runs like new.

  • mlewis73

    Stop the dadgummed horsepower and torque wars. Your trucks are already too expensive for most people to afford. You priced us out of the game YEARS ago.

    I will continue to drive my ’06 Ram 3500. It was the best available back then. After an unfortunate vandalism encounter a couple years ago, it will receive new paint this Fall and serve for another 12-15 years.

    No reason…NONE…we need to be playing the hp/torque wars. Time for a reliable diesel engine in the 350hp/650ft-lb range to be available in a well-equipped pickup costing no more than $40k. 7 year financing for A VEHICLE is absurd.

  • mlewis73

    This is why I’m keeping my ’06 Ram 3500/5.9L.

  • wilson

    Yep… and the writer of this article are, in another words, cheating the reader as well: The test GM came on top was with Ford’s last year smaller turbo! More over, just 4k weight won’t do the test and you know why they keep it too low? Just because GM can’t tow that much!!!!

  • 2MileHi

    I think they’re onto that. It’s likely computer generated. I don’t recall seeing the same name/address twice. But flagging is fine but likely meaningless.

  • 2MileHi

    x3, but dually with 113k!

  • 2MileHi

    “LOL, I can’t even come close to affording one of these monster power
    trucks so I guess I’ll have to just opine that it all comes down to what
    you like.”

    I thought a $68k Platinum F350 Pwrstrk I looked at was expensive until I talked with the owner of a new F150. who told me a new EgoBoost was $55k! You can get a well equipped 250 or 350 XLT diesel for a list of, what, $60 – 65? I can afford of of these monsters, but it’s got a lot to do with NOT spending my money that way. But, to each his own. I’m keeping my ’02 73, sub 500# torque and all!


    You forgot the dust up about using SAE J2807 standard for tow ratings.

  • aj

    4k pounds in the bed of any pick up is a lot. considering that roughly around 7k in the bed is about the max for payload for all makes. the smaller turbo that you speak of actually spools faster and makes roughly the same boost than the bigger one they have. also the test was made done with like vehicles. i dunno how much weight you pull down the road but 15k is a decent number the most I’ve pulled is a 22k pound goose (with a pick-up). saying that the gm can’t pull that much is naive. GM can tow 23k pounds thats a lot! its not the most that is offered by the makes but its still respectful. but i guarantee thats more than double what your tacoma can do.

  • Wilson Baird

    You got to be kidding. The bigger turbo makes 50 extra HP and much more torque. Gm is quiet because they know they can’t compete right now.

  • jab2020

    To me I don’t care what Ford thinks. They are just plan liars. They lie about gas milage and their trucks.

  • 2MileHi

    I got rid of the K&N a few years ago in favor of a Ford/Donaldson AIS. Along with a 6.0 trans cooler and keeping RPMs up on long upgrades here in the Rockies the 4R100 should last a lot longer even pulling near its max.

  • ztedster

    I’ve heard a lot of bad things about the 4R100, but I’ve never had a problem. I pulled a 12000 lb load for about 8000 miles all through the Rockies and never had a problem.

    I guess I got the luck of the draw with my truck. I take care of her and she just keeps holding up.

    But if I don’t get a million out of her I want my money back.

  • 2MileHi

    To be honest, I’m just guessing here. But I’m thinking that many of the transmission problems drivers have had with this transmission are a result of the inadequate stock cooler coupled with a POC stock trans. temp. gauge. My original equipment gauge rises to the normal operating range within a couple hundred yards of the house, while my add-on gauge is still locked on cold. And the stock gauge never moves until it pops into the red after things are overheated. That is why I have an add-on gauge and a 6.0 cooler.

  • Jim Murphy

    I love my 2006 2500 Diesel Dodge. Only 90,000 miles, looks & Drives like new. Stil get 12 mpg pulling 12k 5th wheel at 70 mph.

  • macs

    Agreed. I have an 06 LBZ Duramax 2500HD. Bought it in 2008 with 15k miles on it and now has 260,000 miles and it still runs great. Doesn’t even burn any oil to speak of between changes. No reason to buy a newer truck and get into debt again.
    Love them 06 diesels!

  • Bill Durham

    I hear ya. My 01 F-250 with 250k runs just fine. I would like to hear braking stats. Pulling doesn’t seem to be a problem, it is stopping 31,000 lbs. that worries me.

  • Mtn_Man

    Remember that, material is10% of the total cost of goods. The rest covers the six and seven figure salaries the white shirts get. Cut that down and we could have a $40k truck.

  • Wayne Wilkie

    I tow new rv’s for a living. Average 6000 kms every week in a stretched 06 Ram 3500 dually. 6 speed with a dual disc clutch puts the power down. The overwhelming majority of people in the business are running Dodge/Ram’s. A good number of those, like me are running the 5.9 li. All the power you want/need, decent fuel mileage and bullet proof. There are GM’s and Ford’s out there to be sure, and they do the job nicely. Like Ford/GM/Ram, buy one, look after it and it will look after you. This argument about which brand is best will go on forever. It provides entertainment and nothing much else.