2007 PickupTruck.com Heavy Duty Shootout, Part 1 of 3
Pickup truck Heavy Duty shootout 2007
Introduction and Some History
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost five years since PickupTruck.com was challenged by its readers to quantitatively prove our assertions about which Class 3 heavy duty diesel pickup was the most capable of that time.
In late 2002 the diesel market was changing rapidly from intense competition between Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. All had new or significantly revised diesel engines.
GM and Isuzu Motors had teamed up to produce the 6.6-liter Duramax V8. The Duramax, and its Allison-sourced gearbox, was a completely fresh design for GM. It was such an improvement over the old 6.5-liter engine it replaced that GM’s diesel market share increased from 3% to 25% in a single year after its release in 2000. Output was rated at 520 ft-lbs of torque at 1,800-rpm and 300-hp at 3,100-rpm. The race for the best, most powerful next-gen diesel was on.
In February 2002, Dodge and its powertrain partner Cummins came forward with a reengineered 5.9-liter I6. It introduced a high-pressure, common rail fuel-injection system and was capable of producing 555 ft-lbs at 1,400-rpm and 305-hp at 2,900-rpm.
Finally, in spring 2002, Ford threw down the gauntlet with Navistar to introduce the new 6.0-liter Power Stroke V8 diesel for the 2003 Super Duty. It replaced the earlier 7.3-liter PSD and pioneered new engine technology, like an electronic variable response turbo to dynamically manage airflow. The 6.0 PSD also claimed best in class torque and horsepower figures, at 560 ft-lbs at 2,000-rpm and 325-hp at 3,300-rpm.
So when Ford invited us in October 2002 to drive the new 6.0-liter PSD and our initial impressions said this was the best motor in its class, we were promptly skewered by our (Duramax and Cummins) readers because we didn’t have empirical data to back up our claims.
(The 6.0 PSD would later suffer from notorious reliability issues that continue tohaunt and sour the Ford-Navistar relationship to this day.)
The ‘we’ in this story was Mike Levine, PUTC’s editor, and Tom Keefe, a top-notch marketing and communications consultant who had helped GM launch the GMT 800 pickups and the Duramax.
In the incredibly short time span of three weeks, Tom and Mike pulled together six different heavy duty diesels from Dodge, Ford, and GM for a head-to-head challenge to determine which pickup was most capable.
While Mike looked for a sponsor, Tom managed all of the logistics. He setup the tests, ran the trucks in Michigan, and managed the third party vendor, Ricardo Inc., we hired to independently collect data about each truck.
Without Tom’s help, passion, and knowledge, the 2003 Western Diesel PickupTruck.com Heavy Duty Diesel Shootout would never have happened. But it did and it became the most popular story we’ve ever had on the site.
Tom passed away in 2003. For all of us who knew Tom, we’ll always remember him as one of the most knowledgeable and kind-hearted truck guys around. This year’s comparison is in his memory.
Cover up your trailer hitch with trailer hitch plugs
The 2007 Shootout
It’s ironic that this year’s test also came together in a very short time span – about five weeks. But there are some notable differences from 2002.
The full-size pickup segment continues to change rapidly. Nissan and Toyota didn’t have competitive full-size, half-ton haulers back in 2002. Now they do, so the heavy duty three quarter and one-ton segments represent the very last bastion of complete market domination by the Detroit Three in personal-use vehicles.
Like 2002, there are three all new or updated diesel engines we’re comparing but it’s not necessarily the competition that’s driving change so much as it’s new federal regulations implemented to strictly control diesel soot and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions. More about this later.
We’re no longer limiting the comparison to just lean burning diesels. This year we’ve broken the HD trucks into two groups. The first group is single rear wheel (SRW) three-quarter-ton crew cab short-bed 4x4s with gas engines. The second group is dual rear wheel (DRW) one-ton crew cab long-bed 4x4s with compression ignition motors. They are all automatics, since the trend among buyers is moving away from manual transmissions. GM no longer offers an HD pickup with a manual shifter.
There’s one more diesel – but it’s in a class all its own. We’ve included Ford’s all new 2007 F-450 Class 4 pickup. It’s the first one-and-one-half-ton chassis cab truck to come from the factory with a standard truck bed. We’re guessing it won’t be the last of its kind either.
And joining up with PickupTruck.com to help with this comparison is Kent Sundling – a.k.a. MrTruck.com. Kent knows everything there is to know about towing and hauling. After all, Kent has a ‘BS in Trucknology’. We’re very pleased to have Kent on board for this comparison. If you haven’t done so, you need to take some time to visit Kent’s many truck websites.
We’ve kept the test scenarios the same as the 2002 Shootout plus added a few new ones.
Each test was performed unloaded and towing a 10,500-pound trailer. This put us just a hair over current light duty towing thresholds for most half-ton pickups, except for the 11,000-lb capable Ford F-150.
Before the testing started, we topped off each vehicle with fuel and measured their curb weight, minus passengers, at a truck stop in Monroe, Michigan.
PickupTruck.com rented Milan Dragway, about 45 miles southwest of Detroit, to run our one-ton ¼-mile tests down their International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) sanctioned asphalt. We think we broke two track records (but not the track) for the heaviest and longest vehicles to ever travel its 1,320-foot length, with the F-450 towing a 20,000-pound fifth wheel. Hey – we don’t mess around with our testing.