The flat asphalt strip at Milan Dragway was perfect for testing loaded and unloaded level-ground acceleration, but where a heavy duty pickup truly earns its keep is how well it performs climbing hills hauling and towing.
There were two ways we could have performed the grade testing of the seven gasoline and diesel trucks in our test.
The first was to find a challenging 'real-world' steady incline, like the Cajon or Grapevine passes near Los Angeles, or the infamous 12-mile, 7% ascent to the Eisenhower tunnel in Colorado. The second was to run our tests on much shorter, torturous hill climbs at Ford's Proving Grounds in Romeo, Michigan.
We chose Ford's Michigan Proving Grounds (MPG), for several reasons.
First, we wanted controlled conditions under which we could run repeatable and measurable standardized tests to compare the results of each truck, relative to both itself and the competition. Second, comparative testing on public highways is a crapshoot. There's a high likelihood you'll get stuck behind slower moving traffic and finding an exit to turn around and repeat a test can require several miles and lots of time - which we didn't have. And third, we drove more than 200-miles around the Detroit Metropolitan area, from test site to test site, so we spent a lot of seat time in the trucks loaded and unloaded.
We tested the three-quarter-ton and one-ton trucks on the 7% and 15% grades at MPG pulling 10,500-pound trailers. As mentioned above, you can find 7% grades on public highways but they are few and far between. And consider yourself lucky if you never encounter a 15% monster. Maybe you'll encounter a fifteen-percenter on a two-lane mountain road but certainly not on a major interstate highway.
That still left us with the one-and-a-half-ton Ford F-450. Like we said in Part 1, we asked Ford to prove how capable the F-450 is at towing - so we tested 'Big Dog Daddy' on the 7% and 15% grades, and (hide your children's eyes) a 25% grade pulling a 20,000-pound fifth wheel!
7% Grade Testing
Three-Quarter-Ton 7% Grade Testing
One-Ton 7% Grade Testing
15% Grade Testing
Three-Quarter-Ton 15% Grade Testing
One-Ton 15% Grade Testing
7%, 15%, and 25% Testing - One-and-One-Half-Ton Diesel Pickup
Ford F-450 Super Duty DRW Crew Cab 4x4 Diesel Pickup
More Head-to-head Performance Charts
We had so many head-to-head performance charts between these trucks we didn't know what to do with them. So click here to see them for yourself.
Power Pullers - Wrap-up
Summarizing our results was difficult, because each truck has strengths and features the others can't match - that go beyond pure performance scores.