Sister site PickupTrucks.com recently conducted a comparison test of three heavy-duty trucks: the 2018 Chevrolet 3500, 2018 Ford F-350 and 2018 Ram 3500. The requirements were straightforward: All competitors had to be 4x4 crew-cab, single-rear-wheel trucks powered by a diesel engine and equipped for towing fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailers. Target price: $75,000.
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Testing took these trucks through the hills and deserts of Arizona, as well as to a closed-off runway at an airport for acceleration and braking tests. All told, this was a close contest and one of the best apples-to-apples tests we've conducted in recent memory. Let's take a look at the competitors:
2018 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 High Country
Since there are really only four trucks in this class, and two of them — the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 and GMC Sierra 3500 — are made by GM, we asked for only one to represent the parent company. As such, we were given this Silverado 3500 High Country to test. The High Country is the top trim level on the Silverado, giving the truck its most luxurious interior.
Starting price on the Silverado 3500 High Country is $59,610, including a $1,295 destination fee. As with all the trucks, the diesel engine powering our tester was an option — and an expensive one at that. The turbo-diesel 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 engine and the transmission designed to accompany it, along with some extra diesel-specific features, cost $9,255 alone. The rest of the options on the truck totaled $2,100, bringing the final price to $70,965. According to Chevrolet, there is a discount of $750 available for the diesel engine package, which brought the price down to $70,215 and made the Chevrolet the cheapest of our three test vehicles.
2018 Ford F-350 Lariat
Second on the alphabetical list is the Blue Oval's entry, the 2018 Ford F-350 Lariat. The Lariat is not the highest trim level available on the F-350; that would be the Limited, which has a starting price more than $6,000 above our target of $75,000 with destination.
The Lariat model we tested starts at $53,830, including its $1,295 destination charge. Its 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel engine cost $8,995 to add and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the Chevrolet, however, there was more than $11,000 in additional options on this truck, including LED headlights ($1,080), a towing technology package that adds a trailer tow camera, trailering-specific blind spot warning and lane keep assist ($1,970) and a luxury package for the Lariat trim level that adds navigation and remote start ($3,255).
Final cost for the F-350 was $74,470 — that's $20,640 in options alone, as though the F-350 was some kind of German luxury car — making it the most expensive in the test.
2018 Ram 3500 Laramie
Last but not least was this 2018 Ram 3500 Laramie. Like the F-350, this is also not the highest trim level available on the Ram 3500; it's the third-highest behind the Laramie Longhorn and the ultimate Limited model.
Much like our other two competitors, the Ram 3500's turbo-diesel 6.7-liter Cummins six-cylinder engine was an expensive option, adding $8,700 to its final cost. Unlike the other trucks. However, the diesel engine offers different levels of power depending on the transmission chosen. This Ram 3500 used the Aisin six-speed automatic, which costs an extra $2,695 but enables the highest levels of performance from the engine — 385 horsepower and 930 pounds-feet of torque.
Additional options included a Sport Appearance Group package ($1,895) and black-painted aluminum wheels ($395) that gave the truck a menacing blacked-out look. Towing-friendly options included an auto-leveling rear air suspension ($1,595), and a cargo-view camera and stop lamp mounted high atop the center of the cab ($345).
The total cost of all the options on the Ram 3500 was $20,545, just $95 less than the Ford. The Ram also had the highest destination fee in the challenge at $1,645. All told, this drove the price of the Ram from a starting point of $53,890 to a final price of $74,435 — $35 less than the F-350.
Which of these trucks came out on top in this year's competition? Head over to PickupTrucks.com on July 30 to find out.
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