By Cars.com EditorsAugust 7, 2017
About the video
Our three judges put their heads together to discuss the pros and cons from our 2017 One-Ton Heavy-Duty Challenge. How does the all-new Super Duty measure up against our previous one-ton contest winner, the GMC Sierra 3500?
(pedal latch clicks) (ladder scrapes in) <v Mark>We're here on the banks of the beautiful and bug-infested Colorado River, where we're conducting our latest head-to-head challenge.
This time, the 2017, GMC 3500, Denali trim package, against the all new, 2017, Ford Super Duty F-350. Now the GMC, if you remember, was our, past One-Ton Challenge winner, and now the all new Super Duty is challenging for that top spot. Now we're here, with our two truck experts. On my right is Brian Wong. He was our hot shoe for this test at the track. And on my left, Aaron Bragman, consummate truck expert, and also car expert at Cars.com Brian, the first thing we did was get to the track. Talk to me about some of your impressions, taking both of these vehicles down the quarter mile. <v Brian>Yeah, these two trucks have very similar power numbers. Both their engines make very similar horsepower, and torque numbers. And they're also pretty similar in weight considering their size. There's only about a 200 pound difference between the two of them. And that is reflected in the numbers that we got for our testing. There was only a 1300th difference in the 0 to 50 time, unloaded, between the Ford and the GMC. So the GMC ran in 8.14, and the Ford was at 8.27. However, when we moved to our loaded runs, which was with 4,000 pounds of sand in the back, we got a little bit more of a gap. It seemed that the Ford would, shift a little bit earlier. We put them both in Tow/Haul mode, and it seemed like it was cutting, and moving up in gears too quickly before it really got into the power. So we had three times of gap and the 0 to 50 times between, the unloaded run and the loaded run. We should talk a little bit about the engine. So it's an all new engine in the GMC. <v Brian>Yeah. It's past winner, but a brand new Duramax engine, still the same size, 6.6 liter against the 6.7 liter, essentially a carry-over engine from the previous model but everything else on the Super Duty- is different. So that's head to head competition. <v Brian>Yeah. <v Mark>If you had to choose, one over the other, right now you think the GMC, would stand a little out... <v Brian>Yeah. I'm leaning towards the GMC, just because the difference in driving them loaded, was pretty stark. I mean, in my head, I was thinking, why is it changing gears on me at this point? I feel like it had more to give in that gear. And that's reflected in the larger gap in the time we ran them loaded. Now being on the track, obviously isn't a real world comparison. Aaron, talk to me about how these did, how they felt to you on the highway. <v Aaron>It's really quite astonishing to me, the Super Duty, the last one I drove in the last big test that we did, it really wasn't all that good. It was bouncy. It was choppy. It hunted a lot. It felt really kind of primitive. You had to go to the bathroom every time you got out of the thing, because it would beat your kidneys up as you were driving. The new one is a world better. It is so much more smooth. It is so much more composed. Steering is better. Ride is better. It feels like it's never running out of power. I really did enjoy the Ford. The GMC feels a little bit older. It is an older truck, but that new engine really does make a difference. It doesn't lack for power. It doesn't lack for performance at all. It's a really close competition, head to head. They both have their strengths, they both have their weaknesses, but they can both do the tasks that we've thrown at them, without a problem. Brian, Um hun? talk to me about how it felt off the track, and as we were doing our real world driving. Yeah, I mean, unlike Aaron, I didn't have a chance to actually test out the old version of the F350, but that being said, both of them, for being giant trucks, they actually ride really well on the highway. I think that one of the things that you look for when you're driving these on-road, is that they feel smaller than they actually are. You want a big truck, you want the stability, you want the capability, but you don't want it to drive small, when you're on the highway. You don't want it to be swimming. You don't want the back end jostling around. And I think they actually both did a very good job of that. I agree with Aaron, it's really close on road performance. <v Aaron>When we put that enormous trailer behind the Ford, and loaded it up to what, 12,000 pounds of payload, you didn't feel it necessarily, back there pushing the truck around, at all. It felt solid. It felt planted. There wasn't any kind of drama necessarily, aside from the fact that it was incredibly long trailer. It really worked very well. They've done an excellent job on the new ones. <v Mark>And we should make the point, That's 12,000 pounds of payload we put on an 8,000 pound trailer. So it's pulling around 20,000 pounds with both trucks gives you a pretty clear idea, on whether the engineers have nailed it or if they've pulled back a little bit. But more to talk about is, the idea of the size of these vehicles. There is a bit of a size difference between them. The GMC is a smaller truck. It feels smaller inside, the cabin is a bit more cramped. The Ford feels and looks massive. When you're walking up to it, the thing sits super tall. To me, it doesn't feel like a small truck at all. I think the handling differences though, are really where it starts to differentiate. I think the GMC handles very differently than the Ford. It's a lighter truck, for one thing. It's just more compact in it's dimensions. I think it's more responsive. The Ford feels a little bit more isolated, a little bit more, disconnected from what's going on around you. <v Mark>Okay, we've talked about the track, we've talked about driving them in the real world, we've spent a lot of time with them over the last several days. What quirks are standing out to you? What things do you like and not like about them? Aaron. Well, I know I liked the Ford's interior technology. There's a lot of really cool tech in there, but the interior itself, doesn't feel as expensive as I would've hoped it would be. A lot of the plastics are this metallic kind of sheen to them. They don't feel good, they kind of tap hollow when you touch them, and just some of the other, unusual quirks with it, when you step- on the running boards they creak. And not just me, we're talking about some of our smaller staff as well. Step on the running boards- and they're Chrome clad, which is a cheap way of making a metal thing, and they don't seem to be attached to the actual frame. So they flex a little bit, they creak, and it doesn't give you that initial, really good quality impression when you open the door, you step on the thing and it goes, creak, okay. Okay. Interesting. Brian, anything stand out or jump out at you? Yeah, I would really second what Aaron said about the technology in the Ford. The camera technology is excellent. All the different views you can get, of, the bed, even around the corners of the truck, the around view monitor, which is super important when you're parking and doing things like that. The other thing I didn't like about the Ford is, the seats. So they sent us a Lariat trim, and Ford has a very wide range of seats that they put in their trucks. And the one in this one is just not a personal favorite of mine. I couldn't get comfortable in it, for short distances, for long distances, it's kind of a weird seating position. <v Aaron>For sure. The seat bottoms- themselves are extremely short, and it feels like there's a lump in your back, even though when you have for lumbar all the way deflated, they're long-term, not very comfortable. The GMC on the other hand, definitely is. There's much longer seat, you're sitting a little bit lower and it as well, it's just that the GMC is ready for it's update there. You can tell that they're just, there should be some new ones coming over the next year or two. But the current one, while it works fine, and it also has some interesting camera technology, it has the Honda LaneWatch basically, (Brian laughs) but for left and right, and when you're turning the corner as well. But it is, it is ready for its update, it's ready for something new I think. <v Mark>It's probably worth noting that the seats in the Lariat, that's a mid-level trim package. The Denali- that's their top of the line, for what it is right now. So, yeah, the direct comparison might not even be good from a price point of view. I think it's right around $69,000 for the Denali? <v Brian>Yeah, the Denali is around 69,5 and the Lariat comes in around 73. So I think that it is an apt comparison to make, because if you're jumping up even higher than for it's trim levels, the price will jump commensurately. So. Yeah, that makes sense. What stood out to me in the Super Duty in particular, as you could, essentially program that whole, whole information screen that you have there, you can find out exactly how much DEF fluid you have, your boost gauge you can pop up there, and you get a ton of information right at your thumbs, which is a wonderful thing to have when you're worried about everything that's going on around you, or with a 20,000 pound trailer that you have, what's behind you as well. <v Aaron>Especially with, you've got so much information on you in the digital gauge cluster, right in front of you. Even just what gear you are in, and using the towing function with your little, with your thumb trigger, to decide which gear you want to keep it in, or which gears you want to lock out, entirely. They won't even let it go into fourth or fifth gear. <v Mark>Yeah. So, that kind of flexibility and the ability to use those things, just that, it makes a world of difference. Thank you guys. We talked about their strengths and some weaknesses, and we're not telling anything about who's going to win this competition, but if you want to find out more, go to pickup trucks.com.