By Cars.com EditorsMarch 8, 2017
About the video
Yes, a three-quarter-to pickup is designed to some heavy lifting, but that doesn’t mean they can’t look good doing it. We’ve collected the four top premium-packaged players in the heavy-duty segment to find out which manufacturer deserves the crown.
(upbeat music) We're here in Bullhead City, right on the Nevada Arizona border, where we're conducting our 2017 three quarter ton premium truck challenge. This is one we've been wanting to do for a long time.
Yes, we've taken these vehicles to the track, driven them in the real world and seen how they've performed of steep grades, not just uphill, but also to see how they perform, pulling a load down the hill. We had an expert group of truckers that let us know what they liked and didn't like about each of these vehicles. Here's what they had to say. First up, the Chevy Silverado 2500 Midnight Edition Z71. I got to say, I think the Chevy looks badass, that blacked out trim with the Z71 off road package really is a fantastic combination. A couple things I don't like about the Chevy, the seating position is really low, and the steering wheel isn't exactly in front of the driver. It's off centered a little bit on all the GM trucks. This is a problem. You know what I like about this truck in this segment is that GM has put a lot of energy and technology into the hood, not just the engine, but the actual hood. This is a big breather. And that's why we're seeing big power, but inside, huge problems. We need to upgrade this interior. In this segment, the bar is much higher than we're seeing right now, and come on, an exhaust brake with a diesel engine that you have to reach for. That should be very easy, right at hand, come on. We can do better than that. The Chevy has the most attitude out of the whole group, both in how it looks and how it drives, that massive hood scoop, the big meaty tires, and the blackout package with the midnight package is a very commanding presence on the road. When you see this thing in your rear view mirror, it definitely stands out. I don't particularly care for the noise that the mud tires are making compared to the competitors. They have a very definite whine at highway speeds. The other thing on the Silverado is it has a high hood scoop, which is great for helping that engine build a little bit more power and breathe better. The downside of that is that it blocks some of your frontal visibilities. Next up the Ford F250 Super Duty King Ranch. Ford's King Ranch has about every creature comfort you can think of. But one that I love for long distance towing is the seat massager, both for the passenger seat and for the driver's seat. The other thing I like about it from a contractor and workman standpoint is it has a whole array of already pre-wired overhead switches for auxiliary lighting. The F250's 360 degree camera is great for a truck this size. It's not the only truck to have this feature, but it definitely does it better than the Nissan. You have the camera's given a top-down view of the truck, so you can see the corners and the display is such higher quality than the Nissan. And the screen itself is bigger, and you just get a much better idea of what's around the truck. I have to hand it to Ford. They have done a lot of research and provided a lot of great features for people in this segment. Inside, completely flat floor in the rear passenger area. That means you can stuff a lot of cargo in back, and they also have some integrated little cubbies underneath the seats if you need to store individual things, or you even just have awkward cargo that you need to store in a lockable area. In the bed, tie downs at the top with locks and at the bottom, that's eight different tie-downs for any kind of load you could be carrying. I thought that the Ford Super Duty is a really nice truck. I really appreciate the visibility on the thing. It's got these cutouts on the lower windows on the side cells that make it really easy to see the mirrors, that make it easy to see the trailer. And now the Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve. The Nissan Titan is kind of the newcomer on the block, and it's got some good points, got some bad points. I think it's really comfortable. It's got a really excellent highway ride. You don't feel like you're riding in any kind of a larger, super duty, heavy duty truck. On the other hand, I'm not exactly sure what this vehicle is. I mean, we've got a heavy duty. We got a heavy duty. We have a super duty, and we kind of have a howdy duty. Not really sure what it's supposed to compare with. The big problem is towing. The powertrain really isn't suited for towing the same kind of loads that these other trucks have. So it's got a lot of slap. It's got a lot of play, and if it was really marketed as a less expensive alternative to a heavy duty truck, that would be okay, but it costs almost as much as the rest of these heavy duty trucks, and so that makes it a competitor. There's a lot to love about this vehicle. Not the least of which is a very well done interior. In fact, in the backseat, it's got all the storage capacity and hidden cubbies and configurability that any of the other competitors do, but there is no exhaust brake in this vehicle. Why have a powerful diesel engine, let alone a Cummins engine under the hood if you can't manually turn on your exhaust brake? The Nissan is the under-performer here and not just by a little, by a lot. It's significantly down in the power department, which you see in the specs, but you also feel it on the road. The acceleration just isn't there, that confidence while hauling payload just isn't there compared with the other truly heavy duty trucks. And finally, the Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn. What I do really like about this particular version is the off-road suspension. It really mellows out the ride quality of this truck. This is the first time I've driven this off-road package on a three quarter ton, and it definitely rides much smoother and less harsh than without this package. The Ram Longhorn is a great package for someone who wants the big rig sound. And that's one of the things I really loved about it. You hit the exhaust brake and it sounds like a big rig, two other items I like is the foot pedal adjustment, it's on the left side of the steering column. It makes it easy to get comfortable. And I also liked the position of the brake controller. It's up high on the right hand side. What's not to love here? Two heavy duty live axles and bill steam shocks. We love this four by four package. Love the fact that it rides so well, even though it's a big, heavy truck with monster payload and monster towing ability. But it's the little things that drive me nuts about this vehicle. Like the fact that there's no telescoping steering wheel. Yes, it has pedals that can go away or closer to me, but I've got to have some kind of adjustability for a vehicle at this price tag. There's a number of things I like about the Ram. I like the way it sounds. That Cummins engine is both powerful and sounds like a great big diesel truck should, the interior, I think is the nicest one here as well. It's a little bit cowboy kitschy for me. It's a little too Cracker Barrel on the inside, but the materials are fantastic. The fit and finish is fantastic. It's well screwed together. (upbeat music)