Out of Toyota, Ram, Chevrolet, and Ford; which is the better beast of burden? It is time to cut through the hype and determine which truck is truly the best machine for today's working man or woman. Ford flew me to their Proving Grounds test facility in Romeo, Michigan so that I could see for myself which out of the following trucks is the best in real world testing; not just numbers on paper.
Vehicles being tested:
- 2013 Ford F-150
- 2014 Chevrolet Silverado Z71
- 2014 Ram 1500
- 2014 Toyota Tundra
While it might seem unfair for the Ford being stacked up against vehicles from competitors who have had time to study the 2013 model and improve, the results beg to differ. Not only did the Ford prove more durable, capable, and safe; it also proved that the by even giving the other manufacturers a year's head-start still doesn't allow them to claim victory. Not to give the review away, but the Ford wins and I'll tell you why.
The first test is a towing exercise where each truck was given roughly 100' runway at full throttle to climb a half mile, 7% grade with 9,500 lbs in a box trailer. The Chevrolet, Dodge, and Toyota were all slower, more unstable, underpowered, and just generally felt less perfected than the Ford.
While driving the Ford, my driver confidence was high and I couldn't really even tell the load was back there. With no signs of surging during braking or acceleration, it is easy to forget you're hauling such a big load in the Ford. In the other trucks however, I was constantly reminded of the load thanks to an uphill struggle, constant surging, lack of proper hill decent control, and an occasional jolt from the trailer upon stopping.
Winner: 2013 Ford F-150
The durability test is where you take a specific test subject and put it through a controlled test of several real world variables. The durability tests conducted were performed on a pothole, varied terrain, cheeseboard, and cobble stone course. Each course was ran at the same speed for each vehicle and here are the results!
The Toyota suffered the worst out of the four trucks thanks to a lack of substantial support throughout the vehicle. During the tests, it felt as if the Tundra was falling apart. Well, actually a piece of the dash fell off during the cheeseboard, but it could easily be glued back on. Interior rattles were high, stability was null, and at times it felt like I was actually hurting the truck. Towards the end of the test, the Tundra clearly needed an alignment.
The Chevrolet and Ram were fairly comparable, except for the interior of the Chevy produced a lot of rattles, clanks, and vibration. During the cheeseboard exercise, the hood was gyrating so violently it appeared as if it was going to fly off! The interior of the Ram was put together very well, but the truck simply didn't handle on the cobblestone road and felt like it was going to pull me into the ditch. Had I not quickly counter-steered, I surely would have lost control.
The Ford performed flawlessly in all of the above tests and did not show any negative signs. The interior was extremely quiet and did not violently shake like the other trucks. The suspension was sturdy, and the truck just felt stronger overall. It did not require any counter-steering on the cobblestone, nor did any of the body panels appear to be vibrating off the frame. Noise was kept to a minimum, and power was always there throughout the trials and tribulations of the world's most extreme truck test.
Winner: 2013 Ford F-150
Braking and handling
The final test was done on the skid pad in wet conditions, and was setup to illustrate the ABS capability of the vehicles. The testing standard was set at 30 miles per hour, which I felt was extremely slow and didn't prove anything. I actually flew through the course at 50+ mph in the Tundra and with ABS fully engaged, I was able to navigate the cones with ease. Just my luck, I wasn't allowed to test the other trucks at this same speed and was forced to reduce my speed to 30 mph.
If I was able to test the other trucks at what I felt was an adequate speed, I might be able to actually tell you which vehicle performs best at emergency braking in wet conditions. However, being that I was forced to run 30 mph in the Ram, Ford, and Chevrolet; I regress my review and will just explain to you why I feel an ABS test at 30 mph isn't suffice for real world conditions.
I live in Florida, and here traffic travels at 70 mph on the interstate during heavy downpours with no problem. Performing an ABS test on a wet skid pad at even 50 mph is slow, let alone a crawl of infancy at just 30. At thirty miles per hour, the other trucks stopped almost instantly and there was no actual evasion made possible.
Overall, I have to say the Ford is a clear winner as shown in my video. Testing the trucks on a level play field, the Ford simply felt better, encouraged driver confidence, and was without the ailments shown in the competition. It is capable of towing with better poise, acceleration, cornering, and braking. The hill decent feature actually works, unlike the other vehicles which went in excess of 30 mph over my desired decent speed.
At the end of the day, if I was going to buy a 1/4 ton truck to haul loads up to 10,000 pounds, I wouldn't hesitate for a second. I'd run straight to my local Ford dealer and buy an F-150. They're that great of trucks!