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Which Heavy Duty Pickup Really is Best-in-Class?

By Stephen Elmer Jun 30, 2015 40
Which Heavy Duty Pickup Really is Best-in-Class?

Ram and Ford have been locked in a confusing best-in-class claim war for over a year, and last week more gas (or should we say diesel) was poured on the fire.

Ram announced that its 2016 Heavy Duty pickup trucks would be available with a “best-in-class” 900 lb-ft of torque and a maximum tow rating of 31,210 lbs, eclipsing Ford’s maximum torque and tow rating by 35 lb-ft and 10 lbs, respectively.

That very day, Ford issued a press release on its 2016 heavy duty pickups, claiming a “best-in-class” torque rating of 865 lb-ft and max tow rating at 31,200 lbs.

With lower numbers, this seemed like an error, or perhaps Ford didn’t have time to amend its release before seeing Ram’s new HD numbers. But Ford made it clear that this was no mistake.

“[Ford] Super Duty continues to have best-in-class horsepower (440) and standard torque (865 lb-ft),” wrote Ford Truck Communications Manager Mike Levine in an e-mail. The key word in his response was “standard,” as the 900 lb-ft of torque and subsequent max tow rating for the Ram HDs are only available if you get the upgraded Aisin transmission, allowing Ford to claim best-in-class standard torque.

16_SUPD_LineUp_mjThis may be technically true, but the first line of Ford’s press release reads, “2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty provides best-in-class maximum towing of 31,200 pounds.”

Is Ford’s release misleading? Ford doesn’t think so.

“There are no changes planned for our release, as the Ram HDs with the claimed ratings are not yet available for sale,” Levine said.

Ram says its updated HDs will hit dealers in the fourth quarter of 2015. So, can we assume that Ford will keep claiming its best-in-class tow ratings until the Ram HDs hit dealers?

What does Ram have to say about all this?

“RAM currently holds the titles for most torque at 900 lb.-ft. and towing capacity at 31,210 pounds,” says Ram Truck media relations manager Nick Cappa.

Clearly, neither company is ready to back down from its claim of being best-in-class, regardless of the holes in their reasons for doing so.

The controversy started last year when Ram announced its max tow rating was moving to a best-in-class 30,000 lbs for the 3500 HD. Ford quickly shot a rebuttal, saying that the F-450 could tow a maximum load of 31,200 lbs, and, therefore, was best-in-class.

Ram quickly pointed out that the rating was for an F-450, which is in a different class than its 3500. But Ford shot back, saying that despite its name, the F-450 is technically a class 3 pickup truck, thanks to its gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 14,000 lbs., putting it in direct competition with the Ram 3500.

GMC-Sierra-3500Where does GM stand in all this? Well, its HD trucks seem lackluster on paper with 765 lb-ft of torque and a max tow rating of 23,200 pounds. But after running through AutoGuide’s testing process, which included hitching up 15,000 lb trailers and loading 4,000 lbs worth of shingles in the bed, the GMC Sierra 3500 came out on top of the AutoGuide.com 2015 Heavy Duty Truck Comparison beating out the Ram and the Ford, and proving that numbers never tell the whole story. And GM never made best-in-class claims.

Truly, this best-in-class battle really only has one loser: the consumer. It seems trivial that automakers are fighting over a few pound-feet. As if the process of buying a new vehicle wasn’t convoluted enough, shoppers are being forced to read between the lines to sort out for themselves exactly which truck is “best-in-class.”

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