All nineteen trucks were put through a series of tests to find out how they performed. All trucks were tested within their class, back-to-back. Not all trucks performed all the tests. For example, the one-ton trucks were not tested off-road. Their strength is in towing and hauling. And the mid-size trucks and full-size V6 trucks were not subjected to the 15-kilometre burdened road test.
From left to right: Grant Yoxon, Paul Williams, Rob Davidson, Charles Renny, Howard Elmer, Eric Descarries. Click image to enlarge
Testing was conducted by a group of six Canadian automotive journalists with experience in testing trucks. They included Howard Elmer, PowerSports Media Services, automotive writer (Toronto Star, RV Gazette Magazine, Ontario Snowmobiler Magazine and ATV World, among others) and organizer of the Canadian Truck King Challenge; Rob Davidson, videographer and automotive journalist (Discovery Channel, Autos); Autos writers Paul Williams (also chair of the Car of the Year Committee for the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada) and Grant Yoxon, Managing Editor, Autos; Quebec-based writer Eric Descarries (La Presse, Tire News, Pneu Mag, Le Garagiste, CAMAUTO Plus, L’Echo du transport and more); and Charles Renny of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina LeaderPost, The Toronto Sun, The Western Producer, and others). During the course of testing the judges, cumulatively, drove over 2800 km and spent more than 130 hours testing.
The tests were conducted at a private 70-acre facility near Head Lake, about a two-hour drive north of Toronto in the Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario. An off-road course was constructed through rocky and hilly terrain. Old farm fields on the site were ideal for the dead weight pull.
The local roads in this region are a mixture of secondary paved and hard surface gravel. But, there are also many old colonization roads that are poorly, or no longer, maintained – ideal for truck testing.
The Dead Weight Pull
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The dead weight pull was conducted on a graded, packed dirt/gravel mix. A stoneboat (a flat bottomed steel container) was loaded with 2,500 lbs and was attached to the hitch of the test truck by a tow harness. The stoneboat must be pulled a distance of 10 feet to complete a successful pull. This was measured using a 10-foot chain attached to the boat on one end and a steel stake on the other. The stake was pounded into the ground – a pull was complete when the stake fell. As each pull was completed – additional weight (in 100lb sandbags) was added to the stoneboat.
A pull was over when the test truck stood in place while spinning its tires (more than one full revolution). If at that point the truck had not completed its 10-foot pull it could be repositioned, and a second pull attempted. If on this second attempt the test truck again spun its tires the attempt was over and a final weight measurement was taken.
The 20-km Unburdened Road Test
This road test was conducted on public roads. The test covered secondary paved highway, county road pavement, county road gravel, un-maintained county roads and abandoned colonization roads. During the road test – stopwatch acceleration measurements were taken. But, the bulk of the scoring for this test was subjective and the final outcome blended the results of all six testers’ reports who evaluated ride quality, build quality, control evaluation, visibility, ergonomics and noise levels.
The 15-km Burdened Road Test (including weighted trailer)
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Each test truck (except the mid-size segment) towed a trailer with a load on. The exact weights varied by class, but each truck in a specific segment carried the same weight. This load did not exceed the lowest published manufacturer’s recommended GVWR. The shortened course left out the un-maintained roads in the unburdened road test loop. The judges conducted the same tests, excluding acceleration and braking, as in the Unburdened Test, but with an eye to the truck’s ability to handle its load and tow the weighted trailer. Trailers were kindly supplied by NorthTrail Trailers and the hitches and balls by REESE.
The Off-Road Capability Test
This test was conducted on a specially built course that tested all aspects of a truck’s off-road ability. The object of this test was to simulate conditions that construction, service and recreational vehicles may encounter during a normal workday – or on a play weekend. The trucks navigated a rough hilly trail, crossed a fallen stone wall, followed a trail, traversed a loose earth course and a log strewn pit then returned doing the course in reverse – specifically to have them descending and climbing.
The Utility Test
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The Utility Test was in large part a static test that was judged subjectively. The six judges loaded each truck, in turn; with a choice of items to test each truck’s utility. Timber, chains, tools, saws, fishing gear, barrels were used, and ATVs were loaded and unloaded. Bed heights were measured, tailgates evaluated, tie-downs used and any liners, lockers or other cargo area features (like lights or power outlets) examined. In the cab testers looked for space for power tools, personal gear, muddy boots as well as convenient locations for items such as a laptop and a cell phone. Each tester scored the truck for its utility – individually.
Two other items were recorded and had an impact on the final scoring. These were the MSRP of each truck and the final fuel consumption. MSRP added or subtracted from the overall score on a sliding scale, while fuel consumption was determined by starting with full fuel tanks, refilling the tanks at the end of the three-day test and dividing against the total kilometers traveled.