By Jil McIntosh

The Trucks

  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Crew Cab 4×4 LTZ, 6.6-litre Duramax diesel, $72,410
  • Dodge Ram 3500 Quad Cab 4×4 SLT, 6.7-litre Cummins diesel, $60,880
  • Ford F350 Crew Cab 4×4 Lariat King Ranch, 6.4-litre PowerStroke diesel, $73,439
  • Ford F450 Crew Cab 4×4 Lariat King Ranch, 6.4-litre PowerStroke diesel, $76,359

The Winner

  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Crew Cab 4×4 LTZ

Our Take

Four trucks fought this battle, but because the two Fords were so very similar, we took only one on the towing and off-road course. All were diesels with dual rear wheels. Partly because it’s not their reason for being, and partly because the path just wasn’t wide enough, all one-tons stayed out of the woods, and off-roading was restricted to a log-strewn ditch and a series of dips and mounds.

The Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Crew Cab LTZ used a 6.6-litre Duramax turbo diesel with six-speed Allison automatic transmission, making 365 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque ($72,410). Ride comfort was the best of the group, as was its confident towing feel, which was made even better by the braking assist provided by the excellent Allison unit when slowing down. The interior was very well done overall; we found the automatic climate controls intuitive, but the buttons were too small, and the lack of an assist handle over the driver’s door was unforgivable given the truck’s height. Still, this one should hit its target market on the strength of its perfectly-matched engine/transmission combination alone.

2008 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 LTZ
2008 Dodge Ram 3500 SLT Quad Cab
2008 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 LTZ (top) and 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 SLT Quad Cab. Click image to enlarge

The Dodge Ram Quad Cab SLT used a 6.7-litre Cummins turbo diesel engine with six-speed automatic, making 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque ($60,880). Like the Chevrolet, we found it very quiet for a diesel, and liked its ride comfort once a trailer was attached; brake pedal feel was the best of the group, with good bite near the top of the pedal. We thought its plastic-heavy interior looked cheap for the price, though, and the vents were difficult to move, especially with gloves. While we preferred the Chevrolet’s Allison transmission, we found the two engines equal in smoothness, acceleration and noise.

The Ford F350 CrewCab Lariat King Ranch came with 6.4-litre PowerStroke turbo diesel with five-speed transmission ($73,439); like the Dodge, it also produced 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, but we found it noisier and more clattery than the Silverado or Ram. Ford also entered an F450, in the same body configuration, engine capacity and trim line ($76,359); the differences were a higher payload (4,830 lbs versus 5,720 lbs) and towing capacity (15,000 lbs versus 16,000 lbs).

2008 Ford F450 Lariat King Ranch
2008 Ford F350 Lariat King Ranch
2008 Ford F450 Lariat King Ranch (top) and the King Ranch interior. Click image to enlarge

While acceleration was good under load in the F350, we found the front end got lighter than we liked with the trailer, and brake pedal feel was not as confident as the Dodge or Chevrolet. Ride comfort was good, though, and despite the noisier engine, cabin intrusion was well-managed.

All the judges agreed on the superb quality of the King Ranch interior, but were sharply divided on its aesthetic appeal: some found it very handsome, while others thought it gaudy, especially with the stark contrast in colours. The buttons for the automatic climate control were intuitive but small; other controls proved big and easy to use, especially the massive vents.

The big Fords came with a brilliant tailgate system. First, drop the tailgate, and then pull out the centre section, which folds down into a step. Then, release a handle tucked into the inside of the gate, and stand it straight up. Rather than trying to find a toehold on the bumper and a handhold on the box side, you now have a convenient step with handle for pulling yourself up. Here’s hoping this finds its way onto every truck, no matter what its size.

Overall, all of the one-ton trucks did what they were supposed to do: they pulled their hearts out, moving heavy loads with little effort. Based on comfort and performance, though, we weighed this one toward the Silverado.


Judging the Truck King Challenge

The tests

Mid-size trucks

Half-Ton under 5.0-litre

Half-Ton over 5.0-litre

Three-quarter Ton Pickups

More from the 2008 Canadian Truck King Challenge….

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