PickupTruck.com Heavy Duty Shootout, Part 2 of 3
Enter the Drag Strip
When the green light drops, the blah blah blah stops.
There are few automotive experiences that get your heart rate up or your hands sweating faster than rolling up to the starting block for the first run of the day at a drag strip. (Sitting next a six-foot tall brunette model inside the cabin of a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano 6.0-liter V12 at the North American International Auto Show is about the only thing we can think of.)
pulse surged even faster when we realized it wasn't just
our selfish pride that was at stake drag racing the guy in the
lane next to us - there was also skin in the game for the OEMs
who'd just loaned us the seven heavy duty pickups we'd be
Some may ask, what's the point of running heavy duty pickups through the 1/4-mile? Isn't the job of a three-quarter or one-ton rig to simply deliver a heavy load or haul a trailer from point A to point B? You'd be absolutely correct except for one circumstance where the 1/4-mile test almost always comes in as a handy measurement - getting on the freeway.
The tests we performed represent a reasonable scenario for those drivers interested in learning how quickly they can accelerate up to 60-mph plus to join the flow of traffic on a freeway, without holding other drivers up behind them or causing an unsafe situation in a slow moving vehicle towing a trailer.
As we mentioned in Part 1, we rented the asphalt at Milan Dragway, just outside Detroit. The track features an IHRA sanctioned 1/4-mile dragstrip. It's perfect for determining time and speed performance over a fixed distance, unloaded and loaded.
We originally set out to test all seven trucks at Milan, but due to time restrictions and the number of runs required for the trucks, only the one-ton diesel trucks were completed at Milan, plus the F-450 uninstrumented. We ran and completed testing all the three-quarter-ton gassers the next day at Ford's Michigan Proving Grounds (MPG).
All the runs at Milan were carried out at wide open throttle (WOT) in the normal 1/4-mile direction, using the right hand lane, starting from the regular start line. Every run was initiated by following the staging and countdown lights on the Christmas tree from a dead stop.
To make Milan a bit more interesting, we invited all the manufacturers to send as many PR and engineering folks as they wanted to observe the testing first-hand. Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford Motor Company all took us up on that offer and had at least one person onsite during the races. Some even took turns racing each other.
In the pictures that accompany this story, you'll see the trucks racing each other. However, Ricardo Inc. only collected metrics and data from one truck at a time using an Oxford Technical Solutions RT3102 - so how the trucks performed head-to-head with each other wasn't necessarily indicative of the final results you'll read about.
All the tests were conducted at Milan and MPG in 4 wheel drive (high range mode) with tow-haul engaged when towing, and disabled when not towing. A minimum of three runs was carried out in each configuration tested. The fastest runs are presented in the results.
We didn't have time but an interesting test would have been to have done these runs for three days, to see how the adaptive computer programs would have changed acceleration and shift points in the transmissions. Though under load, such as a trailer, we may have been close to our top parameters.