PickupTruck.com Heavy Duty Shootout, Part 3 of 3
3:   
   
It's All Uphill From Here
The flat asphalt strips at Milan Dragway and Ford's Michigan Proving Grounds (MPG) were perfect for testing loaded and unloaded level acceleration, but where a heavy duty pickup truly earns its keep is how well it performs climbing hills hauling and towing.
There were two ways we could have performed our grade testing.
The first was to find a challenging 'real-world' incline out west, like the Cajon and Grapevine passes near Los Angeles, or the infamous 12-mile, 7% ascent to the Eisenhower tunnel in Colorado. The alternative was to run our tests on the much shorter, torturous hill climbs at Ford's Proving Grounds in Romeo, Michigan.
We chose Ford's Michigan Proving Grounds, for several reasons.
First, we wanted controlled conditions under which we could run repeatable and measurable standardized tests to compare the results of each truck, relative to itself and the others. Second, comparative testing on public highways is a crapshoot. There's a high likelihood you'll get stuck behind slower moving traffic and finding an exit to turn around and repeat a test can require several miles and lots of time - which we didn't have. And third, we drove more than 200-miles around the Detroit Metropolitan area, from test site to test site, so we spent a lot of seat time in the trucks loaded and unloaded.
We tested the three-quarter-ton and one-ton trucks on the 7% and 15% grades at MPG pulling 10,500-pound trailers. As mentioned above, you'll find 7% grades on public highways but they are few and far between. And consider yourself lucky if you never encounter a 15% monster. Maybe you'll encounter a fifteen-percenter on a two-lane mountain road but certainly not on a major interstate highway.
That still left us with the Ford F-450. Like we said in Part 1, we asked Ford to prove how capable the F-450 is at towing - so we tested 'Big Dog Daddy' on the 7% and 15% grades, and (hide your children's eyes) a 25% grade hauling a 20,000-pound fifth wheel!
A gentle reminder to our readers. When we put together the 2007 Heavy Duty Shootout we gave each manufacturer four weeks to come up with their best truck within the following parameters - three quarter ton trucks had to be single rear wheel crew cab 4x4 gassers and the one tons had to be dual rear wheel crew cab 4x4 diesels. As each manufacturer provided the specs on the trucks they were going to provide, we shared the data (yes, including rear axle ratios) with the other OEMs. So, all the manufacturers were aware of what the others were bringing to the party.