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.
two ways we could have performed our grade testing.
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.
Ford's Michigan Proving Grounds, for several reasons.
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
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.
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!
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.