We’d like to say thanks to Ford Motor Company, again, for coming through and letting us borrow their Michigan Proving Grounds (MPG) near Romeo, Michigan, about 50 miles due north of Detroit. We used this world-class vehicle testing facility back in 2002 for the 7% and 15% hill climbs. We used the same grades again this year.
Due to time constraints at Milan, we also conducted the ¼-mile tests for the three-quarter-ton trucks on Ford’s 2-mile long east/west straightaway. The road surface is so level that it follows the curvature of the Earth. The pictures you’ll see of those trucks, though, were taken at Milan Dragway.
You’ll also be reading about our new squat, ‘SuperMax’ 25% grade, and downhill brake temperature tests.
Thanks also to GM. After a trailer deal fell through at the last minute, General Motors stepped up to quickly and graciously loan us three 10,500-pound ballasted trailers with 60 square-foot windscreens. They’re the funny looking double axle rigs you’ll see behind the trucks in the pictures.
Of course we’d also like to thank all the OEMs - Dodge, Ford, and GM – for coming through with the vehicles you’ll read about. We asked for the pickups to be configured as similarly as possible and we stayed in constant contact with the manufacturers, so each OEM was aware of what the others were bringing to the challenge. For the most part, the trucks are identical except for some of the rear axle ratios. There was one last minute change. The Ram 2500 HD was originally supposed to have a 4.56 rear axle but it was changed just before delivery to a 3.73 rear axle.
We’ve also partnered again with Ricardo Inc. to instrument and measure each truck’s performance. So, not only were the vehicles tested by PickupTruck.com as a neutral third party, but PickupTruck.com went the extra step to hire this globally recognized automotive engineering and consulting company to collect metrics – absolutely ensuring no bias was introduced into our tests. In pictures you’ll see the vehicles running side-by-side in drag contests for subjective comparison, but Ricardo only collected data one truck at a time.
Ricardo’s instruments are first class. They brought along an RT3102 computer from Oxford Technical Solutions for capturing and processing data. It contains 3 accelerometers, and three angular rate sensors, as well as GPS, and a Pentium processor. From this Ricardo engineers collected three types of acceleration (lateral, longitudinal, and vertical), three body movement rates (roll, yaw, and pitch), as well as position, velocity, orientation and slip. Time was obviously collected too. The RT3102 outputs a whole host of other items, including pitch and roll angles, the three acceleration figures in either body or frame orientation. You can spend a lot more on one of these. A fully-specced one retails for around $110,000 USD, when used in conjunction with a base-station to get positional accuracy to 2 cm!
Five weeks is in an incredibly short period to pull together and finance such a comprehensive test. We’re grateful to Superchips for quickly jumping on board and becoming an early sponsor. Superchips is a market leader in electronic tuning products for late model cars and light trucks, offering a complete line of hand-held tuners to cover most domestic cars and trucks, including diesel powered pickups. We hope you take the time to learn about how their products can benefit your truck.