2003 Western Diesel PickupTruck.com Diesel Shootout, Part 1 of 3
By: Tom Keefe © PickupTruck.com, 2002
Posted: 11-18-02 00:00

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In response to reader demand for precision instrumented and documented diesel pickup performance testing after our review of the 2003 Ford F-Series Super Duty, this is the first of three articles that will detail what we hope will become an annual event - the 2003 Western Diesel PickupTruck.com Diesel Shootout.

Special thanks to our primary sponsor Western Diesel, maker of high performance accessories for diesel pickups, and Ricardo, a provider of
vehicle and powertrain engineering services.

This time around we got the trucks, we got the gear and we got the data. Enjoy!

Part 2: 7% Grade Test
Part 3: 15% Grade Test

For most of us, pickup truck performance is measured by how far we travel without stopping for fuel, or by how quickly we get to the top of the hill.

Not so long ago, I remember looking for an 18-wheeler so I could draft behind it while towing a trailer. I would tuck in behind one of those big rigs and ride along watching the vacuum gauge trying for every ounce of speed and fuel economy.

Every downhill that came along, I would get 'that look' from my co-pilot while racing down the grade in an effort to build up momentum to make it to the top of the next hill at least at the minimum posted speed.

Today it's a totally different story. While only one truck can win the shootout, the real victors are those of us who drive pickups for work and play. Today’s trucks are more powerful, fuel efficient, and fun to drive than anything even imagined just a few years ago.

We contacted Dodge, Ford and General Motors to test the latest and greatest full size diesel pickups they had to offer.

This was our test fleet for one week in Michigan.

2002 Chevrolet 3500 Heavy Duty
Extended Cab 4x4 dual rear wheel, Duramax diesel 6600 6.6-liter, 6-speed manual transmission, 3.73 rear axle ratio and a curb weight of 6970 pounds

2003 Chevrolet 2500 Heavy Duty
Extended Cab 4x4 single rear wheel, Duramax diesel 6600 6.6-liter, Allison 5-speed automatic, 3.73 axle ratio, and a curb weight of 6950 pounds

2003 Dodge Ram 3500 Heavy Duty
Quad Cab 4x4 dual rear wheel, Cummins High Output 5.9-liter diesel, 6-speed manual transmission, 4.10 axle ratio and a curb weight of 7927 pounds

2003 Ford F-250 Super Duty
Crew Cab 4x4, single rear wheel, Power Stroke Diesel 6.0-liter, 6-speed manual transmission, 3.73 rear axle ratio and a curb weight of 7188 pounds

2003 Ford F-350 Super Duty
Crew Cab 4x4, single rear wheel, Power Stroke Diesel 6.0-liter, TorquShift 5-speed automatic, 3.73 rear axle ratio and a curb weight of 7250 pounds

In a perfect world, all of the vehicles would be exactly the same size and weight, and have the same tire size, cab configuration, and rear axle ratio. What we got is pretty much what you would find if you went shopping for the right truck.

Keep in mind also that we put this test together in just over two weeks.

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