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Whose truck reigned supreme in the 2018 Canadian Truck King Challenge?


July 27, 2018
July 27, 2018
By Howard J. Elmer


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July 27, 2018 — This year’s Canadian Truck King Challenge consisted of 10 mid-size, full-size and HD (heavy-duty) entries vying for the top spot in the 11th year of the Challenge.

Regular readers will recall the Canadian Truck King Challenge strives for real-world testing. Our automotive journalist judges drive the trucks on a prescribed course: first empty, then with payload and, finally, while towing a trailer—one after another, back to back.

This year, our judges drove more than 3000 test kilometres while scoring each truck across 20 different categories. These totals are then averaged across the field of judges, and converted to a percentage out of 100.

Three of our pickups form the 2500HD segment; two were mid- size entries, and another five full-size pickups rounded out the combatants. All trucks tested were 2018 model year, except for the 2017 Ford F250 FX4 Lariat, which had no changes for 2018.

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The Testing Method

The HD trucks and the mid-size category were tested on our usual Head River test loop, while half-tons were tested on a new loop in Halton Hills using the same method.

Mid-size trucks carried a payload of 500 lb and towed 4000 lb. The half-tons hauled payloads of 600 lb and towed 7000 lb. The 3/4-tons towed 10,000 lb and used 1000 lb for payload. The weights we use never exceed the limits published by the manufacturer.

We also use electronic data recorders during testing to capture real-world fuel economy. An outside company, FleetCarma, collects and crunches the data for each truck, which gives us a unique fuel economy report. This report not only shows fuel consumption while the truck is empty, but also while loaded and during towing. You can find these detailed results at www.truckking.ca.
We shot video, too, of all our contenders, which you can view on our YouTube channel. Just visit www.truckking.ca and look for the link to Truck King TV.

Categories and Competitors

Mid-size trucks

The mid-size segment was particularly interesting this year, as both contenders were specific off-road models. Toyota supplied us with the Tacoma TRD Pro and Chevrolet sent us a ZR2 Colorado diesel. We were fortunate to get these units early in the fall when there is lots of rain and mud.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 (MY2018)
• 2.8L Duramax diesel, 186-hp, 369 lb-ft torque
• 6-speed automatic
• 4WD: 2-speed transfer case, front and rear electric lockers
• 1100 lb payload, 5000 lb bumper tow limit, 6200 lb GVWR
• $42,215 base MSRP

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro (MY2018)
• 3.5L V6 Atkinson cycle engine, 278-hp, 265 lb-ft torque
• 6-speed automatic
• 4WD: 2-speed transfer case, rear locker
• 1000 lb payload, 6400 lb bumper tow limit, 6000 lb GVWR
• $53,295.00 base MSRP

The results for the mid-size trucks can be seen in Figure 1.

Half-ton trucks

The half-ton segment, which accounts for the bulk of the Canadian pickup market, was fully represented in this year’s Challenge. We tested trucks from Ford, Chevrolet, Ram, Toyota and Nissan. Each manufacturer supplied a truck of its own choice. They also decided which trim or accessory package to apply, as well as the choice of engine.

Ford F-150 FX4 Platinum (MY2018)
• 5.0LV8, 395-hp, 400 lb-ft torque
• 10-speed SelectShift automatic
• 4WD: 2-speed transfer case, electric rear locker
• 3270 lb payload, 13,200 lb bumper tow limit, 7050 lb GVWR
• $70,579 base MSRP

Chevrolet Silverado Z71 1500 LTZ (MY2018)
• 5.3L V8 Ecotec3 with cylinder deactivation, 355-hp, 383 lb-ft torque
• 8-speed automatic
• 4WD: 2-speed transfer case
• 2120 lb payload, 11,700 lb bumper tow limit, 7600 lb GVWR
• $56,725 base MSRP

Ram 1500 Limited Tungsten Crew 4×4 (MY2018)
• 5.7L HemiV8 with MDS, 395-hp, 410 lb-ft torque
• 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic
• 4WD: 2-speed transfer case, anti-spin rear differential
• 1388 lb payload,7970 lb bumper tow limit, 6900 lb GVWR
• $63,895.00 base MSRP

4×4 Toyota Tundra double-cab Limited (MY2018)
• 5.7L i-Force V8, 381-hp, 401 lb-ft torque
• 6-speed automatic
• 4WD: 2-speed transfer case, limited-slip differential
• 1500 lb payload, 9899 lb bumper tow limit, GVWR not available
at time of testing
• $55,690 base MSRP

Nissan Titan Pro 4X (MY2018)
• 5.6L V8, 390-hp, 394 lb-ft torque
• 7-speed automatic
• 4WD: 2-speed transfer case, limited-slip differential
• 1610 lb payload, 9230 lb bumper tow limit, 7300 lb GVWR
• $63,050 base MSRP

The results for the half-ton trucks can be seen in Figure 2.

2500HD Trucks

Testing of “The Big Three” HD diesel-powered pickups took place during the first really cold snap of November. And while the weather was nasty, I remember thinking that it was actually perfect for testing trucks for Canadian buyers. Instead of testing and announcing winners from some place like California or Texas, the Canadian Truck King Challenge is homegrown… tattooed red and white, and very often frozen.

Ford F250 FX4 Lariat (MY2017)
• Power Stroke 6.7L V8 turbo-diesel, 440-hp, 925 lb-ft torque
• TorqShift, 6-speed, SelectShift automatic
• 4WD with selectable two-speed transfer case
• 3350 lb payload, 17,600 lb bumper tow limit, 9900 lb GVWR
• $62,249 base MSRP

Chevrolet Silverado 2500 LTZ Z71 (MY2018)
• Duramax 6.6L V8 turbo-diesel, 445-hp, 910 lb-ft torque
• Allison 6-speed automatic
• 4WD with two-speed transfer case, hill descent control
• 2513 lb payload, 13,000 lb bumper tow limit, 10,000 lb GVWR
• $62,865 base MSRP

Ram 2500 Limited Tungsten (MY2018)
• Cummins 6.7L I6 turbo-diesel, 370-hp, 800 lb-ft torque
• 6-speed automatic (Ram still offers a 6-speed manual)
• 4WD with two-speed transfer case
• 2380 lb payload, 17,160 lb bumper tow limit, 9900 lb GVWR
• $69,995 base MSRP

The results of the 2500HD trucks can be found in Figure 3.



Meet our 2018 Challenge winner

The overall winner of this year’s Challenge is a truck that’s been refined year-after-year, adding technology and improving its diesel engine. It is now, in the opinion of the judges, the best 2500-series HD hauler on the market. Congratulations to the Chevy Silverado LTZ 2500.

The Silverado HD came to us equipped with a new generation of the 6.6L V8 turbo-diesel. It’s been redesigned with a new cylinder block and heads. Its oil and coolant flow capacity have been increased, and the turbo-charging system is now electronically controlled. Horsepower has increased to 445 and torque now reaches 910 lb-ft. 90% of both numbers are achieved at just 1550 rpm.

A new two-piece oil pan makes the Duramax quieter and also houses an integrated oil cooler with 50% greater capacity than the old engine. Of particular interest to Canadians will be the new Duramax cold-weather performance; with microprocessor-controlled glow plugs, the engine requires less than three seconds to preheat in temperatures as low as -29°C. These new ceramic glow plugs adjust current to each plug based on outside temperature.

The new engine continues to be coupled with the Allison 1000 6-speed automatic transmission, which has a stellar reputation.

Also new is a redesigned air intake system that uses an integrated hood scoop to trap snow, sleet and rain, draining them away from the breather to allow cool, dry air to get to the engine and not clog it up.

Beyond the mechanical updates, this Chevrolet impresses with the number of electronic driver-assist features that make moving loads easier and safer overall. Among them are Digital Steering Assist, which improves road handling, and a tire pressure monitoring system that includes a tire fill alert.

The full Driver Alert Package includes Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Safety Alert Seat and Front and Rear Park Assist. GM’s long-time StabiliTrak stability control system has been updated to include rollover mitigation technology, a tie-in to the Trailer Sway Control and Hill Start assist.

Visual help can be found on the Chevrolet MyLink, which sports an 8-in. touchscreen. Of particular interest is the camera system that broadcasts on this centre-mounted screen (which is now standard on all models with cargo box); it displays reversing images that make hooking up easy—whether to the bumper hitch or a 5th Wheel.

An around-the-truck view assists in parking maneuvers. While driving, the signals now activate cameras in the mirrors showing images down the side of the truck, highlighting the blind spot. Other improvements include an available Gooseneck/5th Wheel Trailering Prep Package with spray-in bedliner, remote locking tailgate, wireless phone charging and 4LTG Wi-Fi right in the truck.

Congratulations to all the participants and winners in the 2018 Canadian Truck King Challenge.


Howard J. Elmer is an automotive editor, writer and author based in Brampton, Ont. He is a past director of the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, and a member of Truck Writers of North America and Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For more detailed information on all of this year’s entries, visit www.truckking.ca.

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Electrical Business Magazine.



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