Best Half-Ton Towing Truck? Ford vs GM vs Ram vs World’s Toughest Towing Test (Ike Gauntlet Video)

What is the best new half-ton towing truck for 2019? We put the “big-three” to the test against each other on the Ike Gauntlet – world’s toughest towing test.


We asked all truck manufacturers to submit their best towing half-ton pickup trucks, and these three answered the call. We had just a few requirements. The trucks had to be crew cabs, 4×4, and be rated to tow at least 9,100 lbs. We did not require all trucks to be a shade of red, although that is what happened.

2019 half-ton participants are: new Ford F-150 with the 3.5L twin-turbo V6; all-new GMC Sierra 1500 with the 6.2L V8; and all-new Ram 1500 with the 5.7L V8 (this one also had the mild hybrid system). All trucks were configured for maximum towing with their respective trims and packages, but none of them came with optional specialty towing mirrors.

Ike Gauntlet – Scoring

The Ike Gauntlet – world’s toughest towing test is an 8-mile stretch of the steepest interstate highway (7% grade) with a maximum elevation of 11,158 ft above sea level. It’s a grueling test of trailering capability because of the steep incline and reduced air density that robs engines of power.

We test the transmission and engine calibration of the trucks on the downhill by counting brake applications. We specifically do not manually shift gears. We let the truck and its grade shifting/engine braking features do the work. Maximum points a truck can get on the way down in 25 pts. Every brake application subtracts a point.

On the way up, we test each truck’s power, ride, control, and refinement. We aim to maintain the 60 MPH speed limit on the way up and the way down. A maximum points a truck can get on the way up is 50 pts. On the way up, the benchmark time is 8 minutes even. Every 5 seconds over subtracts the point. Going faster than 8 minutes gives no point benefit. The uphill fuel economy benchmark is 6.0 mpg. Every 0.2 mpg under the benchmark subtracts a point.

There is an additional subjective score category that is worth 25 pts. This is where the reviewers judge: interior, handling, suspension squat, mirrors, and towing assist technologies.


Ford F-150GMC 1500Ram 1500
Engine3.5L V6 TT6.2L V85.7L V8 e
Power375 hp / 470 lb-ft420 hp / 460 lb-ft395 hp / 410 lb-ft
Rear Diff Ratio3.553.423.92
Max Payload2,030 lbs2,070 lbs1,720 lbs
Max Towing12,700 lbs12,1000 lbs11,190 lbs
GVWR7,000 lbs7,300 lbs7,100 lbs
Ike Downhill
Brakes #101010
Ike Uphill
Trip Economy3.3 mpg3.8 mpg4.7 mpg
Cabin Noise66.7 dB67.7 dB65.7 dB
Time7 min 55 sec
8 min 1 sec8 min 5 sec
Final Ike Score72.5 pts76.5 pts82 pts

Winner Is…

The final Ike Gauntlet score gives the win to the new 2019 Ram 1500. It was a very close contest. Although the Ram was not the quickest on the way up; it was the easiest to hook up a trailer; it had the best side mirror reach/visibility; it was the most efficient (according to the trip meter); it was the most comfortable; and it had the quietest cabin on the way up.

Surprisingly, every truck in this test performed the same way on the downhill with 10 brake applications.

Join the 2019 Gold Hitch awards towing competition fun in the video below.