In this episode of the Ike Gauntlet™, the world’s toughest towing test, we compare two of the newest premium pickup trucks – a 2021 Ram 1500 HEMI eTorque and a 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid. MrTruck and I hitch up a 7,800 lbs trailer to these trucks and take it up and down the steepest and highest elevation interstate highway in America. We added an important element to this year’s extreme towing comparisons – we are also verifying the fuel economy on all trucks at the pump. The results are very surprising.
The Ike Gauntlet™ is the world’s toughest towing test because it’s an 8-mile stretch of the I-70 interstate with a 7% grade that climbs to an elevation of 11,158 feet above sea level. If the Suburban can handle this extreme elevation, steep inclines, and rough pavement – then it can tow with confidence anywhere.
This 2021 Ram 1500 is equipped with a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and a mild-hybrid eTorque electric system. The total power output is 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. This truck is equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission and an efficiency 3.21 rear axle ratio. This axle ratio is primarily the reason why this Ram 1500 has a relatively low 7,800 lbs tow rating.
The 2021 Ford F-150 is packing a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with a full-hybrid PowerBoost electric system. The combined power output is 430 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque. The Ford uses a 10-speed automatic transmission and a relatively aggressive 3.73 rear axle ratio. This Ford is rated to tow 11,000 lbs.
While we expected the regenerative braking in the Ford F-150 Hybrid to help a bit on the downhill – the two trucks performed in about the same fashion. Neither truck had a stellar braking performance (as far as the number of brake applications is concerned), but both were very controllable and stable.
No surprise here, but both truck managed a perfect and benchmark time up the mountain of around 8 minutes (this is an 8-mile stretch of highway with a 60 MPH speed limit). However, the Ram showed a better trip MPG on the way up.
This is was a bit of a shocker to us. The Ram 1500 Hemi V8 got a result of 8.5 MPG. The Ford F-150 Hybrid got a 6.5 MPG. One thing we noticed – the F-150 Hybrid does not switch to electric-only mode at all when in Tow/Haul mode. This may be one of the factors as to why it got a poor MPG result on this extreme test. Another factor is that the F-150 Hybrid has a higher curb weight than most other half-ton trucks.