Ford recently flew me out to their Michigan proving grounds to put the 2013 Ford F-150 through its paces against some of its biggest competitors. It faced off against the 2014 Toyota Tundra, 2014 Chevy Silverado and 2014 Ram 1500 on three different courses designed to test just which one is king of the hill.
It’s worth nothing that the only 2013 in the mix was the Ford F-150. You might think this was a giant handicap, but it actually had the reverse affect and proved what a capable truck the F-150 is despite not being as updated as its competitors.
The first course we went through was on a wet skid pad that was designed to check out the ABS abilities of each truck. We ran the course once without braking, just swerving through the cones as though performing sudden lane changes, and then once slamming on the brakes to engage the ABS during the change. This all happened with a hard speed limit of just 30 MPH.
That doesn’t give you a great feel for how the ABS performs, as you’re not really going fast enough to feel out of control. All the trucks performed well, none of them terribly, with the most noticeable difference being in how loud the ABS was on each truck. This test, unfortunately, didn’t prove a lot about any of the vehicles.
The second test was a towing test and it proved a lot more interesting. We had about 100 feet to get up to speed to climb a half mile, 7% grade while towing a 9,500 lb trailer. All the trucks did it, but not all with equal finesse.
The Ford F-150 was noticeably more stable and controlled. The uphill portion of this test didn’t feel like such a struggle and the descent was much more smooth than in the other vehicles.
The other trucks completed the task, but there was a sense that the engine was working a heck of a lot harder. The engine sounded more strained, more taxed, and you felt it in how it worked to climb that grade. Even on the way down, the descent didn’t feel as controlled and easy and you were very aware of the huge trailer just behind you.
The last test was the durability test, and here’s where the F-150 really shone above the rest. We drove each truck at set speeds through a course that simulated uneven, potholed, rutted ground including a cobblestoned section of pavement. Teeth-rattling does not even begin to describe the ride.
The Toyota was far behind the others on this test. It rattled an twisted and felt like it was going to shake to bits before I could finish the course. The noise of all that rattling was nearly too loud to talk over and control was at a minimum with constant corrections required to stay on track.
The Chevy and the Ram both fell in the middle for handling with some loss of control going over the cobblestones in particular, but the interior of the Ram was much more tough. It felt solid without too much noise and vibration. The Chevy, however, was loaded with shakes and rattles and the hood looked ready to come loose and take flight.
The Ford F-150 handled the course easily. It felt like it was going to hold together with nothing rattling ominously or shaking so much that handling was compromised. There was noise, but it was still easy to talk over and not once did I feel the vehicle trying to escape my control.
You can’t all show up at Ford’s proving grounds to try out a bunch of light-duty trucks before you buy one, but from my time there, the Ford F-150 is a worthy choice. Its handling and capability can take on the toughest of terrain leaving a driver confidently in control behind the wheel.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.