• 2017 Gold Hitch Awards Preview: Ike Gauntlet Extreme Towing and Off-Roading

    2017 gold hitch awards half-ton nissan titan
    2017 Gold Hitch awards preview

    It’s an exciting time of year, as we prepare for the 2017 Gold Hitch awards pickup truck towing and off-road testing. Which truck will be the best towing or off-road pickup truck in America? These are important questions, and we are here to torture-test the trucks and get to the bottom of it.

    Check out the participants and winners of the 2016 Gold Hitch awards.

    We are going bigger than ever this year, and there are five awards up for grabs. We are getting all new or updated trucks in each category together at the same time. This provides the benefit of testing all competitors under the same conditions and eliminating any many variables as possible.

    We are starting with 2017 half-ton trucks. The 2017 Nissan Titan 1500 crew cab 4×4 Platinum Reserve arrived first at our offices. We are dialing in the 20-foot CargoMate trailer weight, tongue weight, tire pressures and the weight distribution hitch.

    The award categories are:

    • 2017 Best Towing Half-Ton truck
    • 2017 Best Towing Mid-size truck
    • 2017 Best Towing HD truck
    • 2017 Best Off-road truck
    • 2017 TFLtruck Gold Hitch truck of the year

    The Ike Gauntlet extreme towing test is a major part of the Gold Hitch towing awards, but we will also be doing acceleration and MPG tests to get as much data as possible.

    While we are getting set up for towing, check out this 2017 Titan PRO-4X on the difficult Cliffhanger 2.0 trail.

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    40 thoughts on “2017 Gold Hitch Awards Preview: Ike Gauntlet Extreme Towing and Off-Roading

    1. Favorite time of the year! Andre, do you have a list of the vehicles and weights pulled in each class? Also, I don’t see a 3/4 ton gas class. I was hoping to see how the 6.2 Ford would do on the Ike.
      Can’t wait!

      1. Agreed. The new 6.2 makes more torque and at a lower RPM. Would be especially interesting in F250 config with the new 6R100 trans

      2. We will publish the precise list of trucks and weights very soon. You are correct, the 3/4 ton class of trucks is not part of the Gold Hitch evaluation, but we will – of course – test the 3/4 ton trucks. It’s difficult to get the ones with the gas V8 motors, but we will work hard to get these and test them ASAP.


        1. Add me to the list of people who really want to see a 6.2 gasser F250 test. I no real need for a diesel truck, but I am wanting to get a slide in truck camper. Finding one in a configuration I like that also fits the weight capacity of my 5.0 F150 is proving difficult. So I am seriously considering an upgrade to a Super Duty, but the added buy in price of a diesel engine, plus the added cost of maintenance on them is pointless for me, someone who doesn’t need a diesel to begin with. 10 years ago the added mpg and the durability of the diesel engines made the purchase price increase worth it in the long run. But that difference between gassers and oil burners has almost nuetralized over the last decade and to me it no longer beneficial to go for the diesel if you truly don’t have a need for one. If there is any way you could arrange a test of one of these it would be GREATLY APPRECIATED.

        2. When are you guys going to test all the new 2017 Diesels, especially that Duramax? I’m sure this is what most people are waiting on!

    2. Looking forward to the new year of testing. I really look forward to the IKE. However this off road course looks like a ton of fun and i can see why it is included. I would like to see up the IKE MPG redone. Because each truck tows at a different speed fuel economy cannot be on an equal plane unless you tow with all the trucks at the same speed. The fastest truck up the hill should use the most fuel because it makes the most power to pull that trailer up the hill. Less power, less fuel, slowest up the hill. Any other MPG test would be fair because they are on equal terms, aka 70mph on the expressway.

    3. “It’s the most, wonderful time of the year”
      Can’t wait either! I know TFLT will only award the trucks that will be put to the test. But, here are my predictions;
      1/4 : GM Duramax
      1/2 : Ford F150 3.5EB
      3/4 : Ford F250 Scorpion or GM LP5
      1 Ton: Ford F450
      Off-Road: GM ZR2? or Toyota TRD.

      I also agree, the F250 6.2 would be the only 3/4 that I would ever purchase. But, it will not compete with the Scorpion/LP5’s.

      This year RAM will look at the parade pass by!

      1. I thought you where going to sing some Andy Williams for us there Rob.

        I think your predictions are proper.

        1. A very light-weight 3/4 ton I might add. Fits at the bottom of the 3/4 ton bracket with the 2500/250 Gassers.

    4. I have a feeling the Titan will be slower on the Ike than most. The QX-80, which has a more powerful version of the engine running on premium, couldn’t hold 60 mph with only just over 7k lbs. The problem is the mapping of the 7-speed. It refused to drop down to 2nd gear, which there was room for in the rpm range, and instead stayed in 3rd at around 3800 rpm – far from peak hp.
      The standard Titan PR gets the same tires and 2.93 rear axle ratio as the QX-80.

    5. The TFL guys do a great job! We need a new class…gas and diesel. Also not sure everyone buys the top packages Limited/Lariat so on to tow with. I also believe not all of these top packages come with the best towing setups. Excited for the LP5! Cannot wait for the testing. Keep up the great work!

    6. Andre,
      Does TFL have a full list of all competitors yet? If so, I know I’m not the only one interested in what trucks will be competing.
      Thank you!

      1. We asked all truck manufacturers to submit trucks (all available). We asked for 4×4 crew cab configurations. Which trucks show up and in which trim packages is not all under our control.


    7. They did the Canyon Diesel last year, hoping the Colorado/Canyon with the new V6 and 8 speed tranny is in the works for this year.

        1. Great, have a 15 Colorado now but need/want a 4×4, your review will be a big factor in what I buy. Eager to see what the 8 speed does for the truck.

          Love my 15 by the way, pulls my 5500 lb. trailer without any complaints or issues.

    8. Andre,

      Can you guys show some screen shots of the engine RPMs when towing. I personally tow often and i hate when the truck remains in low gear to hold speed. Knowing items like the truck has to run at 3000 RPMs down the expressway is really helpful. A reason i really like towing with Ford products is because you can actually command the transmission to upshift and hold that gear. I hate frequent downshifts. For me it just makes the towing experience better. Maybe a report on downshifts during the freeway drive.

      1. It will be interesting to see how the new 10 speed along with the increase of torque up to 3500RPM’s will affect the IKE run. If memory serves me before the 3.5L would hang around 3500-4000 up the hill. Far from the red line.

    9. Andre it would be better if you guys could just walk into a dealership lot and pick the trucks you want to test. That way you would be sure nobody is giving you a cheater truck. To have truly fair testing on the IKE it would have to be closed to other traffic and all trucks tested on the same day. Of course that’s never going to happen. As always I am looking forward to seeing what does show up and how well each vehicle does in your tests.

    10. Weight of the LCD’s max of the trucks in each category determines the trailer weight, unless TFL pushes the limits like they did with the IKE 2.0
      For the 1/2 ton, it is the Titan, which is rated to tow 9k or possibly less in PR trim. Most will get close to 8:00, so mpg will be the decider.
      For the 1 ton, it is the Duramax, which is rated to tow 23k if memory serve me right. Should be still be enough to slow down the trucks below 60 mph.

    11. I’m predicting that the new f150 with the updated 3.5L and 10 speed transmission will decimate all other 1/2ton trucks in the Ike and 0-60. The amount of torque these engines are creating is incredible when you think about the displacement they have. All in the low end of the rpm range where it’s needed, especially with 10 gears. Ford has engineered some amazing powerplants over the last 7 years.

    12. Keifo, I just confirmed that the ZR2 is not available with GM. Not yet and no word when. So, I just gave up and bought a Tacoma.

    13. I have ford f-250 v-10. I test driven 6.2 before aluminum make over and i was NOT impressed with it compared to the v-10. Now since ford gave it more TQ and lighter weight it should be a whole lot better.
      Thxs tfl for testing the new 6.2 ford. When you do test it tell us what rear end gear it has and rpm at 60 mph. Later

    14. Be great if you guys could do an up and down mpg loop on the gauntlet. I know TFl and the viewers have both stated the computer could be very wrong on actual mpg numbers when under full or almost full acceleration. Since you stated there is no fuel station just fill up when you get back and do the mpg loop.

      Or use the method of filling the gas tank with a gas can and then fill the gas can and weigh it on a bathroom scale and then refill at the top of the hill with the gas can and re-weigh the gas can. Gas weighs 1.6-Lbs /litter and Diesel weighs 1.87-Lbs/L. Divide the difference in weight you get by these numbers and you will accurately know how much fuel you used.

    15. Andre- I have a 2016 Nissan Titan XD with the Cummins. In your testing of this truck did you guys notice the truck shifting very hard or abrupt? Any turbo lag or slow throttle response? I have had nothing but problems with my truck from day one. I’ve taken it back to the dealer several times.They have done a re-flash of the trans and its still shifting horrible after 4500 miles. Any suggestions or driving experiences would be appreciated. Thanks Dan

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