• 2017 Gold Hitch Winners Announced! Watch the Award Presentation and Deliberations [Video]

    2017 best towing truck gold hitch ike gauntlet

    Who are the winners of TFLtruck’s 2017 Gold Hitch Awards for best towing and best off-road pickup trucks in America? The time has finally come to announce the winners, present the awards, and show our voting and deliberations.

    This is the video where we argue and decide the best midsize, half-ton, and heavy duty towing trucks; the best off-road pickup, and the 2017 TFLtruck of the Year. We considered all of the test data from the Ike Gauntlet TM, 100-mile highway towing MPG loop, acceleration tests, and more. (See the link for the towing competitors.) Here are some of the Off-road competitors, and here is the off-road drag race with all five great 2017 off-road trucks!

    Watch a recording of the Live award presentation that took place in the evening of April 3rd, 2017.  Thanks to all the viewers, our sponsors, and truck manufacturers for making the Gold Hitch possible.


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

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    62 thoughts on “2017 Gold Hitch Winners Announced! Watch the Award Presentation and Deliberations [Video]

    1. So, even though you scored the Chevy dually higher than the Ram dually, you gave the award to the Ram? Maybe time to revise the scoring? Very confusing. I see the Ram got a bit better mpg. Is this why? Can you not include mpg into the scoring? But don’t you already include mpg into the scoring? Very confusing. Set me straight here.

      1. I’ll second what you’re saying. What benefit is there to the scoring if a lower scoring vehicle wins? Perhaps the scoring is missing an important measurement then?

      2. I agree, especially when during the video earlier they thought the Ford rode better and the Chevy outpulled it up the pass. Is MPG the only consideration here?

      3. It must have been the Chevy’s poor performance on the dyno and the fact that Ram had better MPG on the MPG loop. I thought the Chevy would win the heavy duty segment too. In all reality I thought the Ram should have finished last. It’s time up Ike was slightly slower than Chevy and within the margin of error of a tie with Ford. While all three trucks were very good going downhill, the Ram did the worst. It has the loudest interior. On the dyno it very slightly had the highest peak torque, but Ford beat it pretty handily in HP. They also said the Ford handled the load the best. I would have gone Chevy 1, Ford 2, and Ram 3. I still don’t know how Ford can have those dyno results and not have that translate to a better performance on Ike, but it is what it is.

        The rest of the results I pretty much agreed with, although to me the half ton class should have been a 4-0 vote for the Ford. The GM 6.2 just doesn’t hang with the EcoBoost on Ike. Off road was close, as it should have been, and could have gone either way.

        1. The chevys dyno numbers didn’t make any sense but honestly all the number I feel are incorrect except HP. Every pull was started at 1800rpm. Every one of those engines make peak torque before that. The graph chevy posted even shows the down side of the torque curve is over 1800 rpm. Because the Ford made good torque above 1800 makes me want to see an actual pull from 1200 rpm and up. I think the dyno pulls were pretty cool but there are a lot of unanswered questions about that part.

      4. I agree partly, but if it’s close then I honestly think it should come down to which vehicle handled the mountain better. Basically the white knuckle factor needs to have some involvement. I’ve driven new half tons that handle miles better than yesterday’s heavy duty’s.
        I trust TFL’s judgement of the winners here.

      5. I agree with Mark. On a different note I would rather buy the cheaper PW and upgrade it than buy the Raptor.

      6. Clearly FLT needed to have all the big three win to maintain access to vehicles for testing. If not then scoring should dictate wins. Now you guys are pc like all the other worthless vehicle reivewers.

      7. I agree, it’s all subjective. The chevy 1500 also scored higher than ford but ford won.

      1. I wanted more information on the over braking the chevy did. It was like dangling a treat in front of you and you just can’t reach it. What was the deal with that TFL?

        1. GM does a great job with the exhaust brake. How it functions is tied directly to whether cruise control is on or off. If cruise is on, the truck uses the exhaust brake going downhill to maintain the set speed. If cruise is off, the truck assumes you want maximum exhaust brake to slow you down. Because TFL runs with cruise off, the exhaust brake is working as hard as possible to slow the truck to a stop. And it is powerful enough in this setting to slow down 30,000+ lbs of combined weight going down the Ike Gauntlet. It’s pretty impressive.

          In one of the other videos TFL put out, they said the Ford did the same thing, where the exhaust brake was basically more powerful than it needed to be. Ram’s truck did pretty good too.

          I know with Ford they could have feathered the accelerator or brake pedals to dial in the amount of exhaust brake necessary to maintain speed and it will hold it. I assume the other trucks operate that way too when cruise is off.

          1. I couldn’t agree more about the Chevy exhaust brake. The way I see it, it performed the best of all three. If the cruise control is not set, how would the truck know what speed the driver wants to maintain? Without that info, it assumes you want to slow down and it applies full pressure to slow the truck down. The driver can always feather the throttle or set cruise on if a higher speed/less braking is desired.
            The TFL guys do a great job with the reviews but it’s important that each viewer takes the time to understand how the test is being conducted. What TFL deducts points for may be someting that an actual owner would find useful.

    2. Ford probably paid them off.

      In all seriousness though I think the GM 6.2 is a sweet motor and I am sure if it was tested at lower elevation we could have seen a different result.

      1. The 6.2 is a fine motor and would obviously do better at lower elevation, but these tests show that it just doesn’t stand out towing at high elevation. It was no better than the GM 5.3 or Ford 5.0 last year.

        I may be a tad biased, but I do not understand why anybody would choose any half ton truck other than Ford with an EcoBoost engine if they towed regularly, especially out in the western half of the US.

        1. I agree. I own and love and Ecoboost F150. The 6.2 is the only other motor I would pick at this point though.

          Although, Fords 5.0 with DI may win my heart if I can strap a pair of twin scroll EFR turbos to it.

          1. I have absolutely no need for a 3/4 or 1 ton truck, but if Ford rolled out the mythical Ecoboost 5.0 in the Super Duty line up I would be all over one. As would MANY people who currently own other brands.

            1. Have to agree even though I don’t think the 5.0 would meet the durability standards ford or other manufactures set for their motors.
              This is a prime reason the 6.2 isn’t in a heavy duty. The GM 6.0 is a way more durable motor.

            2. Agree on the 6.2 and 6.0. The old Vortec 6.0 is a tank. But I don’t see why turbos on a gas engine couldn’t meet durability standards when turbos are assumed to be very durable on diesels.

            3. I don’t think it’s the turbos themselves that have trouble with durability. It’s the extra power that they supply the engine and the rest of the driveline.

            4. Turbo charging doesnt inherently cause more stress on the motor. If you read the book Maximum boost, the author plots out the stresses on the crank and rods during the 4 cycles and the highest stress is actually during the compression and exhaust strokes. The force of the combustion counteracts the the tension created by the crank pulling the piston and rod down so the net effect is lower than when there is no combustion.

              This why when someone tells me the Ecoboost must be less reliable than a bigger displacement V8 I laugh. The V8 has bigger, heavier pistons and rods and needs to spin faster to produce the same HP.

            5. ??? But when the turbo crams more air into the cylinder the engine has to inject more fuel to keep air/fuel ratio correct. Then the combustion is greater. So your saying putting a turbo on a engine that wasn’t designed for it doesn’t cause any extra wear???

            6. And if the greatest stress is on compression stroke then wouldn’t it cause more stress with more air that was forced into the cylinder?

            7. Yes, turbos cram more air into the compression chamber. So…build the block out of a stronger material right? Use cast iron, or better yet, CGI, like the 2.7 EcoBoost and 6.7 Powerstroke. If CGI is strong enough for the 6.7, it’s plenty strong for a 5.0 EcoBoost.

            8. Plenty of Ecoboost motors easily traded in with over 250k miles on original turbos and regular maintenance. In fact a lot of other brands with turbos as well. Why do people who never even own an Ecoboost engine always say “it won’t last” when you can find high mile ones for sale easily. Second Gen 3.5 won Le Mans endurance race while Toyota known for reliability pooped out on the last lap. Sure difference categories of the race, but still to say turbo charging an engine makes them not last as long at this point in technology and time period we live in is kinda ignorant.

            9. Yep, the stress from the compression stroke and exhaust stoke are not from compressing the gases, that’s marginal, it’s from accelerating the piston and rod upwards at the bottom of the stroke and decelerating it at the top. If you are spinning an engine at 5000 Rpm, that piston moving very quickly and is going from 0 to full speed and back to 0 all in 1 stroke length 10000 times a minute. that’s where most of the stress is coming from.

            10. During the combustion stroke you are subtracting the crank wanting to pull the piston down from the combustion. Obviously if you put too much boost in it then it will overwhelm the motor but an OEM engine isnt going to be doing that. a 600 crank hp 5.0 wouldnt be that big of a deal.

            11. Agree with you guys a stronger block and a few other parts would do the trick. What I’m saying is the 5.0 yote boosted as it stands would not match the 250k-400k hard heavy duty miles the ford 6.2/6.8L or GM 6.0L is capable of.
              CGI 5.0tt would be an amazing motor, if only….

            12. Jay s. If the ford 6.2 has heavier pistons and has to spin faster to make the same power than a ecoboost then why would ford motors keep the 6.2 going for this long if the 3.5 ecoboost has more torque and is more reliable??? And they had both motors for some time. Seems to me that the 6.2 can meet 250 and 350 durability standards and the ecoboost can only meet 150 durability standards. Big difference.

            13. I read all of this and I simply think it’s all about what customers want and what sells and makes money, within limits of government regulations. That’s why they put certain engines in a certain segment of trucks. If you study physics and architecture and what’s going on in an NA engine vs a turbo engine, it’s very complicated but simply a different way to convert fuel to heat and work. The EcoBoost is a tough little engine but they put a 6.2 gas and the Powerstroke in the F250 because it works and it’s selling. I’m sure they could engineer an EcoBoost for the F250, and it will hold up. That’s what engineers make their living on.

            14. The 6.2 is CNG capable ready for fleets, the 3.5 Eco is not. Will it change down the road? Who knows….. but for now to cut out a CNG engine out of your line up is dumb, I am sure Ford is aware of that.

    3. Great work TFL crew! These tests are always fun to watch. I hope they let you keep some of these 1/2 ton trucks a little longer for some Superike action.

    4. I appreciate the time you guys put into these test, and I do think you guys are pretty fair with testing (especially when you use the same driver) but I just don’t understand these results at all. I’m shocked you picked the Ram over the Chevy. The Ram won the fuel mileage test and that was it (and it was only by .2 mpg).

      And while I can see you picking the F150 over the Silverado 1500, by doing so totally went against how you chose the heavy duty class, and even last year’s half tons. The 6.2 got significantly better fuel mileage and was much closer up the hill and down than the Ram was to the 3500 Silverado.

      These results seems a little like particapation trophies where everyone (manufacturer) gets an award.

    5. TFLTruck Guys – – –

      I loved the debate and discussion and its transparency. Good job!

      I am inherently a Ram guy for peculiar historical reasons, but I full agree with the F 150 choice. Give credit where credit is due. The Ford team did put together a great daily use, all-purpose, great riding truck, — and then some.
      Congratulations TFLTruck and Ford Motor Company!

      (Would I buy one? No: Ram guy, remember…(^_^).)


      1. Good thoughts there Bernie. I can agree being a Ford guy but am not loyal to them as I have looked at other brands to purchase and owned other brands. Right now I have 3 Ford vehicles. But I think it is safe to say all three brands make the best trucks to date. Each truck has weakness and strengths. When it comes to buying we have to figure out what we want in a truck.

        All of the guys in my department own trucks that are built by the big 3. We all love the choices we made and quite honestly no one has ever said mine is better than yours. I think because we all know once you say that, something bad will happen. Always seems that way.

    6. en las pruebas q hicieron muestras un resultado y en los premios dicen otra cosa. por ejemplo el chevy silverado tuvo mejor rendimiento de gas que el f150 y en los premios o noticias dicen que el f150 ganó.
      otro ejemplo los resultados que mostraron con el dully 3500 gano chevrolet solo perdió en el rendimiento dd combistible y le dieron el premio al ram?😒😒😒

    7. porque no contesta nada al respecto andré? siempre he pensado que este canal tienw algo de ford… publicidad

    8. I believe most crank and bearing failures are on the power stroke, and most rod, rod bolt, and piston/valve strike problems are on the exhaust stroke at TDC where rod stretch is highest.

      1. Dan, this is my opinion but based on a long history of rebuilding and working on engines. Main bearing( crank bearing) failures are normally caused by lubrication issues. Coolant, contaminated oil, lack of good filtration. At least from what I have seen, crank bearing failures rarely occur. Rod bearing failures can come from to much HP for the designed engine. Low oil pressure or other oil related issues. Under normal conditions, the crank and rod bearing should never touch. At all. The oil film is what these two parts ride on. You break that barrier and you start the wear process. There are always the odd ball failures that are unique but overall if you don’t have a good cushion of oil, you will have a bearing failure. Likely why Ford uses 5w-30 on the ecoboost engine. A thicker oil designed for higher film strength. GM is using 0w-20 and so is Honda and a few others. It does not have the same film strength but does promote better mpg. On reason GM came up with dexos oil is to hold up to their new engine designs. Any GM owner needs to make sure they use Dexos oil. GM designed it for a reason. Just like Ford is not approving the new CK-6 diesel oil spec. To much wear with the new spec oil. CJ-6 is what they approve. I bet GM will follow suit on that too.

      1. Mid Size Gold Hitch – Canyon Duramax
        Half Ton Gold Hitch – F-150 3.5 EcoBoost / 10 speed
        Heavy Duty Gold Hitch – Ram 3500 Cummins / Aisin Dually
        Off Road Truck – Raptor
        Overall Truck of the Year – F150

        1. Thanks IowaFord.

          I think the 2017 Super Duty did not get a fair shake in this test, because the tow test actually favored the truck with the least capability. I can’t believe TFL did not consider the “Midnight Ike” performance of the Super Duty compared to the RAM. It is a good truck, but simply does not out-perform the Ford…except apparently at towing a 3/4 load.

          1. Yeah, the Ram that took the HD Gold Hitch was the same truck that was significantly outperformed by Ford when towing 30,000 lbs.

            At the end of the day though, the F350 they tested with the 23,000 lb trailer didn’t perform all that well. I’m as surprised as you are, and can’t really figure out why, but it is what it is.

    9. Good Job TFL, love the videos and the fact they are truly non-bias, but keep poking the fun factor in there and keep it competitive.

      I will say for constructive criticism try to adjust things to help improve on the repetitive concerns with the viewers/bloggers.

      Overall I agree with the rewards but one little factor can change a persons decision on a truck purchase and they are all great trucks except for the ones with the low air dams. LOL (seriously)

      Stay humble and keep up the humorous and competitive nature. That’s the best part. Good Job

      My TFL Truck of the year would be the F150 but with the V8 Coyote motor. I would take the loss in power just for the sound of the V8 and the knowledge I can supercharge it at a low boost if I want to chance it. And it runs on regular fuel to get me from point A to B for cheaper given Capitol costs. The new V8 with the 10 speed might be a nice choice that could tear my white knuckle grip over from the midsize to full size.

      1. It didnt struggle it was just slightly behind the ram which to me it should not have been. I figured it would be a toss up between the chevy and the Ford.

      2. The combination of rear axle ratio, transmission gearing, and tire size did not favor the Ford at this trailer weight. At 30k lbs, the Ford would have been the quickest.

        1. Troverman. Where do come up with these excuses. It blows my mind that you can honestly say that. It had 4.10 to the the chevy 3.73! They are both six speed auto and ford built there own transmission so it should be fine tuned perfect! And all three trucks have 17 inch tires!! Stop making stupid excuses.

        2. The fact that ford beat the ram and chevy empty but not with 23000 tells me the more weight you throw at them the farther the ford will be behind.

        3. I think the ram being heavier than the ford with less hp and less torque did not favor the ram but it still beat the ford. I think the chevy having less torque than the ford did not favor the chevy but it too still beat the ford.

    10. I have always been a GM guy but I agree with the choice on the half ton. Ever since the bail out gm has been acting like a pussy they have so many options they could implement but choose to bury their head in the sand until the loss of sales matches the reviews. I think that TfL not being biased and not letting them buy awards is the only way to push them to be innovative. They have a 3.0 liter tt v6 in the caddilac which should have been put in the zr2 but instead they choose to keep it barely adequate. Same with all their trucks adding any form of forced induction to their trucks would blow away eco boost but still they wait. No reason to buy a new truck if I feel like I need to upgrade it to be competitive with other brands.

    11. Trevor
      Here’s my best guess. If you take a look at the dyno chart that tfl posted showing the torque curves of all three trucks. I think it clearly shows that at lower rpms, say around 2000 rpm, the ram is putting out considerably more torque than the ford, while the chevy is making even more torque than the ram and almost twice as much as the ford. Add to this that Mr. Truck mentioned that the ford was unable to reach 60 mph at any point on the hill, not even in the 1st mile which is before the hill starts to get steep. So I think the ford was unable to get a “good running start” at the hill and we all know if you go faster at the bottom of a hill, that momentum, helps carry you up and over that hill. This is the best I can come up with.

    12. Roman may sure you film Jim Morrison picking up that beautiful belt buckle. That makes 2 awards for Ram’s Cummins equipted trucks. I have to agree it is hard to beat Ram trucks. I can see now why they decided to push back the redesign on there 3/4 and 1 ton trucks. It really doesn’t need much. Oh and on Ram truck website it is still showing them building the Ram Rebel/TRX

    13. I’m glad the Ram beat the Chevy in the HD department, and it should be that way. The Ram was at least 500lbs heavier than the Chevy (Limited vs LT trim) and wasnt even geared to pull that weight vs the Chevy (4.10 vs 3.73). Yet only 12 seconds slower than the Chevy and getting better fuel economy against a newer engine designed to be more efficient.

      Ford had a very disappointing showing. Might be in regen during the tests or that they’re just bad at high altitude engineering…

    14. I don’t like the fact that Ford won so many awards. Seems political to me since the results seemed to tell a much more evenly matched contest. Ram wins the heavy duty class! Say what! Forget the dyno, the only place where Ram won anything was in the fuel economy test. The only won that won that really made since was the F-150, but it barely beat Chevrolet. The Ram was the hands down winner for off-roader. The Raptor is a purpose built desert runner that is really a pile off-road. My friend has ’97 Toyota Land Cruiser and was wheeling with a guy with a Raptor. He had to pull that guy out of the mud and up a hill twice because it kept getting stuck. Not to mention it’s clearance isn’t very good for pure off-roading! You guys really missed it here! Now I still love you guys, but I totally disagree with the results. 2500 winner Silverado. Half ton winner F-150 barely! Off-roader hands down Ram Power Wagon, no one can touch it but a Jeep Rubicon. The mid-size truck is definetely the Canyon, but could be the Colorado also because it’s quicker all the way around!

    15. Good video guys. They seem to be in line what I was thinking.

      The old ram truck in the HD segment took the gold ball. Probably I guess would be the surprise here.

      No real surprises anywhere else in the awards. I will point out I probably would go with the Colorado , because of the expense of the dsl. Which was not mentioned.

    16. In the end, buy whatever brand you want and you are still getting a very good truck. They all have something great to offer and they re all more capable than most people really need. There is a lot of brand loyalty being displayed here and I personally enjoy reading it.

      I personally think Ford owns the fullsize segment. No one innovates and takes chances like them. Some may not like this statement but it is true. The competition takes shots at them making fun of the use of aluminum while they secretly scramble to get it into their products (read GM) while the others would do it if they had the funds (see Ram). As a result of the constant innovation at Ford they have left themselves open to some criticism because of growing pains (see first gen EB in the F-150). In the end, I think the sales numbers tell the tale. Ford offers more and they in turn sell more.

      Ram. To me they deserve a ton of credit for sticking with what works. We want new and improved more than any generation ever. However, be careful what you ask for because you might just get it and the issues that come along with it. The Ram engines are really good proven engines. We can debate who is the best but they know how to make an engine. Their interiors have really set the bar. Give them credit for moving a lot of trucks that may not be a new as the competition. They have stayed in the mix and give their customers what they are used to – think comfort food.

      GM. Where else can you get those slamming hot low riding front air dams? Just kidding. GM has come out with a surprisingly good update. It surprised a lot of people, me included. They are in the mix as well. They will forever follow Ford (while poking fun in a jealous ex-boyfriend kind of way) but will stay close enough to keep most of their customers. They should also keep a keen eye on Ram. While I’m now reverting back to half ton talk, the 2019 GM trucks may be the most important update in our lifetime for GM. If they don’t fix the constant unnecessary issues (read driveline vibration and just Google to see the rest) they will slip to third because I bet Ram is about to drop a nice new truck right beside them in 2019.

      Nissan. Months ago we were all laughing at them and calling for the job of the head designer. Now we are starting to say, hey, the truck really isn’t that bad. At least they seem committed to making a good truck. They are also already working on an updated version. They are clearly in 4th to 5th place but are trying. A for effort C plus for execution. They will get better and, unlike Toyota, they seem committed to making a better fullsize truck. If Toyota doesn’t bring a redisgned truck I look for the Nissan to outsell them soon.

      Toyota. No dog in the HD fight but a shame for a company with so much potential to let a once very nice truck go stale. That engine is money by anoyone’s standards but they still, along with Nissan, cannot figure out how to give power and efficiency. It looks like they may be content to build the current Tundra forever and send it out to pasture with the really cool FJ Cruiser. Shame. I would love to see a new fullsize truck from Toyota (new does not mean tweaking the headlights and taillights) but I’m not hopeful at this point. Our friend Rambro was hot to trot over that all new 2018 only to leave disappointed. Sorry, my friend, maybe 2025…

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