• Behind the Scenes of the World’s Toughest Towing Test: Ike Gauntlet and Gold Hitch (Video)

    The 2018 edition of the Gold Hitch competition is in full swing. The Gold Hitch awards are all about testing and crowning the best towing and off-road trucks in the land. The Ike Gauntlet™ – world’s toughest towing test, and the Cliffhanger 2.0 off-road trail are the ways we compare trucks and full-size SUVs.

    This 2018 model year competition is focused on the following four categories.

    • 2018 Best Towing SUV
    • 2018 Best Towing HD Truck
    • 2018 Best Off-road Truck
    • 2018 Gold Hitch Truck of the Year

    The SUV categories include the following all-new or updated full-size 2018 SUVs: Chevy Tahoe RST, Dodge Durango SRT, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, Infiniti QX80, and Toyota Sequoia. The competition is getting tougher, the towing limits are getting higher, but the Ike Gauntlet™ will narrow down the best towing SUV.

    The best towing HD trucks focus on the three-quarter ton trucks this year. We are testing the Ford, GM, and Ram turbo-diesel trucks this year, since we focused on the big dually trucks last year.

    The off-road category of trucks is still full of excitement because we got the opportunity to put the Chevy Colorado ZR2 through the paces on road and on the hard Cliffhanger 2.0 trail.

    We will publish more data and details about the towing results once we complete our testing in March of this year.

    How come we are not testing the half-ton trucks in 2018? There are not enough new half-ton trucks for the 2018 model year. Yes, the F-150 has been updated and the F-150 diesel is coming soon. We will of course test as many trucks as possible, but we will just not award the best half-ton this year. You can be sure that 2019 will be very much focused on the half-ton truck segment, as all-new 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500 join the fight.

    The TFLtruck team will review all of the test data, vote on the winners, and crown the best trucks and SUVs of 2018 to coincide with the 2018 Denver Auto Show on April 4th, 2018.

    Join the “unwrapping” of the 2018 Ford Expedition in the video below.

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

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    74 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes of the World’s Toughest Towing Test: Ike Gauntlet and Gold Hitch (Video)

    1. February 12, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      I will test all you commenters.

      To see who is smart, and who is dangerously stupid.

      So, if you are only replacing two tires(which many times is not recommended, but you know a lot of people do it) do you put the new tires on the front or on the rear?

      This will be a good indicator of who is really stupid , and who is wise.

      Your answers below?




      Bernie Kressner
      February 12, 2018 at 4:43 pm
      Truth – – –

      T: “…do you put the new tires on the front or on the rear?”

      I read this somewhere before. Counterintuitively, it’s actually the FRONT. Honestly, my guess is that the answer may be influenced by whether the vehicle is FWD, or RWD, or AWD/4WD. If FWD, then FRONTs, — no brainer. If RWD, then it may depend on usage mode: if SLOW speed pickup truck stuff, then perhaps REARs, at the expense of high-speed stability and braking, — and depending on how worn the fronts are. If AWD/4WD, then FRONTs for sure.

      (But since I rotate tires often, they all wear out at about the same rate, so I replace all 4 and that issue never arises.)



      February 12, 2018 at 6:19 pm
      One on the front and one on the rear. Win win.


      February 12, 2018 at 11:13 pm
      Naturally you want them on the front to be able to steer but then your rear end can kick out easier. Having more traction in the rear will help to keep you straight under hard braking like an anchor. But if you needed the front end to steer with more traction to keep you away from a hit then you may want them in the front. Better to have even tires all around. And depends on the situation. Might be statistically better in the rear for more scenarios.


      February 13, 2018 at 12:44 am
      In poor socialist country we have been said in driving school, to put new ones always on the back, doesn’t matter what car. It’s something to do with, when you brake, rear end won’t pass your front. I still don’t know ,if is it bs ,or not.


      February 13, 2018 at 12:47 am
      “we have been told”
      Jesus, I am tired.



      I will reveal the TRUTH at the end of the day.

      1. Even though this is off topic:
        If only replacing two tires, you should always mount the new tires on the rear… regardless of FWD, RWD OR AWD.
        A caveat though, my wife’s vehicle has staggered wheels, with 6K on the clock, she had a puncture on the right front, so we replaced both front tires……didn’t have enough miles on them to replace all four.

      2. The better set of tires gets installed on the rear in this situation. Honestly you should replace all 4 at the same time. With so many aws vehicles and 4wd systems designed to be used at highway speeds too much difference in tread depth can cause problems fast

      3. In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.

    2. you know im curious if the ecoboosts engine brake better in sport mode. all the acceleration videos ive seen when they let off it really holds a gear long rather than upshifting several times.

    3. So why are you testing the heavy duty trucks? There’s just as much new products with them as there is in the half ton segment. Should test all the F-150 motors against each other on the Ike.

    4. So Bernie, Zviera and Rambro are the only ones with the gutts to say whether you put the two new tires on the front or the back?

      Mmm, maybe none of you are the truck guys you say you are.

      Any truck guy worth their salt would know.

    5. ** More important than changing the logo, some updating to the test procedure would be better.

      Subjective scoring needs to be focused on seat comfort, stereo quality, dash layout, etc. You can’t double ding a vehicle for overall time or brake applications.

      On Brake applications, you really should set cruise control. Let the vehicle know you want to maintain a speed, not penalize it because it thinks you want to coast freely.

      1. Even Daniel can recognize the vapid subject of this page.

        So TFL, you could do an article on whether you put two new tires on the front or on the back.

        Its a life and death question.

        In other words, its actually SALIENT.

        So, commenters, are you going to step up to the plate and have your voice heard, or are you going to shrink?

        1. Stick to the subject. Which logo did you prefer?

          And it was a nice video on one experience of receiving a loaner vehicle and the people they get to meet in the process.

          If you are bored, go somewhere else

        2. What is your deal Hal? This has absolutely nothing to do with the topic. Instead of resorting to personal attacks over something your hijacking a thread for you COULD post something relevant and worthwhile instead of wasting everyone elses time

          1. I know, Brewhaha, I don’t expect someone like you to understand. Important truths that are”salient” just sound like insults to you.

            But if you want to try to understand, just know that truth usually is offensive to people who offend it and go against it all their lives.

            Again, I don’t expect you to understand this kind of thing.

            But if you want, you can try. I believe people can change.

            1. My guess is you just enjoy being an arrogant asshole. In addition to being someone with a pretty limited intellect. Most people i know who actually know what they’re talking about aren’t needlessly engaging in personal attacks in a vain effort to make themselves feel smarter.

            2. Where you put your two new tires has nothing to do with a personal attack.

              They have to do with being a man who protects our roads.

              Again, I know you easily get confused with such efforts.

    6. Again TFLtruck stands alone as the best producers of real, true, down to earth truck (plus car and suv) videos! I found it interesting how their test vehicles arrive by an independent trucker. I never gave it much thought before. Great video, showing the truckers rig with Roman asking questions about the truck (like vehicle capacity, unloaded weight, engine hp, etc), as well as talking to the driver and his wife about how long they have been doing this and so forth. Thanks Roman you’ve proven again, with your happy,friendly, fun loving persona, that you are someone we would all like to sit down and have a drink (and possibly a couple of those truck stop chile dogs) with. Have a good day. Thanks!

      1. O.K., I’ve got Daniel and Dan Bush in the “dangerously ignorant” column.

        Its amazing self proclaimed truck guys don’t even know this basic matter of critical safety.

    7. Logo #1

      So no half ton gold hitch award this year? Bummer! TFL – please tell me you are doing everything you can to get an F150 with the 5.0/10 speed combo on Ike!

      And what has changed in the heavy duty class to justify a gold hitch award there? As far as I know, Ford bumped up their torque a bit to claim bragging rights over Ram, but that’s really all that I’m aware of. If that’s enough to justify a heavy duty class for the Gold Hitch, why aren’t the Ford upgrades to the F150 enough to justify a half ton class? With Ford we have a new 5.0/10 combo and a 2.7/10 combo. Both engines have more output than prior versions, and both are now bolted up to the 10 speed transmission. Please test these ASAP!

    8. I think this Expedition will have the 3:73 gears so we will get to see how the 3.5EB 10 speed pans out here. Too bad it was not as light as the F150 so we could get a better 0-60. Only up to the Lariat trim can you get the 3:73 gears in the F150 and nobody knows why.

      1. Well it’s because the 3.73 gears are only available in the HD Payload package, which from what I can tell is almost a unicorn in the truck world. That package is only available on Lariat and lower trim levels.

        1. But why? That is not a reason to have lower gears in the rear end. A bit more payload has nothing to do with gears. Trailering has more significance. Even if you add a heated steering wheel option to the Lariat trim you lose the HD package. Why?

          1. And I believe all the expeditions get the 3:73 with the ten speed so when you hammer it, all the final ratios will be different as it climbs from gear to gear which makes it faster.

            1. I asked TFL to ask Ford. I think the return letter is on its way back by horseback. Maybe someday in an interview we will get an answer.

              If the F150 4 door platinum with 3:55 gears beat the Raptor, what would a regular cab 4×4 3.5EB with 3:73 gears do in a 0-60 run. Be a nice bush truck if they offered a 4×4 FX4 with a short box in regular cab and a Raptor type front bumper, better yet if they Turboed the V8. Tundra already did this with a Supercharged V8 when we still had the short box option on a pickup in regular cab.

    9. Rambro, Good question and i think the answer is less likely that TFL hasn’t asked them than it is that ford refuses to give them an answer on it. Just like when you keep asking why we get suv’s like the trailhawk, durango srt, and the tahoe rst but at the same time none of these manufacturers seem willing to put a quick motor in a midsize truck. Why? All we hear is crickets!

          1. I told them to include a price where all my relatives get stun guns and the last one standing at my funeral gets all my stuff, and then I will sign up. They never acknowledge it, I am use to that.

    10. I really hope TFL cleans up the comments section, which is a major reason I come here. I’ve already stopped coming as frequently because its so obnoxious and may just stop all together.

      And I sure hope the haters/obnoxious individuals with no lives that ruin this site realize that by not coming here I will be less likely to consider other truck brands besides Ford since I dont care to see how the others perform and will be confined into my little tiny F150 forum bubble.

      1. I was just about to post the same thing.

        People like Salient and the fake rambro should be blocked indefinitely!

        Please update the off road challenge! Cliffhanger 2.0 is not nearly enough of a ride to test vehicles like the Raptor/Power Wagon/ZR2.

        Take them to the airplane trail in some of the wrangler videos on TFLcar!

      1. Oh yeah, that logo thing is a real important topic.

        We really should put that first and spend our valuable life talking about that.

        Or, we can educate you all dumb dumbs on how to maintain your vehicles so as not to spin out of your lane and hit each other(tire maintenance).

        And I am the hater. Trust me, you will feel a lot of hat if someone hit you because they spun out due to putting their new tires on the front.

        Some day, you will thank me for educating you all on this.

        1. Please block Salient. He has destroyed this comment section like a virus destroys a host.

          His off the rocker comments on EVERY post make this a website I no longer want to visit and a community I don’t want to participate in. You track his IP.

          At minimum add a report function or down vote function, please!

          1. It of course is their choice.

            If you want a blog of full grown men who act like girls chatting about the design of a logo.

            But if they want a site for actual men, who actually are working out SALIENT truths, well, they can choose that too.

          1. When he deserves it, absolutely yes.

            There are much more important things he can do with a truck site.

            He has the power to make our roads safer. And yet, we are supposed to talk about a logo?

            Truck sites should have men in them, not full grown males who aren’t even as SALIENT as a capricious girl.

            1. I have Salient things to do instead of composing perfect comments in a pickup truck comment section.
              If you want to spend your life perfectly composing and spell checking a comment, feel free to waste your life doing that. But I have more work to do.

    11. I get why you guys are not testing the 1/2 tons this year.
      I still would love to see the 10 speed 5.0 but I am sure Ford will want to pimp out their new diesel.

      Also +1 on the base V6 testing.

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