Boulder, CO – The Fast Lane Truck (TFLtruck) announces their 2018 Gold Hitch Award recipients. The TFLtruck Gold Hitch Award recognizes trucks and full-size SUVs for their ability to perform under the most demanding driving conditions. Five TFLtruck Gold Hitch Awards are being presented this year.
The benchmark for all towing scores is based on the grueling Ike GauntletTM. The Ike GauntletTM is “The World’s Toughest Towing Test”. The test loop consists of an 8-mile stretch of the I-70 between Dillon, CO (9,111 feet above sea level) and the Eisenhower/Johnson tunnels (Continental Divide at 11,158 feet above sea level). The highway grade reaches 7%, the maximum allowed on a US Interstate. The trucks are loaded with trailers near their maximum towing capacity. The transmissions and braking systems are tasked with handling the heavy load on the way down. The cooling system, engine, and transmission are pushed near their limits on the way up.
In addition to the Ike GauntletTM towing competition, TFLtruck is using the difficult “Cliffhanger 2.0” Rocky Mountain off-road trail to determine the best off-road truck. This trail is very steep – over 20 degrees – with loose rocks, a Truth or Dare split (the Dare side is a lot more rocky), and a challenging obstacle near the top we call the Razor’s Bend. We take all of the competitors on the Dare side of this trail just to make it more difficult. “This mountain trail is not impossible,” said Roman Mica, Editor, Host and Producer. “The challenge is for participating automakers to build a vehicle that can be effective and easy to navigate up a difficult off-road obstacle.”
Andre Smirnov, Producer and Managing Editor commented, “Maximum-effort testing is what the Ike Gauntlet is all about. High elevation, steep grades and heavy loads challenge all trucks to the fullest. The Ike Gauntlet scoring system lets our viewers clearly see how these vehicles performed and compared to each other.”
The TFLtruck team uses the Ike GauntletTM scoring system, the efficiency results from our 100-mile highway MPG loop, and votes to determine the winners in each category. All category winners are eligible for the title of the 2018 Gold Hitch Truck of the Year or SUV of the Year.
2018 Gold Hitch Award winners are:
Best Towing SUV – 2018 Ford Expedition
Best Towing Heavy-duty pickup truck – 2018 Ford F-250 Super Duty
Best Off-Road truck – 2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
2018 Gold Hitch Truck of the Year – 2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
2018 Gold Hitch SUV of the Year – 2018 Ford Expedition
2018 Best Towing SUV and SUV of the Year
The all-new 2018 Ford Expedition got the best Ike Gauntlet(TM) score among all of the competitors. It was a breeze to hook up the 7,000 lbs trailer. The 360-degree camera system and easy hitch access were a big help. The Expedition handled the 7% downhill grade with just one brake application. The SUV had plenty of power and stability up the mountain.
Kent Sundling, owner and publisher at MrTruck.com said, “The 2018 Expedition down hill grade shifting in tow/haul mode with a trailer, was remarkable. This is the first 10-speed automatic we’ve tested that did downshift properly to control speed fighting gravity at over 11,000 ft down a 7% grade with a 7,000 lb trailer.”
“Ford must be recognized for building something truly special,” said Nathan Adlen, Host and Senior Editor. “Not only is the 2018 Ford Expedition a Gold Hitch winner, I feel it’s the best, modern interpretation of what a large, all-American SUV can be.”
2018 Best Off-Road Truck and Truck of the Year
Good ground clearance, approach angle, front and rear lockers, and the Goodyear Duratrac tires carried the Colorado ZR2 to the top of the mountain. The truck’s midsize dimensions allowed us to choose just the right line over the large rocks. When the dust settled, the ZR2 did not get stuck and navigated the trail with more ease than the other competitors.
The Colorado ZR2 also gets the Truck of the Year award, because it is also a comfortable daily driver and a truck that broke a lot of new ground for the midsize truck segment. The ZR2 offers a gas V6 or a turbo-diesel four cylinder engines. The spool-valve Multimatic DSSV shock absorbers do very well off-road, but also provide a cushy and controlled ride on pavement.
2018 Best Towing HD Truck
The 2018 Ford F250 and its latest 6.7L Power Stroke V8 turbo diesel got the best Ike Gauntlet(TM) score among all of the competitors. It was very easy to hook up the 12,500 lbs trailer. The 360-degree camera system and electrically extending side mirrors were a big help. This year’s 3/4-ton diesel HD truck towing competition was closer than ever, but the Ford F250 rose to the top with a solid performance up and the down the mountain. The F250 has the features, visibility, and handling that are characteristic of a great towing truck.
TFLtruck is the most popular online video truck review channel. Featuring news, views and real-world reviews through our publication, over five million truck buyers watch TFLtruck video reviews and tests every month. This includes the signature Ike Gauntlet – World’s Toughest Towing test, which challenges the trucks to the absolute maximum of their performance capability. Simply put, TFLtruck is all trucks, all the time!
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