2019 Canadian Truck King Challenge

2019 Canadian Truck King Challenge

Story by Howard J Elmer

The 12th annual Canadian Truck King Challenge took place in the cold and rain of early October. Frankly, that’s the norm for our event. And while it makes for nasty driving, I always remind our judges that we are simply testing in the same conditions that Canadian truck owners encounter every day. Dealing with our climate is just one reason that we pride ourselves on doing “real-world testing.” The other truth is that our judges are life-long truck owners who come from all parts of the country where their regional experiences add to the depth of their opinions on the new iron we have a chance to test.

This year, five AJAC judges drove the new 1500-series pickup trucks around our Head River loop empty and then all over again with 1,000 lb of payload loaded in the beds. Finally, each truck towed a flatbed trailer, complete with concrete weights giving each a total tare weight of 7,000 lb. 

This ritual of back-to-back driving over the same 20-km test loop is what makes the Truck King Challenge unique. This routine gives each judge a chance to “feel” the differences in each truck as they drive over the same course – again and again. Over two very long days, we managed to drive over 2,000 km on this course.  

The trucks we had a chance to test this year were substantially new – with the exception of the Toyota and Nissan. However, the 2019 Chevy Silverado and the 2019 GMC Sierra both brought generational updates to our event, as did the 2019 Ram 1500. The Ford F-150 was unique in that it was the only diesel powered truck to compete – and the fact that this was the first time we had a chance to test this newest member of the Power Stroke family – the 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel.   

Below are the trucks that attended our IronWood test facility in the Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario this year.

2019 Toyota Tundra

Body: CrewMax

Trim: SR5 TRD PRO 4×4

Engine: 5.7L i-Force V8 gas

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

2018 Ford F:150

Body: Supercrew

Trim: Lariat FX4 4×4

Engine: 3.0L Power Stroke V6 diesel

Transmission: Electronic 10-speed automatic

2019 Ram 1500

Body: Crew Cab

Trim: Limited 4×4

Engine: 5.7L Hemi V8 w/FuelSaver MDS

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

2019 GMC Sierra 1500

Body: Crewcab

Trim: Denali Ultimate 4×4

Engine: 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 gas w/Dynamic Fuel Management

Transmission: Electronic 10-speed automatic

2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Body: Crewcab

Trim: LTZ 4×4

Engine: 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 gas w/Dynamic Fuel Management

Transmission: Electronic 10-speed automatic

2018 Nissan Titan 1500

Body: Crew

Trim: PRO-4X 4×4

Engine: 5.6L V8 gas

Transmission: seven-speed automatic

So, what are the judges looking for while driving these loops over and over again? As you’ll see below, it’s an extensive list that takes all the build, tech, handling and comfort aspects of each truck into consideration.

Each judge awards a score using a “ten-scale” for each category. These are then averaged over the completed score sheets – one from each judge on each truck. It’s these averaged scores that are then converted to a percentage, so we can assign an “out of one hundred score.” See the example below. Also note that these scores are subjective. Each judge is familiar with the trucks they are driving in addition to having gone through the technical data and background that each manufacturer provides as part of its entry package.

Still, what results is opinion. That’s why each of our judges is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). They make a living writing about trucks, most of them for decades. In fact, this year, our five judges, combined, can boast of over 110 years of experience in the field of automotive evaluation – and trucks in particular.

The final adjusted scores are based on ratings from the judges on a variety of factors including each truck’s styling/appearance,occupant environment, noise and vibration harshness, performance and vehicle dynamics. These ratings are added to the main test values which consist of the trucks payload, towing capability, performance while empty and off-road performance to achieve the final score out of 100.

Here are the final adjusted scores as compiled by the Judges out of 100.

  1. 2019 GMC Sierra 1500                                               Score – 80.0
  2. 2019 Ram 1500                                                             Score – 78.8
  3. 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500                                 Score – 77.3
  4. 2018 Ford F:150                                                           Score – 73.3
  5. 2018 Nissan Titan 1500                                               Score – 71.3
  6. 2019 Toyota Tundra                                                     Score – 71.0