Lifted Gmc Dually Greatest – Dueling Diesel Dualies: 2020 GMC Sierra 3500HD vs 2019 Ram 3500HDGMC and Ram luxury trucks battle for towing/compromise supremacy
Are car enthusiasts who look forward to driving giant diesel trucks as much as we look forward to AARP discounts, root canals, and colonoscopies. So this year, when we put on our big-kid pants and got to grips with these two behemoths—the 2020 GMC Sierra 3500HD Denali Duramax and the 2019 Ram 3500HD Limited Cummins—we brought along a genuine truck enthusiast. Mark Williams knows the ins and outs of this alien segment as encyclopedically as we know the car, light truck and SUV segments in which we spend most of the year immersed.
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Qualified as an all-new dually diesel is the 2020 GMC Sierra 3500HD Denali Duramax, which features a stronger frame with improved payload and towing capacities. A longer wheelbase with the crew cab also adds to the rear legroom in the new cabin. Its revised bed is an inch lower to the ground, 7 inches wider inside (but not outside, thanks to new construction techniques) and features 10-12 corner fasteners and GMC’s six-function tailgate functions within a door. The 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 diesel carries over, but the 10-speed Allison transmission is new as is the availability of an auto-4WD system. Also new are a host of features aimed at making the towing task easier, including 15 camera views with an “invisible trailer” feature.
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Slightly less new is the 2019 Ram 3500HD, which gets a fresh, fully enclosed, partially hydroformed frame composed of 98.5 percent high-strength steel. A new front clip and rear styling deliver a claimed segment-leading 0.409 drag coefficient, but the box and cabin are largely carried over, though the interior has been upgraded to include most of the design and features that gave the last Ram calipers 1500 Truck of the Year year (and the overall Ram HD lineup won for 2020). There’s also a new record-breaking 1,000-lb-ft Cummins I-6 turbodiesel mated to a six-speed Aisin transmission. The chassis gets new frequency response damping at all four corners to improve ride quality without a load. Another ride-enhancing measure is Ram’s optional auxiliary rear air springs that allow the main leaf springs to be slightly softer (adds $1,595 if you don’t order the $3,695 Max Tow Package). This also makes hooking up the trailer a lot easier, as the truck can often be lowered to get rid of the gooseneck or bumper shock.
We kicked it off with some long freeway drives and short laps of city and twisty mountain roads, all unloaded – the kind of driving we car people understand. It turns out these two make terrible cars, but forced to choose between them as trucks, features editor Scott Evans favored the Ram. “It rides a lot better than the GMC. The front and rear feel better damped and smoother on the road. You won’t get nearly as much jolting in the cabin.” Test director Reynolds agreed, with the caveat, “The ride is probably better overall, but when you hit a bump, the G level is quite noticeable and higher than in the GMC, though it smooths out quicker.”
As for handling, road test editor Chris Walton found the Ram’s steering “lively and lightly weighted making it more fun on the twisty bits.” But in our simulated emergency lane change maneuver, Reynolds found the GMC to handle much more nimbly. “After a few laps I was actually moving a bit, which is incredible.” In contrast, he found the Ram to be “much clumsier than the GMC; hard to maneuver with control.” Truck expert Williams found the GMC’s steering to be more precise and its brakes more linear in their pedal response, with the brakes “providing a level of comfort and predictability that I didn’t feel with the Ram.”
These trucks are supposed to spend most of their lives working, so Williams hooked us up with 20,000-pound trailers for the sample (both heavy-duty trucks are rated at more than 30,000 pounds). Oddly enough, the supremacy of ride comfort varied. Loaded with a trailer, the ride quality of the front seats was considered the best in the GMC, while the Ram’s rear seat moved more comfortably. Walton found the GMC’s brakes more secure than the Ram’s with better initial bite and better towing progress.
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Despite the Ram’s impressive torque rating of 1,000 lb-ft (90 more than the GMC), the Sierra Denali’s 45 hp (and 2.6 lb/hp) advantage and that excellent new 10-speed automatic helped it win every performance challenge we threw at these big trucks. Williams figured the Ram engine controller limits torque from rest when unloaded to prevent wheelspin, given the aggressive 4.10:1 axle ratio (the GMC has a 3:42:1 axle). The Ram beats the GMC by 1.9 seconds to 60 mph and by 1.4 seconds and 6.0 mph in the quarter mile. But attach a 20,000-pound trailer to each and the difference shrinks to 0.7 and 0.9 seconds, respectively, apparently without any torque limitation on the Ram. The GMC also managed to accelerate from 35 to 55 mph up a 5 percent grade with a 17,330-lb trailer, 2.2 seconds faster than the Ram in 160 fewer feet. The GMC Duramax/Allison powerplant is much smoother and quieter than the Ram’s Cummins/Aisin setup—but Williams reminded us that Cummins buyers really want to hear that big sound. The GMC even has an 11-foot advantage in braking distance from 60 mph (stopping in 134 feet, unladen) and goes through our simulated obstacle avoidance double lane change 0.6 seconds faster (in 4.1 seconds).
As for bragging rights, as configured our heavy-duty Ram truck can tow 34,130 pounds from a gooseneck or fifth wheel and 23,000 pounds from the bumper. Our GMC is limited to 31, 180 and 20,000 respectively. Note that a GMC 3500HD Duramax with regular rear cab is twice rated at 35,500 pounds, while 35,100 is as high as the equivalent Ram Cummins H.O. it goes Both trucks have a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds, meaning the lighter GMC can carry 5,366 pounds, 180 more than the Ram. Williams summed up the GMC this way: “This platform, engine and transmission combination may be the strongest, most civilized heavy hauler we have on the planet. This truck has no lag or dead spots in the power curve that I I could feel it.”
So decisively did the GMC win the last category, the Ram wins this one. The palatial interior of its Limited top trim simply beats GMC’s Denali equivalent. The seats were universally praised as offering more adjustment and being much more comfortable—even in the back, where the GMC’s lower cushion provided insufficient thigh support. Thoughtful touches abound in the Ram, from the big screen and user-friendly Uconnect infotainment system, to its roomy Ram bins in the rear floor, to its multiple USB, USB-C and 110 volts sprinkled around the cabin. GMC’s small rear-seat storage bins are relatively laughable. Our Ram Limited had adaptive cruise control (part of a $3,440 option package), but this increasingly common fatigue-reducing feature is not available on the GMC Denali.
In GMC’s favor are some pretty nifty trailer gadgets, including a trailer light test app, plenty of available cameras, including an option to install cameras inside and on a trailer to provide a “trailer” rear view. invisible” and to monitor objects or animals inside a trailer. , while a blind spot view shows the entire side of the device whenever the turn signal is activated while towing. The GMC’s mirrors motor outward for better trailer visibility, while the Ram’s horizontal mirrors rotate up and out, providing power control of the small spot mirrors. Opinions were divided as to which approach was best. GMC offers a button that instantly lowers all four windows so you can hear spotters driving while backing up a large trailer, plus a gorgeous full-color display that can’t be used in a Ram, and the the lane departure horn rattles one side or the other of the driver’s seat cushion whenever one of those rear outer wheels crosses a line (as they often do).
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If you’re likely to spend long days hauling or hauling saddles, which truck will make your job easier? Well, in addition to the aforementioned adaptive cruise control, the Ram offers a very effective exhaust brake with two settings: on and auto. The former provides maximum lag that you can hear and feel every time you let off the accelerator. Auto provides enough engine braking to maintain the speed you were traveling when you let off the gas. The GMC’s exhaust brake is harder to hear and feel, but it worked in conjunction with Auto Grade Braking to maintain a set speed of 65 mph going down Davis Dam’s 5 percent grade just as effectively as the Ram (but it’s impossible to say how much, if any, friction brakes were contributing to that result). Walton felt the Ram tracked straighter and required less steering than the GMC to maintain its lane position while pulling up grades, but Williams “didn’t find the Ram 3500’s steering as precise as the GMC’s.” Another clue is in Ram’s favor on the faith front: On the climb up and down Davis Dam
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