2015 Ford F-150 EcoBoost vs. 2015 Chevy Silverado V8

Mar. 19, 2015 By Josh Burns and Scott Rousseau, Video by Jay McNally
 

2015 Ford F-150 vs. 2015 Chevy Silverado

Be it the weight loss or the electronic-assisted steering, the F-150 had the smoothest handling of the two trucks.

Handling, Suspension
Fordís all-aluminum-bodied F-150 may have raised a few eyebrows when it was first introduced, but itís hard to deny that the new-school thinking with weight reduction opens up new possibilities, such as the use of smaller engines, improved fuel economy, and of course a reduction in gross vehicle weight that thereby increases payload and towing capacity. But Ford also looked at the weight reduction as a way to improve the truckís handling (something it looked to prove at the F-150ís launch last year). So the question is: Is this weight reduction noticeable when driving the truck?

The answer is an emphatic yes, as we noticed it both on the highway and in the dirt. As with any full-size truck relying on a ladder-style frame, some body roll is to be expected Ė but it is very slight. In fact, tester Rousseau lauded the torsional rigidity of the new frame and felt it contributed to the truckís confident handling. Both the Silverado and F-150 are fairly precise in the corners, but the Ford gets the nod by virtue of its lighter steering effort. The F-150 feels more at ease in turns and whips into them with less effort.

Hitting the Scales
2015 F-150 3.5-liter EcoBoost Ė 5200 lbs.
2015 Chevy Silverado 6.2-liter V8 Ė 5660 lbs.

The Ford FX4 just felt a little more at home in the dirt.

The Ford was also much more at ease during our off-road sessions. Both trucks feature coilover front suspension, but the F-150 finds a better compromise between compression damping and rebound damping to give it a much more composed feel when the going gets rough. The F-150 could negotiate whooped trails noticeably quicker than the Silverado. Most importantly, the Fordís suspension superiority in the dirt doesnít compromise its on-road handling.

When we weighed both trucks, the F-150 came in at 5200 pounds, which is 460 pounds lighter than the Silverado. Whereís the 700 pounds, you ask? Well, we canít say for sure, as Ford lists a similarly equipped 2014 F-150 at 5,615 pounds. Sure, the weight difference may be part of the equation, but the Fordís rack-and-pinion electric power-assisted steering is another key factor in its smoother and more effortless turning.

The Silverado is not quite as nimble through the turns as the F-150, but its steering is very predictable and precise.

On the road, the Silverado offers a stable ride with very predictable steering. The one way we kept distinguishing the Chevyís handling from the Fordís is by saying it feels the most like a traditional truck. Thereís a little more body roll in turns with the Chevy, and it definitely feels less nimble on the road and in slow-speed situations. Thatís not to say that that the Ford doesn't handle like a truck, too, but the Chevy's character is less refined and more consistent with traditional truck handling than the Ford.

The Silverado's front suspension needs some fine-tuning for spirited off-roading.

On the road, we had no complaints with the Chevyís suspension, although it didnít offer quite as much cushion over speed bumps and driveways as the Ford's. In the dirt, however, it was obvious that the Silverado's coilover front shock absorbers are not as composed during spirited off-road driving. We found ourselves bouncing excessively in the Silverado while chasing the F-150. A little more travel and more rebound would go a long way toward improving the Silverado in the dirt.

The air dams on both trucks ultimately are a positive feature, as they provide an improvement of up to 1 mpg in fuel economy. That said, they limit front ground clearance considerably on the trail, and we wish they were easier to remove.

Towing
One reason the full-size truck market is the most competitive class in the marketplace is that these vehicles are expected to handle pretty much all ďtruckĒ functions relatively well. Some full-size owners may just want a truck capable of towing even if they donít use it for this much (kinda like 4WD), while others will tow with their half-ton truck nearly every weekend. Either way, towing is something this segment is designed to do, so we were curious how these trucks would compare.

During testing we always travel on variety of roads that includes straightaways, windy roads, and areas with downhill sections and uphill climbs. We encountered varying degrees of climbs during our test, such as a more reasonable 6-percent grade up to more extreme 10- and 12-percent grades. Many truck owners wonít ever encounter slopes this extreme, but it does tell us a lot about the trucks.

The Chevy earned the top honor in towing testing thanks to its low-end torque and confident handling.

For our testing we pulled a wakeboard boat and trailer that combine to weigh roughly 6,000 pounds Ė a pretty standard haul for a full-size truck. Our friend Chris Thompson helped us with testing, as heís used to pulling around his boat-and-trailer combo and knows just how it feels behind his truck.

The Chevy Silverado was rated to tow 11,500 pounds last year, but for 2015 it received a bump in its max towing rating to 12,000 pounds. Our 4x4 equipped with the upgraded 3.42 gear ratio comes in just slightly less than that at 11,800 pounds. In the Chevy, Thompson noted right off the bat how impressed he was with the power of the Silverado, saying it pulled hard from a stop and continued to accelerate up steep grades. The manual shifting works well and helps apply engine braking on downhill sections, but engine braking is virtually nonexistent when not in manual as the truck keeps gaining momentum going downhill.

The power of the motor impressed us during testing, but Thompson noted the gearing seemed a bit odd. The eight-speed transmission would theoretically distribute the gearing more evenly, but in tow/haul mode we noticed a drop of nearly 2,000 rpm between shifts. We came away expecting the power of the V8 to be used better with the wide gear spread but that just wasnít the case. 

In terms of its trackability and overall feel, Thompson felt that the Silverado edges the F-150 in towing capability as the weight of the boat had less effect on the Silverado when turning corners. While accelerating up the most challenging 12-percent grade during our testing, the Silverado reached a peak rpm of 6,000 before downshifting.

The F-150 was not as punchy off the bottom as the Silverado, but once on boost it offered more than enough power for our 6,000-pound boat-and-trailer combo.

The F-150 has a maximum tow rating of 12,200 pounds in 4x2 applications, but our 4x4 sits just under that rating at 11,500 pounds. Our F-150 fell right in line with our expectations after already having driven it on and off the road. Low-end acceleration with the boat behind it makes the Ford feel underpowered compared to the Chevyís V8, but once itís on boost the motor is vibrant and extremely torque-y. In spite of its reduced weight, Thompson felt the F-150 handles the weight of the boat well around turns Ė the truck is clearly in control of the load. We noted the engine revved up to a max rpm of about 5700 on the most extreme 12-percent grade. Overall, the Ford performed well in the towing arena, but the stouter Chevy just felt a little more composed and a little bit better off the bottom from dead starts and when starting hill climbs.

Next Page... 2015 Ford F-150 vs. 2015 Chevy Silverado


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