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The best power train for towing?

mrb11mrb11 Posts: 58
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
I'm about ready to start shopping for a new tow vehicle for my 3500 lb boat and trailer. I live in Colorado and want all the tow power I can purchase for these big hills we have here.
First thing.........Don't want no diesel. I can't stand all that clanking noise and all that stink they make. Last year I test drove the Dodge V-10, the Ford V-10 and the Chevy 8.1L V-8. I'm really not partial to any mfgr. but, after the test drives I discovered the 8.1L would blow the doors off the Dodge or Ford V-10. I know a 3500 lb boat is not alot to tow but I want over kill with my tow vehicle. You wouldn't believe the loss of power you feel when you're towing at 10000-12000 feet.
Would appreciate all input and opinions.


  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Posts: 2,728
    I live in Colorado too. The turbo diesel is the one that gobbles hills by leaps and bounds. Having said that, for 3500# a 3/4 ton GM 4x4 with 6.0L and 4.10 axle will have power in abundance 300HP. If that's not enough, the 8.1L may be for you. You can buy the gas.
  • tbundertbunder Posts: 580
    S*U*P*E*R D*U*T*Y

    do all the research you want, but when you actually talk to people that use these trucks, they will tell you that nothing compares to these trucks. not even the 8.1. not to mention that the super duty trucks look 100 times better than any other hd truck made today. the new gm trucks are considered wimpy by many people that tow heavy horse trailers or anything heavy. like someone said in the super-duty vs hd silverado thread, go to a horse show and see how many gm trucks you see compared to ford trucks. 'nuff said. they know what tows. but with only 3500 lbs, a super-duty with just a 5.4 would suffice your needs just fine. of course, there's nothing like the sound of that cool V10. its hard to beat. for absurd needs, nothing beats the power-stroke. its in a class by itself. nothing can beat it, and everyone knows this. later
  • vwracervwracer Posts: 90
    At those altitudes I would do a lot of math and worry more about rear end gear ratio. I have a 2002 F250 with the 5.4L and it pulls my 4600 lb enclosed trailor just fine. You can also get the 5.4L V8 in the FORD F150. FORD V10 is a good motor also, but a little thirsty with some people saying they get 10-12 mpg towing. Watch the roads you travel and you'll see more FORDS pulling trailors then any other makes.
  • eagle63eagle63 Posts: 599
    of how much time elapses from tbunder's post until the chevy boys come in here and this forum turns into the usual royal rumble. Then no doubt we'll see bamatundra who will tell everyone how much chevy sucks, etc etc.
    Anyway, mrb11, I would go with either a 3/4 ton ford or chevy since you seem OK with a little overkill. I'm partial to Ford and the Superduties but the 6L and 8.1L big block on the Silverado HD's are awesome. not a bad choice either way.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Posts: 1,352
    I'm curious to know what "blow the doors off" means to you. EVERY test I've seen has the Ford V10 beating the 8.1 while empty and the 8.1 winning once when loaded and losing once when loaded. My seat of the pants test drive I couldn't feel a distinct difference except that the Allison(the best auto IMHO) was VERY noisy.

    Were the gears close on your test drive? I know my 4.30's and V10 will burn 33's off with little problem.

    I think both trucks are good and both were on my list until a $2000 commericial rebate and near invoice deal put the Super Duty around 5K cheaper for me.

    BTW, I feel the same way about diesels but have heard the Duramax is the closest to a gasser in quietness and response. Quad will give you an honest opinion on that.
  • kg11kg11 Posts: 530
    I have a GMC 2500HD and currently a lemon law claim with BBB.Yes it has awsome power and will pull your 3500 lb load uphill fast.The gm isn't as trucklike as the ford,but it's more comfortable and powerful.Do yourself a favor and read "GMC sierra/chevy silverado w/8.1 and allison".Ford's v10 isn't as powerful but it's still overkill and alot more dependable.Or you could buy a Tundra and pretend you believe it's capable.
  • hillhoundhillhound Posts: 537 that if all you need to tow is 3500lbs, an F150 5.4L or a GM 1500 5.3L would be more than enough. The new 1/2 tons from GM have tow ratings as high as 9200lbs with a 4.10 axle and the F150 can be had in the same ball park. You could pull 4000lbs and still have a comfortable margin of overkill. Plus since you won't be towing your boat ALL the time, you'll have better mileage with the lighter truck!

    Of course, far be it from me to talk a man out of buying too much truck if that's what he wants...!!
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 9,008
    This is a legitimate topic for discussion, but it's NOT another place where people can take shots at each other. Any posts that start up the same personal fights that we've had to put up with in the past will be taken down, simple as that.

    Anyone who doesn't understand this, feel free to email me at [email protected] and I'll explain it further.

    PF Flyer


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  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    3500# is within the towing capacity of 4cyl trucks, and a V10 is beyond overkill regardless of altitude. Any decent sized V8 is going to tow that trailer without any fuss. I regularly tow 12,000# with my diesel, but have pulled smaller trailers, sometimes as light as 5000#. The loss in power with 5K is whimsical at best. I don't feel a V10 is any faster when empty than some of the V8's, and your not going to notice a difference towing such a small load. This is kinda like the trucks I see for sale: Lifted 6", 40" tires, 10K winch, full lockers, never been off-road! V10, ultimate towing machine, never towed more than 3500#! Is the word poser?
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Posts: 2,728
    I have a fairly large enclosed trailer with #3500 that my 160 hp S10 Blazer could pull pretty well, even going up the passes. The bigger problem was simply wind resistance at highway speeds, often making 3rd gear necessary whether it was full or empty. A boat should be quite a bit more aerodynamic and easier to pull, pound for pound.
  • spdmtr5spdmtr5 Posts: 111
    do you want to go?I pull around 10,000 lbs. over all the Colo.passes with a Dodge V10-3.54 gears.At elevation I'm in 1st at about 30 mph.Never overheated,never had any transmission problems and get about 8 mpg.On Wolf Creek,Monarch and the like If I feel I'm holding folks up in a 2 lane section I'll pull over as soon as I can.But,that does not happen often.
  • kg11kg11 Posts: 530
    You have some very good points but mrb11 stated he was looking for overkill.For 4 years I towed a 4000 lb ski boat with a v6 Tacoma.The Taco is rated to tow 5000 lb,but getting rolling uphill with only 4000 was quite a chore.I bought my Sierra 2500HD for the same reasons as mrb11.I wanted more engine and brakes than I would ever need even if I got a bigger boat(which I did).You're right about the v10 not being faster than the v8 empty,but with 3500 lb in tow the v10 won't be any slower.The v8 will,and what if he wants a camper,or a bigger boat?Any half ton truck would work for me even with the 7000 lb boat but I don't mind paying for the privelige of driving up an 8% grade at the speed limit ,or the confidence you get from bigger brakes on the trip back down.

    BTW I get 11.5 towing the ski boat and 9.5 towing the big one.
  • frankno1frankno1 Posts: 68
    How many times do you pull over 11,000 ft passes.
    My F250 V10 with 3.73 axle pulled Isenhower pass west of Denver at 30 to 40mph with a 8000lb load and the altitude didn't help. But how fast do you want to go and how many times are you going up that high. 3500 lb load I wouldn't worry about anything bigger than and F150, chevy half ton or Dodge half ton. But remember this if you get a big block you can always go up in pulling weight without buying a new truck.

  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    No doubt on your points, mine was mainly that even a large V8 would fit the "overkill" factor and a V10 was beyond that. Now, if he thinks he's gonna want to go from a jon boat to a big boat, then that's something to consider but he didn't mention that. He also didn't say anything about how often he was going to tow in relation to empty. If he's pulling a 3500# load around once a week, and commuting the rest of the week in a V10 with nothing in it that's crazy in my book. But people will get what they want, I just can't imagine wanting to drive a V10 around empty. Same way on my Diesel. If I never had to tow anything, I really don't want to cruise around town in a diesel regardless of how "gas-like" they make them. Every once in awhile I see a guy around town with a Ford V10 4X4 long-bed ext. cab that doesn't have a hitch on it, has some sort of sport rear bumper, and a hard bed cover on it. I don't know if he thought he bought a sports car or what, but whatever floats his boat I guess. Like I said, poser.
  • mrb11mrb11 Posts: 58
    From June thru Sept. I tow my 3500lb boat over 25-30 10,000'-12,000 mountain passes here in Colorado. Towing and small block engines aren't a good match her. I don't want to just make it up these long steep grades, I want to motor at 65mph and still be able to pass when I want.
    My test drive of the Dodge V-10, Ford V-10 and Chevy 8.1L V-8 consisted of a start at 5280' here in Denver and going over the continental divide at 11,100 feet. The Dodge was not very impressive. The Ford was better but I didn't think it ran as strong as my 1998 454. The 8.1L 496 ci was by far the most powerful engine. I wished I could of towed my boat during the test drives. The dealers would not allow me to. Anyway I want all the (stock) towing power I can get. If them diesels didn't sound like rattle traps and made such a stench I might consider one.
    Might someone know of some independent performance comparisons made on these 3 big blocks?
  • tbundertbunder Posts: 580
    read the "read only" thread about SD's vs gm hd's. there you will read that the ford's downright outtow anything on the road. its kind of funny. i drove to omaha over the weekend, i saw probably 20 super-duty trucks towing something or other. gm's i saw: goose egg. i even saw a few older non super-duty F250's towing stuff. but heck, towing a 3500 lb. anything, my old '97 S10 Vortec would tow that along like i wasn't even back there. that's not very much weight. overkill for any full-size V8. i'd assume the crappy tundra could even cope with that much weight.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Posts: 1,352
    that had both 8.1 and V10 was Popular Mechanics and Truck Trend, with the Truck Trend also comparing the dodge V10.

    The Ford won ALL tests empty (this is why I question the gear ratios on your test drive)and the 8.1 won when hooked up to 7500 pounds up a grade. So I guess to answer your question the 8.1 would/is the strongest gasser by 35 Hp and 25 pounds of torque. But empty the tests have shown and I've felt very little difference. Towing my 5500 pound boat with my V10 SD has been effortless and I bet 120 degrees @ 2000 feet is pretty close to some of your high elevations.
  • kg11kg11 Posts: 530
    test,as I recall, put the 8.1 out front in most catagories.I didn't see the Truck Trend article.I don't remember ALL of the specifics from the PM article but I based my choice on it and seat of the pants feel from 3 test drives in each.The 8.1 FEELS more powerfull because it hits peak HP/torque at lower RPMs.IMO it's more comfortable.The Ford gets better MPGs empty @ 14-15 compared to 13 for the GM.PM's towing test was 1000 in the truck and 9000 behind it.GM's 8.1 won by a large margine on hills,flat,acceleration and slightly better MPGs.
    Bottom line ,if you want a comfortable tow vehicle with best in class power and don't mind an engine that knocks and uses oil(1 qt per 1000 mi)get the GM.If you want a dependable truck that feels like a truck and has MORE THAN ENOUGH power and close to v8 fuel economy,BUY THE FORD!People tow with fords because there built to work.I love my GMC but GOSH DARN IT they need to work on the quality.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Posts: 1,352

    From what I can see the Ford more then held its own performance wise. It did need to down shift more but I'm thinking the 5 speed Allison has a lot to with that.

    GM was less truck like...advantage???

    Guess which vehicle was the only one to use oil???

  • modvptnlmodvptnl Posts: 1,352
    but in typical magazine fashion the diesel was a 2WD SRW against 4WD/DRW.
  • kg11kg11 Posts: 530
    That was the article.I guess I didn't remember it as well as I thought.The ford did better than I remembered,even MORE reason to buy it!
    "GM was less truck like...advantage?"
    To fat old guys like me who want a soft ride with the ability to tow 5 tons or carry one...YOU BET!
    BTW in my expeience the Allison promises more than it delivers.
  • tbundertbunder Posts: 580
    with all due respect to you, you sound like you kind of wish you would have bought a super-duty? you say that you like the gmc cuz its more comfy, but with a lariat, its hard to beat the luxuriousness of a super-duty. ive sat in one of them, and they're like a lincoln. do you just like the flat out power of the 8.1? or the torsion bar suspension. is it more compliant?
  • kg11kg11 Posts: 530
    I wish I buoght a SD / CC V10.The GM's suspension is more compliant.I intended to supercharge the 8.1 ,but with all the times this truck has been in the shop for the trans I don't want to pay for the next one.The Lariat is very comparable to the SLT inside.
  • mrb11mrb11 Posts: 58

    Where are you at and where do you tow?? I know I'm only towing a 3500 lb boat but I'm towing up long steep grades at 10000'-12000' elevation. Towing on the flat lands is a whole different ball game. I still consider those 4000'-6000' bumps east of the Mississippi flat lands. You cannot compare a long steep grade at low elevation to the same grade at 10,000 feet. Electronic ignition or no electronic ignition......the high elevation saps the power out of your engine. At 10,000 feet there is 1/3 less oxygen. You gents that say I should be able to tow my light 3500 boat with a V-6 or a tiny V-8 have not had much experience or have since forgotten what towing is like at high elevation. There are only a few states that have a 10,000 foot mountain yet alone a paved road at 10000 feet.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Posts: 1,352
    but I have commented on the fact that I'd guess(don't have my buddies conversion barometer on me right now) that pulling in 120 degree heat @ 2000 foot plus elevations will not be that far off 10,000 feet @ 70 degrees.

    I've posted the source of tests you wanted, asked you the gear ratios of the trucks you tested, gave you a comparable oxygen depriving scenario....The majority on here have said get the Super Duty.

    Is it that you just haven't heard what you want yet????

    OK, buy the GM. You'll be much happier.
  • bamatundrabamatundra Posts: 1,583
    It sounds like you need a blown engine. Either a turbo or supercharged engine will be less effected by changes in altitude.

    Since the only turbocharged truck engines happen to be diesels (which you don't want), I would suggest a Tacoma with a supercharger. It would have more than enough power, be less effected by altitude, and the supercharger would be covered by the full factory powertrain warranty.
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123

    I don't know if you have been over some of those passes in Colorado in the summer, but it is more like 10-12,000' at 100 degrees. It may be high, but is can get hot up there. 120 degrees at even 4-5000' doesn't come close.


    Everyone seems to agree that any of the trucks you are looking at will be overkill. And that lesser trucks would probably get the job done. So why don't you look at the dealers and buy from the dealer that will give you the best service after the sale? Or maybe buy the truck that has the color you like best? You've driven the trucks and you are in the best position to decide which one best fits your needs, we are not.

    Mike L
  • mrb11mrb11 Posts: 58
    Hey modyptnl,

    Are you saying there is 1/3 less oxygen at a 2000' elevation when it's 120 degrees? When and how often do you tow when it's 120 degrees?? The Ford I test drove had 4:30's and the Chevy had 4:10's. I don't know what the Dodge had. The Popular Mechanics test results that you provided agree with what I said after my test drives. The non towing chevy is quicker.
    The Chevy was a second quicker from 0-30 and 3 seconds quicker at passing from
    40 mph to 70mph. The most impressive towing result was that the Chevy was almost 2 seconds quicker than the Ford while towing the 10000 pound trailer and passing from
    40-70 mph. The quicker times that the Ford posted while towing from 0-30 mph and from
    0-60 mph don't really mean too much at least to me. Who drag races while towing towing a trailer? You guys haven't told me where your from and where you tow and what kind of experience you've had towing in some real mountains.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Posts: 1,352
    Wow!!! Never knew that it gets that hot that high. Here, near Vegas, we have Mt. Charleston that I believe is @ 8000' and I seem to recall during new's weather reports it reaches around 80 in the summer.
  • mrb11mrb11 Posts: 58
    It doesn't get to 100 degrees at 10000-12000 ft here in Colorado. On a sunny day it may hit 75
This discussion has been closed.