Are you thinking about buying a half ton truck? Each year there are new improvements to each of the big three truck makers, Chevy, Dodge, and Ford, so how do you choose which half ton pickup truck to buy? Which of the 2012 trucks is best suited to meet your needs? Let's break it down in a 2012 half ton truck comparison.
Each year, the big three truck makers sell between two and three million pickup trucks in the U.S. And the top seller, depending on which numbers you use, is always Ford. While numbers show that Ford has a good product, it does not necessarily mean they have the best product. Most truck buyers have certain aspects they look at to decide: handling, power, comfort, and more.
The following is a look at how each make measures up in the areas of power, comfortability, design, durability and price.
2012 Truck Power Comparison
From the 1970s until the last decade, the big three truck makers have based their truck lines on power. Every year truck reviews and commercials come out full of pictures of trucks loaded with massive loads, strapped to huge trailers, or even carrying other trucks. However, a more contemporary view of truck power would be to answer "Will it do what I need without stopping at every gas station?"
Each of the 3 major 2012 trucks have engine packages available with big horsepower, and along with it, hefty torque. However, to match the Chevy's improved gas mileage in its 5.3 L V8, you have to go to Ford's EcoBoost 3.5L V6. That's right, V6. The V6 version of the new Ecoboost line of Ford engines gets more horsepower than Chevy's 5.3 L V8, but I'm afraid the only thing harder than convincing truck buyers to buy a V6 for fuel efficiency would be convincing them that this new V6 will be able to produce 365 HP for more than 100,000 miles. The Ecoboost line has been in production for a few years now, but it will take a while to convince most truck buyers that it can handle the abuse needed. Past deisel truck owners may have less trouble believing, however, as Cummins has been providing Dodge with 6 Cylinder diesel engines for years.
The Dodge trucks do offer good horsepower, but as has been their problem for years, they continue to produce gas guzzling hogs that seem to automatically put their turn signal on for every gas station. With a rumored addition of a 6 speed transmission in 2012, Dodge could finally begin to close the fuel mileage gap on Chevrolet.
2012 Truck Comfort Comparison
Nobody wants to ride around in an uncomfortable truck, and, to be honest, most of the trucks from the early '90s and older would be considered extremely stiff and uncomfortable compared to the trucks of today. All three have made changes in recent years to improve on interior space, ride, and amenities inside the cab. For the models that I compared, crew cab XLT, LT, or SLT, there were few differences in dimensions, but a couple did stick out. The Dodge and Chevy have a couple more inches in front and rear hip room than the Ford, but Ford more than makes up for it with 4 and 5 more inches of rear leg room than the Dodge and Chevy respectively.
Aside from just dimensions, there are differences in ride quality. The Dodge has heavy duty shocks instead of the gas shocks of the Chevy and Ford, which are great for rugged use and work trucks, but give a much stiffer and less comfortable ride. Also, the amenities of the Chevy and Ford far surpass the Dodge, and even though Ford has the Sync system, the Bose entertainment system in the Chevy is hard to beat.
Finally, Dodge has not added side impact airbags to their trucks even though they added side curtain airbags. This may be why the Dodge only had a two star passenger and three star driver safety rating on side impacts from NHTSA. Dodge has made plenty of design changes and even added many creature comforts in the past few years, so they will probably make more strides to catch up in ride comfort and fuel economy soon, but being behind is not likely to help Ram sales in the short term.
2012 Truck Design Comparison
In the past few years, many changes have come in Pickup Truck Design. From large grille, hood, and fender areas, to built-in tool boxes and steps, these are not your father's pickup trucks! For the most part these design changes have been for the good, although, larger trucks do mean it is harder to get in and out. Size can be adjusted for with some great truck accessories like side steps or running boards.
Design is the one area in which I see Dodge as having made great strides. With their re-worked front end, larger cabs, and new amenities, such as the built in toolboxes over the rear wheels, which they make make standard in 2012, Dodge has really tried to capture the imagination of the truck buyer. Dodge has once again made their work trucks an asset to their owners. Although these changes have made Dodge a bit more competitive, they do not necessarily make up for their shortfalls in other areas.
Ford and Chevy seem to have focused their changes on style of the front end and beefing up their frames and suspension. Ford has included their built in tailgate step which was needed to reach into their deep bed. Chevy has, on the other hand, made some needed changes to interior design to give more head room.
2012 Truck Durability Comparison
I have three concerns in this area of comparison. First, although it is definitely too early to truly judge the durability of these models, there have already been several recalls involving both the Dodge Ram and F-150. Most of these are due to electrical problems that are mostly cautionary, one for the Ram is for rear axle issues for trucks with manual transmissions.
Second, the F-150 seems to be placing its future in its new EcoBoost V6 due to its need to keep up with Chevy on fuel economy. Even though this engine is focused on better gas mileage, there will certainly be some light truck tires worn out by its power. While the V6 could very well be the best new engine out of Detroit, I have serious doubts about putting long term trust in a 3.6 L V6 to pull and carry heavy loads. Only time will tell. For those of you that have tried this engine out, be advised, there is rumor that Ford is working on a V8 version of the engine that, if able to compare in economy, could be an amazing package.
Third, the manufacturer's power train warranty makes the above distrust more profound. The Ford power train warranty of 5 yr/60,000 miles continues to lag behind those of Dodge and Chevy whose warranties are 5 yr/100,000 miles. If Ford wants buyers to feel comfortable buying their new EcoBoost V6 they should beef up their warranty to show how much they trust their handiwork.
2012 Half Ton Truck Comparison: Your Opinion?
For most of us who love trucks, love driving them, and enjoy bragging about them, opinions are a dime a dozen. I am sure you have your opinion on each of these three makes, so please feel free to share it below in the comments. If you have questions, I will do my best to answer them, and if I disagree with your personal preference, I will respect your choice, begrudgingly, perhaps... However, please be sure to be respectful of the opinions of the other commenters, remembering they are only trucks...
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WheelScene from U.S.A. on October 27, 2017:
Awesome article, now lets see 2013, 14, 15, 16, 17 ,18 and soon 19!
Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on May 13, 2013:
Teamshake78 on May 13, 2013:
Ford v6 ecoboost is made in Ohio, not Detroit
Mike on April 12, 2013:
Steve nailed it. I'm an aircraft mechanic, and have driven every kind of truck there is. They are have their good points and bad points. I personally love my new 2012 Ram 1500 limited. It drives great. Sounds great. Smooth/quiet ride. Nice turn radius. And handles everything I need it to. Does that mean its the best truck out there? No. It means I'm happy with it. And since I'm paying for it, my opinion is the only one that matters. But I love the discussion. Always fun to see those hardcore people stand by their brands.
Steve on March 12, 2013:
Ford owner here, had good ones and bad ones. Lets remember folks, all manufacterers have service departments and warranties on vehicles for a sole purpose. Crap is gonna break sometimes!!!! All we can hope for is that we personnaly get a good one!!!! Check out the blogs on every make and model, you get and bad remarks on all of them!!!
Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on February 18, 2013:
Not sure about the Volvo deal, but if so, they do make large diesel trucks. Also, the US government hasn't bailed out Carnival cruise line either, so that is not in itself a total determination of quality...
Bruno on February 18, 2013:
Lets put it this way people. How many time does the government have to bailout Dodge,and Chevy. And I also beleive that the Duramax is a Volvo. ( Who). I do beleive that Ford, did't take any bailout money. Ford was the first, Ford will be there in the end. My money is on the Ford. And that's enough said.
TOGGY on December 04, 2012:
THANKS FOR ALL THE GOOD WORK, YES I TOO AM LOOKING FOR A TRUCK, 4X4,CC LEATHER. HAVE DRIVEN THEM ALL STILL IS A PAIN IN THE ASS TO PICK. YES HAVE 02 CHEVY 4X4, 140K, FUEL PUMP, FRONT END, REAR END, BEARING HUB AND NOW RIGHT SIDE CV AND BEARING HUB GOING OUT, AND IS SECOUND CHEVY TRK WITH FUEL PUMP GOING OUT IN, REPAIR AND REPAIR, LOVE IT, PLAY IN THE MUD AND IS LOOKING FOR A REPLACEMENT TRUCK. GO FORD, OR CHEVY OR MAYBE DODGE. THKS
jgardichev11 on December 01, 2012:
Good post. Also liked some of the comments. Just like to add that the big three trucks are all very competative. The quality of trucks these days is really great. They have come a long way from my old 1975 Ford 3/4 ton crew cab. I bought a new 2011 Siverado last year and so far it has been all that I hoped it would be. I had a tough time deciding between the Ford Eco-Boost and the chev 5.3 but Chevs better warranty and proven reliability helped tip the scale for me in Chevs favor. I think I would have been happy with any of the big three trucks. I bought the truck off the lot, they had a good promotion going and the truck had what I was looking for. As far as styling goes, I believe beauty is definitly in the eye of the beholder when it comes to these trucks. I actually like the looks of all three trucks but the Chevs styling seems to fit my image better (more conservative). Happy truckin'.
shania fuller on November 27, 2012:
im really into fords but my dad likes chevy and my mom likes dodge so we have lots of debates about wich is better in my opinion a ford no joke.....\
Will N. on September 15, 2012:
I've got a 01' Chevrolet 1500 extended cab z71 with .373 rear gears and live in Colorado. My truck truck has the 5.3 and has 271,000 miles on it! The transmission shifts flawlesslyd the motor only burns a quart of oil every 6 or 7 thousan miles. I've run senthetic Mobile 1 in it since I bought it new. It still gets about 19 mpg. I've pulled some heavy loads here in the mountains, and it's never had a check engine light come on ever... The only thing I'be had rebuilt is the front and rear diffs and the transfer case. Not because I had to, but because they were making some noise. I'll buy another one for sure!!! I haven't even had to replace any ball joints and I do a lot of 4 wheeling!
Kommadant on August 31, 2012:
I am and will always be a Ford man. That doesn't mean that I don't like other automotive manufacturers though. I enjoy seeing the comparisons of the latest vehicles and seeing what the direction is that they are heading.
Notahick on August 03, 2012:
Dodges are for rednecks that need power, or compensation, they are gas guzzling hogs and they are the worst trucks on the road.
Robert on June 10, 2012:
I'm very pleased with my 2012 Chevy silverado 4X4 CC 6.2L(non AFM) with 3:73 14 bolt 9.5" rear end.
plowboy on May 27, 2012:
Come on guys, They all have their good, bad and ugly points. I have driven them all and mileage depends on your driving habbits. I had a 84 Silverado that would ride better, better mileage, and had 250,xxx miles before trading up. My 2011 Silverado does gets 23 mpg in perfect conditions (flat roads and no wind)and hates stop lights. Diesel do have more power and more torque at low rpm for pulling.
JJBLUR on May 24, 2012:
Does anyone know the real use horsepower and torque figures? When in towing or four wheeling or normal day driving are you going to be using that horsepower at 5500 rpms or more. People are hung on this horsepower game when it means nothing in real life driving. Hence a diesel 6 cylinders torque down low vs ford v6 eco down low. Both 6 cylinders not a huge gap in horsepower but that v6 isn't gonna touch that diesel in towing power or reliability.
Kevin on May 12, 2012:
I've had owners of the FX4 ecoboost say they get 23 MPG all day long. The Dodge has a coil spring rear end which gives it a better ride but limits the towing
Allister9 on May 12, 2012:
Well for starters the only trucks i would buy would be those by the big 3 Chevy/GM Ford and Dodge. I have a Ford i use for work that is hard on gas but plenty of power so basically does what its built for and just sold my 1500HD to a worker for real cheap since it had 350,000km and still running very nicely. But i recently bought the chevy silverado ltz with the 5.3L because of the fuel mileage and still have the power when needed, seemed like a happy medium and i just love it so far. Also i just loved the front end.
charlesxavier04 from London on May 09, 2012:
Great post - Chevy FTW!
Zach on April 22, 2012:
Just to be clear dodge is the only manufacturer that actually uses a real diesel, not one that blows pistons when you push it!
r3d n4tion on April 22, 2012:
Ford f-150 raptor. Nuff said
woolybruce on April 08, 2012:
Seems that Ford has always lagged GM in HP and gas mileage. But I also note that it seems GM seems to lag on durability. Water pumps and transmissions on their gas trucks. And then there is the GM computer display that goes out and cost $700 to fix. I haven't done the statistics, but just the people I know these problem pop up all of the time. The Ford keeps rattling along with no major problems. So I would have more confidence that Ford's Ecoboost may actually be durable, but time will only tell.
Carsten on April 01, 2012:
I just purchased a 2012 FX4 EcoBoost. I'll be honest I don't have my heart set on any brand of vehicle. What made me buy the truck was the fact that for $100 in gas I could go almost 1100 KM's on a tank. The next thing was the look, the front and rear look like a mini tonka toy, the head lights and grille give it a nice look. The inside is where it's at, amazing leg room, the features are axing and best of all the Sync system is one of a kind. I'm very happy with my purchase. Let's be honest... Who doesn't want a twin turbo truck!
01010 on March 02, 2012:
ronaldco1969 on February 25, 2012:
I love the outside look and the inside of the ram. The center console shift is nice and I like the touch screen (blue tooth, navigation) media centre. I don't care much for the seat material of the f-150 or silverado. The silverado really needs an interior upgrade as it feels cheap. I wish the Ram would get better gas mileage
Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on February 22, 2012:
Point taken. However I have to point out that the new dodge has a lengthy warranty. So either the new trannies are better or they will be paying out a ton.
Ethan on February 22, 2012:
The transmission in the dodge is a POS..... Had an 07 and after numerous trips to the dealer, I traded it. Dodge does not stand behind the turds they produce and Chrysler will never get another dime from me. Side note.... My brother just traded in a Charger because his tranny was slipping horribly. Proof that it's really tough to polish a turd...
joerube on February 19, 2012:
I drove Ram's for years...cheaper trucks. A friend talked me into driving an ecoboost after I looked at that torture-test video. I drove one and bought it. I'm never going back. No contest...and I'm getting 22 mpg on the highway. Can't beat it. I tried to...but can't.
luckymckay on February 10, 2012:
I'm surprised to hear you think the Ram has the worst ride out of the three. Most every other review I have read has raved about the ride of the Ram in comparison to the other two makes. I thought the mpg on the Ram was rated at 14/19. That's right in the same ball park as the F150 5.0L V8. Chevy does take the win in this category, but i still can't get over the ugliness of them.
Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on February 03, 2012:
Mostly agree. Only mentioned the cummins to show that just because the ecoboost is a 6 cyl doesn't mean it can't handle the hp. Only time will tell. And I believe the torque on the duramax is 800. Thanks for taking the time to comment!
pbrizzy on February 03, 2012:
Read the fine print on the fuel economy of the Ford EcoBoost V6 getting 22 MPG. It is rated on a 2WD model not a 4WD. The Chevy 5.3L V8 is rated 21 MPG on 4WD with the 3.73 rear end which is the perfect mix for fuel economy and towing.
Plus, if you are going to compare fuel economy and power talking about Ford and Chevy gas motors, you can't use the Cummins diesel for Dodge. That's like comparing apples to oranges. Besides, if you talk about diesels, the Chevy Duramax rated at 397 HP and 765 lb-ft of torque with the Allison transmission is pretty much bulletproof.
theclog on February 02, 2012:
nothin beats the hemi and the cummings, fords v6 will blow out the first 5000 pounds you pull.
Although i can say that they all need to get off this mpg race, because its hurting the hp of all engins, espesilly the ford, they need all the help they can get, because they dont have much to loose.
03 dodge 2500, no problems, over 225,000 miles
georgiaboy on January 30, 2012:
every truck is going to get stuck,
you can have 100 chevy's and 1 ford
then all u got is a junkyard and a way home
joey on January 23, 2012:
i have a 1992 chevy 4+4 with a 305 H.O and 395000km and it still runing strong i also pulled lots of fords out of the woods that broke down as allways
Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on January 21, 2012:
Let me guess, you're wearing a ford hat and a ford Tshirt?? Lol. I like the new fords. Intrigued by the ecoboost v6.
paul on January 21, 2012:
Ford is the best if u want better towing, gas milege and if u want a truck that's going to last u a lifetime pick a ford.
CrystalSingleton from HBeach,Ca on December 12, 2011:
I love chevy's and dodges, but do dodge rams have a problem? Slippery transmissions perhaps?
Daniel Christian from Los Angeles, CA on October 30, 2011:
I have always been all about trucks and these are great ones.While I will admit that I liked the Hilux and Tacoma, I like these too.
htodd from United States on October 30, 2011:
Thanks for the great post..nice
Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on October 25, 2011:
Sorry for the misprint joe. I'll be glad to fix that. Thanks for the help, I'm not a 13 year old redneck from Texas like yourself, so I occasionally need assistance.
joe on October 25, 2011:
cummins makes a straight six for dodge, no v six. every 13 year old redneck in texas knows that.
Joseph Davis (author) from Florida on September 17, 2011:
I agree the Ford line of engines is great, but the 5.3 L of the Chevy is no slacker. The fuel economy rose in the current package in 2007 when Chevy added an overdrive to the 5.3 L engine/tranny package. Not sure of any changes in rear end gear since then, but the MPG has maintained at 22 mpg hwy since.
The current F150 specs page says 23 mpg, however, you must look at the fine print which shows the 23 mpg package is the non-Ecoboost v6.
I recently had a rabid Ford lover comment on this page that Ford beat Chevy by 45 or 50 hp. Comparing the 5.0L to Chevy's 5.3L that is true, but the maximum Hp available in the ford is 411 Hp in the 6.2L and the max in the Chevy is 403 in its version of the 6.2L. 8 Hp.
Ford is impressive enough to get hyped up and bark out misleading numbers. This comparison is to show some of the changes in the new models, not to prove that some of us take our truck preference to personally.
firestrtr on September 17, 2011:
Chevy's fuel economy is achieved through their high rear end gear ratio, compromising performance. The whole 2011 Ford engine line up leaves Chevy with much to be desired. The 5.0 has torque and hp while still competing with fuel efficiency. There is no comparison, imo.