Heavy duty pickups are serious pieces of machinery for serious jobs, but their big, macho appearance means they're also finding favor with lots of people who don't necessarily need the capability they undoubtedly offer. The F-Series is still very much the benchmark, so let's see how the 2018 Ford F-350 stacks up against one of its closest rivals the GMC Sierra 3500HD.
Desirability: 2018 Ford F-350
GMC likes to think of itself as something of a luxury brand, but the badge on the front is likely to mean more to SUV buyers. The top Denali trim of the GMC 3500 is incredibly opulent, but not really any more so than a top-of-the-line F-350. Ford has the advantage of a stellar reputation and sales records that are nothing short of remarkable, so there's probably nothing between these two in terms of branding perception.
The Ford Super Duty range was completely redesigned just last year for the first time in 17 years, so the F-350 is about as modern and current as anything in its class. Truck buyers tend to be very knowledgeable about these things and the F-350 is probably a little more desirable than the GMC as it's currently more contemporary.
Capability: 2018 Ford F-350
The majority of these trucks are going to be bought to do a specific job that will involve heavy towing, hauling or both. When the Super Duty was redesigned last year it made sense for Ford to make it the class leader for towing and hauling capability, and with the F-350 and F-450 that's exactly what has happened. The F-350 therefore has a best-in-class maximum towing rating of 21,000 pounds and maximum payload of 7,630 pounds.
The GMC is certainly no lightweight either though. The Sierra 3500 has a maximum tow rating of 20,000 pounds and maximum payload of 6,724 pounds. In most cases that would give a win to the GMC, but not in this exalted company.
Power and Performance: 2018 Ford F-350
What a pickup is rated to tow and haul is one thing, but how it handles that workload is another. So the amount of torque and horsepower available is vital, and it's another area where the F-350 and Sierra 3500 are fairly closely matched. Like many heavy duty trucks these two offer one gas engine and one diesel engine option. The Ford offers a 6.2-liter gas V-8 with 385 horsepower and 430 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel boasting 450 horsepower and 935 lb.-ft. The gas V-8 in the GMC is a 6.0-liter unit producing 360 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft., while the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel option develops 445 horsepower and 910 lb.-ft. of torque. Once again, it's another win for the Ford F-350.
Comfort and Features: 2018 GMC Sierra 3500HD
The Ford is comfortable, spacious and well-equipped inside with only the most basic models feeling like a purely workhorse. There's just about every comfort and luxury imaginable in the top Limited trim level, but it does come at a cost of more than $80k. A top-of-the-line GMC Sierra 3500 Denali isn't as well equipped with features such as trailering aids, but it's as luxurious as the Ford and costs quite a bit less too, so this round goes to the GMC.
A GMC Sierra 3500 will be fine for most buyers shopping in this segment of the truck market as it's a good-looking, comfortable and highly capable pickup truck. But if you want the maximum amount of capability, power, performance and cutting-edge truck technology available you have to go for a 2018 Ford F-350 instead.