Being in the position I'm in here at the magazine, I try to keep a pretty open and unbiased opinion about the big three trucks in our light duty diesel truck segment. I'll be the first to congratulate anyone on big horsepower numbers, fast track times or just an overall good-looking truck. That's regardless if it's a Power Stroke, Cummins or Duramax. Diesel performance is diesel performance in my eyes.
With that being said, we all know we have our personal preferences. Me, I'm a Ford guy, through and through (like them so much I bought a spare one). No, my Power Stroke won't ever be as fast as you Duramax guys with your MPI Compound turbos. No, it won't ever make as much horsepower as you 12V Cummins guys with your 13mm race pumps. But at the end of the day, I'd still prefer to drive/own a Ford.
I'm around high-horsepower, well-performing trucks all year round, whether at the race track, sled pulls or dyno events. I see a lot of nice running trucks and I'll admit not many of those are Power Strokes. It's just a fact of life at this point, with the money I've spent to make 600 hp in my 7.3L, I could have a pretty nasty and reliable 800-1000 hp Cummins. I know that. But you'd have a tough time talking me into trading my Ford for a Dodge.
This past summer on a business trip to a diesel event in Colorado I had the pleasure of driving a company-owned 2007 Dodge Cummins for the week. I'll admit, that truck was nice-all the amenities, nice lift and tires and great performance. Those Cummins powerplants are just plain impressive. It doesn't matter who you are, there is no denying the amazing potential in the Common Rail 5.9L. But leave it to me to find the weak link in that truck. Turns out a stock output shaft doesn't really like 650 hp. That little mishap left me stranded for an extra three days that trip.
On a trip to Washington in January, driving a newly purchased Dodge 12V Cummins, I was again reminded why I'm a Ford guy. After blowing a transmission cooler line within the first 10 miles of a 1600-mile round trip (setting me back an entire day), my previous Dodge experiences all came back to me. The trip only seemed to deepen my love for my Fords as a stuck thermostat (with outside temperatures hovering at minus-20 degrees F) left me watching my own breath in the cab of the truck for 200 miles. Things only got better when I realized the alternator had failed me at some point in the 13-hour drive. The last 50 miles of that trip were made with no radio, no heater and no windshield wipers in one of Seattle's worst winter storms in years. The in-dash volt gauge read under nine for the last 15 miles of that trip. At least the falling snow made it easy to see the road without headlights.
I know you're thinking any truck has its weak links, especially when you're up past the 500 hp mark. And I agree, my Ford has had its fair share of problems-whether it be the terrible glow plug system that has left me stranded a few cold winter mornings (that's when the spare truck comes in handy), or the high pressure oil line that came loose on the freeway, evacuating 15 quarts of oil in mere seconds and dousing the entire undercarriage and tailgate in no time flat. It just seems that Dodges and I just don't get along. I'm sorry but that Cummins engine just isn't enough for me to overcome their wandering front ends and unpredictable braking systems.
I haven't dared get into the Duramax stuff too far, as I'm afraid I might like it. So for now, I'll keep trailing behind you guys in my old outdated HEUI injected Power Stroke. At least I can enjoy driving it . when it runs.