There is nothing subtle about a dualie: the whine and clack of its turbodiesel powerplant, bulging bedsides bearing a four-pack of wheels and tires, and the boat, horse trailer, tank...whatever it is that you might pull with a dualie's prodigious towing capacity. In an automotive world where people use pickups as plush daily drivers that are rarely pushed to their limits, the dualie remains an uncompromising workhorse for heavy-duty work and play.
But which brand of dualie is the best? We teamed with our sister mag Diesel Power to pit three 2006-model-year trucks from Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford against each other to find out: the Chevrolet 3500 3LT 4WD Crew Dualie, the Dodge 3500 Laramie Ram Mega Cab Dualie, and the Ford F-350 4x4 King Ranch Crew Cab Dualie. The Mega Cab is the newest of the bunch, that model having been released for the 2006 model year and the dualie version just now hitting the streets. (The Mega Cab 1500 won our "Truck of the Year" award.) Ford redesigned its heavy-duty pickups for the 2005 model year, with a facelift on the way in 2007. The Chevy is the most dated of the three, but a complete redesign should roll off the line next year.
For two weeks we put these trucks through their paces, which included daily driving and errand running, speeding up and braking down a 1/4-mile length of runway at Camarillo Airport, crawling up the Cajon Pass on I-15 (a 6% grade over 12 miles), dyno testing at Westech, and 1- or 2- or 3-hour hauls (and that was just the rush-hour commute). We alternated between driving these trucks with-out cargo and pulling a 9,380-pound trailer/Bobcat combo. Want to know how the test turned out? Read on.
2006 Dodge 3500 Laramie Ram Mega Cab 2WDDodge has a long and colorful history with the diesel crowd, and there are those who won't listen to anything but positive comments. So we'll start with those. We loved the Dodge for its interior size. The Mega Cab feels luxurious simply because of its cavernous cab space. All hands went up to vote the Mega Cab the best people-hauler of the three trucks. It would be a particularly good selling point for a dealer to slide the front seats all the way back and then have a prospective customer jump in the back seat and then recline it.
It's not just the interior space that captured our fancy. The appointments are high-class too. An optional GPS navigation system makes trips to unfamiliar locations much less stressful. The ability to know if there is a service station at the next offramp (or not) is very valuable when you're loaded down with a trailer and you want to avoid any extra maneuvering. Another impressive feature is the extra-large center console. With multiple layers and large storage spaces we found it to be the most versatile of the three. A notch or indent on the top of the console does a good job of keeping incidental things, like pens and cell phones, from sliding around the cab.