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VOL. 45 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 1, 2021

Ford F-150 vs. Ram 1500: Picking pickup for 2021

By Ryan ZumMallen | Edmunds

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The Ford F-150 has long been the pickup truck to beat, not to mention the top-selling vehicle of any kind in the country. But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles took many by surprise when it introduced the tech-savvy Ram 1500 pickup truck in 2018 for the 2019 model year.

The 1500 set new standards for ride comfort, interior quality and screen functionality in a full-size truck, which is why it was the Edmunds Top Rated Truck for 2020. But now the redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 has made its debut. It has a few tricks of its own, from an upgraded tech interface to an available onboard power generator.

Does the new F-150 have what it takes to reclaim top status over its Ram rival?

Driving experience

Both trucks have a wide selection of available engines. Ram offers a diesel V6, the standard gasoline V6 and two optional V8s. Each comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission that earns high marks for refinement. But it’s the breezy steering and supremely comfortable coil-spring suspension that define the Ram’s drive.

Ford offers even more choice. The F-150 can be equipped with a diesel, a four-cylinder, several V6s – including a hybrid – or a V8. All are joined by a 10-speed automatic that is capable but sometimes a bit rough. The Ford also has a smooth ride, but the traditional leaf-spring rear suspension is tuned for toughness, not comfort. You will feel more bumps in the Ford.

Winner: Ram 1500

Utility

There’s no doubt the Ram is capable of hard work. It can haul up to 2,300 pounds of payload, and is rated to tow up to 12,750 pounds when properly equipped. There is an available “barn door” tailgate, too, that swings out in a 60/40 split to improve access to the truck bed. It’s a clever touch that is well executed.

But there’s no beating Ford at this game. Some versions of the 2021 F-150 can haul as much as 3,325 pounds of payload and are rated to tow as much as to 14,000 pounds. Even more impressive. the lower-rated F-150 engines and configurations are nearly as capable as the best Ram models.

Winner: Ford F-150

Comfort

Ram introduced new levels of opulence to the world of pickup trucks when this 1500 debuted in 2019. Higher trims such as the Laramie Longhorn and the Limited boast premium materials and attention to detail. Even entry-level versions exhibit excellent build quality, with soft-touch surfaces in abundance.

The new F-150 goes a long way toward narrowing the gap between its interior and that of the Ram. The seats are plush and supportive, with those in higher trims benefiting from a huge range of adjustability. In some models, the front seats even fold out completely flat to make a legitimate sleeping area. Still, Ford falls short of the Ram’s cabin.

Winner: Ram 1500

Features

The Ram 1500 offers a long list of available options. Some of our favorites include a 12-inch touch screen, an adaptive air suspension and the innovative RamBox storage bins built into the sides of the truck bed. There is also a highly modifiable center console that easily shifts and slides, plus numerous power outlets and USB ports.

Ford mastered the basics inside the new F-150. Electrical outlets and USB ports are abundant. It also matches the available 12-inch touch screen in the Ram. But then the F-150 starts to distance itself with its creative technology.

Some trims have a gear shifter that lies flat to make room for things such as a laptop, clipboard or your lunch. There’s also an optional onboard generator in the bed that can power appliances and – in some cases – run a full-size camper or even your home for a number of days.

Winner: Ford F-150

Value

Pricing across all configurations is similar for the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150. Even their warranties and coverage plans are nearly identical. The biggest advantage in the Ram’s corner is its impressive technology and premium cabin.

The F-150’s edge lies in its usefulness. Ford offers more trim levels, more powertrains and more capability at similar pricing to the Ram.

In addition to higher payload and towing capacities, the onboard generator is available in several strengths on multiple trim levels.

Also, the two-wheel-drive hybrid F-150 is EPA-rated at an outstanding 25 mpg combined, so it should yield substantial savings in fuel over time.

Winner: Ford F-150

Edmunds says

The Ram 1500 remains a marvel of ride comfort and effective space management in the full-size pickup truck category. But it’s the redesigned Ford F-150, with its bevy of innovative features and superior utility ratings, that earns our highest recommendation.

Ryan ZumMallen is a staff writer at Edmunds. Twitter: @zoomy575m; Instagram: zoomy575m.

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