2021 Ford F-150
2021 Ram 1500
|570||Max Torque (lb-ft)||480|
|14,000||Max Towing (lbs)||12,750|
|3,325||Max Payload (lbs)||2,300|
Both the 2021 Ford F-150 and 2021 Ram 1500 are the current and best iterations of a long line of legendary full-size pickup trucks. But when it comes to the 2021 Ford F-150 vs 2021 Ram 1500, only one can come out on top. While this battle of giants has raged for decades, the outcome of this engagement was never really in any doubt. The Ram 1500 is a very capable machine, but Ford is the master of the full-size pickup and has been so seemingly forever. The Ram, despite continuous improvements, has never quite reached the consistently impressive results the F-150 has achieved. That is true whether those results are in terms of popularity, capability, or engineering. The newest full-size Ford pickup continues its domination of the half-ton truck market by continuing to provide the most utility, power, and comfort of any full-size truck. And this year, it manages to do all that while implementing revolutionary new technologies and still coming in several thousand dollars cheaper than the Ram.
Right out of the gate, the F-150’s success lends itself to even greater success. The Ram 1500’s selection of engines covers all the bases, but the F-150’s selection of power plants goes above and beyond. Because Ford sells so many more F-150s, they can easily afford to provide far more choice than anyone else in the industry when it comes to just about everything, including powertrains.
Plenty of Options
The Ram has four overall powertrain options, with two of those options simply being a standard and mild-hybrid version of the same option. The F-150 offers V6s of small, medium, and large displacement, with naturally aspirated, single turbo, and twin-turbo options. Full-hybrid and diesel options are also available, and of course, the Coyote V8 that Ford has made famous.
The result of all the F-150’s choices is a rich tapestry of customization and optimization from the factory, where one can perfectly tailor and specify an F-150 to their own exact needs. The Ram’s engine lineup can certainly get you in the ballpark, but the F-150’s array of possibilities can put you directly on home plate after several runs of the bases. Overall selection and customization are excellent, but each of the individual options the F-150 and Ram 1500 provide is worth looking at, with each direct competitor matched together for the sake of comparison.
Plenty of Power
High-power engines are certainly the headline act of just about any vehicle, especially those that are to be used for hauling heavy cargo. While most of the engines powering the F-150 could be considered high power motors, the truck has two primary options focused on this goal: the 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 and the 5.0-liter Coyote V8. Meanwhile, the only dedicated high-power option for the Ram 1500 is the more old-fashioned 5.7-liter HEMI V8.
That HEMI does produce some decent power, but it comes at the cost of efficiency. Despite having almost an extra liter of displacement, the 5.7-liter HEMI makes less power than the 5.0-liter Coyote. Displacement is great, but power is better. That is especially true of the twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which makes the same 400 horsepower as the Ford V8.
Affordable Engine Options
The next category would be economy, with engines that are meant to be as reliable and as powerful as possible for the least amount of money. The F-150 has a pair of engines in this category, with the 3.3-liter V6 and the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. The twin-turbo 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine is for those on a budget who are willing to spend a little more for turbocharged power. The 3.3-liter V6 itself is no slouch and allows the F-150 to have its incredibly low base price.
The Pentastar V6 is the Ram 1500’s budget engine choice. It is one of the best Chrysler-designed engines in the past two decades and packs plenty of smoothness and power into a relatively compact and lightweight package. In terms of power and performance, it actually fits slightly above the base Ford engine. Certainly a great showing, but the F-150 has both a more affordable option in the 3.3 V6 and a better value option in the 2.7 EcoBoost.
In terms of Diesel power, both the Ford F-150 and the Ram 1500 are quite well equipped. The F-150 can be optioned with the Ford 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbo diesel. Meanwhile, the Ram uses the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel. When it comes to diesel power, torque is the important factor rather than the standard measure of horsepower. Despite their small displacements, both the EcoDiesel and the Powerstroke 3.0 Liter turbo diesel engines make well over 400 pound-feet of torque.
Finally, there are the hybrid powertrains meant to boost both power efficiency. The 3.5-liter PowerBoost full-hybrid is the F-150’s entry in this high technology arena, while the Ram 1500 utilizes the 5.7-liter HEMI with eTorque mild-hybrid. Both systems use an electric motor to supplement and improve the response and performance of a high-power engine, but when you look at the numbers, there is no comparison. With 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque, the Ford PowerBoost system is a monster with best-in-class power. Comparatively, the Ram eTorque system is somewhat disappointing, with only 410 pound-feet of torque and a relatively low 395 horsepower. To add insult to injury, the PowerBoost system allows the F-150 to get an impressive 25 MPG in the city, while the eTorque manages only 17 MPG.
On the inside, both the F-150 and Ram 1500 offer interiors that are good-looking, comfortable, and nice locations to spend time in general. That said, the F-150’s interior has a more premium feel in the lower models, compared to the large amounts of low-grade black plastic that certainly give the work truck feel to the affordable Ram 1500 variants.
In terms of technology and infotainment, both trucks can be loaded up to the point where they rival luxury cars. The actual software behind the available 12-inch touchscreens is rather different, however, with Ford’s brand-new SYNC 4 system being smoother and more intuitive than the aging Uconnect system in the Ram. Both trucks have the ability to pair with one’s phone wirelessly, and both also have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. However, only the F-150 is set up for over-the-air updates that will allow it to stay up to date for as long as you own it.
While the F-150 and the Ram 1500 both have plenty of advanced driver-assist features available, Ford is breaking new ground by introducing the first-ever hands-free driving system in a pickup truck. Ford Active Drive assist combines advanced sensors with detailed mapping data of over 100,000 miles of divided highways, allowing you to take your hands off the wheel and let the truck drive itself. This sci-fi system is available now in the 2021 F-150.
Both trucks come with multiple cab configurations, from standard to extended to crew cab variants. All of these offer different levels of customization and functionality, and this is one of the many areas where the Ram 1500 does not match the F-150 in the level of customization available. The Ram 1500 only has Quad Cab and Crew Cab variants, while the F-150 still makes the regular cab, two-door configuration available. The F-150 also has the four-door SuperCab and SuperCrew configurations, which match or exceed the Ram 1500’s cab options for practicality and usability.
Both the 2021 Ford F-150 and the 2021 Ram 1500 use tried and true body on frame construction to underpin their stout chassis. But they do so in very different ways. Specifically, Ford uses aluminum instead of steel, which, thanks to modern materials and optimized load path planning, can provide just as much strength with significantly less weight. That lighter weight leads to superior payload and towing, greater acceleration, better fuel economy, and even better handling. The Ram 1500 is behind the F-150 in many ways, and while its solid steel frame might be as strong as the relentlessly optimized aluminum frame under the F-150, it will never be as lightweight and efficient.