It seems like every pickup out there has a huge hurdle to clear if they want to be deemed successful.
It’s called the Ford F-150, which is the most popular pickup on the market. It’s the sales king, and if you’ve spent a moment in North America, you’ve probably seen an F-Series truck rumbling by. In fact, one is sold every 35 seconds meaning that probably 4 have been sold by the time you finish reading this article.
It also means that the new 2019 Ram 1500 is already in a huge shadow, despite just arriving on dealer lots. The Ram isn’t the only truck with this issue, but it has a unique solution to standing out.
2018 Ram 1500
This Ram 1500 Limited model is enormous. In fact, it’s well over 6 feet tall and too tall to be comfortably driven into many underground parking garages. Sporting a crew cab, this is a spacious truck and even though it’s paired to a short, five-foot, seven-inch bed, it’s still plenty practical.
See Also: 2019 Ram 1500 eTorque Review
This is a brand new truck, and while the model we have for testing features a carryover 385 horsepower, 410 lb-ft of torque, 5.7-liter V8 engine, while other options for the Ram 1500 include powertrains with more electrical oomph in the eTorque models. The engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and there are three different axle ratios to choose from 3.21, 3.55 and 3.92. Our model sports four-wheel drive, and earns 16 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway.
When equipped correctly, the Ram can tow a maximum of 12,750 lbs, and haul 2,300 lbs. While that’s less than a properly equipped F-150, there’s slightly more volume in the box of this truck in comparison to the Ford.
In terms of this vehicle’s approach to making work easier, it’s still the only option with a four-corner air-suspension system, which not only helps level out the truck when hauling and towing but also makes it easier to get in and out of the vehicle too, by lowering the tall truck as needed. It’s not a huge help when accessing the bed, but the system can also provide extra suspension travel for off-roading, or it can tuck in, nice and low for better aerodynamics.
Interestingly enough, the Ram 1500 focuses all its attention on the cabin and driving experience, rather than prioritize the bed and capability of the truck. While it’s capable for probably the majority of truck uses, those who use their vehicles to the extreme may prefer the confidence of the F-150’s higher tow and haul ratings.
The Ram features a more spacious cabin with lots of bins, cubbies and storage areas. It’s an incredibly hospitable place for passengers too, with a ton of USB ports, even USB-C units that should be handy for years to come, as more gadgets and gizmos adapt the new standard. There’s even wireless charging if you don’t want to deal with cables and whatnot.
Adding to the wow-factor of the Ram’s interior is the 12-inch touchscreen that takes center stage. Bright and easy to use, it runs the UConnect infotainment system that’s been a favorite within our office. It’s a tad less responsive in some cases, like zooming in and out on the map display, but it’s a fairly enjoyable experience with customizable backgrounds, icons, and layout. A Harmon Kardon sound system helps improve the ambiance in the cabin too, but when it’s off, the Ram is notably quiet and the team at Ram deserves a lot of credit for turning the truck into a premium environment.
Materials like the leather upholstery and open-pore wood are top notch and controls are logically laid out, save for the rotary gear selector, which feels a bit out of the ordinary to use, but helps free up more space in the center console. Some buyers may like the stitched patterns found on the armrest, but it’s definitely an acquired taste, as it looks a bit too close to the tribal tattoos you see being flexed at the gym.
The vehicle also comes with an incredible selection of active and passive driving safety nets. Adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and parking assistance are all on offer and work quite well too. It’s yet to be rated by the IIHS for its crashworthiness, but the Ram features a new splayed frame, which should help it keep the cabin safe in certain front collisions.
On the road, the Ram is a superb companion, providing confidence to drivers in a way that few other large trucks can. While other trucks can exaggerate that body-on-frame truckyness, the Ram feels so much more modern and smoother to drive. The brand thoroughly refined its driving experience. The 5.7-liter Hemi is also smooth and rumbles with an addicting growl. Dropping the hammer or hammering the brakes is met with a limited lurch as the Ram keeps its vertical motion in check. The few faults there are with this Ram include its price and fuel economy. While the EPA ratings suggest the Ram will earn somewhere between 16 and 22 MPG on the road, the average use seemed to skew to the more fuel-hungry side of things. Adding to that is the overall cost of the truck, swinging in at $67,975.
|Vehicle||Ford F-150 Limited||Advantage||2019 Ram 1500 Limited|
|Engine||3.5L EcoBost V6||-||5.7L Hemi V8 (89 octane recommended)|
|Horsepower||375 hp @ 5,000||Ram 1500||395 hp @ 5,600 RPM|
|Torque||470 lb-ft @ 2,500||Ford F-150||410 lb-ft @ 3,950|
|Transmission||10 Speed Automatic||-||Eight Speed Automatic|
|Axle Ratios||3.15, 3.31, 3.55||-||3.21, 3.55, 3.92|
|Towing (Max)||13,200 lbs||Ford F-150||12,750 pounds|
|Cargo Box Volume (cu-ft)||52.8||Ram 1500||53.9|
|Cargo Box Width (inches)||65.2 (50.6 between wheelhouses)||Ram 1500||66.4 (51 between wheelhouses)|
|Hauling (Max)||3,270 lbs||Ford F-150||2,300 lbs|
|Passenger Volume (cu-ft)||131.8||Ram 1500||132.4|
|Fuel Economy||18 MPG city, 25 MPG highway||Ford F-150||15 MPG City, 22 MPG Highway|
2018 Ford F-150
The F-150 is marginally more capable and expensive, with a price tag of $68,695. When equipped just right, it can tow an incredible 13,200 lbs and haul an unimaginable 3,270 lbs. It’s a workhorse to the nth degree and that’s half the reason it is so popular. With over 450,000 units sold in the first half of 2018, it’s hard to fathom just how successful this nameplate is. Last year, the F-Series business was said to be worth $41-billion, which is more than Coca-Cola, Facebook or Nike.
The F-150 manages this weight on its shoulders with an interesting strategy. It shed weight and improved the efficiency of its engines. Using a lot of aluminum in the construction of the vehicle allows it to focus more of its strength on truck stuff like towing and hauling. The motor in this tester is the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, a path that’s yet to be followed by other truck makers. The engine makes 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. While the power number is down compared to the Ram, but that torque figure is fantastic, and arrives nice and low in the rev-range, at just 2,500 rpm.
The motor is paired with a new ten-speed automatic, and again for this setup, there are three axle ratios: 3.15, 3.31 and 3.55. To help with fuel economy, the F-150 features automatic engine start-stop, which allows for 18 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway, two figures that were far more achievable than the Ram’s proposed numbers.
With more capability than the competition, the F-150 is truly a pickup for those who live by their trucks. It does have a slightly smaller bed, and less space between the wheel wells too, but it’s easier to access the bed thanks to big side-steps and a tailgate integrated step too. In this regard, the F-150 has a huge advantage over the Ram, but things change drastically when you open up any of the four-doors and step inside.
The cabin, even in this top of the line Limited model is really lacking in showmanship in comparison to the Ram. The layout and controls look dated, the trim feels less premium and the blue-tanned leather seats are interesting, to say the least. There’s also a serialized plaque on the armrest, which is a curious addition that may help buyers feel proud of their F series or help with resale value.
The infotainment system now looks ancient in comparison, with a small screen sporting Sync 3, which is at least quite easy to use and responsive. The rest of the cabin is completely forgettable, with less focus on making the car as hospitable for passengers and drivers.
But the drive is quite engaging, almost too engaging in fact. There’s no fancy suspension like in the Ram (or even the GMC with its magnetic shocks) which gives a choppier ride. Unlike the Ram though, the F-150 has multiple drive modes to switch through, and drivers can find something to better suit their driving style, including a more aggressive sport mode.
The 10-speed automatic is quite good, with a wide variety of ratios to allow for acceleration or fuel economy. The turbocharged engine feels sporty and fun, bringing the truck up to speed quickly and easily. The throttle feels so responsive and active, and it’s very much the more engaging truck to drive.
But that’s not what trucks at this level should do, right? We found that this F-150 also gets bullied by the wind, and could sway in its lane. And where the Ram focuses its attention on making life easier on the driver, the F-150 again doubles down on its abilities as a truck, with its Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which can help when towing items.
The Verdict: 2019 Ram 1500 vs Ford F-150
It’s hard to argue with the sales leader in this segment, as the F-150 is such a strong truck for the folks who live by the strengths of a pickup. It can tow and haul more, and it has handy steps for getting in and out of the bed. It also is more fuel efficient and feels faster.
But the Ram is far more modern feeling, with a cabin that’s second to none. It’s smoother and easier to live with, making it a better all-around truck, rather than a workhorse. At the price point of these two particular models, it’s the easy pick as more buyers will appreciate the luxurious touches that the Ram has while allowing it to still be a fairly capable vehicle too.