A more lucrative and competitive segment for mass-producing car companies there is not. The phenomenon of the full-size pickup is nearly isolated to the North American market and so it makes perfect sense that the best-of-the best in this narrow category all belong to the former Big-3.
Nissan and Toyota have tried their best to break through the American-lead segment but they’ve all but completely failed. While their products are good, the GM, FCA and Ford trucks are untouchable.
For the purpose of this comparison test, we pit the all-new 2019 RAM 1500 against the King, the Godfather, the ruler, the undisputed champion of the category, the 2019 Ford F-150. Simply put, can the RAM even hope to nip at the Ford’s heals? Read on.
Which is more enjoyable to drive?
Driving these trucks every year demonstrates how much effort and engineering goes into all of them.
The F-150 stands tall as the best-seller for numerous reasons including, but not limited to, its refinement and comfort levels. Yes, a truck that can tow over 10,000 lbs. must now be quiet and ride like a luxury sedan. Ford may not have been the first to figure this out but they’ve always managed to blend in a good dose of driving pleasure into the mix.
The new-for-2019 RAM 1500 takes everything the Ford does so well to the next level. Keep in mind that this is full-size truck but the powertrain’s smoothness, the cabin’s cocoon-like silence and limo-like ride are nothing short of amazing. This is in part due to the multi-link coil spring rear suspension or, on the tested truck, the optional 4-corner air suspension.
As far as power is concerned, Ford has every angle covered. The hero in its six engine line-up (if you count the 3.5L and 3.5L HO EcoBoost engines as two) is the venerable 5.0-litre Coyote V8. It is powerful, frugal and incredibly well adapted to the task at hand.
RAM’s not that far behind but it must be said that they’ve taken a slightly different approach. They’ve opted to offer mild-hybrid technology with the V6 and V8 to not only improve fuel economy but boost power. For the moment, the 5.7-litre HEMI V8 is the popular and wise choice. Like the 5.0-litre, the 5.7 is creamy and powerful.
Transmissions in both instances are very good. We lean towards the RAM’s proven 8-speed over the Ford’s available 10-speed for its more proficient operation.
Finally, we prefer the RAM’s overall driveability and finesse.
Answer: the 2019 RAM 1500
Which is more fuel-efficient and capable?
Fuel economy is seldomly a top criterion when the time comes to acquire a new full-size pickup. Thankfully however, the car companies have addressed fuel consumption in a number of different ways.
RAM was the first to offer a diesel engine however it does not seem like it will make a comeback. The 3.6-litre V6 with eTorque technology should be able to keep the 1500 around the 10.5L/100km mark on the highway and 16.1L/100km in the city. The new Power Stroke V6 in the Ford beats both numbers with a respective 8.3 and 11.2L/100km. The extra cost to purchase the Power Stroke is another story…
The popular V8s demonstrate how far these engine/transmission combinations have come. The 5.7-litre HEMI averages the same 10.5L highway and 14.3L/100km in the city. The 5.0-litre manages 11 and 15.1L/100km.
The war rages on for the title of towing King but know that both will meet and exceed all your towing needs. The F-150 holds the max-towing number at 5,978kg (13,171 lbs.) with the EcoBoost 3.5-litre V6 and a 3.55 axle ratio. The RAM’s not far behind with a 5,783kg (12,750 lbs.) capacity with the HEMI with eTorque and 3.92 axle ratio.
Ford edges out the RAM in payload capacity as well.
Answer: the 2019 Ford F-150
Which is more spacious?
With the number of available cabins, it’s next to impossible not to find one that will match your needs. Both brands boast that they provide the best-in-class everything but the fact of the matter is that the Crew and SuperCrew cabs offer more passenger space than even the largest SUVs.
Beds in these trucks can be equipped with numerous features. The RAM’s RamBox system is novel but does cut into available bed volume. The Ford’s bed can be prepared with the BoxLink system, stowable loading ramps and the very useful integrated tailgate step with lift assist.
Answer: it’s a tie
Which has the better value?
Depending on your definition of value, both trucks can be winners. As you can see, the Ford’s superior capabilities could make it a winner. On the other hand, the RAM’s exceptional attention to fit, finish and design both inside and out could make it a winner.
The most basic 2019 Ford F-150 XL is just over $31,000 while the equivalent 2019 RAM 1500 Tradesman is nearly $15,000 more. Unlike Ford, RAM does not offer regular cab bare-bones work trucks.
Alternatively, a RAM 1500 Big Horn HEMI Crew Cab retails for $52,500 while a similar Ford F-150 Lariat with 5.0-litre SuperCrew is nearly the same price.
Answer: the 2019 RAM 1500, by a slim margin
Which would we recommend?
The answer to the question from the intro is: No, the RAM cannot hope to dethrone the Ford. But damnit if FCA’s not putting forth its best truck, in every respect, ever. If there ever was a time in the last three or four decades to not head directly over to a Ford dealer for an F-150, this is it.
The new RAM’s excellent driving manners have swayed us but the cabin’s extraordinary layout and styling sealed the deal for us. The Ford may be as advanced technologically (both for infotainment and safety) but the RAM’s dashboard and available massive 12-inch touchscreen with Uconnect are nothing short of remarkable.
Both the RAM and Ford have had their fair share of reliability issues. Ford has struggled with its EcoBoost engines while RAM’s had some problems with its suspension.
The Ford F-150 is unlikely to ever be beat at its own game but if we were in the market for a big truck, we’d head over to RAM and likely leave with a very handsome Sport version.
- Please note that this is but a brief comparison test and thus does not touch on all the intricate variations in capabilities, equipment, pricing and so on given the nearly endless number of possible build configurations.