Ford has left no stone unturned with the new 2021 F-150.
The RAM 1500 enjoyed an excellent rise among its ranks last year and continues to please.
The Ford F-150 is the best-seller, period.
We are quite convinced that FCA’s RAM team and GM’s truck teams watched the new 2021 Ford F-150 with a mixed bag of anxiety and excitement. Despite the fact that they are mortal enemies, truck people are exactly that and it can be motivating to find out what the others are up to. In Ford’s case, they’ve more or less addressed everything short of finding an easy way to get toothpaste back into the tube if you squirt out too much. Over at RAM, they’ve just come off an invigorating 2019 outselling the GM trucks, and by quite a margin.
It’s been said and written many times but here it is again: Truck owners are generally extremely loyal to their brand of choice. For whatever reasons, some probably going back a half-century, this is the way it is. And this is one of Ford’s countless strengths. All truck manufacturers take their product extremely seriously but somehow, Ford always finds and takes that extra step.
The all-new 2021 Ford F-150 might look like a simple evolution of the previous truck but the list of features, amenities, and technologies available to it practically cut all arguments against it. The 2020 RAM 1500 has become the alternative to Ford F-150, an honour to be sure. Previously, that title belonged to the Chevrolet Silverado, and losing it is nothing short of a slap in the face.
And so, for this specification comparison, we will pit the #1 pickup of all-time, the 2021 Ford F-150, to the current #2 in the US and Canada, the 2020 RAM 1500.
What is the pricing and when will they be available?
Pricing for the all-new 2021 Ford F-150 is still a few months away. We’ll get the information slightly ahead of its expected fall of 2020 arrival.
The list of standard features has grown both in numbers and sophistication for the 2021 model year so we’ll not be surprised to learn that base model pricing will climb closer to $30,000 in both Canada and the US. Having said that, Ford will undoubtedly keep its pricing structure extremely competitive and be ready with incentives if needed.
In the US, the 2020 RAM 1500 Tradesman, one of six available trims, starts at $32,145. The Limited is priced from $53,915 however with a few select options, it will effortlessly reach $70.000.
The RAM 1500 is offered in seven trims in Canada and is priced from $46,440 for the Tradesman version. The seventh trim is the Sport, which retails for $56,940 and includes the 5.7-litre V8, unique 20-inch wheels, heated seats and steering wheel, and more. The Limited begins at $74,540 and with options, can fetch upwards of $90,000. Keep in mind these are retail prices, before any and all incentives.
Which Has The More Efficient Powertrains?
The RAM 1500 can be fitted with one of four engine options. Not all are available on every trim however the 3.6-litre V6 with the eTorque mild-hybrid system. It’s good for 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. is the entry-level mill – eTorque adds as extra 90 lb.-ft. of launch torque. From there, the HEMI 5.7-litre V8 and its 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque takes over and is the most popular option. This same 5.7-litre can also be fitted with eTorque that delivers an extra 130 lb.-ft. of launch torque. Finally, the 260 horsepower 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 and its 480 lb.-ft. of torque completes the powertrain options.
All are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmissions and can power the rear wheels only or all four. The best fuel efficiency numbers (2WD) for the HEMI without eTorque are 15/22 (city/highway) mpg and 17/23 with the mild-hybrid technology. The EcoDiesel rates in at 22/32 while the V6 is rated at 20/25. Canadian data for the 2020 RAM 1500 is not available. The 2019 numbers for the 4WD HEMI without eTorque are 16.1/11 (city/highway) L/100km and 14./11.1 with the mild-hybrid technology. There’s no CDN 2019 or 2020 data for the EcoDiesel and V6 engines.
The EcoDiesel is capable of towing up to 12,560 lbs while the 5.7L HEMI with eTorque Hybrid Technology can manage 12,750 lbs.
For the moment, Ford’s only shared that there will be six engine options for the 2021 F-150. All are familiar, with one exception. The base 3.3-litre V6, the volume-leading 2.7-litre Ecoboost V6, its “brother, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, the superb 5.0-litre V8 (with cylinder deactivation) and 3.0-litre Powerstroke diesel V6 have all returned. Output numbers are TBD but we suspect there won’t be many changes from the 2020 specs. All mills are coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmissions and can power the rear wheels only or all four.
What’s new is the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 PowerBoost which consists in a 35-kilowatt (47-horsepower) electric motor integrated into the transmission. The motor will be fed by a 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery mounted between the frame rails. Ford has promised that the PowerBoost powertrain will deliver the most torque and horsepower of any light-duty full-size pickup, manage an EPA-estimated range of 1,100 km, or 700 miles and tow well over 12,000 lbs.
We assume the diesel engine options will remain the most fuel-efficient non-electrified powertrains. And, we’re going to guess that the PowerBoost will match and potentially surpass the Powerstroke for fuel consumption. In 2020, it returned an average of 21/29 (city/highway) mpg with 2WD.
We suspect that when Ford will announce all of the F-150’s capacities that they will surpass on many levels what is available with the RAM 1500. This includes towing and hauling.
Which Offers The Most Standout Features?
The new 2021 Ford F-150 is essentially about innovative features and gadgets. Here’s a sample.
The top element is the Pro Power Onboard generator built into the bed. Depending on powertrain, it can deliver 2.0-kW, 2.4-kW, or 7.2-kW output. For those who use their trucks to conduct business, the F-150 can be fitted with the optional Work Surface which lowers the shifter, enabling the armrest to fold over and create a flat surface. One available feature in the King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited models is the Max Recline Seats that can recline back nearly 180 degrees for a quick nap.
Technology-wise, the Ford F-150 will include SYNC 4 as standard wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the standard 8-inch screen. Also built-in will be over-air-updates to improve functionality. A horizontal 12-inch screen is available in higher trims. This is but a sampling of what’s new with F-150.
The RAM 1500 does offer a class-exclusive air suspension which serves to enhances ride quality and, to an extent, fuel efficiency as the truck automatically lowers at highway speeds. RAM continues to propose the RamBox cargo management system which can be extremely useful. Finally, there’s the inventive Multifunction Tailgate which
The optional 8.4-inch Uconnect 4 display can be replaced by a vertical 12-inch touchscreen
Both of these trucks can be equipped with luxury-vehicle levels of kit.
What About Styling?
We’re guessing this was purposefully done but the all-new 2021 Ford F-150 looks, from a certain distance, like a timid facelift over the 2020 model year truck. The close-up images show the different grilles, revised front fender but generally speaking, it’s no departure.
On the inside, however, the pictures tell a story of revised ergonomics, better fit and finish, new materials, and a degree of attention to details. Our favorite bit is the shifter, and the fact that it folds away.
And this brings us to the RAM’s cabin. While we don’t like, probably never will, the rotary shifter, the 1500’s dashboard is still an exceptional piece of design, surface integrations and cool switches. Said toggle switches are not only functional but they look great. The debate over a vertical or horizontal 12-inch screen is more or less moot – we get used to whatever we have. Despite being older, the RAM’s cabin is still quite good.
And then we move on to the exterior. In our opinion, the RAM is still, generally speaking, a more attractive truck. It has more personality, or should we say personalities, looks more playful or just as business-like.
How important are these vehicles for their respective brands?
For Ford, the F-150 is everything. Quite simply, if they had to cut back and keep only one model in their entire line-up, it would be the F-150 and the company would probably be better off financially, strangely enough. In a world where there is no F-150 at Ford, only all the other models, the scenario’s the other way around.
Essentially, the Ford F-150 is Ford, it is its money-maker, its poster-boy, flagship, it is its everything. This helps to explain why Ford invests so much into this truck, why the hybrid is important, and why Ford will have a fully electric F-150 before long. At least, that’s what we think.
As for FCA and the RAM 1500, despite it representing a big portion of FCA’s revenues, Fiat-Chrysler also has the profitable Jeep brand to help out with the bottom line. Strangely, the Dodge Challenger, Charger and Durango are still doing well, too.
This does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that RAM is not heavily invested in their trucks. They are and the current RAM 1500’s sales performance proves that truck buyers have noticed.
Our Thoughts On The 2021 Ford F-150 And 2020 RAM 1500
Let’s be frank: The RAM 1500 has no hope, not even in a parallel universe, to take over from the Ford F-150’s lead. That is unless Ford’s completely mucked up the new truck, which is incredibly unlikely. David Spade is more likely to become the next President of the US.
With its impressive list of features and gadgets, not to mention powertrains, the new Ford F-150 is and will remain unbeatable for years, perhaps decades to come if Ford prepares adequately for the near future.
Even so, we still have a really big soft spot for the RAM 1500.