If you were to ask me where the best competition in automotive is right now, I would not answer either midsize cars are small SUVs. Yes, competition in those segments is indeed fierce, and there are some really great products from each of the vehicle manufacturers represented in each of those segments. But no, if you’re looking for the best knock-down, drag-out competition you need to look no further than trucks. For the past 30 plus years, the Ford F-150 was the most popular car sold in the United States. Ford sold more than them than Toyota has Camrys. Trucks are a big deal. While GM is definitely in this fight, the real heat is between Ram and Ford. If you aren’t paying attention to this fight, you should be. But first, here’s some history.
2015 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty
Truck Wars: 2015 Ford F-450 Super Duty v. Ram 3500 Heavy Duty
Earlier this year, for the 2015 model year, both Ram and Ford introduced new heavy duty trucks that both had impressive numbers. The Ram 3500, when optioned correctly, could tow a monstrous 30,000 lbs. I’m not sure why anyone without a CDL would be towing that much weight, but I digress. Also, during that time, Ford introduced a new version of the F-450 Super Duty with some key changes. Those changes brings the F-450 in line with the Ram 3500 in terms of vehicle class. The F-450, when equipped properly, can tow 31,200 lbs.
2015 Ford F-450 Super Duty
Based on the stated GVWR, both the Ford F-450 Super Duty and Ram 3500 Heavy Duty are Class 3 trucks. Also, both manufacturers are contending that their truck is “best in class” for towing. To the observer, it’s clear that you can’t have two best in class claims.
SAE J2807 is a standard in which both trucks’ towing was tested by. Ram claims that the new F-450 is not a Class 3 truck; Ford contends that it is. Neither have let up on the use of the best-in-class title.
2015 Ford F-150
Truck Wars: 2015 Ford F-150 v. 2015 Ram 1500
This year Ford brought to market a new Ford F-150 constructed of a significant amount of aluminum. The new truck is lighter than the previous truck, and is now also lighter than the Ram 1500. With the new truck, Ford is touting a best-in-class (when properly equipped) payload of 3,100 pounds and a maximum towing of 12,200 pounds. The 12,200 pound towing is with the 3.5L EcoBoost and the 3,100 of payload is with the 5.0L V8. Gone are the days where a half-ton pickup truck could only carry a payload of 1/2 ton.
First blood was drawn by Ford at the 2014 Texas Truck Rodeo. The 2015 Ford F-150 won the coveted “Truck of Texas” title. That was an award won by Ram the past two years. We are now waiting to see if the new F-150 also snags the Motor Trend Truck of the Year title.
2015 Ram 1500
But it’s not that cut-and-dry. Many 1500 series pickup truck buyers look at fuel economy more than they do towing capacity (that changes drastically in the other direction on heavy duty trucks). Ford’s new 2.7L EcoBoost is a peach of an engine, but during our media drive we barely saw above 20 mpg. The official EPA numbers haven’t been released, but we don’t expect them to be nearly as good as the 28 mpg highway rating of the 3.0L EcoDiesel available in the Ram 1500.
Last month, Ram sold 39,834 pickup trucks, while Ford sold 63,410. Clearly, Ford (even while changing over production at their plants to aluminum) are selling a bunch more trucks than Ram. But there’s something else you need to keep in mind; Ram sales are up 33% last month versus the year prior. Ford sales are down 0.6% over the same time period. That type of growth from Ram could put them within overtaking distance of Ford quite quickly.
Truck Wars: Who Makes the Best Truck?
Guess what I’m not doing? Answering that question. I will explain why. The Ram 1500 with the EcoDiesel and the 8-speed automatic is a great truck that gets great fuel economy. There are plenty of great options and features available, including Uconnect (which I find works well). The new 2015 Ford F-150 has a lot of really great features, including all the LED lighting and massive panoramic roof. However, in an ideal world I’d want the EcoDiesel from the Ram with the 8-speed in a F-150. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.
Ultimately, which truck is best is which truck suits your needs best. Odds are, you don’t need to two 31,200 pounds or even 30,000 pounds, so it’s a matter of driving the trucks and seeing which one you like. For the F-150 and Ram 1500, the same rules apply. Both of the trucks drive well, both have loads of features, and both are capable of getting the job done. Ultimately, it’ll come down to personal preference.
Truck Wars: Consumers Win
Whether or not you are following the truck wars closely, the battle is making a better truck for consumers. Whichever brand the buyer ends up choosing (we can now through General Motors and Toyota back into the mix), they are getting a much higher-quality truck than they ever have been in the past. If someone were to seriously ask me which truck they should buy, it wouldn’t be a simple answer like it would in the past. Yes, that makes my job more difficult, but it makes the consumers get a high quality product regardless of the badge on the hood. That’s a win for everyone!
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