2017 Ram 1500 vs. 2017 Toyota Tundra: Compare Trucks

December 12, 2016
2016 Ram 1500

2016 Ram 1500

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If you are looking for a luxury car, a German vehicle is probably your best bet. If you want efficiency of both space and fuel economy, Japan usually delivers. And if you want a full-size pickup, look to the good ol' U.S. of A.

A comparison of the Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra is a perfect example of America's dominance when it comes to trucks.

It's not that the Tundra isn't sufficiently brawny. Like the Ram, it's offered with three cab configurations, three bed lengths, and four- or rear-wheel drive. Styling is beefy where it counts, though the body's not quite as crisply styled as the American-brand trucks. Inside, it's cleanly laid out, with chunky controls, and truly swanky trim on the Platinum and 1794 Edition models.

MORE: Read our latest reviews of the 2017 Ram 1500 and 2017 Toyota Tundra

With its easily distinguished Freightliner looks, we think the Ram looks better, though. Every trim level gets its own grille design, and the overall look, depending on the model, ranges from simple to chrome laden to the blacked out "Death Race 2000" of the Ram Rebel. The Ram's interior looks fantastic and features a big central screen.

Performance and Powertrains

The Ram offers three engines. A 3.6-liter V-6 is the base engine. Rated at 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, it has enough power for hauling and is EPA-rated 17 mpg city, 25 highway, 20 combined with rear-drive. The 5.7-liter V-8, which generates 395 hp and 407 lb-ft, is the best choice for towing and it offers the quickest acceleration performance, but fuel economy falls to 15/21/17 mpg with four-wheel drive, which is the most popular configuration.

2016 Ram 1500

2016 Ram 1500

Enlarge Photo
2016 Ram 1500

2016 Ram 1500

Enlarge Photo
2016 Ram 1500

2016 Ram 1500

Enlarge Photo

Ram also offers a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 that produces 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. It's priced nearly $3,000 higher than the Hemi V-8, but fuel economy is much higher at 21/29/24 mpg.

The Tundra offers only a pair of V-8 engines. The base 4.6-liter makes 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque and delivers similar performance to Ram's V-6. It's reasonably quick when not laden to its payload and towing limits, and has good low-end acceleration. The 5.7-liter V-8 is good for 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. It's stronger overall, but, like the 4.6, it tends to run out of steam as speeds rise. The max tow rating of 10,500 pounds is close to the Ram's but far below the 12,000 (or more) pounds of the GM and Ford trucks.

Gas mileage isn't a strong suit of the Tundra, either. The 4.6-liter V-8 earns a 15/19/16 mpg rating while the 5.7 comes in at 13/18/15 mpg. Our real-world experience confirms the lower ratings.

On the street, the Tundra acquits itself better. Ride quality is fairly good, though pavement seams and surface bumps translate into larger-than-normal impacts in the cabin. The Ram's ride quality, however, is the smoothest in the class thanks to its rear coil springs. The Ram's optional air suspension is also great for load-leveling while towing.

Interior and Bed

The Ram's interior may be its best attribute. Interior finishes range from nice enough to extravagant. Attention to detail can be seen on upper models, which have leather-covered handgrips with cross-stitched seams. Noise is also kept to a minimum. 

Toyota has updated the materials of the Tundra, but it's not finished as well as the Ram or the Ford F-150. The plush seats do a good job of keeping things comfortable, and the Platinum and 1794 Edition models do offer plenty of luxury.

Ram also offers more bed options, highlighted by the RamBox storage system in the bed sides A factory spray-in bedliner and an integrated gooseneck hitch are also available. The Tundra has a deck rail system with four tie-down cleats, but not much else.

2016 Toyota Tundra (1794 Edition)

2016 Toyota Tundra (1794 Edition)

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2016 Toyota Tundra (1794 Edition)

2016 Toyota Tundra (1794 Edition)

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2016 Toyota Tundra (1794 Edition)

2016 Toyota Tundra (1794 Edition)

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Features and Safety

The Ram has other features that distance it from the Tundra as well. First and foremost is the more complete lineup, which includes trucks outfitted for work, luxury, off-roading, and everything in between. Notable features start with the easy-to-use Uconnect infotainment system and its available big 8.4-inch touchscreen. It offers navigation, access to apps, a tether to Sprint 3G data service, and wi-fi hotspot capability. Also offered are a 7.0-inch configurable gauge cluster, a DVD player for front- and rear-seat passengers, and wood interior trim harvested from fallen fenceposts.

The Tundra is available in about half the number of models, but base, high-end, and off-road models are available as well. Buyers can also get Toyota's Entune infotainment system with a 7.0-inch screen and access to apps, perforated and ventilated leather seating, and, on the 1794 Edition, ultra-suede upholstery inserts.

The Tundra does beat the Ram in one category: safety. Both trucks receive four stars from the NHTSA, but the Tundra gets a slightly better rating from the IIHS. It receives an "Acceptable" rating in small-overlap crash test, while the Ram gets the lower rating of Marginal. Otherwise, the IIHS ratings are the same. The Tundra also offers blind spot warnings and rear cross traffic alerts, while the Ram does not. It should be noted that neither truck offers some of today's active safety features like GM and Ford do.

Despite its win in safety, our numbers show that the Ram is clearly the winner in this battle. It stands out for its comfortable cabins, smooth ride, and excellent fuel economy from the diesel and V-6 engines. The Toyota Tundra offers a strong record for durability, but when it comes to fuel economy, ride quality, and comfort and utility features, the Tundra is outperformed by its U.S. competitors, the Ram among them.

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Summary

6.0
Expert Rating
The 2017 Ram 1500 can hold its own among the Detroit Three thanks to a good powertrain lineup and smart lineup additions.
5.2
Expert Rating
The Toyota Tundra delivers authentic truck talent, but it feels like a weak effort against its rivals.

Styling

7.0
Expert Rating
The Ram 1500 is still function first, but its form isn't bad either.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The Tundra's big, bold grille and stamped tailgate are solid truck elements, but it looks more disjointed inside and out than rivals.
Read More

Performance

7.0
Expert Rating
There isn't a bad pick among the bunch, we just wish the diesel wasn't so much more expensive.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
With its optional 5.7-liter V-8, the Tundra is smooth and fast, but rivals offer a better ride and handling balance.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

7.0
Expert Rating
No one will mistake it for a luxury car, but the Ram is still a comfortable place to be.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
Lots of hard plastic detracts from what is otherwise a roomy interior.
Read More

Safety

3.0
Expert Rating
Safety ratings are in, and they're mixed.
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3.0
Expert Rating
The Tundra has not performed well in crash tests.
Read More

Features

7.0
Expert Rating
Features and trim levels abound in the Ram, just pack a lunch before you begin to order—you'll be a while.
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7.0
Expert Rating
Though it may not offer the customization of rivals, the Tundra is well-packaged and has good infotainment options.
Read More

Fuel Economy

5.0
Expert Rating
30 mpg in a full-size pickup? It's possible. But even base models manage respectable numbers.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
The Tundra is downright inefficient compared to its rivals.
Read More

MSRP

from $26,495
from N/A

Invoice

from $25,521
from N/A

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

20

Engine

Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.6 L

Drivetrain

Rear Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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