Ford F-150 and Ram 1500: Best Pickup Truck To Buy 2020

January 7, 2020

Yeah, yeah. We know. Ties are less American than Coke Zero and leave a worse taste in our mouths too.

But when it comes to pickup trucks, the race between the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 is just too close to call and our jury was deadlocked when we weren't in fisticuffs. Names were taken, words were exchanged, but the circle of #TruckLife continued. The TCC Ratings for both tell a similar story: 6.2 for each truck.

(Eds note: We emailed Ford and Ram to ask if they'd like to compete in co-ed potato sack races on non-consecutive weekends in our offices until a winner is decided, but we haven't yet heard back.)

The numbers between the two have little daylight beyond fuel economy ratings for the Ram that are lower (in the most popular configuration) and a feature score that's lower in the F-150 sunk by a brass-tacks, work-spec base truck.

2020 Ram 1500

2020 Ram 1500

The details are in the details, so that's where we'll start. The Ram looks just a little better, inside and out, but the F-150's nearly there with its boxy looks and hardy interior.

Under the hood, the Ford pulls ahead slightly with a menu of powertrains nearly as deep and rich as the Cheesecake Factory's chow catalog. Ford offers a 3.3-liter V-6, 2.7-liter turbo-6, 3.5-liter turbo-6 (in two outputs), 5.0-liter V-8, and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel in rear- or four-wheel-drive configuration with a 10-speed automatic appearing most often (a 6-speed automatic is equipped on just a handful of configurations). There are different final drive configurations, depending on need, and different suspension goodies for off-roading too. Brew a pot of coffee before sitting down with a configurator, is what we're trying to say.

Ram has an impressive starting lineup, but the bench isn't as deep. A smooth 3.6-liter V-6 is standard on most trucks but a 5.7-liter V-8 is most popular with shoppers. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel is available now, post-dustup with the EPA in 2018 that shelved those trucks. Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is a popular upgrade. Ram uses an 8-speed automatic in all of its trucks and it's better than it needs to be. The Ram 1500 rides on coil springs compared to the F-150 leaf springs, and Ram makes available an air suspension that's unique among pickups. (We don't recommend it, however.)

There's less separation in comfort and safety, too. Both pickups are best in four-door, crew cab configurations and offer short or long beds that measure about 5.5 or 6.5 feet long. Both pickups are acceptable family vehicles and many people use them that way now. The Ram 1500 has a few more tech conveniences, such as USB-C ports and an 8.4-inch touchscreen that's standard on Laramie models or higher. The Ram has an ace, too: A huge 12.0-inch touchscreen on Limited trucks that's a new high-water mark for truck tech.

2020 Ford F-150

2020 Ford F-150

Ford skimps on base trucks, but XLT and higher trims get an 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility software. Ford's ace is a trim that has no rival, for now: The F-150 Raptor is a desert sports car.

Without automatic emergency braking on every truck, the Ram and Ford fall down on our safety scale. As for fuel economy? That ranks somewhere between "don't care" and "what's that" for most pickup buyers.

After everything is factored in, these two trucks are still tied. There's no clear winner, and the competition between the two is as clear as mud. Speaking of mud, we need to get back into it in both of these trucks.

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