Full-size trucks are a big deal.
The three offerings from Detroit-based truckmakers square off for buyers' interest and money surely, but also loyalty. Among shoppers, truck buyers are some of the most loyal to their chosen brands. Ford, General Motors, and Ram square off in an annual royal rumble that may pay dividends for generations. The race between the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado 1500, and Ram 1500 has never been tighter.
With the 2021 Ford F-150 revealed Thursday, the future for that competition comes into view. Although Ford didn't reveal many specs for the 2021 F-150, we now know it's available as a fully hybrid pickup, with creature comforts that include a large touchscreen infotainment system and lay-flat seats. Storage, power, and capability are at the forefront—so here's where they all stand on paper for now.
If we can be sure of anything, we're sure that there's more to follow. The pickups arms race never stops.
2020 Ram 1500 “Built to Serve Edition”
Perhaps more than any other metric, power figures more into truckbuyers' considerations than anything else.
Ford leads the race in configurations for now: 3.3-liter V-6, 2.7-liter turbo V-6, 5.0-liter V-8, 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6, 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6, and 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 paired to a lithium-ion hybrid battery and electric motor. Coming soon: A fully electric F-150. Ford hasn't yet said how powerful each of those engines will be, but last year the range spanned 290 horsepower to 450 horsepower. Its towing capacity topped out at 13,200 pounds, too.
The Chevy Silverado offers a 4.3-liter V-6, 2.7-liter turbo-4, 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6, 5.3-liter V-8, and 6.2-liter V-8. GM said it'll offer a fully electric Silverado too, but details are scarce. The 6.2-liter V-8 edged out Ford's 3.5-liter V-6 in towing capacity last year: 13,400 pounds compared to 13,200 pounds. We're not sure how much of a difference that makes, but it's a numbers game you know.
Ram offers the fewest drivetrain options, but they're similarly capable. A 3.6-liter V-6 is standard and 5.7-liter V-8 is available, and both offer a mild-hybrid system that powers some truck accessories. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 is available as well, after a brief timeout from the feds. The Ram is just a step behind the rest with a max towing rating of 12,750 pounds.
All three trucks are available in rear- or four-wheel-drive configurations with automatic transmissions only. The Ram takes a slight edge in ride comfort; it's the only pickup to ride on a standard coil-spring suspension at all four corners with an optional air suspension available.
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 diesel
All three trucks have made strides in comfort and convenience features (more on that in a minute) as more buyers opt for pickups to replace family vehicles. Ford will offer its F-150 in three cab configurations (regular, extended and four-door crew cab) with three bed lengths. Same for the Chevy Silverado, although the newest Ram skips the regular cab for now (a regular-cab version is sold as new, but based on the older pickup).
The most popular among all three is the four-door crew-cab body style, which offers four full-size doors and a spacious rear seat. The new F-150 boasts 43.6 inches of rear seat leg room, while Ram checks in with 45.2 inches and Chevy checks in with 43.4 inches.
All three trucks offer a wide range of upholsteries that span work-spec vinyl, durable cloth, and tony leather. Ford promises more interior storage and work-ready ideas like a fold-flat desk and lay-flat seats. The Ram 1500 has plenty of storage and USB and power plugs for worksite charging. Chevy's hook? A wider bed for lay-flat four-by-eight sheets of building material and a power-folding tailgate.
2021 Ford F-150
Comfort's come a long way in 20 years, but tech has come further in only 5-10 years. The Ford F-150 now boasts an 8.0- or 12.0-inch touchscreen on all trucks, mobile wi-fi hotspot, an available 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster, hands-free driving assistance on certain highways, automatic emergency braking, trailer-assist features, and an in-truck generator that can power tools for days.
Ram's not far behind with a 5.0-, 8.4-, or 12.0-inch touchscreen, mobile wi-fi, a 7.0-inch digital information cluster, power running boards, available automatic emergency braking, and trailer-assist features. No hands-free driver-assistance is available, but active lane control is on the options sheet.
Chevy's in third, but not by much. The Silverado offers a 7.0-inch touchscreen upgradable to 8.0 inches, mobile wi-fi hotspot, power tailgate, available automatic emergency braking and active lane control.
All three offer myriad customization options that mean those trucks could be as unique as fingerprints.
As always, we expect more information about 2021 models throughout the year. Stay tuned.