2021 Ford F-150 vs 2021 Ram 1500: Compare Trucks

March 16, 2021

Last year, the Ram 1500 nearly overtook the Chevrolet Silverado as the second bestselling vehicle in the U.S. This year, both full-size trucks face an upward climb in catching the redesigned 2021 Ford-150, the undisputed king of the hill.

The 2021 Ram 1500 balances between a smooth, ride with undeniable pickup truck capability, but the F-150 comes better equipped with more advanced technology and a hybrid engine option available across the crew cab lineup.  

The similarities between the two full-size trucks can overwhelm. Both offer turbodiesel engines that near 30 mpg on the highway with four-wheel drive; both come in regular, extended, or crew cab body styles; both offer seven trims; both have power-saving hybrid options or blistering off-road performance variants in the F-150 Raptor and Ram 1500 TRX.  

But their differences move markets as well as hills. 

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum off-road

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum off-road

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum off-road

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum off-road

2021 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150

From the outside, there’s no mistaking America’s bestselling vehicle for more than 40 years. Subtle changes belie the endless configurations that come from the F-150’s three cabs, three beds, 11 grilles, 15 different colors, and more than a dozen wheel choices ranging from 17 to 22 inches. The C-clamp daytime running lights dip into the bumper and connect the fog lights, rounded metal arches on the side replace black cladding, and a new character line parallels the front window kink; a fake air intake on the upper front fenders distinguish the various trims, which come with an 8.0-inch or available 12.0-inch touchscreen on higher trims that are decked in leather and chrome.

The bulging hood of the Ram 1500 oversees a wide slotted grille that cinches the front like a belt and wraps around the sides in a sleeker, decidedly less truck-like cinder block of blunt angles. The interior of the Ram 1500 is what every non-work truck aspires to be at finishing school. Similar-sized touchscreens as the F-150 sit upright and blend with soft leather and smooth curved surfaces that soften the three engine choices that lie beyond the cabin.

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500

Excluding the TRX and Raptor that we compare separately, both base trucks are powered by capable V-6s with available four-wheel drive. The 10-speed automatic across the Ford lineup helps tow up to 8,200 pounds, whereas the Ram 1500’s V-6 pairs to an 8-speed automatic and comes as a mild hybrid that powers accessories more than anything else; towing capacity reaches 7,710 pounds and, with four-wheel drive, it gets 21 mpg combined. A 5.7-liter V-8 heaves the Ram’s towing capacity to 12,750 pounds, but Ford has proven that the available twin-turbo V-6 is quicker, more efficient, and more capable than the endangered V-8, with a towing capacity of 14,000 pounds. The hybrid available across the F-150’s crew cab lineup uses a 3.5-liter turbo V-6 and a 1.5-kwh battery pack to net 24 mpg combined, and comes with 2.4-kw onboard generator or available 7-kw generator that can power worksites, camp sites, and as recent outages in Texas proved, homes. The Ram 1500 can’t do that, and the turbodiesels in either model can’t match the capability, efficiency, or cost of ownership as Ford’s hybrid, unless you’re logging a vast majority of highway miles over many years.

Equally off-road capable, the trucks distinguish themselves on road. The F-150 uses an independent front suspension but has traditional leaf springs in back that are bouncier when unladen than the Ram 1500 and its coil springs. The Ram can ride as smoothly as some large SUVs, and an available air suspension suggests even more cushion in the Ram 1500, but when it’s lowered at highway speeds it can be too firm. 

The F-150 further distinguishes itself from the Ram 1500 with more cab choices and bed sizes, though either model can be had in seven trims, including the TRX and Raptor. The base F-150 XL starts just over $30,000 but is still basic enough to have manual windows. That can be a relief to some shoppers, since the Ram or F-150 can be optioned to cost more than $80,000 on top trims. Nuts. Ford XL and XLT trims come with a regular cab and 78-inch bed, while extended cab models can be optioned with a 96-inch long bed. Spacious crew cabs come with a 66-inch bed and can seat five better than most SUVs. Both models offer clever storage solutions under and around the rear seats. 

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150

The Ram 1500 Tradesman comes with an extended cab and 76-inch long bed for about $34,000; a regular cab is offered on the Ram 1500 Classic for under $30,000 but it’s essentially a different truck without the refinements of the 1500. Crew cab models can be had with the long bed or a 67-inch standard bed.

The 2021 F-150 comes better equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone compatibility and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, but that key safety feature doesn’t come standard on the Ram 1500 until the Laramie with its 8.4-inch touchscreen, leather upholstery, and heated and cooled front seats. Options on both models range from surround-view camera systems and trailer cameras with heated rear seats or front seat massagers on the F-150. Additionally, the F-150 can be equipped with hands-free driving on limited access highways across the U.S. via an over-the-air software update due later this year.

Yet the 2021 Ram 1500 is the only full-size truck to earn a Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS, at least until the 2021 F-150 is tested. 

In last year’s head-to-head, the Ram 1500 matched the Ford-F-150 with a TCC Rating of 6.0 out of 10 that holds this year, as well. But, even though the Ram provides more comfort and a more upscale interior, the redesigned 2021 F-150 has superior technology and capability, as well as a more efficient hybrid option. It’s a 6.6 out of 10, and the clear winner for 2021.

Summary

6.6
Expert Rating
The 2021 Ford F-150 ushers the bestselling truck into the electrified age.
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2021 Ram 1500 full-size pickup is heading in the right direction with just a couple of small detours.

Styling

7.0
Expert Rating
Subtle tweaks to the 2021 F-150 don’t mess with a winning formula.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The exterior is a little boring, but the interior more than makes up for it.
Read More

Performance

7.0
Expert Rating
An available hybrid engine and standard 10-speed automatic headline this year’s powertrain changes.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
Hold your breath and hold your nose, the Ram 1500 covers a lot of ground.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

7.0
Expert Rating
Three beds, three cabs, and clever storage spaces provide all kinds of use cases for the 2021 Ford F-150.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
Functional and spacious, the Ram 1500 is a delight.
Read More

Safety

The 2021 F-150 awaits crash-test results, but its standard active safety features help it avoid a crash.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
A pickup with good crash-test scores is something we never thought we’d say about a Ram.
Read More

Features

8.0
Expert Rating
Enhanced standard features on the 2021 F-150 complement an options list as long as some luxury models.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
No two Ram 1500s need to be the same.
Read More

Fuel Economy

4.0
Expert Rating
The hybrid gets 24 mpg, but most other engines with four-wheel drive improve by 1 mpg.
Read More
3.0
Expert Rating
The turbodiesel leads the pack in efficiency–and price.
Read More

MSRP

from $29,290
from $32,795

Invoice

from $27,972
from $28,246

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

21
20

Engine

Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.3 L
Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.6 L

Drivetrain

Rear Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Rear Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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