Which to Buy: Ford F-150 vs. Dodge Ram 1500

These two best-selling pickup trucks have plenty of pluses to their credit. Which should you choose?

Ford F-150 vs Dodge Ram 1500 | CarMax

November 2016

Two powerful trucks have ruled the full-sized pickup market over the last decade: the Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram 1500. If you’re in the market for a used pickup truck, it’s highly likely you’ve come across both of these trucks. Here, we’ll take an in-depth look at both vehicles. We’re here to help you make an informed decision!

Ford F-150 

You’ve probably known someone who owns or has owned an F-150. It’s Ford’s flagship truck, and it’s been the best-selling pickup in America for more than 30 years.

ENGINE: Most used F-150s offered by CarMax are powered by a V8 or 3.7 V6 engine. The latest used F-150s can be had with a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine, which has nearly all the horsepower of the V8 (365 hp) and gives owners a strong mix of performance and fuel economy. A six-speed automatic gearbox transfers power to the wheels two-wheel-drive-, awd-, or full four-wheel drive-style.

INTERIOR: You’ll find plenty of different options and features inside the F-150. The dash lets drivers watch where they’re parking with a navigation screen that displays 360-degree camera views. Recent models have more interior cargo space and more rear legroom in four-door models. There’s a 60/40 folding bench, for access to the rear in extra-cab versions, but bucket seats are also an option. Some F-150s even come with a sunroof. Our customers love their F-150s because their cabs are quiet and roomy, and passengers stay comfortable on both short and long drives.

EXTERIOR: The newer, 2015 and 2016 F-150s have aluminum body panels—enough of the lightweight metal to trim curb weight by close to a thousand pounds and increase fuel efficiency. The lighter weight improves fuel economy by up to 29 percent; gas-powered F-150s can get up to 25 mpg on the highway, while diesel EcoBoost models can return 29 mpg. Recent F-150s are stylish; reworked side windows offer better outward vision than in past models. 

CAPACITY & TOWING: Drivers who haul lots of stuff or have lots of friends who need moving help will be comforted by the F-150’s numbers here: around 5 tons of towing capacity and about a ton of payload in the full-sized bed (2-door models). 

COST: Prices for recent, base-model, used F-150s at CarMax average around $25,000. Upper-range, tricked out F-150s like a used 2014 Raptor can be found at CarMax for around $53,000. 

Ram 1500

Acclaimed for being the 2015 Rocky Mountain Truck of the Year and the 2016 Best Full-Size Truck for the Money, the Dodge Ram 1500 is a tough pickup that has its own distinguished pedigree.

ENGINE: The Ram’s 4.7-liter V8 or 5.7-liter Hemi® V8 get the job done whether you’re towing or just road-tripping; other options include a 3.7-liter, 215 horsepower V6 for better fuel efficiency. All engines amply power the 1500 in its two-wheel drive and all-wheels drive variants. Fuel efficiency isn’t the best, but this is a full-size pickup—you probably know what you’re getting into here, mpg-wise. Hemi-engined Rams can deliver up to 21 mpg on the highway, and six-cylinder models like the late-model, two-door Tradesman can return up to 25 mpg.

INTERIOR: The 1500’s interior features user-friendly controls. Got big hands? Careful consideration was given to the instrumentation and navigation display to ensure that drivers always have control over their features, even when they’re wearing gloves. Touchscreens have large, sensitive buttons for ease of use, and work along with Ram’s voice recognition system. Crew cab 1500s with two bench seats can carry up to six passengers in comfort. 

EXTERIOR: The Ram’s appearance hasn’t changed for about six years now, so if you like the look of the late model 1500, you should be able to find plenty to choose from. CarMax customers love the way their 1500s look—in both single cab and four-door, crew cab layouts.

CAPACITY & TOWING: The 1500 can pull up to five tons, and payload capacity is right around 1,600 pounds. 

COST: A base model, used 1500 Tradesman can be found at CarMax for around $25,000. Upper range models, like a used Laramie Limited, cost around $42,000.

Winner?

The numerous trade-offs between the F150 and 1500 make it tough to pick a real winner. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Both are full-size pickups made by best-selling truck builders who have more than half a century of production under their belts. Both have similar engine choices and similar gas mileage; both have spacious interiors and plenty of optional features. While Ford gets points for agile performance and an edge on hauling capacity, the Ram scores with fuel efficiency, a smoother ride, and an upscale interior. 

Alternatives

Still undecided? Maybe you’re looking for an alternative to the power of the Ford and versatility of the Ram? Sporting an eight-speed transmission and ample seating, GMC offers their Sierra 1500 to drivers who seek a more luxurious pickup. The Sierra 1500 isn’t too different from Chevrolet’s Silverado 1500, especially mechanically. Heavier than the F150 and shorter than its competitors, drivers who want a more subtle ride will enjoy the Silverado. Finally, the Toyota Tundra has all the mass and power of any used V-8 pickup, without high-end upholstery or state-of-the-art gadgetry found in other pickups. Drivers who pull campers or want easy access to the cooler stored in the bed will appreciate the Tundra’s power rear window. 


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