2021 Ford F-150 vs. Ram 1500: Two of the best go head to head

The full-size truck segment gets an upgrade with the latest F-150. How does it stack up against the well-liked Ram 1500?

Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
Emme Hall
3 min read
Watch this: 2021 Ford F-150 vs. Ram 1500: Truck battle royale

Rejoice, truck lovers! Ford has finally released its 2021 F-150 full-size pickup. Well, almost. See, while the company has already shown off some pretty cool new features -- 180-degree reclining front seats anyone? -- it's still leaving us wondering about many key specs. We still don't know horsepower or torque numbers, or what the payload and towing capacities are. However, there is enough information to pit the F-150 against our current favorite light-duty truck, the Ram 1500, to see how they stack up when it comes to size, suspension geometry and powertrain options.

Both trucks are offered with a variety of bed and cab sizes, so for this article and video we decided to stick with the popular crew cab, short bed combination with four-wheel drive. In Ford-speak, that's the SuperCrew 4x4 with a 5.5-foot bed. The Ram equivalent is the Crew Cab with a 5-foot, 7-inch bed.

The two trucks are within an inch of each other when it comes to length, wheelbase and height. The biggest difference can be seen in width, with the Ram coming in about 2 inches wider. 

Exterior measurements

2021 Ford F-150 2020 Ram 1500
Wheelbase (in.) 145.4144.6
Length (in.) 231.7232.9
Height (in.) 75.677.5 (79.6 max with air suspension)
Width (in.) 79.982.1

However, what's really remarkable is their suspension geometry measurements, which are important because they preview how capable these trucks are off-road. The F-150 has an approach angle of 24.3 degrees, the Ram is at 19 degrees. Departure angle for the Ford is 25.3, the Ram is at 24.9. Finally, breakover angle is 20 degrees for the F-150, and 19.5 degrees for the 1500. Ground clearance for the Ford is 9.4 inches, while the Ram rides 8.7 inches off the ground. 

At first glance, it looks like the Ford wins this battle. However, the Ram can be equipped with optional air suspension (the second numbers in the table are for this model). So equipped, that raises the 1500's game to an approach angle of 23.3 degrees, its departure angle to 27.2 degrees, and its breakover angle to 23 degrees. At full height, ground clearance is raised to 10.8 inches. You don't even need to trade up to the off-road spec Ram Rebel to get those numbers either. Pretty cool.

Off-road geometry

2021 Ford F-1502020 Ram 1500
Turning radius 47.8 ft.46.2 ft.
Approach angle 24.3 deg.19.0, 23.0 deg.
Departure angle 25.3 deg.24.9, 27.2 deg.
Breakover angle 20.0 deg.19.5, 23.0 deg.
Ground clearance 9.4 in.8.3, 10.8 in.

Looking to storage for people and things, the F-150 has more front legroom, but the Ram wins in rear-seat legroom. The actual length of the 5.5-foot bed in the Ford is closer to 5 feet, 7 inches -- very close to the length of the 1500's bed. As such, they both have essentially the same volume: 52.8 cubic feet for the Ford, 53.9 cubic feet for the Ram. As stated earlier, Ford has not released payload weight capacity or towing numbers as of this writing.

Ford also hasn't given us any horsepower or torque numbers for its myriad engine options. All we know is that the 2021 F-150 will be offered with your choice of a gas-powered 3.3-liter V6, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and 5.0-liter V8. If you want diesel, you can grab the 3.0-liter Power Stroke V6. Heck, you can even get a full PowerBoost hybrid matched to the 3.5-liter V6. All engines use a 10-speed automatic transmission.

2021 Ford F-150 brings PowerBoost hybrid tech, OTA smarts

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The only nonhybridized gas engine on tap with the Ram 1500 is a 5.7-liter V8. However, you can get the company's 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 or Ram's eTorque mild hybrid on either the 3.6-liter V6 or 5.7-liter V8. Regardless of drivetrain, drivers get an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Naturally, we're still desperate to know more about the F-150. I'm especially curious about how the hybrid powertrain will affect towing, but it seems we'll have to be patient for just a bit longer. Of course, we can't give any recommendations until we actually get our butts in the driver's seat of the 2021 Ford F-150, but upon first glance, it looks like it's got the goods to remain a very heavy hitter in the full-size truck segment.

Go west, young trucker, in the 2020 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn

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