2021 Ford F-150 vs. Ram 1500 Comparison

Erin Riches-Wong | Jun 02, 2021

Nothing beats a large pickup truck when it's time to work. Ford and Ram sell hundreds of thousands of them every year. Heavy-duty series trucks for commercial customers account for a hearty portion of the totals, but plenty of people drive home in light-duty large pickups like the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500.

The capabilities of these trucks are astounding, especially when you consider how comfortable and even luxurious they can be for everyday driving. Although the Ford and Ram are closely matched in most areas, there are key differences that you'll want to think over carefully before taking the plunge on a full-size truck purchase. This 2021 Ford F-150 vs. 2021 Ram 1500 comparison should help.

Price and Value

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum Gray Front Quarter View

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum

If you're shopping for a 2021 Ford F-150, you will find that pricing on this large light-duty pickup ranges from $28,940 to $70,825, not including a $1,695 destination charge. You can have an F-150 in XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, or Limited trim. All have standard 2-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is optional, and the price varies by trim level.

Ford's full-size pickup also comes in three cab styles and three cargo-bed lengths ranging from 5.5 feet to 8 feet. The regular cab comes with a single row of seating, while the extended cab (known as the SuperCab) and crew cab (called the SuperCrew) have rear seats. If you need to fit adults or a rear-facing car seat in the backseat, the F-150 SuperCrew is the way to go.

Ford offers many engines on the 2021 F-150. Most buyers will be content with the automaker's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 or 5.0-liter V8, but there's a case to be made for the F-150's Powerboost hybrid powertrain if lifetime fuel economy matters as much as performance. The hybrid powertrain option also costs less than the F-150's available diesel V6.

Every Ford F-150 comes with FordPass connected services. Functionality is limited to conveniences like remote engine starting and vehicle health monitoring, but for the moment, Ford doesn't charge for any of them. Wi-Fi is the exception, as your initial trial subscription lasts three months and there's a 3-gigabyte data limit.

There's no complimentary scheduled maintenance for the F-150. Instead, you can earn points in the FordPass app and apply them to dealer service visits. 

Consumers shopping for 2021 Ram 1500 will find that it ranges in price from $32,795 to $70,425, not including a $1,695 destination charge. The light-duty Ram pickup comes in Tradesman, Tradesman HFE (High Fuel Efficiency), Big Horn (sold as the Lone Star in Texas), Rebel, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, Limited, and TRX trim levels. All have standard 2WD and optional 4WD, except the Tradesman HFE (2WD only) and TRX (4WD only).

Ram no longer offers a traditional regular cab with a long cargo bed, so buyers can select either an extended cab (known as Quad Cab) or crew cab. There are two bed lengths: a 5-foot-7-inch short bed and a 6-foot-4-inch long bed. 

There aren't quite so many engine options on the Ram 1500. You need only decide between a gasoline V6, a gasoline V8 and a diesel V6. The diesel is an expensive add-on, so unless you're focused on lifetime fuel savings, you'll probably be happiest with the gas V8. There's also the supercharged Ram 1500 TRX, which provides extreme off-road performance at an extreme price.

All 2021 Ram trucks come with SiriusXM Guardian connected services. The trial subscription lasts one year and provides all the features you get on the F-150, plus automatic collision notification and rapid access to roadside help. There's Wi-Fi as well, but the initial 3-month trial has a stingy 1GB data limit.

Most Ram 1500 trims are eligible to enroll in the Ram Care maintenance program, which provides free oil changes and tire rotations for the first two years of ownership.

Advantage: Ford F-150

Reliability and Quality

2021 Ram 1500 Limited Red Front Quarter View

2021 Ram 1500 Limited

The Ford F-150 did not rank among the top three large light-duty pickups in the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study. The previous-generation F-150 ranked third in the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The 2021 Ford F-150 comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles (5 years or 100,000 miles with diesel engine)
  • Hybrid system warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles (10 years or 150,000 miles in California emissions states)
  • Roadside assistance: 5 years or 60,000 miles

The Ram 1500 ranked third among large light-duty pickups in the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study. It did not rank among the top three in the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The 2021 Ram 1500 comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles (5 years or 100,000 miles with diesel engine)
  • Roadside assistance: 5 years or 60,000 miles (5 years or 100,000 miles with diesel engine)

Advantage: Ram 1500

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum Interior Dashboard

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum

You might have a hard time deciding on an engine for the 2021 Ford F-150. The lineup includes three gasoline V6 engines – two of them turbocharged. Or, you could have a turbocharged diesel V6, or a naturally aspirated V8. At the top of the range is the Powerboost hybrid powertrain, which combines a turbo gasoline V6, an electric motor (built into the automatic transmission), and a battery pack.

Output on the 2021 F-150's engines varies from 250 to 430 hp and 265 to 570 pound-feet of torque. Depending on the configuration, you can expect to see 19 mpg to 25 mpg in combined driving.

The Powerboost hybrid F-150 is the mpg leader, but the diesel V6 is almost as good. And most versions of the F-150 rate 20 mpg combined. Keep in mind, though, that EPA ratings for trucks are based on the standard rear axle ratio. If you add a tow package, your Ford F-150 will likely have a shorter (numerically higher) axle ratio. This almost always lowers real-world fuel economy.

In general, 4WD trucks consume more fuel than 2WD trucks. If you select the FX4 off-road package, your F-150 will have all-terrain tires that create more resistance as they roll down the road than the standard all-season tires, and this also contributes to higher fuel consumption.

If you're configuring a 2021 Ram 1500, you can select from a gasoline V6 with Ram's eTorque mild hybrid technology, a naturally aspirated, gasoline V8 that comes with or without the eTorque system, and a turbocharged diesel V6.

Output on these engines ranges from 260 to 395 hp and 269 to 480 pound-feet of torque. Meanwhile, the outrageous Ram TRX is on another planet. Its supercharged V8 cranks out 720 hp and 650 pound-feet of torque.

Fuel economy in combined driving ranges from 12 mpg to 26 mpg on most Ram 1500 pickups. The diesel consumes the least fuel in the light-duty Ram lineup, while the TRX gulps down all the premium octane it can get. As on the Ford, these numbers are with the standard axle ratio and all-season tires, save for the TRX which comes with all-terrain tires.

The eTorque mild hybrid system adds a full 2 mpg to the combined fuel economy rating on trucks with the naturally aspirated V8. Unless you find its regenerative braking and start/stop system bothersome during your test drive, eTorque is a worthwhile option because Ram doesn't charge extra for it in 2021. 

Advantage: Neither. Both lineups feature impressive engines, so we encourage consumers to make a short list of favorites and then schedule some test-drives.

Tow Ratings and Trailering Equipment

Consumers planning to tow a trailer with the 2021 Ford F-150 SuperCrew will likely prefer the turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (known as the 3.5-liter EcoBoost) engine. When the Max Trailering package is equipped, an F-150 crew cab with the EcoBoost V6 can tow up to 14,000 pounds.

Other possibilities include the 5.0-liter V8, which provides a 13,000-pound tow rating on a properly equipped Ford F-150 SuperCrew, the hybrid V6 (12,700 pounds), and the diesel V6 (12,000 pounds).

You can get an integrated trailer brake controller as a factory option on both the Ford and Ram. And both trucks offer rear camera angles specific to hooking up a trailer, as well as an autonomous steering function that simplifies the task of backing up with a trailer.

In June 2021, Ford will add more towing technology to its large, light-duty pickup. An optional onboard scales feature will help you determine if you're exceeding your truck's payload rating, while a smart hitch feature will measure tongue weight to help you distribute trailer weight. 

If you're planning to tow with the 2021 Ram 1500, the naturally aspirated, 5.7-liter V8 is your best bet. Properly equipped Ram 1500 crew cabs with this engine can tow up to 11,540 pounds.

The diesel V6 engine might have some appeal if you have a smaller trailer and tow on a regular basis. Diesel Ram crew cabs are rated to tow nearly 10,000 pounds, and they will likely return better mileage while towing than V8-equipped trucks. Due to its focus on off-roading and a high curb weight, the Ram 1500 TRX has a tow rating of just 8,100 pounds. 

One advantage Ram has over Ford in this category is an optional air suspension. Its primary purpose is to enhance ride quality (though the Ram 1500's stock suspension is already impressive), but it also allows you to lower the truck's ride height to make it easier to hitch up your trailer.

Advantage: Ford F-150

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Ram 1500 Limited Black Interior Dashboard

2021 Ram 1500 Limited

Advanced driving assistance aids (ADAS) are widely available on the 2021 Ford F-150. Even the entry-level XL trim comes standard with Ford's Co-Pilot 360 with forward-collision warning (FCW) with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking (AEB). If that's not enough, you'll find blind-spot warning (BSW), lane-departure warning (LDW), lanekeeping assistance (LKA), and automatic high-beam headlights on the options list.

Higher trims offer optional adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and lane-centering assistance. If you select a Lariat or any of the higher trims, you can buy an optional prep package for Ford's new BlueCruise technology, which will provide hands-free Level 2+ semi-autonomous driving assistance later in 2021.

As of this writing, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released full crash test ratings on the recently redesigned Ford F-150.

Save for the HFE model, all versions of the 2021 Ram 1500 can be equipped with FCW, AEB, LDW, and LKA, but you will have to pay extra for it. Farther up the line, you'll have access to BSW, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beams. 

In crash tests conducted by the NHTSA, the Ram 1500 earned a 5-star rating for overall crash protection. In IIHS testing, the Ram earned a Top Safety Pick designation.

Advantage: Neither. The Ford F-150 offers a broader menu of ADAS, while the Ram 1500 has proven itself crashworthy according to the NHTSA and IIHS. If the F-150 matches or surpasses the Ram’s performance in crash tests, it will have the advantage.

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum Silver Rear Quarter View

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum

The 2021 Ford F-150 comes with Ford's Sync 4 infotainment interface, and most versions include an 8-inch touchscreen display and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Trucks with a backseat have four USB ports (regular cabs have just two). Options include a factory navigation system and an even larger 12-inch touchscreen display.

The standard infotainment interface in the 2021 Ram 1500 is comparatively basic: The Tradesmen and Bighorn trims have a 5-inch display with Bluetooth capability. If you want Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you'll want to upgrade to either the 8.4-inch or 12-inch touchscreen interface. Factory navigation is also available. And there are five USB ports.

Note that the Ram's 12-inch display is like a tablet in portrait mode, whereas the Ford's 12-inch display has a more conventional landscape orientation. Both trucks offer impressive high-end audio systems as an option.

Advantage: Neither. Ford gives you more standard tech, but our independent vehicle testing experts find the Ram's upgraded interfaces easier to use.

Comfort and Utility

2021 Ram 1500 Limited Red Rear Quarter View

2021 Ram 1500 Limited

The 2021 Ford F-150 offers versatility for consumers who use their pickup trucks for both work and leisure. For buyers needing mobile office space, there's the Work Surface option, which allows you to power-fold the transmission lever flat with the console to deploy a table from the center armrest. It's a little more awkward than sitting at an actual desk, but there's room for a standard-size laptop.

You'll also want to take a look at Ford's Pro Power Onboard option, especially if you're interested in the F-150 Hybrid. It essentially turns your large pickup into a mobile generator, and with the Powerboost hybrid powertrain, you can generate up to 7,200 watts of electricity – enough to power heavy equipment on the job or electric dirt bikes and a portable stove at an off-highway vehicle park. 

If you're looking for comfort in a large pickup, the 2021 Ram 1500 has you covered. Its seats ranked first in the mass-market truck/van category in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study. (Since the F-150 is redesigned for 2021, it was not part of this study.)

Beyond that, the Ram 1500 leads this class in ride quality. It remains the only large pickup with coil springs (rather than leaf springs) for its rear suspension. The result is a superb ride quality that's likely to win over family members who might be reluctant to sign off on a full-size truck purchase.

Cargo capacity in the bed is a wash between these two trucks. With the short bed most crew-cab buyers select, the F-150 has 52.8 cubic feet to the Ram 1500's 53.9 cubic feet. If you opt for the standard (medium-length) bed on a crew cab or extended cab, the F-150 offers 62.3 cubic feet, while the Ram gives you 61.5 cubic feet. If cargo volume is an overriding priority, the advantage goes to the Ford because it still has a regular-cab body style with an 8-foot bed.

Advantage: Neither. We recommend you assess your needs and thoroughly test-drive both pickups.

Learn More About the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500

If you’d like to learn more about these full-size trucks, be sure to read our expert reviews of the 2021 Ford F-150 and 2021 Ram 1500, including the extreme-performance Ram 1500 TRX. To find out how people like you rate vehicles in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on June 2, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker’s website or your local dealership.

Explore new car previews
2022 Honda Civic Si Preview
2022 Honda Civic Si Preview
That's right, sport compact car fans. Honda is returning the Civic Si to the lineup and is calling it the "best-handling" and "most fun-to-drive" Civic Si ever.
Read the full review
2022 Lexus LX Preview
2022 Lexus LX Preview
The redesigned 2022 Lexus LX 600 is a refined example of the Toyota Land Cruiser and comes in Standard, Premium, Luxury, F Sport, and Ultra Luxury trim levels.
Read the full review
2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Preview
2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Preview
The 2023 Corvette Z06 is on its way, though the automaker hasn’t released much more than a photo to confirm its existence. However, we won’t have long to wait for more details, as Chevy will officially unveil the car on October 26.
Read the full review
Read all articles
Scroll to the top
New Car Preview
2022 Subaru WRX Preview
Most Dependable
2019 Vehicle Dependability: Most Dependable Family Cars
Most Popular
10 Most Popular Large Cars and Minivans
New Model Update
New for 2019: Subaru
New Car Preview
2022 Ford Maverick Preview
More related
articles