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How the Big Three Compare

Every new truck debut ignites a war of numbers, with fans feverishly comparing horsepower, torque, hauling capability, and—who knows?—maybe cupholder counts. Ford released new information about the 2021 F-150 this week, and it promises to blow competitors out of the water when it comes to trucky metrics such as towing, horsepower, and more. That’s an ambitious claim, considering that since the last F-150 first went on sale, rivals haven’t been sitting still, instead pushing their trucks’ envelopes further and setting a higher bar.

So, how will the 2021 Ford F-150 stack up against the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado? We’ve crunched the numbers so that you can gear up for truck debate class:

F-150 vs. Silverado vs. Ram 1500: Engines

Ford was already beating Ram and Chevrolet when it comes to maximum horsepower and torque figures (with the 450-hp F-150 Raptor). The Blue Oval has finally announced numbers for the new F-150, and it’s making big claims. A new hybrid variant, which combines a V-6 engine with a 47-hp electric motor, delivers the most horsepower and torque of any light-duty, full-size pickup on the market—save for Ram’s supercharged, 700-hp-plus TRX, its Raptor competitor, which lands later this year. The hybrid F-150 pumps out an impressive 430 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque.

Compared to Ram and Chevy, the 2021 Ford F-150 has the most diverse engine lineup. Besides the hybrid, other powertrains include three regular gasoline-fed V-6s, including a base naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V-6, a twin-turbo 2.7-liter “EcoBoost” V-6, and a twin-turbo 3.5-liter “EcoBoost” V-6. Once again, the entry-level 3.3-liter makes 290 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, and the 2.7-liter packs 325 hp and 400 lb-ft. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost is now rated at 400 hp and 500 lb-ft.

The 2021 Ford F-150 also offers a turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 good for 250 hp and a whopping 440 lb-ft of torque. A 5.0-liter gas-fed V-8 is also available, doling out 400 hp and 410 lb-ft of twist. All new F-150s will pair with a 10-speed automatic transmission; gone is every vestige of the old truck’s six-speed automatic.

So, how does Ram compete? Instead of a full-blown hybrid, Ram offers its 48-volt “mild-hybrid” eTorque technology in its lineup. The 3.5-liter V-6 with eTorque delivers 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft. A turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 puts out 260 hp and an impressive 480 lb-ft of torque. A 5.7-liter V-8, also available with efficiency-boosting eTorque tech, makes 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. All of these Ram engines pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Chevrolet doesn’t have hybrid technology on the Silverado 1500, period. It does offer a relatively efficient and very smooth turbo-diesel 3.0-liter inline-six, which putters out 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, and it is unique in offering a four-cylinder engine. Yes, you read that right—the Silverado 1500 is available with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which makes a stout 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque. Chevy also sells a 4.3-liter V-6 (285 hp and 305 lb-ft), a 5.3-liter V-8 (355 hp and 383 lb-ft), and a 6.2-liter V-8 (420 hp and 460 lb-ft). Depending on the model, the Silverado comes with a six-speed, eight-speed, or 10-speed automatic transmission, and the V-8s offer a clever cylinder deactivation protocol to save some extra fuel with no impact on smoothness.

  • 3.3-liter V-6: 290 hp, 265 lb-ft
  • 2.7-liter V-6: 325 hp, 400 lb-ft
  • 5.0-liter V-8: 400 hp, 410 lb-ft
  • 3.5-liter V-6: 400 hp, 500 lb-ft
  • 3.0-liter V-6, diesel: 250 hp, 440 lb-ft
  • 3.5-liter V-6, hybrid: 430 hp, 570 lb-ft
  • 3.6-liter V-6 w/ eTorque: 305 hp, 269 lb-ft
  • 3.0-liter V-6, diesel: 260 hp, 480 lb-ft
  • 5.7-liter V-8 w/ or w/o eTorque: 395 hp, 410 lb-ft
  • 4.3-liter V-6: 285 hp, 305 lb-ft
  • 5.3-liter V-8: 355 hp, 383 lb-ft
  • 2.7-liter I-4: 310 hp, 348 lb-ft
  • 6.2-liter V-8: 420 hp, 460 lb-ft
  • 3.0-liter I-6, diesel: 277 hp, 460 lb-ft

F-150 vs. Silverado vs. Ram 1500: Towing

Ford’s twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 delivers the highest maximum towing capacity of any full-size light-duty pickup at 14,000 pounds. In second place is the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado, which can tow 13,300 pounds when paired with the 6.2-liter V-8. Meanwhile, Ram tops out at 12,750 pounds with the 5.7-liter V-8.

Modern light-duty full-size pickups can haul an awful lot of weight—so much so that the mere hundreds of pounds separating the capacities of the Big Three’s rigs is almost negligible. Still, Ford’s lead is nothing to scoff at. Some pickup drivers will enjoy the extra peace of mind that comes with having the highest tow ratings.

F-150 vs. Silverado vs. Ram 1500: Payload

Just like Ford creams its rivals with towing, it also achieves better payload ratings than any other full-size, light-duty truck. Payload capacity is as high as 3,325 pounds with the 5.0-liter V-8. That’s significantly better than the Ram 1500’s max payload rating of 2,300 pounds, achieved when paired with the 3.6-liter V-6. Chevrolet isn’t far behind Ram at 2,280 pounds.

F-150 vs. Silverado vs. Ram 1500: Pickup Bed

Point, Chevrolet. The Silverado 1500 offers more pickup-bed space than the new Ford and the Ram, no matter whether you pick the short, standard, or long box.

The 2021 Ford F-150 trails competitors with 53 cubic feet available in its short 5.5-foot bed. Compare that to Ram’s 54 cubic feet and Chevy’s 63. With the 6.5-foot bed, the Ford offers 62 cubic feet of space, on par with Ram’s standard bed, but falling behind Chevy’s 72 cubic feet. With the 8.0-foot bed, the F-150 offers 77 cubic feet of space, well behind Chevy’s 89 cubic feet. The new Ram doesn’t offer a long box.

So, who is the winner? It almost doesn’t matter, because we’ve yet to evaluate how the 2021 Ford F-150’s specs translate to real-world truck macho. Plus, we know that fans of Ford, GM, and Ram will cherry-pick whichever data points help them smack down their friends who drive competitive trucks.

Update: This story, originally published in June 2020, has been updated with new information related to the 2021 Ford F-150.


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