Every new truck debut ignites a war of numbers, with fans feverishly comparing horsepower, torque, hauling capability, and—who knows?—maybe cupholder counts. Ford introduced the new 2021 F-150 this week, and even though it hasn’t released full specs for the truck, 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 high bar.
F-150 vs. Silverado vs. Ram 1500: Engines
Ford is already beating Ram and Chevrolet when it comes to maximum horsepower and torque figures (with the 450-hp F-150 Raptor). The Blue Oval hasn’t announced figures for the new F-150, but it is making big claims. A new hybrid variant, which combines a V-6 engine with a 47-hp electric motor, aims to deliver the most horsepower and torque of any light-duty, full-size pickup on the market—at least until Ram’s supercharged, 700-hp-plus TRX, its Raptor competitor, lands later this year.
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 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost, and a 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost. Output for these engines has not yet been announced, but we can look at the 2020 F-150 for guidance. On the outgoing model, the entry-level 3.3-liter made 290 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, and the 2.7-liter produced 325 ponies and 400 lb-ft of torque. The 3.5-liter was available in two versions, one making 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque and the other one delivering 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque.
Like its predecessor, the 2021 Ford F-150 will also offer a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6. In the old model, the diesel made 250 horsepower and a whopping 440 lb-ft of torque. A 5.0-liter gas-fed V-8 will be available once again; the old version pumped out 395 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. 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 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 3.0-liter diesel 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 diesel 3.0-liter inline-six, which putters out 277 horsepower 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 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque. Chevy also sells a 4.3-liter V-6 (285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft), a 5.3-liter V-8 (355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft), and a 6.2-liter V-8 (420 horsepower 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 new cylinder deactivation protocol to save some extra fuel with no impact on smoothness.
2021 Ford F-150
- 3.3-liter V-6: TBD hp, TBD lb-ft
- 2.7-liter V-6: TBD, TBD
- 5.0-liter V-8: TBD, TBD
- 3.5-liter V-6: TBD, TBD
- 3.0-liter diesel V-6: TBD, TBD
- 3.5-liter hybrid V-6: TBD, TBD
2020 Ram 1500
- 3.6-liter V-6 with 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
2020 Chevrolet Silverado
- 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 diesel I-6: 277 hp, 460 lb-ft
F-150 vs. Silverado vs. Ram 1500: Towing
Ford says it’s on target to deliver the highest maximum towing capacity of any full-size light-duty pickup. Currently, Chevrolet is leading Ford and Ram with a max towing capacity of 13,400 pounds. The Silverado 1500 achieves this rating when paired with the 6.2-liter V-8.
The outgoing 2020 F-150 could tow as much as 13,200 pounds with the 3.5-liter V-6. Meanwhile, Ram tops out at 12,750 pounds when paired with the 5.7-liter V-8. In case you’re missing the big picture here, 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.
Okay, we get it, no advantage is “negligible” in the truck wars. So, while Ford hasn’t released towing specs for most models in the 2021 F-150 lineup beyond its vague claim to ultimate towing supremacy, we do know that even the new hybrid will be able to tow at least 12,000 pounds. Buckle in for the final tally for the non-hybrid F-150.
F-150 vs. Silverado vs. Ram 1500: Payload
Just like Ford is planning to cream its rivals with towing, it also aims to achieve better payload ratings than any other full-size, light-duty truck. (Sensing a theme in Ford’s braggadocio?) Ford is already doing well with payload, with a max capacity of 3,270 pounds on the outgoing 2020 F-150. 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 2,250 pounds with the 4.3-liter V-6.
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 the 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, both because we’ve yet to evaluate how the 2021 Ford F-150’s specs translate to real-world truck macho and 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. Oh, and stay tuned as Ford releases more details on the 2021 F-150—these specifications are only the beginning.
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