Towing Comparison With Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Part 2 - 2015 Ford F-150 Long-Term Road Test

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2015 Ford F-150: Towing Comparison With Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Part 2

May 14, 2015

2015 Ford F-150

In part one of our towing comparison between the 2015 Ford F-150 and 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, we talked towing stability. Here in part two, we compare power and fuel consumption. Which engine makes the most sense for pulling a roughly three-ton load: the Ram's 3.0-liter diesel V6 or the Ford's 2.7-liter gasoline V6? Dive in.

2015 Ford F-150

Power: Tie
First, this is a non-scientific comparison based solely on my experience towing similar loads in both trucks. But because it wouldn't be prudent to ignore them, here are the numbers:

  2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4x4 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel 4x4
Horsepower 325 240
Torque 375 420
Axle ratio 3.73 3.55
Manufacturer Tow Rating 8,100 7,660
SAE J2807 Certified Yes Yes*
GCWR 13,300 13,750**
As-Built Weight 5,160 5,877
***As-Built Tow Rating 7,840 7,573

*2015 model certified and is mechanically identical to our 2014 model
** 2015 Ram EcoDiesel GCWR
*** Includes standard 300 lb driver and passenger deduction

But it's the words that matter most here because the subtleties make a difference. Bottom line: this is a darned close match. Sure, the F-150 earns a marginally higher tow rating, but the truth is that the Ram's diesel does a lot right once hooked to a trailer.

My towing setup, which includes a trailer/car combo weighing about 6,000 pounds , a bed and cab full of spare parts and fuel (maybe another 500-650 pounds), and often two passengers, doesn't overburden either truck. Both can pull our local grades without feeling overworked.

On the surface, the Ford's 440 pounds of additional tow rating look menacing for the Ram. But the truth is that tow ratings are situational and depend greatly on the weight of the truck. And they're essentially equal to the truck's GCWR (gross combined weight rating), minus its own mass and the weight of any passengers and cargo. Do that math with these two and the Ford's 550-pound difference in certified tow rating is diminished to just 267 pounds. It's a difference that doesn't materialize in the driving, however.

From behind the wheel, the Ram never feels labored, even when loaded near or at maximum capacity. What the numbers don't explain is the overall experience of the powertrain. The Ram's eight-speed transmission (compared to the Ford's six-speed) and its huge shelf of torque make this my truck of choice for towing. Hit a hill and the Ram grunts along like nothing has changed.

It could be that its lower-revving engine simply removes any anxiety from the experience. And though it doesn't shift often, it also doesn't elevate my blood pressure when it reaches for a lower gear. There's a serene, stoic confidence here that reinforces what we already know about diesels.

The Ford's higher-revving V6 offers more top-end punch, however, which can be useful over a short distance. It will get you to the top of most hills sooner and the power genuinely reduces time required to make a pass, which diminishes risk in many situations. Some will prefer it.

Fuel Consumption and Cost: Advantage Ram
Here's where the Ram's diesel engine begins to make a lot of sense. For the sake of this comparison, I utilized tow data with both trucks towing the load described above: a fully loaded trailer, bed and cab. Both burdens were nearly identical.

Though Dan's trip last November was much longer, I used his best and worst tanks for comparison to my recent trip in the F-150. About 600 miles of towing were compared in each truck (601.9 miles in the Ram, 607.1 miles in the Ford).

Unsurprisingly, the Ram's diesel was significantly more efficient. It averaged 18.4 mpg while the F-150 averaged 13.5 mpg. But diesel typically costs more than gasoline, so it's the cost-per-mile that really matters. Considering the national average price-per-gallon of gasoline ($2.664) and diesel fuel ($2.854) as of May 4, the Ram's cost-per-mile is significantly lower than the F-150's: 15.6 cents vs. 19.7 cents, respectively.

That's a $410 difference over 10,000 miles of towing. Big enough to sway a purchase decision? Probably not for me when taken in isolation.

Next installment, we'll talk about the towing-specific features offered on each truck.

Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor


2015 Ford F-150

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