Just a few months ago, we took a close look at how the newly-unveiled 2021 Ram 1500 TRX pickup fared with the previous title-holder of baddest truck on the lot: the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor. Especially when we factored in our exclusive performance testing, it was bad news for the outgoing Raptor.
With the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor’s arrival, the calculus changes once again. Let’s take a closer look at these two trucks, now that they’re both current, and see where they differ, and in what ways one might excel over the other.
Which Is Bigger—Ford F-150 Raptor or Ram 1500 TRX?
The new 2021 Raptor will only be available in a SuperCrew configuration, whereas the previous truck was also available in a shorter-wheelbase, stubbier-rear-door SuperCab arrangement. That means that the comparison with the 2021 TRX is even easier, since that truck is also available in only four-door crew-cab configuration. The trucks now both ride on a 145-inch wheelbase. Overall length between the two trucks is basically the same, at nearly 233 inches. Yet again, clearance lights are going to be required for the new Raptor, at 86.6 inches wide. The TRX comes it at just under 2 inches wider, but both are wide trucks.
F-150 Raptor Vs. Ram 1500 TRX: Towing and Payload
The 2021 Raptor improves on its predecessor in terms of do-work capabilities, gaining 200 pounds additional payload and towing capacity. That puts its total payload capacity at 1,400 pounds, and maximum towing at 8,200 pounds.
Despite the Raptor’s cylinder deficit—more on that in a bit—the Ford’s hauling performance ekes out a win over the TRX, which can only muster a payload of 1,310 pounds and a towing maximum of 8,100 lbs. If you’re wondering about bed cargo volume, it’s nearly a wash, too: 52.8 cubic feet for the Raptor versus 53.9 cubes for the TRX.
Which Is Bigger Inside—Ford F-150 Raptor or Ram 1500 TRX?
It’s a battle of inches here. Both trucks offer cowboy-hat-friendly headspace of roughly 41 inches, but the only significant variance inside is legroom. The TRX has a rear legroom advantage (45.2 inches versus the Raptor’s 43.6), and the Raptor has a front legroom advantage yet again—a full 3 inches, just like the 2020 model.
We want to spend some more time inside the new Raptor before reserving judgement, but beyond the specs it must be noted that the TRX has a class-leading cabin that’s both exceptionally comfortable and surprisingly luxurious. In terms of design, quality, and finishing, it’s second to none—part of the calculus in its 2021 MotorTrend Truck of the Year win, the full-size Ram lineup’s third win in as many years.
Which Is More Capable Off-Road—Ford F-150 Raptor or Ram 1500 TRX?
Differences start to appear if you option the new Raptor with the optional 37-inch tires—massive rubber usually only seen on built off-road rigs, not factory trucks. We were already impressed with the one-upmanship that led the TRX to beat the old Raptor’s diameter with standard 35-inch rubber.
While the standard tire on the Raptor is still a 35, that optional 37 makes a difference in the specs. Take ground clearance—Ford pegs the 37-inch-equipped Raptor at 13.1 inches, while the TRX makes do with 11.8. Approach, breakover, and departure angles all improve with the 37s to 33.1, 24.9, and 24.4 inches—beating the TRX (at 30.2, 23.5, and 21.9 respectively). We would not be surprised if Ram retaliated with a larger factory tire package.
Interesting, the aspect we weren’t able to fully quantify until we could off-road the two trucks side-by-side—the role the TRX’s novel five-link rear suspension and coil springs—is going to be more of an apples-to-apples comparison for the 2021 Raptor. That’s because it, too, adopts a new five-link rear suspension system unique in the F-150 lineup. The Raptor’s rear coil springs are a monumental 24 inches. That has implications for suspension travel.
The Raptor’s setup allows for 14 inches of front suspension travel and 15 inches of rear travel. (Those figures are reduced about an inch by the 37-inch tire option.) On the 35s, the Raptor bests the TRX’s 13 inches of travel front and rear, and has a slight advantage in rear travel on the 37s. How it actually operates in the rough stuff is an open question, but it couldn’t be any less capable than the outgoing model, could it?
The last time we compared the TRX with the Raptor, we noted the Raptor’s gear advantage: it’s got 10 of them still, compared to the eight forward speeds in the TRX. The rear ends are the same as last time, too—the TRX offers a 3.55 axle ratio, while the Raptor gets a shorter 4.10. In the same vein, the crawl ratio of the Raptor (determined by multiplying the ratios of first, low range, and axle) is also the same: 50.7:1, while the TRX’s figure is 44:1. As we noted last time, both of these trucks can’t touch dedicated off-road rigs, like the Ford Bronco (95:1 thanks to its ultra-low first gear) and the Jeep Wrangler (84:1).
Ford F-150 Raptor Vs. Ram 1500 TRX: Power And Weight
Ford is playing coy about horsepower figures, and that’s par for the course for the automaker upon first revealing a new vehicle these days. The figure will come out at a later date. But whatever it is, there’s no denying the Raptor has a disadvantage in cylinder count. While its 3.5-liter V-6 sports twin turbochargers, it’s up against a monster of a motor. The TRX has way more displacement—6.2 liters—two additional cylinders, and a supercharger. No matter how great the new Raptor ends up being, it almost certainly will lose the most primal of bragging rights: raw horsepower.
The 2020 Raptor’s similar V-6 made 450 hp at 5,000 rpm and 510 lb-ft at 3,500 rpm. Ford does say the 2021 model will bring more low-end torque to the table, but as far as peak numbers, it’s likely that it will only muster a modest increase in both figures since it’s using what amounts to a carryover powertrain.
So, the Raptor loses—bad—right? Not so fast. There is a more direct Blue Oval competitor on the horizon, as the rumored and spied V-8 Raptor comes into focus. The so-called Raptor R is on the way, and Ford has told us directly it’ll have a V-8 that will take the truck to “the next level.” When that happens, all bets are off.
Ford F-150 Raptor Vs. Ram 1500 TRX: Performance and Handling
Until we get a chance to test the 2021 Raptor, we can only rely on our test figures from the last go-‘round. And those numbers were a bloodbath for the 2020 Raptor. The current TRX slays the old Raptor in 0-60 time (4.1 seconds versus 6.0 seconds) and in the quarter-mile (14.7 seconds versus 12.7 seconds), but the Raptor pulled out a win in the skidpad … by a slim 0.02 g. But who brags about skidpad numbers with a whoop-hopping, dirt-bound truck?
The TRX’s go-fast superlatives deserve another look for emphasis. The quickest truck we’d ever previously tested was—improbably—a Toyota Tundra. Specifically, the ’08 model with a TRD supercharger, which churned to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds and ran the quarter in 13 seconds even. The TRX would leave it in the dust. There’s little chance the 2021 Raptor will gain on the TRX in any of these metrics, but we’re looking forward to the eventual TRX versus Raptor R drag race.
The TRX is offered with a 3.55 axle ratio compared to the Raptor’s shorter 4.10 rear end. And the Raptor has 10 gears to row through, compared to the TRX’s eight, although the ratio spread is otherwise similar. More pertinent to off-roaders is the crawl ratio (determined by multiplying the ratios of first, low range, and axle). Both offer 2.64:1 low-range ratios. Doing the math, the TRX’s crawl ratio is 44:1, and the Raptor’s is 50.7:1. Slight edge to the Raptor, but note that these are well shy of the crawl ratios offered by more dedicated off-road vehicles like the upcoming Ford Bronco (up to 95:1 thanks to its ultra-low first gear) and the Jeep Wrangler (84:1).
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