Dodge Ram vs. Ford F-150: Round two

Even before my Oct. 23 AutoworldToday hit the newsstands, controversy was brewing over which new pickup can lay claim to being the best.

Our review looked at the 2009 versions of the Dodge Ram and Ford F-150 half-ton trucks, each completely made over from the ground up.

As I was preparing that piece for the print edition, press releases began flooding electronic mailboxes from the Dodge and Ford marketing divisions, who were apparently burning the midnight oil following the Texas Auto Writers’ annual Texas Truck Rodeo Oct. 17-19.

Ford hit the wires first. Here is the opening portion of its release:

The new 2009 F-150 has been recognized as the one and only “Truck of Texas” by the Texas Auto Writers Association – the sixth consecutive year a Ford truck has won top honors.

Ford’s lineup of trucks also was named Truck Line of Texas, while the Ford Flex and Expedition King Ranch received top honors as CUV and SUV of Texas, respectively. Sweeping all four vehicle-centered top honors, Ford emerged the clear winner at this year’s TAWA Texas Truck Rodeo.”

“This is high praise, especially the coveted ‘Truck of Texas’ top prize,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s President of the Americas. “Texas Auto Writers are the toughest truck critics because they know firsthand and truly appreciate how core truck customers really use their pickups.”

Then Dodge produced this tidbit of information:

Voting after their annual Truck Rodeo, members of the Texas Auto Writers Association named the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 “Full-Size Pickup Truck of Texas,” giving Dodge honors over competitors from Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, Honda and Toyota.

“This is quite an honor,” said Mike Accavitti, Director, Dodge Marketing. “In a head-to-head competition, our game-changing all-new 2009 Dodge Ram un-seated the new Ford F-150, long considered the leader in the market. This is not only the best pickup truck we’ve ever built, it’s the best pickup on the market, period.”

So who’s No. 1?

AutoworldToday left readers kind of hanging as we reviewed the trucks separately, but as those venturing online to view the entire text pieces found out, Ford pitched its new truck against the competition in a variety of real-world scenarios including towing, hauling and durability testing.

During that time, we saw a clear and dominant winner emerge under the circumstances in which we were testing, and that leader was the 2009 Ford F-150.

We love the new Dodge for its styling (inside and out) and onroad handling, but when made to work like a truck it began showing some weaknesses. We also admire the new RamBox storage as quite unique and useful. However, when matched up against the Ford’s new tailgate step and boxside step, we give the nod to the Ford in this category as well.

I prefer the Dodge Laramie interior over the Ford Platinum edition, but many Texans (and yankees) will likely award “best interior” honors to any King Ranch Ford.

Rear seat head- and legroom is about even across both manufacturers’ crew cab models but the Ford features a flat load floor so they win this one as well.

And despite the Ram HEMI cranking out a lot more horsepower (as well as a heftier exhaust note), when combined with the five-speed automatic transmission Dodge offers it falls one tick short of Ford’s additional gear offering.

Our AutoworldToday nod goes to the 2009 F-150 from Ford. The Ram was close but in the end the Ford was more convincing.

Results released from the Texas Auto Writers group do not list individual scoring or the competitors in each class, only the winners. It also does not explain how the “title of Texas” winners differ from the individual category winners – and therein lies the confusing duel of press releases from the automakers. They can each lay claim to being the best of something while not having to say they are better than the other.

I hope that clears things up for you.

Up north, the Canadians saw things a little differently in their annual new vehicle competition, held around the same time as the Texas event.

The Automotive Journalists of Canada chose the 2009 Dodge Ram as their best new truck, edging out the Ford F-150 by a narrow margin. The Canucks actually list their class rankings, as well as judging results and points averages broken down by category.

While Ford beat Dodge in areas such as noise/vibration/harshness, quality, cargo and safety features scores, the new Ram won by besting F-150 with better scores for styling/appearance, throttle response, acceleration and braking. The models tested also had the Dodge coming in nearly $4,000 cheaper than the Ford.

For those of you interested, here are all of the class winners in the Texas Truck Rodeo competition:
Truck of Texas – 2009 Ford F-150;
SUV of Texas – 2008 Ford Expedition King Ranch;
CUV of Texas (new this year) – 2009 Ford Flex;
Truck Line of Texas – Ford;
Outstanding Feature – Dodge RamBox;
Fullsize Pickup Truck – 2009 Dodge Ram 1500, Laramie 4X4;
Midsize Pickup Truck – 2009 Toyota Tacoma D-Cab 4X4;
Luxury Pickup Truck – 2009 Ford F-150 King Ranch;
Heavy Duty Pickup Truck – Ford F-350 Cabela’s Edition;
Fullsize SUV – 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid;
Midsize SUV – 2008 Ford Explorer;
Compact SUV – 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara XSport;
Fullsize Luxury SUV – 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid;
Midsize Luxury SUV – 2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTEC;
Luxury CUV – 2008 Lincoln MKX;
Compact CUV – 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X;
Midsize CUV – 2009 Mazda CX-9;
Fullsize CUV – 2009 Ford Flex.

Categories: Autos, Reviews

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