Dodge Ram 250
Keywords: Dodge Ram 250
Description: Read about the comparison between the Ford Super Duty F-250 and the Dodge Ram 2500 from the automotive experts at Motor Trend.
rescued itself from pickup purgatory in ’94, with the introduction of its all-new, way-bold Ram trucks. Part of the appeal came from the availability of two unique powerplants: the immensely popular Cummins turbodiesel and the world’s first V-10 to be offered in a light-duty truck. This 8.0-liter torquemeister has become a favorite of the tow truck and fifth-wheel trailer crowd.
But it’s that gets to make the big news this time, and we mean big. Rather than attempting to equip the F-150 up to 1-ton-and-beyond spec, the Blue Oval gang pulled out a clean sheet of paper and drew a completely fresh truck platform. It’s available now as the ’99 Super Duty and can be had in F-250, 350, 450, and F-550 ratings, in two- and four-wheel-drive form, and in a dizzying array of more than 70 cab and bed configurations. Among the engine offerings is Ford’s own Triton V-10, which debuted last year in the Econoline van. It seemed only natural to hitch up a load and find out who sits atop the V-10-power hill.
We spec’d out 3/4-ton versions of each, with the normal complement of options and accessories. Even though the Dodge was an extended-cab version and our Ford was not, the weights and payload ratings are quite close. The Dodge Magnum V-10 is an overhead-valve design, delivering 300 horsepower at 4000 rpm and 440 pound-feet of torque. Ford’s Triton V-10 goes the high-tech route, with a single overhead cam layout and alloy heads. It checks in a bit smaller at 6.8 liters, serving up 275 horsepower at 4250 rpm, and 410 pound-feet of torque. Both of our testers were equipped with four-speed automatic transmissions. Based on these ratings, you’d figure the Dodge to be the walkaway winner, right? Not so fast, Torque Man.
When the smoke on our test track cleared, these V-10 contenders turned in virtually identical acceleration numbers. But unladen standing-start acceleration is not the be-all/end-all answer when it comes to trucking; pulling a load separates the workers from the loafers.
Neither truck even broke a sweat towing our borrowed 20-foot Four Winns boat and trailer, which weigh about 4000 pounds total. Our passing-acceleration tests were performed on smooth pavement with a grade that varied between 6 and 8 percent. Here, the Ford demonstrated that cubic inches may indeed not be everything, significantly besting the Dodge in 30-50- and 40-60-mph passing times. The Triton’s wider rev range often allowed the Ford to operate at the higher end of a lower gear. For example, a stomp on the gas pedal at 30 brought a shift to first gear and a surge of acceleration in the Ford, while the Dodge remained in second gear, churning at lower revs. This also explains why the smaller-displacement Ford was able to match the Dodge’s unladen acceleration times. But part-throttle acceleration, without a downshift, still felt a tad stronger in the Dodge.
Handling, braking, and ride quality are quite similar in both trucks, though here again, the newer Ford platform ekes out an edge. Four-wheel disc brakes contribute to good modulation and fade-free stopping power, and the Super Duty’s suspension felt a bit more polished than the Dodge’s-hence its quicker time through our slalom test. It also offers up a smoother ride. But both are light-years ahead of what you’d have found in a 3/4-ton truck of just a decade ago.
When the new Ram was introduced, it was lauded for its exceptional cab room and comfort. Nothing has changed that, though the Super Duty meets it, and in fact ups the ante a bit. The cutdown doors allow for exceptional visibility and mirror usage, while the dash and controls are as user friendly as those in the F-150. The interior of the Super Duty Crew Cab, which was not part of this test but was examined in detail at the new truck’s introduction, seems larger than some motel rooms we’ve occupied.
We have no reason to expect the Ram’s popularity to wane, as it is a supremely comfortable, capable truck for heavy-duty work or play. But Ford‘s new Super Duty is super, indeed, setting a new standard for V-10 truck performance and big-truck sophistication. For about $28,000 well-equipped, you can hitch up either of these trucks and move ’em out.