RAM 1500 vs. Toyota Tundra

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - October 15, 2018

The all-new RAM 1500 remains a classic American pickup – tough, brawny, and a little intimidating. But that doesn't mean it's uncivilized. Some buyers will appreciate the 1500's ride and styling just as much as its ability to work hard. The Toyota Tundra may not enjoy the RAM's tough-guy image, but it certainly performs like a full-size pickup should. It's a well-rounded truck with the power and capacity that buyers in this segment prize. How does the Tundra measure up to a stalwart like the RAM 1500? Let's find out.

See a side-by-side comparison of the 1500 & Tundra »

What the RAM 1500 Gets Right

RAM trucks have always impressed us with their huge array of trims and equipment. The 1500 can serve like a yeoman, bowl over passengers with luxury, or do both equally well. No matter how it's equipped, the 1500 offers a well-trimmed interior, a pleasant ride, and refined road manners.

The RAM 1500 starts out with a 3.6-liter V6 equipped with eTorque, a hybrid assist that results in an EPA rating of 22 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, or 21 mpg combined with four-wheel drive. Despite the two mpg gain over last year, output is unchanged at 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. Properly equipped, the V6 RAM 1500 can tow up to 7,750 pounds.

Most models carry a 5.7-liter V8 with 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. That's enough grunt to allow the RAM 1500 to pull up to 12,750 pounds. The eTorque setup is optional on V8 models, where it bumps efficiency from 17 mpg to 19 mpg combined. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

What the Tundra Gets Right

Toyota's Safety Sense suite of active safety features is now standard on the Tundra, which means every example comes with automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beams, and adaptive cruise control. In crew cab form, the Tundra boasts one of the largest back seats of any vehicle we've ever tested. Like the RAM, the Tundra rides very smoothly for this class.

The standard 4.6-liter V8 offers 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque, which bests the RAM's base engine. The optional 5.7-liter V8 puts out 381 hp and 401 lb-ft or torque. Towing capacity reaches 10,400 with the larger engine. All models use a six-speed automatic transmission.

The EPA rates the Tundra at 16 mpg combined with the 4.6-liter engine and rear- or four-wheel drive. The 5.7-liter comes in at 15 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive, or 14 mpg with four-wheel drive.

The Bottom Line

There's very little difference between these big pickups in everyday driving. Towing is a different matter. With a trailer behind it, the Tundra doesn't feel as stable and confident as the RAM 1500. We could overlook that subjective difference if not for the Tundra's thirst for fuel and outdated six-speed transmission. An eight-speed unit like the RAM's would surely improve efficiency and probably performance as well.

Our Verdict: RAM 1500

Buyers who want a pickup for both work and pleasure will find the RAM 1500 more satisfying to own.

Take a closer look at the RAM 1500 »

Take a closer look at the Toyota Tundra »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.