• 2017 Ford F-250 vs 2017 Ram 2500: Which HD Work Truck is the MPG Champ?


    The base model 2017 Ford F-250 and the 2017 Ram 2500 came to us with very few options, rear-drive only and both trucks have gas engines. In this way, we were able to procure the least expensive versions of these trucks. Our TFLtruck viewers has asked for bare-bones trucks to be featured for some time. Automakers tend to send us their most expensive trucks, which can breach the $70,000 mark.

    Featured recently in a Ford vs Ram drag race, the 2017 Ford F-250 and 2017 Ram 2500 now battle it out for MPG supremacy.

    Both trucks were tested at the same time. While one truck is saddled with our 12,500 lbs trailer, the other will drive completely unladen. Once we complete the 98-mile loop, we switch the trailer to the other truck. This way, both trucks will run on the same day on the same highway with the same real-world conditions.

    As we previously mentioned: “These two trucks are as closely matched as we can get them. The 2017 Ram 2500 has a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 that makes 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. The 2017 Ford F-250 has a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 385 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. Both trucks use a 6-speed automatic transmission that feeds the rear wheels. Neither vehicle is equipped with a four-wheel drive (4WD) system.”

    In this video, we give you our MPG data on the spot – and the numbers may surprise you.


    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

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    62 thoughts on “2017 Ford F-250 vs 2017 Ram 2500: Which HD Work Truck is the MPG Champ?

    1. 16 mpg is pretty good for a heavy duty truck no matter what brand. Towing numbers were not to bad either. I can see if Ford tweaked the 6.2L for the F150 it would be pretty darn good.

      1. The F250 was right around 2,000 rpm on 6th (top gear) at 70 MPH towing. Both trucks used 4th, 5th, and 6th gears to maintain speed on slight uphills on this highway loop. However, Ford has a tendency to go to higher gear sooner. The Ram tends to hold to a selected gear a little longer. For example, when cresting a hill. The Ford tries to go to 5th and 6th a little sooner. The Ram would hold 4th or 5th a bit longer.

        Andre.

        1. Thanks. I would have never guessed it would have even attempted 6th gear. Moving from gear to gear when towing is expected with gas. That’s where manual mode is nice. Just holds the gear you want. If you slow down to much up a hill just downshift

    2. I think you guys had a hard day because you made an awsome video. Very useful to a lot of business owners.

      I think it is very likely that Ford is getting more engine power to the ground if you dyno test them

      The Ram is likely losing mpg and lost the race due to losses in the system more so than the Ford. I assume the type of tire and air pressure was similiar.

      Can TFL give us the final drive ratio’s?

      Nice video

      1. Assuming the trucks tested were the same ones used for the 0-60 drag race.
        Axle ratios are….
        Ford = 3.73, Ram 4.10

      2. I’m not sure about that. What are these trucks rated at in towing? It seems to me that maybe the Ram has a higher towing capacity. I think I heard Andre mention a 4:10 rear? Point is if the Ram is rated at a higher towing capacity then the gearing is shorter and will tow more weight but keep revs up higher therefor less fuel economy.

        Anyone know what the tow ratings are for both these trucks?

        1. So this is interesting. The ram is rated for 16,320 towing . But, and I mean but, the ram GCWR is 22,800. That leaves 6200 left. But you have to add the weight of the truck in there to. At least 6,000 lbs. You can in no way tow 16,000 lbs with the ram. Unless I am missing something.

          The Ford is rated with 3:73 gears 13,300 but a GCWR of 19,500. That also leaves 6,000lbs left. Pretty much truck weight. If you add the 4:30 gears, GCWR goes up to 28,700 and 14,000 towing. Much better configuration. Fyi the ram has 3:73 gears to and the GCWR is 19800.

    3. Nathan and Andre – Good video, as always…

      But for me, the real result was not the MPG of either truck, whether empty or towing.
      The real result was that the Ram had less sag upon trailer-connect and that the Ram felt more sure-footed and planted when towing.

      I recently got a new Ram 2500, and was wondering if all those control arms needed to support coil springs, which give a great ride when empty, would also have a stability advantage (which I didn’t expect), — and I guess you proved that it does.

      For me, the MPG differences were so small so as to be inconsequential in he real world.

      ======================

      1. To be fair the sag was under an inch difference and they said there may be a slight advantage to the ram because of less sag. So it seems both towed the trailer well. Plus in other comparison test the Ford road better loaded and unloaded out of the 3 trucks. That is most important when you compare comfort and towing ability.

        1. Jimmy – – –

          At 1:30 min into the video, Andre measured the Ford as squatting ~ 3.5 inches; and the Ram as squatting ~2.75 inches at 5:35 min into the video. You are right: that is less than an inch worth of difference and would not have mattered much if they both used leaf-packs (ie., Hotchkiss rear end).
          But with multiple control arms and coils, — and the additional coil-spring travel-depth,— the Ram did show better stability and accommodation of the tow-load.
          And that matters A LOT to me, not the MPG stuff. Just bought a Ram 2500 diesel, and, completely empty, the thing just floats over bumps and RR tracks like no previous truck I have ever owned. When I have about 1500 lbs in the back, it rides even better. But I am concerned about the long-term reliability and endurance of the Coils + Control arms, and I don’t know about maintenance issues along the way in my typical 20-year ownership of trucks.

          =======================

          1. In the putc test the ram sank more under max load. Since this load was in the middle it just shows that the Ford was more in the comfort spot vs into the max load spot. So we can take it for what it is but with so much suspension travel they will never be equal. Plus under max load they said the Ford was the best for handling. Kent was on that panel to along with several other judges. When it comes down to it, both trucks handled the load well.

            Now as far as your concerned about coils, I won’t pretend I have a clue on how Ram has their coils manufactured but you look at any Ford truck newer than 1995ish, they have coils upfront. Properly designed and manufactured they can hold up with ease. Rear coils are a little different because of then load they are to support and maintain comfort to some degree. You typically have a comfort spot and then a spot for supporting heavy load. Variable rate springs. I would be more concerned about bushing wear with all the links in the back. But that’s just me. I see bushing wear on our medium duties with air ride. They are 18,000 lbs with 11,000 on the rear.

          2. The coils springs themselves and control arms I would not be too worried about-unless Ram messed something up-they tend to be very reliable. They have been used for a very long time in many similar applications.
            Bushings however will inevitable wear out. Hopefully ram has done a better job on their new linkages than they did on the front end of the 2nd gen trucks. Having said that, swapping out bushing at 100K should not be too big of an ordeal and I would expect that other than that the system should hold up well.

    4. Like I’ve said before you guys are not accounting the 450+ weight difference between the two.
      As fuel mileage these two trucks are pretty much what I get with my v-10, maybe slightly more on the highway. At 2010 when v-10 was dropped out of the SD line up the gas mileage didn’t hardly improved that much with a smaller engine and now a lighter truck. This might be a disappointment to me. I just don’t know.

      Good video guys.

      1. Marc, when it comes to HWY mpg weight has little difference. Driveline efficiency and drag coefficient really are key players. Same as tire rolling resistance. If they would take that same weight and be just flat stock on a flat bed trailer, mpg would improve. If they would take 1/2 the weight out of the trailer I bet mpg would change very little. Trailer drag really plays a part in towing. Especially at 70 mph.

        1. Jimmy – – –

          J: “Driveline efficiency and drag coefficient really are key players.”

          The drive-line losses in trucks have been pretty much constant for 30 years or so: 15% for automatics; 10% for manuals. Not much change there, but we’ll have to see how the Ford (and Chevy) 10-speeds shake out long-term in actual loss-reduction.
          (I don’t consider more gear ratios as part of the drive-line loss calculation: example – – given a specified gear, what are the parasitic losses of the transmission, U-joints, drive shaft, differential, and wheel bearings?)

          But in drag coefficient, you bring up a key issue. Truck OEM’s are only now earnestly beginning (for about 5-7 years) to study causes and factors for fuel-mileage related drag-effects, although the 1994 Ram “Big Rig” design did have front-end drag reduction as a goal.

          So far as I have read, here are five pickup-truck sources of aerodynamic drag, in approximate order of contribution (if my failing memory still works):
          1) Front End/Windshield Base
          2) Undercarriage/axles
          3) Wheel wells/tires
          4) Box/tailgate
          5) Side Mirrors/antennas

          Some, like the Ram, continue with better air management at the front, 1); others, like the Nissan, ie more extensive underbody panels to address undercarriage drag, 2). Almost everyone uses a front air-dam to minimize undercarriage airflow, also to address 2). Experiments are now being done to improve the aerodynamic factors of rolling tires**, and moving wheels (“rims”) ,addressing 3).

          A recent study (2011) attempted to focus on roof-line tapering and tailgate “spoiler” to address just 4) above, and did show some convincing data and dynamic flow plots to prove they would help — but only slightly (IMO), — and no experimental work to establish a relationship with fuel mileage is provided :
          http://people.cst.cmich.edu/yelam1k/asee/proceedings/2011/DATA/7-155-1-DR.pdf

          Ans earlier study (1999) was more comprehensive, but went after add-on accessories that a user could incorporate to reduce drag and improve fuel milage, — using with actual measurements, not just theory. It makes fascinating reading…
          http://csus-dspace.calstate.edu/bitstream/handle/10211.9/169/combined-finished.pdf

          So, drag reduction in something as ungainly in design as a pickup truck is not simple, and it’s not surprising that sedans were addressed first: they are a “piece of cake” by comparison!

          —————
          ** This different from “low-rolling resistance”, which is a structural change INSIDE the tire.
          —————

          ===========================

          1. Bernie, I saved your links so I can read them later. Building a house leaves me little time for that kind of reading but it does intrigue me for sure. Aerodynamics really plays a key roll in design and fuel economy. You mentioned tail gates, you can see a trend of making them bigger by curving out the back to reduce drag. Look at tractor trailers and them adding the 4 panels on the back to make a come to reduce drag. My motor home gets 8.5-9.0 mpg towing my 3500 lb car or not. The only difference I can tell is acceleration in the city. I put much on this as the car has low rolling resistance and once going it has little affect plus the car will cut some of the drag.

          2. Although what you say has merit, look at the f250 compared to the Ram. It’s a cornflakes box! The Ram is an F-18 in comparison.

            The Hemi is way more efficient than the Ford so what’s going on?

            It’s all in the gearing. The Ram with a 4:10 can tow almost 4000# more than the Ford so this is not an even apples to apples comparison. The Ram with the 3:73 should have been chosen for this comparison. It would tow less than 16000# like the Ford and would get greater fuel economy. By a lot. I hope we can see that one day. Now it’s like comparing a Honda civic fuel mileage towing an 1500# trailer to a f150 towing 1500# trailer. Guess which will have the better fuel economy? If you picked civic, you’re starting to understan this.

        2. Ok Jimmy Johns let me put 450 lb ruck on your back and one that has no weight. Let me know if you think of the two are same efficient and same drag? I think some people will be intrigued on your answer.

          1. Marc, this comes from years of towing. I never said city driving. This is where extra weight can have an affect. Your 450 weight comment is way off. You need to figure the % number based on my weight bs the truck weight. I make a little less HP than a Superduty. For instance, if the Superduty weighs in at 6,000lbs, it is around 7% savings in weight. I’m 6’1″ and 240. 7% will be 16lbs. Hardly anything considering i curl reps using 40lb weights per arm.

            1. Still even 450 lb is net plus as far as I’m concern. As for towing this also give advantage to the Ford.

            2. Yes with Ford saving weight it can be added back into the payload and towing numbers.

      2. What do you mean “accounting for”? Like they should add that weight to the Ford? If so, I heartily disagree. They’re comparing two trucks doing the same “job” (pulling the same trailer and driving the same miles). The weight savings are an inherent advantage that Ford built into their trucks.

    5. As always, appreciate the all the hard work of the TFL crew. I have been confused ever since Ram switched to rear coils. They got rid of the 5 link front end only to put it in the rear. I have a 2003 Ram 2500 4×4 hemi reg cab with 300000kms and a front end with most of the parts 3rd generation. The Hemi has been a dream. Why would I buy a modern Ram with two front ends and the maintenance that goes with that? As a Masonry contractor I have no need for fancy interiors and touch screens. Just a better truck with less maintenance and longer lasting parts. Just not sure I’m getting that with the new trucks. Anybody have any thoughts on this. Thanks TFL for testing the work trucks. For tradespeople these trucks are literally our livelihoods and one of our most important tools. Without it the job does not get done. Thanks again.

      1. RG Nevada – – –

        R: “Why would I buy a modern Ram with two front ends and the maintenance that goes with that? As a Masonry contractor I have no need for fancy interiors and touch screens. Just a better truck with less maintenance and longer lasting parts. Just not sure Iā€™m getting that with the new trucks. Anybody have any thoughts on this.”

        1) What added maintenance goes with the multilink /coil rear end? Just curious.
        2) Agree on all the fancy stuff. Just bought a Ram 2500 Diesel, and I am amazed (and disappointed) at all the touchscreen and electronic irrelevance that came with it. Just wanted a simple new HD with a manual transmission and not electro-gadgets.
        3) Thoughts? Yeah.
        …a) For full-size trucks, I am afraid we’re almost out of luck except for really low-end work trucks, like that red “Work Ram” that TFL has featured. Up from that, they have become family vehicles and daily drivers, and that means “fancy” or they won’t sell, since no OEM is going to risk a no-frills truck for
        the suburban market.
        …b) For mid-size, the Frontier can be had as a no-frills alternative, and its soaring sales tell you that others agree, which may explain why Nissan has continually delayed its updating. I also have a 2010 Frontier and couldn’t be happier with it. Nice truck, for its designed purpose with limited hauling and towing.

        ========================

    6. I’ve been waiting for quite a while for some numbers. Thank you.

      Point of interest: if you take the $2.20 PG gas / 8.6 MPG compared to the diesel cost of $2.55 PG diesel / 10.05 MPG with the same trailer and weight is nearly an identical $0.25 per mile
      (understanding fuel prices are different in different parts of the country, and the 2 tests were months apart and many other variables)

      Great info. Thx again.

      1. BigMe – – –

        Where are you located?

        Here (upstate WI), Shell diesel for “Big Gray” = $2.59; and Shell V-Power (that I use for my other gas trucks) = $3.19.
        That would not work out as “nearly an identical $0.25 per mile” in this area, as you suggested.

        ==========================

        1. Central California. I was just using the figure from TFL’s two separate fill ups on the two videos.

          I just finished a 4000 mile trip that included Ca, NV, UT, WY, SD & CO and the prices were all over he place on the interstate. For the most part unleaded 87-88 was typically a little cheaper.

          Definitely not an all encompassing statement.

    7. Please include fuel tank size in these MPG reviews. 10MPG with a 24 gallon tank like the Tundra is vastly different than 10 MPG with Fords 36 gallon tank.

    8. Nice empty mpg. My 2013 f150 6.2l get about the same mileage if I take it easy. I definitely did not expect that good of numbers unloaded from a 3/4 ton
      Also curious which truck rode better unloaded?

    9. I actually had to look at trying to spec out a heavy-duty truck (550/5500; not 250/2500) as a fish hauler for work at a trout hatchery that’s under a federal agency, and through a recommendation by several individuals from our partner state agency who has both brand identical trucks, the last time around we spec’d one out, we tried to get the Ram, because the state agency folks said, while both very good trucks, the Ram sticks in the road better for them like a go cart. And after having ordered and received one and operated one hauling fish, I’d have to agree and don’t see how anything could handle in the road better than that Ram 5500. I tried to get the boss to consider gas power, due to all the trouble we’ve had with diesel emission issues 2007+ and the issues our partner state agency has had also with all diesel engine brands, and I think it would be worth paying the extra in fuel. But at any rate, we’ve got the 6.7 Cummins and so far so good, but the state driver that comes in to us each day with an F800 and the same engine has had his truck in the shop probably 15 times in the last two years; most of it engine related. I don’t think this is a brand-specific problem. I think it’s a technology trying to catch up with emission rules problem like gas vehicles had in the late 70s and up to the mid 80s. And, even as a huge diesel proponent for light and heavy vehicles, I’m not for the current products out there today. The diesel manufacturers need a few more breakthroughs to simplify emission compliance and wish we had a Ram 5500 with a gas engine despite the FE handicap. We’re spec’ing out a new one, and this time it’s tougher to try to get a Ram, because the 2017 F550 now has equal torque. Also, we don’t know, since Ford supposedly took weight they saved in the body and put it down lower, it could be just as stable in the road, but we’re going with what we know and going to try to get a Ram even though their specs are dang near identical. I think we specified I6 engine and are justifying it by maintenance requirements.

    10. Made a day trip yesterday in the Chevy 3500 CC DRW. The trip was flat interstate in Florida for 398 miles total with 550 lbs. in passengers and cargo. The cruise was set at 80 with some time spent at 85. The computer said 12.4 and my calculations at the pump were 13 on the nose. This is only the second time since new I have travelled at such high speed and the mileage has improved 1.5 mpg. The engine is the 6.0 gas with 17,000 on the clock and it just keeps getting better.

        1. The only other time I ran at that speed was with 3000 on the clock and was averaging 11.1 mpg so I slowed to 74 mph or less for the rest of the trip.

    11. This is yet another misleading test!!!

      According to the 2017 figured I got off the Ford website this f250 can tow between 12000 and 13000 lbs.

      The Ram with the 4:10 can tow between 16000 and 16500.

      This is a totally different class range. Obviously the Ram will be raving higher because of its 4:10 and will therefor take more gas. The upside is that you can tow nearly 4000# more!!

      It’s should be a totally no brained that the f250 is better at towing in mpg but that’s because it simply can’t tow as much as the Ram.

      To have a fair test you should have picked the Ram without the 4:10 with the 3:73 instead. Then you would have apples to apples comparisons.

      You guys always do stuff like this! It’s very misleading! Now all your viewers are mislead into believing that the f250 is more fuel efficient but really it isn’t. It’s not being compared to the Ram 2500 that has similar specs. Someone who tows 12000# will not be cross shopping with a truck that tows over 16000#

      1. Optimus, this is my Comment above on this very matter

        So this is interesting. The ram is rated for 16,320 towing . But, and I mean but, the ram GCWR is 22,800. That leaves 6200 left. But you have to add the weight of the truck in there to. At least 6,000 lbs. You can in no way tow 16,000 lbs with the ram. Unless I am missing something.

        The Ford is rated with 3:73 gears 13,300 but a GCWR of 19,500. That also leaves 6,000lbs left. Pretty much truck weight. If you add the 4:30 gears, GCWR goes up to 28,700 and 14,000 towing. Much better configuration. Fyi the ram has 3:73 gears to and the GCWR is 19800.

        1. That’s exactly right, 22800 – 6800 = 16 000 # towing.
          You just proved that the Ram can tow 16000# )))))

        2. I just checked the f250 with the 4:30 has a GCVWR of 22000# not 28700 thats a f350 diesel not F250.

          Also with that config, 4:30 and gas V8 the max towing is 15000# which is more than 1000# less than this Ram. So either way the Ram is definitely the tow champ but this fuel mpg is misleading. The 3:73 would be way more fuel efficient than a 4:10. For obvious reasons. And it tows 4000# more.

          For this comparison to be fair and representative we need a Ram with a 3:73 rear end or a Ford with a 4;30 rear end.

    12. I see what you’re doing, you want to load the truck to GVWR but that is not how GCVWR is calculated. To tow the maximum amount your truck needs to be empty. To tow the minimum amount your truck needs to be loaded. The Ford is geared for 12000# towing and is therefor not in the same class as the Ram who’s tow rating is 16000#

      1. You don’t get it, the GCWR is maximum weight with trailer. You cannot go beyond that weight limit. GVWR is the max truck weight. Which both trucks are 10,000 GVWR trucks. with the Ram you cannot tow 16,000 lbs. you have no room for tongue weight or people. Same as the 3:73 Ford. But if you purchased the F250 with 4:30 gears, not only would performance improve, you could actually tow advertised weight with people and load the bed.

        Your also wrong on the weight rating. F250 with 4:30 gears shows 28700 GCWR. It is also obvious by the tfl test the ram cannot handle 16,000 lbs. it barely made it up the hill with 12,000 lbs.

    13. I went to fleet.ford.com and they show 22,000 for the Ford and 4:30 gears. If you base it of that number which is more likely than what is listed on Ford.com, the F250 is still in a better position to tow max weight

    14. Jimmy, That is not how max towing is calculated.
      Max towing is GCVWR – weight of empty truck. Obviously if the truck is loaded to gvwr, then a minimum tow capacity is obtained. So in other words an empty truck can tow way way more and a fully loaded truck always to respect GCVWR.
      The info for the Ford comes from ford’s very own pdf
      17RV&TT_Ford_SuperDtyPU_r2_Sep29 (1).pdf
      Look at the section f250 with 6.2 and 4:30 you will find 22000# GCVWR also you will see max towing for various models ranging from 13000# to 15000#
      The Ram out tows the Ford by a health 1000# even with ford’s 4:30 rear.
      So this comparison is misleading. The Ram is a much stronger truck capable of towing 4000# more (about) while the Ford has a more fuel efficient set up. To compare apples to apples either the Ram needs a 3:73 or the Ford gets a 4:30.
      Andre please let’s see a rematch.

      1. Please tell me your not that dumb. GCWR {gross combined weight rating} is max weight for truck and trailer combined. The same your trying to say. The ram cannot handle more weight that 12,000 lbs towing as just seen in these videos.

    15. Are you guys going to be doing a Ike Gauntlet tow test with the F-250, 6.2L gas motor with 4:30 gears in a 4×4 test. You have done the Chevy and the Ram please advise. THANKS

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