On the negative side of the ledger is Ford's aging all-V-8-engine lineup, which is composed of two- and three-valve 4.6-liters and a three-valve 5.4. SVT will bring a bigger 6.2 in the Raptor, and an EcoBoost V-6 is likely to join the lineup for folks who don't tow, but the diesel is on hold.
The base V-8 handily outruns and outhauls the V-6 Dodge, but sounds and feels strained doing so. Gearing that's a third shorter than the Dodge's kept our 5.4-liter 4x4 within 0.6 second of the big Dodge, but costs it at the pump, where both trucks averaged just 13.2 mpg over 500 miles of mixed driving. The new six-speed automatic features excellent tow/haul-mode programming (ordering downshifts with a tap of the brakes on downhill grades, holding lower gears, etc.), but in normal mode, it's lethargic to kick down, and there's no way to manually select the higher gears.
Both Fords tackled our off-road sand-loop with aplomb. The 4x4 transfer case engaged high-and low-range settings quickly and easily, with the message center confirming the shift was in process. We're disappointed, however, that there's no on-pavement AWD option as offered by Dodge and General Motors.
Coming into the final discussion, the Dodge and Ford were running close in the superiority category. In this price-sensitive market, neither truck held a tie-breaking advantage in the value category. The scales also looked level weighing the significance of Ford's high sales and model-range breadth against the game-changing nature of the Dodge suspension.
In the end, we accept the prediction that work trucks will come to dominate this segment and give the nod to the more capable, broader-reaching Ford in the closest vote in Truck of the Year history-and we sincerely hope neither company craps out when these dice come to rest.