A silver 2021 Ram TRX is shown from the rear at sunset after winning the 2021 Ram TRX vs 2020 Ford Raptor comparison.

2021 Ram TRX vs 2020 Ford Raptor: Which is the Ideal Pickup Truck for the Off-Roader?

The recently released 2021 Ram TRX has been receiving overwhelming acclaim for its off-road driving experience. By providing an enhanced system of performance features, Ram has been able to provide an overall drive that hadn’t been seen before in a pickup truck of its caliber, both on and off the road. But, when compared to an old fan favorite from the 2020 model year, how much better does the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX drive? The 2020 Ford Raptor is a pickup truck that had taken the off-road by storm last year, but has it finally met its match? Let’s take a look at the 2021 Ram TRX vs 2020 Ford Raptor and see who comes out on top.

Overall Performance

The overall performance in the 2021 Ram TRX has been a source of great acclaim for the pickup truck industry to date. It’s 6.2-liter HEMI engine has been a monster for performance; appropriately nicknamed the Hellcat, this engine is able to provide for a massive 702 hp. That’s nearly 250 hp more than the 2020 Ford Raptor is able to provide from its 3.5-liter V6 engine, which only produces 450 hp in comparison. This ultimately means that the 2021 Ram TRX will prove better in high-torque situations, such as steep inclines often found in the mountains or high sand dunes in the desert, which prove very difficult for normal pickup trucks.

That said, the 2020 Ford Raptor does have some very convenient perks when it comes to performance, such as its Trail Control system. By setting a velocity for the truck to maintain, the system will handle your braking and acceleration for you in each wheel individually. What this means is that for rugged, uneven terrain found off-road, the car will take over these functions so that you can focus on steering. Given that the off-road is incredibly unpredictable, this feature not only makes your drive more efficient but also safer than in pickup trucks without this kind of feature.

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX also offers a comparable Trail Control system of sorts, with eight Drive Modes meant to handle different terrain conditions. These are modes that set a maintained amount of torque to the front and back set of wheels, in order to better handle normally difficult terrain conditions. For example, the Rock Mode will provide a 50/50 split of higher torque to better scale mountainous conditions, as opposed to the Sport Modes 30/70 split for better control on paved roads. However, unlike the Raptor’s Trail Control, this is a simple split of torque and not a set velocity, meaning that you’re going to need to handle overall speed and steering.

A silver 2021 Ram TRX is off-roading and kicking up sand.

Reliability and Fuel Economy

One category that the 2020 Ford Raptor performed very well in was fuel economy. Compared to most of its competitors, the Ford Raptor ruled with a nearly 18 MPG gas mileage. Of course, fuel economy matters on the off-road just as much as on the highway or city. Afterall, you don’t want to be the sorry fellow that runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, and especially not in a remote off-road area that is difficult to reach. Luckily, the 2020 Ford Raptor has proven very well in fuel economy, making for an ideal used pickup truck.

Sadly, given that the addition to the model is so new, there isn’t very much information to go off for the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX as far as fuel economy goes. However, if the 2020 Ram 1500 is anything to base off of, then the TRX looks like it may be able to overshadow the 2020 Ford Raptor in fuel usage. Afterall, the 2020 Ram 1500 is one of the few pickup trucks released in 2020 that was able to beat the Ford Raptor in fuel economy, offering a fuel economy estimate of 15-22 MPG in the city and 21-32 MPG on the highway. That said, it looks like the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX will perform even higher in fuel economy than its previous addition, easily beating the 2020 Ford Raptor in the process.

Bang for Your Buck: How Does Price Factor?

A blue 2020 Ford Raptor is parked off-road on a rocky trail.

One of the biggest decisions between buying a used versus a new pickup truck is price. Sure, a new pickup truck has a lot of features, but if you’re not going to use those features, saving some money may be a better decision in the short-run. Likewise, a used pickup truck may be more affordable than a new truck, but buying used can often mean less efficient vehicles than the alternative. For example, the initial price may be lower, but adding in higher fuel usage per mile could cost more money than originally intended.

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX starts at about $71,000 at the base model, easily going up to $90,265 if you opt for the Launch Edition trim, which is currently sold out. This can seem like a very high price for most first time pickup truck buyers. Ultimately, it is a rather high price for a pickup truck on average, but the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is not an average pickup truck. Rather, it’s a utility vehicle built to excel in every encounter it faces, with the technology and build to deliver on this promise while costing more for a high-quality experience.

On the other hand, the 2020 Ford Raptor starts at about $53,455 at the base model, with mild increases depending on the exact trim. This, of course, is a very affordable price compared to that of the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, which can be expected of a generally used vehicle at this point. This does make its initial price more affordable, which is definitely ideal if you’re looking for a more casual vehicle.

However, performance must be taken into account as well, seeing that your truck is an investment aside from the initial purchase. Even though a truck might be more expensive, it could also be a better deal for you. In other words, solely based on torque, the TRX offers better performance for the price of your initial purchase than the Raptor would.

Fuel usage is the highest cost outside of the initial cost for a pickup truck, seeing that it will recur for your entire time owning the pickup truck. Although the fuel statistics for the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX haven’t been released, Ram’s 1500 model as a whole has shown a trend of better fuel usage than that of the 2020 Ford Raptor. In other words, it is also expected to be cheaper in gas usage to buy the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX than the 2020 Ford Raptor. Whether or not these costs will mean much is again left up to interpretation, but it could mean that driving off-road in a 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is cheaper in the long run than its competition.

So Which Is The Better Off-Road Pickup Truck?

The answer is that it depends on you as a driver. Are you going to drive off-road often and for a long time? If so, then the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX may be the better option for you because its engine is high-tailed for off-road performance, and it will save you money in the long-run. Are you more of a casual off-roader, only just getting into the hobby? Then the 2020 Ford Raptor may be more your speed, with a more beginner-friendly Trail Control mode and a lower initial price. So long as you enjoy your pickup truck, either of these trucks will deliver on their promise of an amazing off-road experience.