Today’s very special Would You Rather? Blue Truck Edition concerns two pickups that exemplify the different paths of their respective automakers. Ram, late of Fiat Chrysler, now Stellantis, brings us the TRX, a 702-horsepower desert-running brute that we clocked at 3.7 seconds to 60 mph. Its natural blue-oval rival is the Ford Raptor, which we’ve already concluded is not up to this particular challenge. But what about a different F-150 variant, the PowerBoost, aka the F-150 Hybrid? That one is also a very quick truck, and one that has some novel capabilities, thanks to a 7.2-kW onboard generator. One of these trucks could jump over your house, and one of them could power it during a blackout. Which would you rather have?
The TRX is designed for kickin’ ass and drinkin’ fuel, and it’s all out of fuel. No, really, it’s often low on gas, because real-world mileage dips into the single digits—when we tested it, we averaged 9 mpg overall. That 33-gallon tank runs dry in a hurry. It’s pretty on-the-nose, then, that the TRX is named after a dinosaur (that would be the Tyrannosaurus rex, seen reppin’ in various Easter Eggs on the truck), given the imminent extinction of this kind of powertrain. But if the truck does one thing badly (fuel economy in the case of the TRX; slapping high-fives during the Late Cretaceous for its namesake) it does almost everything else really well.
The F-150 PowerBoost, by comparison, earns an EPA combined rating of 24 mpg. Its 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack isn’t huge, but it’s enough to enable regular sojourns to electric propulsion. Normally, if you see your truck’s tachometer drop to zero while driving 45 mph, you’ve got a big problem. With the F-150 PowerBoost, that’s just part the powertrain’s scheme to maximize your MPG.
The TRX is the more powerful truck, but not by as much as you might think. The Ram’s 702 horsepower is, of course, a very tall stack of horses, whether compared to the Ford’s 430 horsepower or any other truck. But the torque delta is lot narrower. The TRX makes 650 pound-feet at 4800 rpm, while the PowerBoost (3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, paired with a 47-hp electric motor) hits 570 pound-feet at only 3000 rpm. The Ford also has two additional gears in its transmission and weighs 1072 pounds less than the Ram.
Which means that, when you roll on the throttle at low RPM, the TRX doesn’t necessarily feel outrageously stronger than the F-150, no matter what its shrieking supercharger is telling you. The hybrid F-150’s impression of easy power and quick responses is underscored by our 5-to-60-mph test, which is designed to give an idea of real-world acceleration without a vicious drag-strip launch. In that test, the Ram’s zero-to-60 time increases by 0.9 second, to 4.6 seconds, while the F-150’s time increases by only 0.4 second, to 5.9 seconds. Victory to the Ram, sure, but the electrified F-150 is still a really quick truck.
Off road… well, do I really need to explain this? Just look at the TRX. If you added big plastic ears and a tail, it could probably stand in for Monster Mutt at the next Monster Jam show without anyone noticing a difference. The TRX has 35-inch tires, 11.8 inches of ground clearance and can ford 32 inches of water. Its Bilstein suspension is made for big air and its electronic off-road modes include a “Baja” setting. Behind the wheel, you’re looking down on Raptors. It is an utter beast.
The F-150 PowerBoost was wearing 32-inch all-terrain tires and came with an electronic locking rear differential—solid off-road stuff, but thin gruel compared to the TRX hardware. However, the Ford’s transfer case does have one feature that the TRX’s doesn’t: a two-wheel-drive mode. So if you want to rip doughnuts or smoky burnouts, the hybrid is the default winner.
For a Hellcat-engined performance machine, the TRX is resolutely comfortable—and useful. That desert-ready suspension delivers a smooth ride, and the TRX’s thirst for speed doesn’t impede it from doing truck stuff. Max payload is a claimed 1310 pounds (assuming you don’t already have the optional spare tire taking up most of the bed) and the Ram can tow 8100 pounds. I used it to tow a 4000-pound pile of gravel. When I got home the mini-mountain was spread evenly across the trailer, leveled by the Ram’s earthquake acceleration. If I wrote a country-themed ad jingle about that TRX experience, I’d call it “A Couple Extra Tons Don’t Bother It None.”
But the F-150 PowerBoost can haul and tow even more: 2120 pounds of payload and a 12,700-pound tow rating. Plus, its bed hides a killer app: four 120-volt power outlets and a 30-amp, 240-volt plug, which are powered by a 7.2-kW onboard generator. Ford envisions owners using these outlets to charge tools or even electric dirt bikes at remote locations, but I also showed you could use it run some essentials in your house during a power outage. In that situation, would you rather be in the dark with a TRX in the driveway, or making popcorn and watching Netflix courtesy of the F-150 PowerBoost?
I know, you could buy a TRX and a portable generator. But the TRX is already a far more expensive proposition. The mightiest Ram’s base price is $71,790 and the one seen here costs $91,455. The hybrid F-150 was, like the Ram, loaded with options, but nonetheless $23,365 cheaper—$68,090 as-tested. With that kind of savings, you could probably put Raptor suspension under the PowerBoost and still have money left over. But let’s say cost is no object. We’re all stupid rich and we’re just choosing whichever truck we like.
I’m still going with the F-150 PowerBoost. It’s big and bad, but it’s also smart—an orca to the TRX’s megalodon. Yeah, those old sharks were big, scary and doubtlessly awesome. But the world changed, and they didn’t.
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