Pros: Power to spare and an excellent manual shifter
Cons: Vague steering and braking
Which turbo diesel truck is better, the Dodge Ram or Ford Super Duty? There is no easy answer. I have driven the 99 Dodge 2500 SLT Quad Cab 4X4 short bed and I own a 99 Super Duty 350 XLT Super Cab short bed. Both the Dodge the and Ford are similarly equipped including manual transmissions (5 speeds for the Dodge and 6 speeds on the Ford), rear axles, and power most everything. I made a short trip in the Dodge and then made the return trip in the Ford for comparison. I've also ridden in the Dodge on a couple of 1-2 hour trips and trailer towed with both. Other than liking, as well as needing (I haul equipment, livestock, etc.) diesel pick ups, that's my background on these heavy duties. I have no allegiance to Dodge, Ford or Chevy/GMC for that matter. So with that out of the way, here's my hopefully objective epinion of the trucks:
Acceleration: A slight nod goes to the Ford. The 7.3L PowerStroke seems to keep its torque longer - as the rpms approach the redline - than the Dodge 5.9L Cummins. Although, the Dodge seems to have better low rpm torque. The Dodge has the edge from 0 - 15 or 20 mph, but after that it's all Ford. You might think that with a heavy load or trailer the Dodge would be better, but that's not the case because the Ford has a low, low (granny) gear for those occasions. Both these pick ups have so much power that a limited slip rear axle is a necessity to prevent wheel slip (see planum's epinion).
Driveability: This is a toss up. The Dodge's manual shifter is quite nice and produces quicker shifts and has a tighter shifting pattern than the Ford. However, the steering on the Ford is much surer - The Dodge is somewhat vague. Visibility goes to the Ford also. It sits higher so you get more of a bird?s eye view and the front pillars don't block your vision as much. The controls are well laid out and convenient to use in both.
Comfort: Another toss up! The Ford's seats are better but the Dodge has a better ride - you don't feel the road bumps as much in the Ram. The AC and heater in both are more than adequate and the Dodge has more backseat room.
Safety: The Ford's brakes are much better and they both have dual front air bags. However, with the surer steering and better visibility, Ford is safer. The problem with these heavy trucks is that sooner or later you're going to have a panic stop, and good brakes win out over a collision every time!
Appearance: Both are masculine but the Dodge comes out on top here. In my opinion, you have to like trucks in order to like the Super Duty's looks. The Ram has a more classic and flowing exterior design.
Longevity: The Dodge gets the nod for now, since the Super Duty has only been around since March of 98.
Economy: If you have to ask, you can?t afford it! Sorry, I just like that line. Tie - both trucks amazingly get in the low 20 miles per gallon unloaded. Oil changes are expensive - the NaviStar PowerStroke takes 14 quarts!
So, which truck is better? It depends (sorry if I am disappointing any Dodge or Ford fanatics) on what it's going to be used for. I prefer the Ford because I use it as a mini tractor/trailer rig (combined trailer and cargo weight over 10,000 pounds). My brother-in-law (the owner of the Dodge in question) prefers his because he uses it to tow his boat (combined trailer and cargo weight of under 10,000 pounds). I think we're both right.
There is no perfect truck, but if you combined the best qualities of both of these, you'd come awfully close. Both engines are superb and with after-market goodies can be built into real streetrods!
My condolences to Chevy/GMC: you can't play with the big dawgs yet. Maybe that 6.6L Isuzu diesel you're toying with will get you in the game - I'd sure love to test drive it when it comes out!