Duel in the Desert Shootout: The Introduction

Duel in the Desert
Photo by MadMedia

The air is pretty thin up here. In the world of classic confrontations, especially in the world of four-wheel drive, it doesn’t get much bigger than this. Only a few other head-to-head battles reach this kind of altitude: Camaro vs. Mustang, 911 vs. Corvette, Magic vs. Bird, Ali vs. Frasier. And now Raptor vs. Ram Runner.

Any time you get two major players with so much engineering passion and fan support behind them, it’s bound to be a big event when you prep a stadium — or in this case, a nasty desert racecourse — for the ultimate showdown.

There’s a reason why no one has been able to put this test together, and it has very little to do with getting these two heavy hitters in the same place at the same time. In fact, if you talk to the Ford and Ram Truck guys (and we have), they’ve been calling for this type of comparison for a while now. But the truth is there aren’t many experts in the world of hardcore automotive testing who could pull this off. Sure, this test is likely to be done over and over, with both sides constantly finding problems with testing procedures, course selection, driver bias and even weather conditions. No doubt this battle will keep bartenders busy and blog comments heated.

From their appearance, these two trucks look like complete opposites. One is a clean, factory-produced, out-of-the-box desert machine created by the best Ford engineers, and the other looks like a nasty aftermarket race-team-prepped Baja runner, one you might see in the driveway of the crazy kid who is nuts for all things Mopar. And in a way, this type of comparison test has the feel of an aftermarket-vs.-factory faceoff. Mopar and SVT are dead set on making the best high-speed off-road vehicle anyone who ever loved a pickup could purchase, yet neither wants to give up any of the real-world street credibility when driving a truck like this around town.

There is no doubt this test will be criticized for comparing apples and oranges, but this is the monster smack-down we’ve been wanting to see since we first heard that Ford and Ram were interested in the desert segment.

Of course, with anything this big and important, we enlisted a few friends and experts for some help. That’s why we went to MadMedia, which has buckets of experience with major desert racing events. With them came a top-tier professional driver, a top-tier support crew, a helicopter and an endless supply of logistical preparation.

Since this test focuses on off-road high performance — in fact, mostly high-speed off-road performance — we are not doing our normal battery of track and objective testing at a paved course. Also, at no point will relative value or cost be a consideration--we'll leave that to you. This test will be judged only by our data recorders and stopwatches. This Shootout will be determined on the dirt, over a five-mile course with each truck setting its best time over several runs.

Before we talk about how each vehicle performed, we want to tell you more about the venue, the driver and our two competitors.

See more photos from the Duel in the Desert Shootout on our Facebook page.

Duel in the Desert
PickupTrucks.com Photo by Evan Sears

Duel in the Desert Shootout

The Introduction | The Competitors | The Course | The Driver | The Results | Behind the Scenes


Next time, how about some data acquisition?
Say, hook up a thermocouple to the dampers, so see their working/operating temperature.

So here is my beef. You take a stock Ram and Bolt on a Kit, yet you don't call SVT or Ford racing and see if they have a competition kit. The Ram is not concerned with EPA and things like Exhaust so why should the Ford be. There are plenty of pieces available from Ford racing, this is a Combination truck which I believe you understand yet you make no effort to add more performance to the Raptor...it does exist!!!

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