Duel in the Desert Shootout: The Results

Picture this: We're at Ocotillo Wells. Temperatures are hovering around 90 degrees. Clouds from a tropical storm are building over the mountains to the south. Despite the threat of rain and high winds, we're able to get our video guys up in the helicopter we rented. It's time to race.

Pro driver Chad Ragland got a full briefing from Ford and Mopar representatives who were on hand to witness the timed runs and to answer any questions. Each rep gave us exact instructions on the truck settings best suited for our high-speed full-out laps.

We ran both trucks in high-range four-wheel drive with the stability and traction controls shut off, just as any reasonable off-road driver would choose in this type of terrain. Of course, we set the Raptor in Off Road Mode.

Each truck completed four runs over the course at speed, and we collected route data with our Racelogic VBOX recorder over the last three. As it turned out — and it's not too surprising — as Chad became more familiar with the course, the last run from each truck was the fastest timed run, and those are the official results we've presented here.

We've broken down the 4.73-mile course into four discreet sections, showing you exactly how each truck performed over the different stretches. The first and last sections had the roughest obstacles, so that's where we saw the slowest times. The slowest speed in the Raptor was 8.8 mph; the slowest speed in the Ram Runner was 12.7 mph.

RvR Raptor slide IIPhoto by MadMedia

Sections two and three (as designated on our route map) offered more high-speed running over machine-cut dirt roads and through wide-open river washes. Again, these two sections gave us our fastest top speeds for both trucks. The Raptor recorded the overall fastest top speed, hitting 79.1 mph on the smoothest part of dirt road in section three, while the fastest speed registered in the Ram Runner was 75.8 mph. During the transitions from the river wash to the better-maintained dirt roads, the Raptor's power and smarter traction control system stood head and shoulders above the Ram Runner. Still, as you can see from the graphics, the Raptor did not beat the Ram Runner by much.

In contrast, sections one and four offered more serious terrain where speeds were much slower to ensure safe navigation. In these sections, the Ram Runner — with its stronger front suspension springs and shocks and better approach angles — were likely able to handle the bigger bumps and holes with more control. This is where the Ram Runner pulled away from the Raptor.

Duel in the DesertPhoto by MadMedia

So who won? When you look at the four sections, you see the Ram Runner won two and the Raptor won two, with the overall fastest time going to the Ram Runner, with a total loop time of 6 minutes 25 seconds. The Raptor's time was just 33 seconds slower, with a total lap time of 6 minutes 58 seconds.

The winner of our 2012 Duel in the Desert goes to the Mopar-built Ram Runner. In this bout, aftermarket beats factory.


Section 1: Ruts & Jumps

  • Start drops off
    the plateau
  • Two medium
    speed jumps
  • Deeply rutted
    hill climb
  • Sand dune

SVT Raptor
Time (sec.)
Distance (ft.)

Ram Runner
Time (sec.)
Distance (ft.)

Time elapsed through Section 1:
Raptor 103.9 sec. (5,503 ft.)
Ram Runner
 93.9 sec. (5,499 ft.)


Section 2: From Road to Wash

Duel in the Desert
  • Transition
    to gravel road
  • Hilly, rutted
  • Downhill brake
  • River wash
    at WOT

SVT Raptor
Time (sec.)
Distance (ft.)

Ram Runner
Time (sec.)
Distance (ft.)

Time elapsed through Section 2:
Raptor 209.4 sec. (12,322 ft.)
Ram Runner 199.5 sec. (12,382 ft.)


Section 3: River Wash Run

Duel in the Desert
  • River wash
    at WOT
  • Deep berms
  • High-speed
    gravel road
  • Transition to
    holes and ruts

SVT Raptor
Time (sec.)
Distance (ft.)

Ram Runner
Time (sec.)
Distance (ft.)

Time elapsed through Section 3:
Raptor 286.1 sec. (18,317 ft.)
Ram Runner 277.8 sec. (18,386 ft.)


Section 4: Final Bumps

Duel in the Desert
  • Punishing
    holes and ruts
  • Winding
    gravel road
  • High-speed
  • Speed to finish

SVT Raptor
Time (sec.)
Distance (ft.)

Ram Runner
Time (sec.)
Distance (ft.)

Time elapsed through Section 4:
Raptor 417.9 sec. (24,955 ft.)
Ram Runner 384.8 sec. (24,951 ft.)



Duel in the Desert

Distance (ft.)
  Duel in the Desert

Distance (ft.)


After the contest, Ragland had this to say about the trucks:

Mopar Ram Runner

"I was impressed with the Ram Runner's extreme off-road capability — we jumped, slammed into mounds, cut through deep sand, all of it — and it came through it all like a pro ... rarely getting into the bump stops or touching the skid plates.

"Those front shocks are impressive. During our first set of runs, I could feel myself tighten a bit as we headed toward the big rocks and ruts, but then the front end just sucked it all up. ... By the later runs I could feel our times getting faster because I knew those big springs and shocks had no problems."

But Chad points out the Ram Runner isn't perfect.

"There needs to be some kind of effective way to deal with the traction and engine controls when running wide open in the desert. Sure, we know not everyone is going to push it like we do, but if you make the hard parts, there's got to be a software piece there, too."

SVT Raptor

"I have to say on the fast gravel roads, this truck is balanced. The traction at speed is so smooth — considering how well the engine gets power to the wheels, it's stunning the wheels don't feel like they're fighting each other. Each tire and even the front and back seem to be working like one big traction team.

"It really felt faster going into and out of the loose cornering we had to do. The front end especially felt like it was really digging/pulling the truck well. And the braking system never got in the way of the throttle. I was really impressed with how responsive the throttle was and how well the transmission knew to hold or downshift to a better gear.

"Maybe I shouldn't say this knowing that the Ram Runner had the faster time, but if I had to pick one truck, the better overall performer, for both on- and off-road, I'd have to pick the Raptor."

Editor's Note

We know there will be some who cry foul, accusing us of biasing the course in favor of the Ram Runner, but the truth is we knew we needed a very diverse course, with harsh obstacles as well as high-speed straights. And we chose a relatively long course that gave us everything we could want.

We could have factored in criteria like fuel economy, road handling characteristics, pricing, value, zero-to-60 times, off-road prowess, payload capacities, etc — our list could go on and on — but even if we did include all those criteria, we'd still have to assign a particular value to each of those categories based on our perceived importance, with a total adding up to 100 percent. Clearly, the vast majority of points would still be given to the single off-road course time. And yes, we know, if we had done it that way, it may have meant there would be a different winner — or maybe not.

When, and if, we decide to do that kind of test, we'll be happy to let you know who wins. For now, we're happy with what we have here. And we hope you are too.

This test was designed to be the ultimate Duel in the Desert, where two fighters step into the cage and only one comes out the victor, with only one all-important timed run to decide the winner. Fair, maybe not; but interesting and exciting, oh yeah. Congratulations to Mopar's Ram Runner.

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

Duel in the Desert Shootout

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



I think this will get ugly. How many comments before we read Guts. Glory. Ram. from the Ram guys?

My guess is one earlier than your post, "5.3L LOL"

Have to say, I'm surprised and impressed the Mopar did that well. I wonder if Ford sells even more stout front suspension components that are available and would match the RAM Runner's?

Good runs by both trucks. It's nice to see they both excel in certain areas. I am a bit surprised the Ram costs $18,000 more though. But it definitley looks more like an off road truck.

i mentioned this b4 afer seeing the vid from previous topic that the raptors suspension looked too soft and would do great in more open wallowing terrain while the ramrunner with its firmer suspension was gonna do better in the rougher stuff.

i was right.....

but i would get either one, not bcuz of what they r but bcuz my needs dont dictate a offroader to this degree.

Awesome job MOPAR !!

Great truck you can build it up as you get more cash,and its all Factory Chrysler engineered quality parts !! To buy the Ford its all or nothing !!! Ram trucks are the worlds best !!!!!

@ Dodge RAM lol worlds best, I would go as far as to say they are in fact Mexico's Best made truck

@ Mark Williams- You looked like you were going to get sick in a couple of points in both trucks... That looked like a lot of fun. Wish I could of been there! As it stands both trucks are great and I for one am glad that Ford and Ram are focusing on trucks so much.

Sigh that the Ramrunner won, but oh well, if I wanted to droped another 18k on a dodge with cloth seats I would have, Mopar had a huge advantage being an aftermarket done-up, Ford had several plans for the Raptor that DOT restricted them on, but oh well life goes on.

Oh boy, there are going to be some hurt feelings. Ram beat the Raptor bad, damn.

The front suspension on the Raptor can be stiffened for free lol. To cost that much more i would hope the aftermarket Ram Runner would win, albeit not by much. I won't be trading my Raptor for a Ram Runner any time soon!

Umm, just to put a sock in some of the Dodge boys...


How do you like them apples?

I'm calling you guys out on this one. You took a fully loaded up Ram Runner with all the upgraded parts and put it up against a BONE STOCK Raptor, yet you look at the data you provided and the number of seconds the Raptor is off is almost pretty close. How exactly does that make this a fair and truthful comparison? If you ask me, the Raptor should have been declared the winner based on stock form.

Tell you what. Why don't you go back to the drawing board and do this test FAIRLY and compare one beast against another. Why don't you take a Raptor that's been built up like the Dodge and let them go head to head? You want to see that Dodge get a run for the money? You should put it up against a Raptor with a Stage 4 suspension and upgraded UCA's, tie rods, etc. from Raptor Performance Group (RPG). You might want to start by watching this video:


The gauntlet has been thrown. REMATCH. This time without the bias and pandering to Dodge. Lets see who will be victorious when we have equally built platforms shall we?

Both awesome trucks. The Ram is built for more extreme stuff so it's no big surprise it won. Probably would have been closer if the Ford had been more tuned up like Mopar did, but hey that's the way they are built so congrats to Ram.

ok now 33 sec is an eternity on a race course, and by covering the same course and doing so in 44 feet less, that just means that the truck was tighter handling in the turns by not going as wide thru them, and that boys and girls means it handles tighter (better)in the rough stuff, granted it was more $$$, but you don't need to spend all that much to get the job done, and I wonder how much closer the price would have been in the Raptor was a super crew cab? no doubt it would be more$$ but if it was my $$ I would get a new reg cab Ram to start with, cheaper, lighter, allthough I'm not sure how the shorter wheelbase would be at high speeds, but it would be sweet!!

A huge congratulations goes to RAM for putting the Ford dinosaur back in the tar pit. Of course, the bleeding-heart blue oval boys are gonna cry foul on any little techno-babble they can drum up, but the test shows the evidence. You get what you pay for. I would like to thank Ford for putting their name on the front grille in 3" high letters. It makes it easier to identify the vehicle in the dust cloud behind the Ram!! Hehehe... ah, here come the whiners. Lemme get the Kleenex.

Problem is, Ram isn't legal in too many places with the bumper height and lack of clearance lights required for the extra width.

Does the Ram runner kit carry the full vehicle warranty?

What could the Raptor be capable of with 10 grand worth of mods, considering you will save at least that much over a new Ram Runner? I'd go for a supercharger or Turbo setup from Hennessey :-D

What is going on? Some of you folks are so pro- whatever that a great head to head is wasted on you! Ok so the Ford "lost" What did a factory (ok a very cool factory) truck really lose? Nothing. If you are going for a new truck The Ford owns it especially if that has to be your daily driver. If you just want an off-road toy then you got the ram runner. Both are great trucks why not sit back and enjoy the fight? You guys aren't "fan bois" your idiots.

Ram just won another one to. Most dangerous truck. Good job RAM

r u dumb?

stock means f150 vs ram..... both these trucks r modded for a purpose...

@ uh huh-SRSLY?,
r u dumb?

stock means f150 vs ram..... both these trucks r modded for a purpose...

The Raptor, while purpose built, comes from the factory that way.
The Ram runner is a kit from Mopar that is added after the it leaves factory.
Does that make sense to you?

Gabe...no, I am far from dumb, which is more than I can say for someone stating that an F-150 is a Raptor. They are built on the same chassis but are VERY different. But hey, I don't see Ford on that list above, enjoy that Ram Runner...hope you have good life insurance.


Even if both ford and dodge had the factory trucks on this course the ram would beat the ford handily. its a far better truck. we prove that in the mountains of montana all the time. stronger motors and great suspension do a lot. the ram also turns sharper. Its just a better truck.

I just don't get it. The whole idea of comparing an off the production line truck to one that has been stuffed with aftermarket parts seems flawed to me. Why pick this particular truck with these aftermarket parts? Why pick this particular production truck? The only reason I can see is that you bought the Mopar marketing line that the Ram Runner is a "Raptor killer". For it to be a killer of anything off any production line, it would also have to be off a production line, with a full factory backed warranty. The Ram Runner is neither... a better test would have been pitting the Ram Runner against, say, a parts catalog build by an experienced off roader with a similar budget. THAT would have been a great way to test the effectiveness of this Ram Runner kit, marketing hype not withstanding.

Dodge ram 1500 made in St.Louis. I got one. I believe ford f150 is made in deerborn Mi.

"A la carte assembly, awesome off-road performance backed by imposing looks, standard warranty remains intact" <---From car and driver, and apparently its street legal as well!

I currently own two Ford ¾-ton and one Dodge ¾-ton 4WD pickups, so I might be a bit more objective than most posting here. The cost of the Dodge, after all the parts are added in, and all the labor is accounted for, is much more than that of the Raptor. The Dodge has bigger shocks and more travel, but it lacks the refinement and integration of the Raptor. If you want both, I would suggest buying a Raptor and then spending the extra for the Raptor Performance Group's Stage IV kit. It will give you what the Ram Runner has, and you won't lose those marvelous Raptor seats, or the integration of software and design that the Raptor brings to the table.

Alright I can't believe these concepts. We're talking about a $45,000 truck... from the factory, taking all of the road worthy parts out of that $45,000, and adding another $20,000 to it.

If you think logically, the suspension components you're taking out are probably worth half of what the compenents are that you're putting in. The fenders and such probably cost the same to make as the ones you're taking off. If you account for the things removed off of the Ram, these two aren't $18,000 apart. Maybe $5000 apart, if even.

If Ram had an interested enough market to try selling a Ram Runner it'd probably still whoop the F-150 while being the same price if not less expensive.

Just imagine the truck we'd have if Ram decided to upgrade the transfer case and axles and everything else that the Raptor had put into it before it was sent out by the factory. If Ram made this down the assembly line it'd be without any doubt the most capable offroad Baja truck on the road today.

Oh, and also because the components are all Mopar it doesn't effect the vehicle's warranty. The whole point of Mopar is that it complies with Chrysler's standard.

haha ram kick the dog poop out of ford thats funny as hell go ram!!

Mark Williams should've kept his tongue in his mouth (about 4:50 in the head-to-head video). On a course that bumpy you could accidentally bite it off!

@Vince, You are right about the price differance if the Ram came off of the line, but if the Ford is already slightly hopped up from a stock F150 and if it was necessary Ford could do just as you said could be done with the Ram and would cost little to no money to "upgrade". Another thing about the suspension, especially if you Know how to rebuild your own shocks, those are FOX shocks on there, they absoloutly can be revalved and in almost all cases can have clicker adjustable remote resivoirs added on for low cost for the ultimate affordable adjustability and stiil be less or equivilant than the RAM, then it would be a whole nother ballgame. The Raptor was not a totaly purpose built truck as the Ram runner kit makes the Ram a purpose built offroad truck. The Raptor is the best of both worlds especially when setup properly. Hopefully I don`t need a link to prove this and the people who read this have enogh common sense to realize what i`m saying here.

@Vince, Um, read your comment again...

That's what Ford did, that's why the Raptor is less than $5,000 more than an FX4, instead of $20,000 more like the Ram Runner is after you build it yourself. And the Ram still isn't complete because the electronics don't cooperate.

Your comment should read, "Just imagine if Ram copied Ford, did everything Ford did to the Raptor, and then sold it with a warranty like Ford does! It would be just as capable as the Raptor has been for over two years now!" Yup, sounds kinda silly doesn't it?

Great shootout. Im not sad the Ram won, it is apparently a very capable desert racer. Having a hard time believing why some of you are so upset the Ford didnt win. Ford is my preferred brand as well but this isnt anything to be sad about.

I like how everyone is just blatantly ignoring the fact that they didn't have to start with a Ram priced at $45k and even said if they started with a Tradesman or Express, as anyone with common sense who is going to beat on their truck off road would, you'd actually be $10k cheaper then the Raptor.

LOL at all the Ford boy's pointing to that completely irrelevant and poorly done article by 24/7 wall st about the "most dangerous vehicles" to compensate for the fact that the Raptor got whooped. Moral victory for them, I suppose. And for the Ford boys trying to point to the savings in price - see the editor's note about buying used. Ram Runner can be a much better value if needed.

@jordan - What are used Raptors going for these days? In the next couple years? If your willing to go used it's still a tough sell on the Ram.

On the flip side, it's absolutely AWESOME the kinds of accessories and kits you can get straight from Mopar. GM Performance and Ford Racing don't have anything anywhere near the level that Mopar does. JK8 jeep conversions and more. Definitely something to be proud of if your a Mopar guy.


Not really. Only the future will tell what a used Raptor will bring...but a used Ram with minimal features will still be a great deal cheaper + the price of the Ram Runner kit and you'd still have a much more capable desert running truck for very similar prices. You forget that a Ram is subject to depreciation just like a Raptor...and if anything, a run-of-the-mill Ram will depreciate more because it isn't a special edition off-road package, like the Raptor.

This is all I needed to read...

"Maybe I shouldn't say this knowing that the Ram Runner had the faster time, but if I had to pick one truck, the better overall performer, for both on- and off-road, I'd have to pick the Raptor."

Quoted exactly from this post...sorry but it sounds like the Ford has it together.

Chrysler is the king of off road.Power wagon,Ram Runner,Jeep,
Mopar. As well they should be. They started the 4x4 truck market back in 1946.

Ram wins baja 1000 with a Mopar v-10

Ram is dominating TORC off road racing.

More Guts

More Glory

More Ram

I love my old stomping grounds at Ocotillo Wells. I would've taken them up blow sand.

Here is your RAPTOR killer!


The RAPTOR KILLER in the video above can be had for around 50 grand.Isn't that about the same as a CRAPTOR.

Lol, hurt feelings everywhere.

Any comments from Fart gays ? Are you still crying? I told you so.

@synrgy He only said that because of the Raptor's on road characteristics, which are commendable. BUT we all need to tak a step back and realize what these trucks are: TOYS. If someone puts forth the money and effort to build a Ram Runner, you can bet your a$$ they are going to run it hard off-road. Whereas the Raptor is designed to be beaten on, to an extent, and then go get groceries comfortably. But, the majority of Raptor owners buy them as a status symbol rather than to use them for what they are built to do. I've seen quite a few Raptors on the road since they came out. Guess how many dirty ones I've seen? ZERO. While on the other hand, if you see a Ram Runner in public it'll most likely be on the dunes. If I had to pick a truck for a daily driver, I'd probably go with the Raptor too. Most purpose built off-road trucks ride/handle like cr*p on the road...that's a fact.

As much as I love to see Ram win Id call this a tie. Because if an average joe got behidn the wheel and tried to do this w/ the Ram with the raw power and no computer tuning for off road hed fair better in the Raptor. But just like people who cant handle vipers you cant blame the driver for not being able to handle the capabilities of the vehicle Powerwagon, outdoorsmen, all the Jeeps and the Ram Runner look at torc look at monster jam look at Baja Mopar does off road Mopar does every sort of performance just better. Even for muscle and now tuners w/ the Dart they offer more aftermarket solutions that work well then Ford Racing/SVT or GM could ever hope for (at least FR/SVT does have some great ones like the Raptor Cobra over the years lightning etc. GM is just a joke)

I think they should of got OXI to drive them both.
Because he's the off road king. Lol

Maybe I shouldn't say this knowing that the Ram Runner had the faster time, but if I had to pick one truck, the better overall performer, for both on- and off-road, I'd have to pick the Raptor

End of story.

just so we all know.... the ram runner as stated in off road magazines is a 20,000 $ ADD on to a standard dodge... none of these components are covered under warranty and void the warranty on the existing truck. the ford raptor comes from factory as is shown in the video no tinkering is done to get it to the state it was shown. and it is 100% covered by warranty. any and all parts. if you took a raptor with an aftermarket bumper to make it look offroad and gave it a better approach angle and then 6000$ in shocks, it would slaughter the ram runner. lets see mopar run the ram runner against a ford raptor with 20,000 $ in add ons and there would be a complete different outcome. my .02$. i wouldnt touch any dodge with out warranty ever.

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