For this Challenge we had three judges drive and test our two competitors, the 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel and the 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. All three judges are automotive journalists with strong driving skills. Two of our judges have a great deal of off-road experience and have spent time behind the wheel of many Ram and Toyota 4x4 pickup trucks. The third is no less skilled in his observational abilities, but does not have the off-road experience; with that said, he brought an open mind and learner's attitude to the tests.
Mark Williams has been the editor of PickupTrucks.com for almost five years and spent the early part of his 30-plus-year professional career at Four Wheeler Magazine, punishing anything and everything with a transfer case. He has spent a good portion of his pickup driving life devising devious tests to expose their weaknesses.
Greg R. Whale has been breaking car and truck parts for more than 40 years and getting paid for it for more than 35 years. His work has appeared in more than 35 magazines and websites. In the name of full disclosure, Whale owns a pickup designed in the 1970s and all things being equal, he'd rather be sailing or cooking than anything else.
Brian Wong is a test driver and editor for Cars.com, working out of the website's Santa Monica, Calif., office. He spends much of his time enjoying the beach and covering new-model launches. Although he's a sponge when learning how to drive new terrain or learning the ins and outs of a new race track, Wong has a soft spot for convertibles with manual transmissions.
What They Said: Ram Rebel
"I know there's a lot of skepticism about the new look the Ram Rebel is showing the world, but I'm a fan. Add to that all the big tires, adjustable suspension and a Hemi, and it has a look, sound and ability that few can match." — MW
"I see what the Ram guys are trying to do here, but I see some inconsistencies; the truck has a load-leveling adjustable suspension but only the Toyota has adjustable headlight leveling, and how come they couldn't get a true dual exhaust to work under the truck?" — GRW
"I knew I would like the Ram Rebel's Uconnect setup, but what surprised me was how nice the interior felt. … I assumed an off-road package had to be spartan, but it felt more solid and was quieter in just about every circumstance. And, after everything is added up, the Ram is only $4,000 more? There's a value factor there." — BW
What They Said: Toyota Tundra TRD Pro
"Although it doesn't look much different, this new TRD Pro package is light-years ahead of the old TRD package, and the gained off-road performance is amazing. Great starting price but would have loved to see Toyota put some extra money into some added interior quality." — MW
"Toyota needs to figure out how to give the driver better lighting inside the cabin and through the headlights. Credit is due to the integration engineer who created the package to give the TRD Pro transmission a quick-shifting feel with an impressive throttle response." — GRW
"I'm now a huge fan of the old-school Toyota lettering on the grille — I like the more classic, black-out look but I couldn't help but think the Toyota needed a better interior and some kind of special bed feature. Loved all the passenger room with CrewMax, but I spent most of my time in the front seat." — BW
How the Judges Scored the Challenge
The judges scored the trucks in five categories, four of which were broken into two subcategories. Each judge awarded points to each truck for interior (layout and features), exterior (looks and features), mechanical (engine and suspension), four-wheel-drive capability (going slow and going fast) and overall value.
The judges' points accounted for about a quarter of the total points awarded to each truck. The remaining points came from the trucks' performances in 15 different tests.
After the judges scored the competitors, we added their combined category scores in each grouping below. You'll notice, as a group, our judges liked the Tundra quite a bit in four out of the five categories.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears