The Ram 1500 pickup serves the half-ton pickup truck market, among the most contested in all motor vehicles. Permutations are numerous with three engines, two fuels, three cabs, two types of suspension, three bed sizes and almost all of them available in 2WD or 4WD.
The 2015 Ram 1500 is changed little over 2014 when Ram got a diesel engine and some styling details.
Ram’s 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel is shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and in the Ram 1500 garners EPA ratings of 20/28 mpg City/Highway, higher than any other half-ton or mid-size pickup.
Gasoline engines include a 305-hp 3.6-liter V6 and a 395-hp 5.7-liter V8 Hemi. Ram V6 (gas and diesel) use an 8-speed automatic transmission, the V8 uses a 6-speed or an 8-speed automatic. Unlike the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, Ram offers its biggest engine in Regular Cab models.
The Ram 1500, considered a half-ton, can carry loads of stuff and can tow trailers similar to what the competition will, though GM and Ford have notably higher maximum trailer-weight models. Maximum load and tow ratings among the major manufacturers change faster than mobile-device operating systems. However, if you plan to tow near those maximums, our recommendation is to turn your attention to the Ram Heavy Duty and its competitors.
The Ram 1500 offers a full air suspension, with automatic leveling, entry/exit mode for easier cab access, and variable ride heights for on- and off-highway travel.
On the outside, Ram continues with its imposing stature. Like many Dodge cars, the Ram’s front end has a forward tilt, but it remains aerodynamic. Detailing for the 2013 model year lowered the coefficient of drag (one aspect of total aerodynamic resistance) from 0.386 to 0.360, and both the diesel and HFE use grille shutters.
Ram competes primarily with Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra and, to a lesser extent, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra.
The Ram 1500 is a conventional full-size pickup truck, but it differs in rear suspension and powertrains from its competitors. Underneath, where for decades pickup trucks have had a live axle in back with leaf springs, Ram’s rear axle is suspended by coil springs and located by four trailing links and a lateral Panhard bar. Basic front suspension design, steering and brake systems parallel other half-ton pickups.
Inside, the Ram offers seating for three to six people, in-floor storage on Crew Cabs, and environments that span working-grade vinyl and rubber to creamy leather with ventilated and heated seats.
Brand loyalty in pickup trucks makes sports rivalries look like civilized debate, and many will recommend only one. The fact is, there are no bad full-size pickups. Shopping is made more difficult by so-called competitive comparisons we’ve seen online that imply drum brakes are better than disc brakes (we disagree) or 300 horsepower is superior to 400 pound-feet of torque (ditto). To choose the best truck for you, we recommend avoiding any buying decision made purely on brand or maximum cargo or tow rating. On the other hand, if you are loyal to a brand then focus on choosing the configuration knowing you’ll end up with a great truck.
With so many versions there is no shortage of Rams to choose from. Compared to the competition, the Ram’s suspensions are unique and the styling is less conservative. GM has three gas engines and Ford half-tons offer four but none has a diesel and only the GM 6.2 V8 has an 8-speed automatic. The Nissan Titan is the only half-ton that offers a full eight-foot long-bed with a Crew Cab, and Titan is being redesigned for 2016. (Ram Heavy Duty 2500 and 3500 pickups are covered in a separate review.)
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