When it comes to full-sized pickup trucks, Ram takes a back seat to nobody. With a range of strong engines, including a fuel-efficient 3.0-lliter turbodiesel V6, the Ram 1500 is also one of the best-designed pick ‘em ups on the market.
Since it became a stand-alone brand in 2009 (it’s not a “Dodge Ram truck” anymore), Ram has focused like a laser on truck customers and their needs. Ram has given its trucks innovative elements like rotary dial shifters and “Ram boxes” – lockable, waterproof storage bins that line both sides of the bed.
But the thing I like best about Ram trucks is their reputation for longevity. If, like me, you’re the kind of truck buyer who likes to drive your vehicle until the wheels fall off, the Ram 1500 could be your best bet.
And like most truck brands, Ram offers myriad choices when it comes to your new truck. Three engines, three cab configurations and two bed lengths mean that Ram buyers, who are a loyal bunch, usually do their homework to be sure they get what they want before signing on the dotted line.
Our test truck for the week was the 2017 Ram 1500 Rebel 4x4 in a crew cab configuration. You can get a base Ram 1500 for as little as $26,495, but my decked-out test truck started at $47,095. With a host of additional options, the sticker price was $56,595 including $1,320 in freight.
Yep, it’s not cheap. But none of the other brands are either.
Available engines in the 2017 Ram 1500 include a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6. The base V6 develops 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque, the big HEMI V8 kicks out 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque.
But the mileage and pulling champ is the EcoDiesel V6. The diesel choice develops a meager-sounding 240 horses. But these Clydesdales can apply a whopping 420 lb.-ft. of torque to whatever load they’re pulling.
The transmission is an 8-speed automatic with a rotary dial shifter that takes up far less real estate on the dash than a traditional shifter.
Our Rebel test truck is an off-road oriented member of the Ram 1500 family and was outfitted with the HEMI V8. The Rebel is factory lifted, it has 33-inch all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, tow hooks and an air suspension that can increase the truck’s ride height.
The Rebel is a capable off-roader with bold styling and unique interior colors and materials. One of the color pairings is called “Radar Red,” and has black seats with an embossed tire tread pattern that matches the truck’s actual footprint.
The Rebel’s in-your-face styling includes R-A-M spelled out in foot-tall letters across the tailgate, only because they couldn’t make the letters bigger.
Three cab configurations are offered on the Ram 1500: regular cab, extended cab and crew cab. The two bed options are 5-foot-7 and 6-foot-4.
Inside the cabin, the Ram 1500 is as opulent as you want it to be. The base truck is utilitarian, while the top trims are outfitted like a luxury car. The Uconnect infotainment system is one of the best around, simple and intuitive to use with an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
The Ram 1500 Rebel gets four overall safety stars in the federal government’s safety tests, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 1500 crew cab good marks in side crashes and moderate overlap front collisions. The truck scored “marginal” in the difficult small overlap front test.
While the diesel engine gives the best mileage performance, our HEMI V8 offered a respectable 21 miles per gallon on the highway and 15 mpg in the city.
2017 Ram 1500 Rebel crew cab
5.7-liter HEMI V8
$47,095 ($56,595 with options & freight)
EPA mileage estimates:
15 mpg city/21 mpg highway/17 mpg combined
Estimated highway range:
Up to 672 miles