The Ram 1500 continues to impress me in every way.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
The current-generation Ram is the best-looking truck on the market in my opinion. It’s slick, modern, aggressive, luxurious and utilitarian all at once. To say it’s handsome is an understatement, in particular these higher-trim levels.
I got a surprising number of comments on the truck’s stunning Red Pearl paint – people just loved it, and so did I.
There’s LED lighting and the huge wheels and the chrome appearance package work in concert to complete the package.
It never ceases to amaze me how luxurious high-end trucks, and in particular Rams, have become. The materials are astoundingly nice, and the multi-tone brown interior in this one was stunning. Soft-touch surfaces are everywhere, including stitched panels, suede, and in various shades of brown. The “wood grain” is a bit cringe-y and obviously a appliqué.
The perforated, partial-suede leather seats (which are heated and ventilated) are works of art – and they’re as comfortable to sit in as they are nice to look at.
Dominating the dash is the 12-inch vertically-oriented Uconnect touchscreen that handles a ton of functions including your phone, navigation, vehicle settings and the audio for the incredible 19-speaker harman kardon sound system. The user interface is excellent and it looks fantastic too. I love that Ram still includes knobs for volume and tuning as well as for the major climate control functions. I didn’t love that I had to dig into a menu level or two on the screen to activate the seat heaters, but otherwise it’s a great system.
The rotary gear selector works well, as do the toggle switches on the dash.
There’s a wealth of driver assistance technology here, although it should be noted you’ll find much of it in the option packages and not as standard equipment: my truck had a back-up camera and front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, forward collision warning with active brake assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, parallel and perpendicular park assist, automatic high beams, blind spot and cross-path detection.
Overhead is a full-length panoramic sunroof overhead with a powered sunshade.
As with most full-size cabs, the Ram’s back seating area is gargantuan. Extremely spacious, with reclining, heated seating that has almost excessive amounts of head- and leg-room, it’s a great place to be, even for long road trips.
The middle seat will easily accommodate a third adult and its seatback folds down to become a very nice armrest including two cupholders and a carpeted bin.
Rear passengers get USB-A and USB-C plugs (2 of each), as well as a 400W 115V household plug, adjustable air vents and two more cupholders at the back of the centre console.
A big shout-out to the crazy-functional centre console in this truck. The armrest is very wide – flip up the lid, and you’ll find a deep bin containing organizers, and a fun unit conversion ruler/protractor Easter egg on the entire bottom of the lid. The bin is dual-level – on the top level is a USB charger and on the deeper bottom level is a sliding tray with two cupholders, which you can slide forward or backward all the way to the front or back of the bin. The console has large side pockets, big enough to hold file folders, and another 115V household plug as well as two more of each USB-A and USB-C plugs. I liked the series of clips at the front of the bin, one portion of which will hold your phone in place for wireless charging.
You also get upper and lower glove compartments, sizeable upper and lower door bins and a tray on the dash with a 12V plug.
Flip up the second row seat bottoms (they split 60/40), and you’ll find bag hooks and configurable, expandable storage compartments underneath, which can hold a lot of stuff, including numerous full grocery bags. The completely flat load floor is very helpful too.
Under the Hood
Powering this beast is the venerable 5.7L HEMI with the eTorque system – basically an ultra-light hybrid system that adds a small boost of electronic torque to the truck’s acceleration. You won’t feel a difference – the point is to save a bit of fuel during each initial get-up-and-go gas-guzzling cycle. The engine puts out 395 HP and 410 lb.ft of torque.
That power is funnelled through an 8-speed automatic transmission and on to all four corners via a selectable 4×4 system.
Ram rates this combination at 14.2/10.9 L/100 km (city/highway).
The HEMI lives up to its reputation. There is absolutely no shortage of power in any driving situation – it jumps to attention off the line, all the way up to highway passing. I did not have the opportunity to tow anything, but I firmly believe the available power would make that a breeze. And the sounds the HEMI makes are lovely – there’s no substitute for a big rumbly V8.
The Ram’s ride was sublime, and the class-exclusive air-suspension system (with adjustable heights for loading/entry/exit, aerodynamic mode, normal driving and off-roading) is extraordinarily capable at balancing comfort, handling performance and hauling utility (including load levelling).
The 4×4 system is electronically selectable and allows you to choose from two-wheel drive, low and high-range 4×4 and automatic 4×4.
Braking is powerful and easy to modulate, and visibility out of the truck is nearly perfect.
Although it’s a bit insulting not to include some of this stuff in a $65,000 truck, the way my review sample was outfitted was ideal for many different working circumstances. We loved (and used) the adjustable tie-down hooks, which you can slide forward and back on the rail at the top edge of the truck bed, as well as the highly effective LED bed light.
The multi-function tailgate that converts from a normal fold-down (with a soft power opening function) to a dutch-door style split has its pros and cons. The big con is that it costs over a thousand dollars. Also, it looks like crap. Because it has to split and swing out, there is a very noticeable vertical panel gap, and honestly I never got used to it – it always looks like something is wrong with the tailgate. However, when we had to load something heavy, being able to walk right up to the box made this a very handy feature.
The RamBoxes are just terrific. Again, charging $1,295 for these is such a kick in the pants, but to have huge lockable water-tight bins on either side of the box, complete with LED lighting, drains and a 400W 115V household plug in the driver’s side bin, was a boon and we ended up using these a lot during our week with the truck. There are endless possibilities for these cargo compartments and as much of a rip-off as they are, I’d definitely opt for them.
Towing capacity is up to 12,560 lb (5,697 kg) and payload maximum is 2,300 lb (1,043 kg).
WAF (Wife Approval Factor), for someone who does not dig trucks, was very high. She said this is the nicest truck she has seen in our garage and she loved the interior as well. Parking it was no joy but otherwise she liked driving it too.
The Ram 1500 is a wonderful truck, and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. It looks fantastic, it is competitive in every way (power, capability, interior space, work functionality inside and out, towing, utility and price) and it was supremely easy to live with.
If it were my money, this truck would be at the top of my list in a very competitive marketplace.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by FCA Canada.
If you enjoyed this review, feel free to check out my other vehicle reviews under the car reviews tab at the top of my blog.
Pricing: 2020 Ram 1500
Base price (Laramie Crew Cab 4×4 trim): $65,795
Options: $100 Red Pearl Paint; $1,300 Pref Package (leather vented seats, full length upgraded console, wireless charging); $525 trailer tow group; $2,000 Advanced Safety Group; $1,095 Chrome Appearance Group; $950 Bed Utility Group; $3,395 Laramie Level 2 Equipment Group; $175 all-weather floor mats; $650 tri-fold tonneau cover; $525 anti-spin rear differential; $$995 HEMI 5.7L; $1,595 panoramic sunroof; $1,095 multi-function tailgate; $445 124-litre fuel tank; $1,895 4-corner air suspension; $1,000 12″ Uconnect system; $1,195 20″ wheels; $1,295 RamBox Cargo Mgt System; $495 Class IV hitch receiver
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $88,515