2021 Ram 1500

Reviews

Ram may be leading the arms race for pickup horsepower supremacy, but their rank-and-file powertrains shouldn’t be overlooked.

Every pickup has good power and exceptional carrying capability. They don’t steer very well—most battleships don’t either. It’s a 6.

The base 305-hp 3.6-liter V-6 is a good one, and it’s fitted in most trim levels although many buyers splurge for a V-8. We’re not convinced that’s necessary: The V-6 pairs well with an 8-speed automatic transmission that’s standard across the board, four-wheel drive, marginally better fuel economy, and it confidently tows up to 7,710 pounds.

Not convinced? Not alone. The 5.7-liter V-8 is more popular with buyers, mostly due to its towing capacity. At 395 hp and 410 lb-ft, it’s rated to tow up to 12,750 pounds and lug up to 1,900 pounds in the bed. (The V-6 rates higher for payload because of its lower curb weight.)

It has a distinctive V-8 burble, but it’s refined. Unlike competitors it requires mid-grade gas, which could be a consideration for some.

A mild-hybrid system is available for the V-8 and standard on the V-6. Fuel economy isn’t dramatically improved, and it’s mostly used to power accessories.

The 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel is the next step, although it’s the priciest engine option. At 280 hp and 480 lb-ft, it has the most tug among the three, but it’s rated to tow about 200 pounds less than the 5.7-liter V-8. It has the longest legs at up to 32 mpg highway, but it’s a $5,000 upgrade on the Ram. At current gas prices, it would take most owners many years to recoup the cost at the pump vs. the gas V-6…85 years, actually.

It’s not all bad news for turbodiesel shoppers, though. Compared to the 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 in the Ram TRX, the 3.0-liter diesel pays for itself in oh, say, 20 minutes. That’s because the 702 hp coursing through the TRX is meant to go everywhere off-road at excessive speed. It’s a pricey pickup, and maybe the last thing the world needs—although it’s what many in the world want. Early editions of the truck sold out in hours.

The Ram separates from competitors with a standard coil spring suspension rather than leaf springs. An air suspension is available on many trims, although it rides too firmly for our tastes.

As you’d expect from a pickup with seven trims, two bed lengths, two cabs, four available engines, and two powertrain configurations—there are a lot of variables going on here.

Generally speaking, the Ram rides more comfortably than competitors, but steering the big truck in small streets is a chore for all of them.

Review continues below

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