The half-ton pickup sector is hugely competitive and constantly improving with new technologies, powertrains, and features. But in a rare occurrence, Ram's 1500 pickup carries over for model year 2017 with only a couple of minor changes. Trucks equipped with the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system now receive automatic climate control, while all 1500 models get a standard five-micron cabin filter for improved air quality.
Ram offers the 1500 pickup in a broad range of configurations. Cab styles include the Regular Cab, the Crew Cab, and the Quad Cab - a sort of extended cab with four front-hinged doors. The Regular Cab is available with short (6'4") and long (8') beds. The Crew Cab is also available with short and long beds, though they measure 5'7" and 6'4", respectively. The Quad Cab uses a 6'4" bed exclusively. Features like integrated bed-mounted storage boxes, a flat cab floor, and integrated cab floor storage add flexibility and practicality.
11 different levels are offered on the Ram 1500, ranging from base workhorse ST all the way up to the Limited, with varying degrees of luxury and polish. Unique trims include an outdoor sports focused trim level dubbed Outdoorsmen aimed at those who fish or hunt, while an HFE trim level optimizes the truck to eke as many kilometres out of a litre of fuel as possible.
Of note is the Rebel, the brand's off-road star. While not a direct competitor to the likes of the Ford F-150 Raptor, it offers 33-inch Toyo off-road tires, Bilstein shocks, plus a unique exterior design package that turns heads.
Ram's ranch-themed Laramie and Laramie Longhorn offer supple natural-finish leathers, and wood trim, while the Limited provides a more urban feel with polished metal, lots of exterior chrome trim, and monochrome paint. Liberal use of soft-touch stitched plastics for the dash and door trims, full leather upholstery, and easy-to-use infotainment systems have helped earn the 1500 a place on Ward's 10 Best Interiors list, too.
One hallmark of the Ram powertrain lineup is its available 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 engine, the segment's only turbodiesel engine. So equipped, it's the most economical half-ton truck on sale today with a highway consumption rating of 8.0 L/100 km. The Italian-built motor, shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, produces 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque.
Other engine choices include Chrysler's 305-hp, 269 lb-ft of torque 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, and a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 that develops 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. Most trims feature an eight-speed automatic transmission controlled by a console-mounted rotary shift knob. A six-speed automatic is used by select Hemi-powered trucks. Most trims offer a choice of 2WD or 4WD.
In addition to its unique powertrain choices, the Ram also sets itself apart from rival half-tons by its use of a coil-sprung rear suspension setup, which offers a smooth ride and improved body control. Buyers can also equip the Ram with an optional air suspension system to further up comfort and capability.
Payload ratings range from 1,260 lbs (572 kg) for the Crew Cab Hemi with six-speed automatic and 4x4 to 1,890 lbs (857 kg) for the V6 Quad Cab 4x2. Towing abilities range between a modest 4,170 lbs (1,891 kg) for the V6 4X4 Crew Cab with a 3.21 rear axle to a significant 10,640 lbs (4,826 kg) for a Hemi-powered 4X2 Regular Cab with a 3.92 rear axle. EcoDiesel trucks can tow as much as 9,210 lbs (4,178) kg) in 4X2 Regular Cab form with a 3.92 rear axle.
Buyers should note that the 1500 is not yet available with the sort of active safety features that are gradually featured on more vehicles in the half-ton segment. These include emergency autonomous braking, lane-keeping assist, radar cruise control. A reverse camera and parking sensors are available on most trims as an option, and come standard starting on the Laramie trim level.