For 2014, Ram 1500 is available with a diesel engine, making it the first half-ton pickup to offer a modern, clean diesel engine option (though there was a light-duty diesel option offered by Dodge decades ago). Also new for 2014 are new colors and chrome bits. Otherwise, Ram 1500 carries over unchanged. The current-generation Ram was launched as a 2009 model.
The new 3.0-liter V6 diesel is rated at 240 horsepower, 420 pound-feet of torque, with an EPA-estimated 20/28 mpg City/Highway. It pairs with the 8-speed automatic transmission.
Both the 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter V8 gasoline engines carry over to 2014 unchanged from the 2013 model year, and they are paired with either a 6- or 8-speed automatic. Although GM and Ford offer a bigger, more powerful V8 than the Ram Hemi, only Ram puts the big engine in a regular cab model.
The Ram 1500, considered a half-ton, can carry loads of stuff and can tow trailers similar to what the competition will. Maximum load and tow ratings among the major manufacturers change faster than mobile device operating systems and the only certainty is you want to consider a bigger pickup if you will frequently operate near those maximums.
The 2014 Ram 1500 offers three cabs, three bed lengths (two with RamBox), three engines, two transmissions, two suspension arrangements, and interiors from hose-out ethic to limo substitute. Counted by cab, bed, drive and trim level, there are more than 70 Ram 1500 configurations, retailing from about $23,000 to more than $57,000.
The Ram 1500 offers an optional full air suspension, with automatic leveling, entry/exit mode for easier cab access, and variable ride heights for on- and off-highway travel. The air suspension is available on any model except the new Ram HFE fuel economy special, which includes automatic start/stop engine operation and a bed cover.
On the outside, Ram continues with imposing stature. Like many Dodge cars, the Ram’s front end has a forward tilt, but it remains very 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.
The Ram 1500 is a conventional full-size pickup truck, but it differs in rear suspension and powertrains from all its competitors: primarily Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra twins and, to a lesser extent, the Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra. Because the Honda Ridgeline does not have a separate frame, cab and bed, nor a choice of two or four-wheel drive, we do not consider it a conventional half-ton pickup, although those using a crew cab pickup primarily as a second car would be wise to consider the Ridgeline.
Underneath, where for decades pickup trucks have had a live axle in back with leaf springs, the Ram’s rear axle is suspended by coil springs and it is 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). Add to that payload and tow ratings that change frequently and only Toyota uses the industry-wide standard. To choose the best truck for you, we recommend avoiding any buying decision made purely on brand or maximum cargo or tow rating.
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 new engines and Ford half-tons offer more engine choices but none has an 8-speed automatic or diesel. The Nissan Titan is the only half-ton that offers a full eight-foot long-bed with a Crew Cab. (Ram Heavy Duty 2500 and 3500 pickups are covered in a separate review.)
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