|Positives: Remarkably easy to drive for such a large vehicle, premium interior materials, comfort for all occupants is superb, great HEMI V8 engine pulls hard.|
|Negatives: Filigree interior is over the top, LATCH system is difficult to use, still thirsty even with fuel-saving measures.|
|Bottom Line: The Ram 1500 is the best full-sized truck out there today, and in top Laramie Longhorn trim, it gets seriously stylized. Due to its tech, huge screen, levels of comfort and refinement, we'd say this is the first truck we'd consider for the family.|
You don't expect a pickup truck to be great to drive, but the segment is changing. The 2018 Ram 1500 was quite good, but the new one is that much better thanks to serious improvements under the skin.
Ride Quality: Excellent ride thanks to an updated suspension and improved, lighter ladder frame chassis. The ride borders on creamy, absorbing bumps very well.
Acceleration: Our optional 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine was impressively strong. It pulls hard, and the transmission shift smoothly and without hesitation. 0-60 comes in the mid sixes, and that's pretty quick for something this big.
Braking: The brakes are strong (thanks to larger front rotors) and progressive, and we love the adjustable pedals.
Steering: Steering is surprisingly precise for a pickup truck, but the effort is on the light side.
Handling: There's some lean you expect from a tall truck, but thanks to the relocated roll bar, the Ram 1500 manages things very well.
Ram went whole hog on this one. The optional 12-inch touchscreen is the biggest in the class and eclipses pretty much every other infotainment screen on the planet shy of Tesla. It's a serious differentiator in the segment, and it's pretty awesome.
Infotainment System: The big 12" color split screen has a ton of funtionality. It takes some adjustment to figure out what's where, but after a couple of days in the 1500, the process became easy. The screen is vivid, the menus are easy, and the look is truly astounding.
Controls: The seat heat/cooling functions were a buried a bit deep for our liking, but that's a minor detail. Because of the big screen HVAC buttons get pushed to the outer flanks of the screen instead of in a row. It takes some getting used to. The rotary shifter works very well.
Though everyone remembers the big cross-hair grille from the last generation, the Ram 1500 has evolved properly. The look is still bold and still very recognizable, but the new truck in just about every trim looks even better.
Front: The only trim level that has a totally different grille is the Rebel. The regular grille can be dressed up in full chrome or body color, depending on trim. There's a lot of chrome going on, but it still looks good.
Rear: There's not a ton you can do with a pickup tailgate, but FCA manages to do it up nicely with some taillight styling, tailgate contours, and two very nice round exhaust tips.
Profile: The crew cab is well proportioned and even more attractive in two-tone paint. The wheel design is a bit basic, though.
Cabin: We were blown away by the fit and finish of the opulent Light Brown/Mountain Brown with filigree trim inside (on the seats and the gauges), and the Barn wood is beautiful to look at, as well as touch. The croc print leather on some parts is nonsequitur, though. The whole interior is a bit overdone, but it's cool to see Ram do something different.
This is where the Ram 1500 shines, especially in higher trims. The leather is very nice to the touch, as are the controls and buttons. The amount of room in here is also staggering and class leading.
Front Seats: Big, wide, and comfortable, the seats are brilliantly done for long haul driving, and there's a lot of headroom and legroom.
Rear Seats: The back is massive, and there's as much room as a luxury sedan, if not more. The seats are comfortable, even though the seatbacks don't recline. The rear top part of the LATCH system is hard to use with only fabric loops to secure baby seats to the headrests.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): It's rock solid inside with only the guttural growl of the big HEMI engine. Even at highway speeds, it's pretty quiet.
Visibility: The truck is tall, so getting around parking lots can be a challenge. The cameras and sensors are a must.
Climate: HVAC is great, and the heated/ventilated seats are quick to engage.
Though the Ram 1500 didn't win any safety awards, that doesn't mean it's not really safe, as it's only hampered by smaller details. It's been tested by the IIHS but not by the NHTSA as yet.
IIHS Rating: It missed the top scores because of marginal headlights and LATCH ease of use. We thought the headlights were fine. It actually got "superior" for accident avoidance tech and nailed all the crash tests with flying colors.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The Laramie Long Horn comes with ParkSense Front and Rear Park-Assist with Stop, and the Parkview Rear Back Up Camera.
Optional Tech: This truck came with the Advanced Safety Group for an extra $1,695, which comes with Adaptive Cruise Control, Advanced Brake Assist, Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, Lane Departure Warning Plus, Parallel & Perpendicular Park Assist, and the Surround-View Camera
The Ram 1500 is a pickup truck with great internal, as well as external storage. It's actually one of the best we've seen with ingenius use of internal storage capacity.
Storage Space: Not only is the center armrest and cubbies huge, they also fold back to provide a middle seating position in the front row. Our tester did not have the Class Executive Reconfigurable Center Console, but it held our gear incredibly well. The flat load floor in the rear lets you hold a ton of cargo. too.
Cargo Room: Cargo volume is 61.5 cubic feet.
A lot of thought went into increasing the big truck's efficiency. It has a 2-degree change in windshield angle, a roof design that helps airflow over the truck bed, an air dam that lowers at speeds above 35 mph with temps above 38 degrees, and new grille shutters that close when speeds increase. The 2018 model got 13 city / 18 highway / 14 combined, but the new truck gets better numbers to the tune of 15/21/17.
Observed: 11.4 mpg
Distance Driven: 130miles
The upgraded Harman Kardon system has 19 speakers, and you can hear every one of them in this setup. It's full, clear, loud, and plenty potent. We never experienced any distortion even at high volumes. $3,895 is a lot to pay for the equipment group to get his upgrade, but it is a great system that partners well with the top-end infotainment system.