Power. Efficiency. Capability. These are words that are often evoked in the hotly contested light duty truck category. While not every truck can live up to them, the new Dodge RAM does without question. The truth is, the 2017 RAM 1500 not only favorably matches with its competitors in such criteria, but offers several class exclusive features that clearly define it in the segment.
The RAM lineup has been a major success since the truck underwent a major redesign for the 1994 model year. Gone was the boxy, pedestrian look of the old D-Series truck. To better compete with other offerings, RAM went for a sleeker design reminiscent of big-rigs, and catered directly to consumers looking for a comfortable, user friendly large truck. The spirit of this look has carried on into the newest generation of RAM trucks, with more features to suit you for recreation or business.
Introduced in the fall of 2008, the current generation RAM 1500 (the RAM brand was spun-off from Dodge in 2009) has undergone continual changes. In addition to a choice of cabs, and powertrains, the light duty RAM 1500 can be paired with unique options such as a diesel engine, independent rear suspension, an available locking cargo box, air springs, and leisure or off-road oriented packages.
The 2017 RAM 1500 offers a trident-punch between a small V-6, a large V-8, and, introduced in 2014, a small diesel V-6. By offering three distinct engines, Chrysler group focused on quality, durability, and narrowing each engine choice to a specific niche.
The base engine in the 2017 RAM 1500 is a 3.6 Liter Pentastar V-6. If you are looking for a truck to use everyday and occasionally tow, the V-6 may be for you. The V-6 engine in the RAM 1500 provides a class leading 25 miles per gallon on the highway, coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Smooth with commendable performance, the V-6 is also easy to work on with plenty of space in the engine bay.
No changes come to the 5.7 Liter HEMI V-8 for 2017. This engine has been a venerable staple of RAM’s truck group since its introduction in 2002. Capable of towing up to 10,700 pounds with an optional 3.92:1 axle ratio, the large V-8 covers most anything you will find in the recreational market. With the ability to shut down multiple cylinders under light loads, and variable valve timing, the 5.7L is a sophisticated engine.
The 3.0 Liter Ecodiesel V-6 lays claim to the best fuel economy in its class, at up to 29 MPG highway. The pitter-patter of old diesels is hidden in the small V-6: gone is the playful nuances, the black smoke and chug of a large displacement diesel. You may grow into the new diesel offering rather than grow out of it, with its fuel efficiency and capability. Providing 240 horsepower and 420 Ib-ft of torque, the optional Ecodiesel is a product jointly engineered by VM Motori S.p.A, an Italian engineering firm, and Fiat Powertrain Technologies, a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automotive.
Older RAM trucks used a four-wheel drive system that kept the front axle engaged at all times. Major improvements came to the new RAM 1500, with axles that are not constantly locked to the wheels, greatly increasing fuel economy and longevity.
The cheapest four-wheel drive RAM starts at just over $30,000. To improve off-road capability and durability, four-wheel drive models lose their independent rear suspension for a rugged axle and heavy duty leaf springs, similar to what competitors offer.
What Does the RAM 1500 Offer to You?
If you find the number of optional powertrains, differentials, and axles dizzying, RAM expands greatly on each of those with bed lengths, interior arrangements and cab sizes for 2017.
Mostly gone are traditional Spartan truck interiors, where your hand operated the steering but also the windows, transmission, transfer case and radio. Gone are polyurethane floors except for fleet models, and dashboards made with hard plastic. In concentrating on consumer sales versus fleets, RAM created a quality built and durable interior.
From the driver’s seat the RAM 1500 provides excellent sight lines, with an upright seating position, large windows, and easy to read gauges. Despite recent redesigns from Chevrolet and Ford, the RAM has a very well built, high quality interior that matches well with its competitors. Gone is fake wood and aluminum trim — designers used real materials in RAM trims such as the Laramie or Big Horn.
A standard cab, an extended “quad” cab with a small traditional rear door, and a four door “crew cab” are available, along with bed lengths from 5 ½ to 8 feet in length.
Optional is Chrysler’s lauded UConnect infotainment system. In contrast to Ford’s SYNC, you’ll find the UConnect entertainment system easy to navigate, loading screens quickly and with simple prompts. From UConnect you can access music, fuel economy information, your navigation system and traditional radio through dials or the systems touchscreen.
Exclusive to its class is the RAM Box, a locking box set above the rear wheel wells. This box can be remotely unlocked through the key fob, is protected from the elements, and is in a discrete location that is easily accessible.
Value and Trims
The Tradesman is the entry level trim, starting at just above $26,000. Aimed at those searching for the simplest of RAM trucks, the Tradesman comes standard with the V-6 engine, two-wheel drive, and a vinyl split bench seat.
The Express, Big Horn, and Sport are the mid-tier trim levels, offering such amenities as UConnect, remote start, alloy wheels, and entrance into the small diesel and large V-8 powertrains.
The Laramie and Rebel are the two most distinctive trims. The Laramie is luxury lined, with leather seats, an 8.4-inch touch screen UConnect system, a 9 speaker Alpine stereo system and chrome trim. The Rebel is off-road oriented, with standard skid plates, upgraded front and rear shocks, an available locking rear differential and 31-inch tires. Both come with automatic temperature controls for 2017.
Finally, introduced for the 2016 model year, the Limited is the top end model for the RAM lineup. The 5.7L HEMI V-8 comes standard, as does halogen headlights, chrome, french stitched seats, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, Argento wood trim and more chrome. The Limited has a base price just above $50,000.
You will find the RAM 1500 compares well to its competitors. For 2017, most trim levels see a minor increase in price with more standard features. As a new Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado has been introduced, you may also find major discounts even on incoming 2017 inventory, making the RAM lineup an excellent value.
All RAM 1500 trucks come with a standard 3-year, 36,000-mile warranty.
Pros and Cons of the RAM 1500
The current RAM platform has been around for seven years. Its two main powertrains, the 3.6L V-6 and 5.7L V-8, have been in production for more than eight and fourteen years, respectively. While the competition has introduced new engine lineups, revamped platforms, and increased levels of technology, RAM has consistently improved on the formula that gives the 2017 broad appeal with unique advantages.
The diesel V-6 has had only two years to prove whether it is a reliable power plant, and added features quickly increase the base price of the 2017 RAM 1500.
The 2017 RAM 1500 covers the entire array of the light duty truck segment. It can tow over 10,000 pounds, seat up to six, reach almost 30 miles per gallon, or offer nearly 400 horsepower. If you are in the market for a capable, reliable truck with a number of unique yet proven features, the 2017 RAM 1500 may be for you.