There are few things more formidable than a Dodge truck in motion and the Dodge Ram is no exception. The 2018 season sees a host of new innovations amongst the three offered models while retaining the same ideas that keep the Dodge Ram at the head of its class.
The Ram is a full-size pickup and the successor of the Dodge D series. It’s offered in both four-wheel drive (4WD) and rear-wheel drive, but the 4WD drive has long since become standard for customers looking to get the most from their pickup.
First introduced in 1981 on the Ram and Power Ram, the Ram brand has remained a contender and amongst the best in its line. The Ram has won Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year award five times, including twice for the Ram 1500 in 2013 and 2014.
2018 Ram 1500
- Tradesman: $27,295
- Tradesman/Express: $27,295
- ST: $31,095
- SLT: $31,395
- Sport: $37,095
- HFE: $37,895
- Rebel: $45,495
- Longhorn: $50,095
If you’re looking for a light-duty pickup that can still haul furniture to and from your house, then the Ram 1500 is the way to go. The 2018 year sees minor changes in the form of additional infotainment offerings and a standardized backup camera. The 8.4-inch dashboard touchscreen has been optimized to allow for pinch-to-zoom functionality as well as other improvements.
All of these trims are offered with a variety of bed sizes ranging from 120 inches to 149 — they also offer selections between 4WD and two-wheel drive (2WD) as well as various sizes of cabs. There’s a lot of customization involved here and rightly so, because every pickup fan likes them for different reasons.
Every trim shares an 8-speed automatic but there are mild differences between the engines involved. Less expensive trims like the Tradesman have less power beneath the hood, sacrificing speed for cost with 305 horsepower in their V6 engines — horsepower increases with price with the exception of the HFE, which drops to 240 horsepower but uses advanced EcoDiesel technology to improve its fuel economy. All Longhorn variations boast 395 horsepower of V8 under the hood.
The 1500 gets fuel efficiency typical of its size and class across the board — 23 combined miles per gallon on the Tradesman is mirrored for several trims but declines as horsepower rises. The Longhorn and Rebel both fall to 17 miles per gallon, proving mildly problematic for anyone who intends to take their pickup on long drives. That said, overall the 1500 is a smooth ride in every trim.
The main competition in the light-duty category is the 2018 Ford F-150, which holds a distinct advantage over most of its competition based purely on historical acclaim. This year the matchup is close, and the choice really boils down to brand loyalty — while the F-150 has better upholstery qualities and a stronger tow, the 1500’s cushioned seats and superior handling makes it a smoother ride.
2018 Ram 2500
- Tradesman: $32,645
- SLT: $36,495
- Laramie: $47,745
- Power Wagon: $52,295
- Longhorn: $54,495
The Ram 2500 is Dodge’s formidable 2018 heavy-duty offering, proving both more powerful and pricier than the 1500. As in previous years, the 2500 is a big pickup that maintains its place in the season’s front-runners with pure grit. Some of the features seem slightly outdated compared to competitors, though.
As with the 1500, the 2500 has a wide selection of trims with three distinct cab styles including the beefy mega cab and various performance options. This year’s Laramie trim is the standout as a middle-of-the-line trim with dual-zone climate control and front/rear parking sensors — the Power Wagon is also worth investigating. The Power Wagon trim features a lifted chassis that makes the 2500 a serious off-road explorer.
The Tradesman starts out the 2500’s trims with 383 horsepower under the hood, rising up to 410 in the line’s beefiest models. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard for every 2500 and gets solid acceleration, although nothing that truly impresses. It’s a truck that works great doing exactly what it’s meant for, but you shouldn’t expect much more.
The fuel efficiency specs haven’t been released for 2018 yet, but if the 2017 numbers are anything to go by, the 2500 sits firmly in the lower end of the pack. The 2017 Ram 2500 with a crew cab managed 14 miles per gallon on the highway and had one of the lowest ranges in its class, managing only 430 miles with a full tank compared to the Chevy Silverado’s 680 miles.
The 2500’s competition in 2018 appears in the form of the 2018 Chevy Silverado HD. While Dodge offers the 2500 at more manageable prices than the expensive Silverado, a higher fuel tank volume in the Chevy and a higher maximum payload. The Ram 2500 also features a more spacious interior and one extra seat, allowing it to sit six people — when it comes to the struggle between these two heavy-duty pickups, the Ram 2500 has advantages and disadvantages both.
2018 Ram 3500
- Tradesman: $33,945
- SLT: $38,145
- Laramie: $49,095
- Laramie Longhorn: $55,695
This is the beefiest member of the Ram class. It can tow a maximum weight of 31,120 pounds and does so without a groan. The 3500 is also more expensive than smaller trucks — but remember, this is a pickup meant for hard workers.
As in the other versions of the 2018 Ram, the 3500 has a wide selection of consumer add-ons in the form of various trims. The Laramie and Longhorn trims are combined into the powerful Laramie Longhorn, the most expensive and most formidable member of the 3500 family.
Starting out at 385 horsepower and 900 pounds of torque per foot may seem comparable to the 2500’s engine power, but the difference is in the truck’s size — this super-sized pickup carries a great deal more weight than the 2500 and manages the same level of acceleration. In more expensive trims, the engine is upgraded to 410 horsepower.
Much as with the Ram 2500, the EPA hasn’t tested this truck’s fuel efficiency — taking past years into account, however, you shouldn’t expect more than 15 miles per gallon combined, and even that could be conservative. The amount of fuel needed to keep this formidable truck moving is nothing to sneeze at.
The Ram 3500’s competitors include the likes of the Ford F-250, another heavy-duty powerhouse. The F-250 managed less substantial acceleration in 2017 and took nearly two seconds less to go from 0 to 60. It manages to compete in the 2018 year by virtue of the sturdy aluminum frame and responsive handling, a must in a vehicle of this size and weight.