Inside the 2017 Ram 1500

If you’re in the market for a pickup truck, the Ram 1500 is an interesting option. It’s a bit cheaper than the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado. In terms of styling, the 2017 Ram 1500 has an old school look and feel, although there are plenty of special editions on offer if you prefer trucks with louder styling.

Then there’s the fact that it’s currently the only full-size American pickup you can buy with a diesel engine. If you’re considering buying a new truck, here’s everything you need to know about the 2017 Ram 1500.

It’s A Bit Older Than the Competition

Technically, the 2017 Ram 1500 is almost 10-years-old. What we mean by that is the platform the truck sits on is older, having debuted way back in 2008 when the Ram brand didn’t even exist yet. When it comes to trucks, the age of the architecture they ride on is kind of a big deal. New platforms usually bring weight loss and improved ride quality and handling. They also bring increased payload and towing capacities.

The 2017 Ram 1500 has the lowest payload and towing capacity among American full-size trucks. Its max towing capacity is 10,620 pounds and its max payload capacity is 1,880 pounds. In comparison, the Silverado and its corporate twin, the GMC Sierra, have max tow ratings of 12,500 pounds. Plus, the Ford F-150 has a maximum payload capacity of 3,270 pounds.

One Engine Sets It Apart from the F-150 And Silverado

The base engine for the Ram 1500 is a 3.6-liter V6 producing 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. This engine is more powerful than the entry-level option in the Ford F-150 – a 3.5-liter V6 producing 282 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque. The Silverado’s 4.3-liter V6 offers less horsepower than the Ram’s V6, but it does make more torque. The only other gas engine available in the Ram 1500 is a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 rated at 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque.

This engine easily outpaces the 5.0-liter V8 offered in the Ford F-150. Chevrolet actually offers two V8s for the Silverado – a 5.3-liter and a 6.2-liter. The smaller Chevy V8 produces 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. While the Ram 1500’s HEMI V8 easily outshines that power plant, it’s unable to match the 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque made by the Silverado’s 6.2-liter V8.

The 2017 Ram 1500 is the only American pickup truck that you can get with a diesel. Its turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6 makes 240 horsepower and a mighty 420 lb-ft of torque. It also gets excellent gas mileage with an EPA rating of 21/29 mpg (city and highway). Now, just because Ram offers a diesel 1500 doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find one on a dealer lot. Production of the “EcoDiesel” was put on hold in the middle of 2016 over concerns about the truck’s true level of emissions. According to Automotive News, the automaker has cautiously restarted production but is still awaiting EPA certification. A 2017 Ram 1500 with a diesel might be hard to find until output normalizes.

But wait, it gets worse. Ford and Chevrolet are eager to cash in on full-size diesel truck sales. In the spring of 2018, a diesel-powered F-150 will go on sale. Chevy won’t be far behind that timeline either. Off-Road.com snagged spy shots of a Silverado test mule filling up its tank with diesel fuel. The Ram 1500’s edge as the only American full-size truck with a diesel engine won’t remain intact for long.

All 2017 Ram 1500s come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and four-wheel drive is available throughout the lineup. Base model F-150s and Silverados both get six-speed autos standard, although eight-speeds are available. Ram currently has the edge as far as entry-level transmissions, but the competition should soon catch up. Ford now offers a 10-speed automatic transmission in the F-150, a transmission it developed with GM. The Silverado should be getting that same 10-speed sooner rather than later.

Image via FCA Canada Inc.

Waiting to Buy Isn’t a Bad Idea

An all-new Ram 1500 is due out in 2018. However, Automotive News reports that existing models will be built into 2019. The smarter play may be to wait until 2018. That 2019 model will have a new platform and therefore increased payload and towing capacities. It’ll also sport a redesigned interior and exterior, and more tech. While FCA plans to sell two generations of the Ram 1500 simultaneously, the older model will not be left untouched.

Older Ram 1500s will be updated with the new tech and features found on the next-gen models. However, since the older trucks would be, well, older, they’d be sold cheaper. Those who really want to own a Ram 1500 — and not just those who want a new truck — would be smart to wait another year or so.

Pricing and Comparison to The Competition

The 2017 Ram 1500 starts at $26,495 for the single cab “Tradesman” trim. At the top of the totem pole is the new “Tungsten,” a luxury truck with a starting MSRP of $56,515. The Ram 1500 Tungsten was only recently revealed and will go on sale in late 2017. Between those two extremes there are 10 other trims, the most notable of which is the Rebel. Think of the Ram Rebel as a sort of an F-150 Raptor light in terms of performance and price. The almost off-roader starts at $45,095.

When compared to the F-150 and Silverado, the Ram 1500 is usually the cheapest option in most scenarios. For example, the cheapest F-150 you can buy with 4WD costs $31,755, and the cheapest Silverado with the same specs runs $33,020. The 2017 Ram 1500 with 4WD has a base price of $31,095. That’s slightly cheaper than the F-150, but Ram’s truck has the better transmission standard. When it comes to cabin space a 2017 Ram Crew Cab is cheaper than any Ford or Chevy full-size truck with four doors. Surprisingly, Ram doesn’t offer the cheapest V8 around. If you want eight cylinders but are on a budget, Ford is where to look.

When it comes to the 2017 Ram 1500, you really do get what you pay for. It’s older and slightly less capable than its American rivals. If you think you’ll need to tow a load weighing 12,500 pounds — the Silverado’s max tow rating — then the Ram 1500 isn’t for you. If you plan on dropping 3,270 pounds in the bed — the payload capacity of the F-150 — then the Ram 1500 isn’t for you.

While Ram is outclassed when it comes to towing and payload, there are many areas where it tops both Ford and Chevy. There’s that standard eight-speed automatic transmission, the best base transmission of any American full-size truck. The Ram 1500 is also the only truck in its segment to offer an air suspension system. The system adjusts ride height to one of five settings, with drivers able to customize the settings at all four wheels individually. The Ram 1500 also offers the largest infotainment touchscreen in its class, measuring 8.4 inches.

It’s tough to recommend the 2017 Ram 1500 over the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado. Those two trucks are much newer and more capable where it counts. If you care less about top-end capabilities, the Ram 1500 is a great buy. If you don’t care about the money and just really want a Ram 1500, wait a year or two for the new and new-ish models.

Image via FCA Canada Inc.