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Available in multiple cab and bed configurations, and your choice of three different powertrains, the Ram 1500 lineup has a model for every job. From a standard work truck to the luxuriously appointed Limited trim and the off-road-ready Ram 1500 Rebel, the Ram 1500 is a versatile pickup with a long history of both work and play.
The Ram 1500 was originally introduced in the early 1980s as the Dodge Ram 1500, but the Dodge pickup truck traces its roots all the way back to the 1920s. When it debuted, the Dodge Ram 1500 was part of a larger family of trucks that included larger 2500 and 3500 models. Engine choices included a six-cylinder, two V-8s, and a Cummins turbodiesel I-6, added in 1989. The first-generation Dodge Ram 1500 was replaced in 1993 by a new model that featured updated versions of the engines found in its predecessor. A six-speed manual was first offered in the second-generation Ram pickup starting in 1998 while the three-speed automatic was replaced by a four-speed unit.
The third-generation Ram pickup arrived in 2001 as a 2002 model and was produced until 2008. One of the most notable additions to the truck for this generation was the four-door MegaCab body style, which is essentially an extended cab model with a larger cargo box and more interior space to accommodate seating for up to six passengers. One of the most interesting Ram trucks ever produced arrived in 2002. Called the Ram SRT10, this was essentially a Ram 1500 powered by the 8.3-liter V-10 from the second-generation Dodge Viper that produced 500 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque. Production of the crazy Viper-powered truck started in 2004 and continued until 2006.
The Latest Generation
Originally introduced in 2008 as a 2009 model, the current-generation Ram 1500 was sold as a Dodge until 2010 when Ram was separated into its own brand. Notable features in the current Ram 1500 include the Ram Box storage system and an available air suspension, which was added for the 2014 model year along with a diesel engine option. That engine, no longer the legendary I-6 produced by Cummins, is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 made by VM Motori and marketed as the EcoDiesel. Chrysler’s Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 and an available eight-speed automatic transmission were added in 2013.
The addition of the diesel engine and eight-speed automatic helped the Ram 1500 become Motor Trend’s 2014 Truck of the Year, and our first back-to-back winner since it also won for 2013. We noted that the diesel-powered Ram 1500 EcoDiesel never felt like it was struggling and felt more relaxed on the road compared to its counterparts powered by gas engines. “The gas-powered trucks spend more time hunting for gears and revving at engine speeds the diesel will never see. Both the shifting and NVH from high-rpm operation add to driver fatigue during long trips — especially when towing or hauling. The engine noise and vibration in the EcoDiesel are isolated, reduced to a mechanical hum at cruising,” we said.
Why You’d Consider One
When equipped with the available diesel engine, the Ram 1500 is well rounded and able to do everything from work and towing to cruising on the highway with ease. The available air suspension should also give the Ram 1500 a better ride and on-road driving dynamics while the diesel engine should offer superior fuel economy compared to its gas-powered counterparts.
Why You’d Look Elsewhere
The Ram 1500 Rebel is great off-road but it’s not a competitor to the Ford F-150 Raptor, which is one of the most capable trucks when the pavement ends.