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Ram 1500: The Ultimate Buyer's Guide

Illustration for article titled Ram 1500: The Ultimate Buyer's Guide

The Ram is about more than just Guts and Glory, it’s actually a sophisticated truck. What do you need to know before you buy a Ram 1500? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.


Ram likes to market their trucks by appealing to macho men. The narrator in their commercials has a deep voice, and says stuff like “When you’re not pumping iron at the gym or growing your beard, you should be buying Ram trucks.” It’s strange, because it’s not like the Ram is an unpolished vehicle. Sure, you can get the old-school Hemi engine, but the 3.6-liter Pentastar and 3.0-liter turbodiesel engines are pretty state-of-the-art. They’re all hooked up to advanced 8-speed ZF automatic transmissions. And the Ram rides on pretty fancy suspension as well: either coil springs all the way around or air suspension. So, even if you’re not the “manliest” of men, if you’re a fan of tech, you need to check out the Ram.

What’s New About The 2015 Ram 1500

Illustration for article titled Ram 1500: The Ultimate Buyer's Guide

After major changes in 2013 and some tweaks in 2014, the 2015 Ram is largely carryover. Aside from some tweaks to the trim levels, the biggest new addition for 2015 is the Ram Rebel, which offers a wild new look both inside and out, as well as some cool new hardware like Bilstein shocks and 33” tires.

Powertrain Breakdown

Ram offers three engine options for for their half-ton truck. You can get the burly 5.7-liter V8, the torquey and efficient 3.0-liter diesel, or the sensible 3.6-liter Pentastar. Power from these engines is routed through either an 8-speed automatic transmission or an optional 6-speed on lower trim V8 models.

2015 Ram 1500 Engine Options

EngineMax Horsepower (hp)Max Torque (lb-ft)
5.7L V8395 @ 6500 rpm410 @ 3950 rpm
3.6L V6305 @ 6400 rpm269 @ 4175 rpm
3.0L Turbodiesel240 @ 3600 rpm420 @ 2000

Fuel Economy Breakdown

Truck buyers care about fuel economy, too, and Ram knows it. That’s why you can get an 8-speed transmission, a 3.0-liter diesel engine, and a 3.6-liter V6 gas engine in your Ram. The fuel economy numbers are very good for the class. The 3.0-liter Turbodiesel can get a whopping 29 mpg on the highway. Even the 3.6-liter V6 engine can score 25 mpg thanks to that eight-speed trans. The Hemi, of course, falls behind, particularly in 4x4 guise with the six-speed. Have a look at the full breakdown below.


2015 Ram 1500 Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Highway/Combined)

3.0L V6 Turbodiesel3.6L V65.7L V8
Fuel Economy - 4x220/28/23
21/29/24 [HFE]
18/25/21 [HFE]
12/17/14 [E85]
14/20/16 [6 speed]
Fuel Economy - 4x419/27/2216/23/19
11/16/13 [E85]
13/19/15 [6 speed]

Trim Level Breakdown

Illustration for article titled Ram 1500: The Ultimate Buyer's Guide

Ram offers over a dozen trim levels on the 1500. You can buy a stripped down truck with manual locks and windows and a bench seat for 26 grand, or you can buy a $50,000 luxo-truck. Options are plentiful.

  • Tradesman: Base model regular cab. Starts at $25,660. Notable standard features: 3.6L V6 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, rotary shifter, manually adjustable 40/20/40 bench seat, manual doors, manual windows, air conditioning, 6-speaker AM/FM radio with aux and USB ports, 17” steel wheels, black front and rear fascias, spray-in bedliner, locking tailgate, Class IV hitch with wiring harness, active grille shutters, cruise control, front and side airbags, full size spare, vinyl floor covering, auxiliary transmission cooler. Note: $25,660 price is with optional 5.7L V8 and 6-speed transmission.
  • Express: Street-oriented base model: Starts at $26,940. Notable standard features over Tradesman: 20” aluminum wheels, carpeting, fog lamps, body-color front and rear fascias, dual rear exhaust with chrome tips, no Class IV hitch or wiring harness, temporary use spare.
  • SLT: Starts at $30,285. Notable standard features over Express: auxiliary transmission cooler, cloth bench seat, overhead console, power door locks with keyless entry, power windows, temperature and compass gauge, 5” touchscreen display, bluetooth, satellite radio, Uconnect in-car communications system, 17” aluminum wheel, full size spare, chrome front and rear bumpers, chrome grille, power heated mirrors, no fog lamps, no dual rear exhaust.
  • Big Horn: Starts at $31,190. Notable features over SLT: Premium cloth 40/20/40 bench with center seat cushion storage, power driver’s seat and lumbar adjuster, leather wrapped steering wheel, 20” aluminum wheels, temporary use spare, fog lamps, class IV hitch, 115V power outlet, no aux jack or touchscreen.
  • Lone Star: Texas-only version of Big Horn trim. Also starts at $31,190. Different available options such as interior and exterior trim and badging.
  • Sport: Starts at $35,705. Notable standard features over Big Horn/Lone Star: 5.7L V8 engine, heavier duty 8-speed automatic transmission, heavy duty transmission cooler, shorter axle ratio, limited slip differential, heated cloth bucket seats, auto dimming mirrors, floor console, heated steering wheel, overhead console, 7” cluster, 8.4” touchscreen display, premium speakers, 22” aluminum wheels, sport tail lamps, body-color front fascia and rear bumper, dual exhaust with chrome tips, performance hood, power folding mirrors, backup camera.
  • Tradesman HFE: Starts at $37,200. Notable standard features over Tradesman: Quad cab, 3.0L V6 Diesel Engine, heavier duty 8-speed automatic transmission, shorter axle ratio, 20” aluminum wheels, temporary use spare tire, tonneau cover, side steps, no spray-in bedliner, no class IV receiver hitch.
  • Express HFE: Starts at $37,895. Notable standard features over Express: 3.0L V6 Diesel Engine, heavier duty 8-speed automatic transmission, shorter axle ratio, tonneau cover, side steps, no dual exhaust.
  • Outdoorsman: Starts at $39,040. Notable standard features over SLT: Quad cab, 4x4, limited slip differential, extra heavy duty rear shock absorbers, no auxiliary transmission cooler, premium cloth bucket seats with power driver’s seat, auto-dimming heated power mirrors, rubber floor mats, leather wrapped steering wheel, overhead and floor consoles, 7”cluster, 8.4” touchscreen with Uconnect in-car communication, painted bumpers, unique exterior paint and trim, fog lamps, front suspension and transfer case skid plate, class IV receiver hitch, remote start.
  • Laramie: Starts at $39,275. Notable standard features over Big Horn/Lone Star: Quad cab, no auxiliary transmission cooler, heated and ventilated 40/20/40 leather bench seat, power adjustable driver and passenger seat with memory function, automatic temperature control, auto dimming mirrors, heated steering wheel, power adjustable pedals with memory function, rear power sliding window, unique interior trim and lighting, 7” cluster, 8.4” touchscreen display, 9 amplified speakers with subwoofer, unique wheels, projector headlamps, premium tail lamps, power folding mirrors, unique exterior trim and paint scheme, backup camera, no receiver hitch.
  • Rebel: Starts at $42,790. Notable standard features: Crew cab, 3.6L V6 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, unique front and rear fascias, unique interior trim, air suspension with Bilstein dampers, performance hood, cloth red and black seats with unique stitching, tonneau cover, LED fog lamps, 5” touch screen display, 33” tires, tow hooks, heavy duty trans cooler.
  • Laramie Longhorn: Starts at $47,185. Notable standard features over Laramie: Crew cab, 5.7L V8 engine, heavier duty 8-speed automatic transmission, heavy duty transmission cooler, limited slip differential, premium leather bucket seats, unique floor mats, unique interior trim, memory for seats/pedals/mirrors/radio, GPS, HD radio, unique 20” aluminum wheels, full size spare, painted front and rear bumpers, unique exterior trim and paint, running boards, larger gas tank, class IV receiver hitch, tow hooks, parking sensors.
  • Laramie Limited: Starts at $49,680. Notable standard features over Laramie Longhorn: air suspension, unique heated leather front and rear seats, unique more luxurious interior trim, unique 20” aluminum wheels, automatic high beam headlamp control, rain sensitive wipers, chrome side steps, unique exterior trim and paint, rear window defroster.
  • Limited: Starts at $50,675. Notable standard features over Laramie Limited: Leather heated and ventilated front and rear seats, self-leveling air suspension, unique grille.

Which One We’d Buy

Ram went crazy with trim levels. Keeping them straight can be a chore, so we’ll just tell you what we’d buy. If it were us, the sweet spot appears to be the Quad Cab/6’4” Box Tradesman 4WD with Uconnect infotainment, backup camera, “anti-spin” rear differential, skid plates, tow hooks, air suspension, and 3.6 Pentastar V6 for $36,390. It’s got the bells and whistles, plenty of interior space, and sweet off-road gear to handle the rough stuff.


Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $25,660 - $54,480 Max Advertised Towing Capability 10,500 lbs [5.7L]

Max Payload: 1,949 lbs [3.6L] Bed Sizes: 5.7 ft, 6.4 ft, 8.0 ft

MPG: 29 hwy / 21 city / 24 combined [3.0L HFE] Engines: 3.0L Diesel V6, 3.6L V6, 5.7L V8


Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, RWD/4WD

Transmissions: 8-speed automatic, 6-speed automatic

Photo credit: Ram




I own a 2014 Laramie Longhorn with the Hemi V8. It is identical to the 2015 model. Feel free to AMA.

Overall, at 8000+ miles, I’m very happy with this truck. The air suspension gives it a great ride. My only regret is that I didn’t get the higher ratio axle with more towing capability but this truck was on the lot in March 2015 with a $10K discount.

My only complaint with the Longhorn is the over the top badging which Ram seems committed to making worse as time goes by. My very first modification was to remove all the Longhorn badges. Just look at the size of this thing. You can do a discount double check with it. I may just go ahead and make a belt buckle with it.

The cabin is a very nice, quiet place to be. The engine is only noticeable when you want it to be noticed. Road and wind noise are very minimal. I certainly don’t have to raise my voice to be heard by my wife. That’s important because this thing is so damn big my wife sits in another zip code.

The Uconnect system (which I have applied the security patch to) has worked rather flawlessly. It works well with my iPhone 6 and I keep all my music on an SD card. The seats in the Longhorn a little bit harder than my old F150 FX2 but they are supportive and comfortable on long trips. As you can see, Ram once again goes over the top with leather badges and even laser etching on the seats. However those are real wood accents, power everything, an AC that can probably make ice cream, a storage bin for everything, etc., etc., etc...

The 4x4 system is automatic. You can leave it turned on all day long on the pavement if you choose. I leave mine turned off most of the time but it actually helps a bit to leave it on in the rain. Off road, it has been flawless. The extra clearance of the air suspension helps as well. I’ve been muddin’ a bit back in Lousiana and haven’t had any issues. I’m heading back there next month to setup a deer stand with my brothers.

Another thing I really like are all the sensors in the front and rear bumpers. Frankly you’ll need them if you want to put this into a garage. Even though this truck has the 6.4’ bed, it will fit into my garage, but as you can see, it’s a tight fit. Keep in mind that my rear bumper has to be touching the rear wall in order to get the garage door closed.

I cross shopped with the new F150 Lariat and King Ranch. Frankly I still love the F150. However, at the time of my purchase, Ford wasn’t doing squat on pricing and this Ram had a big fat discount. It is easy to overlook some of the styling issues with this truck when the price is that good. Even though the Longhorn is great, I would have tipped the hat towards another F150 if the pricing were closer.