- We wondered: Which Ram 1500 is the best Ram 1500, all things considered?
- The absurd TRX off-roader gets all the headlines, but that doesn't guarantee victory.
Comfortable, capable and available in a number of different trim levels, the Ram 1500 has a lot to offer full-size truck buyers. While the Ram 1500 is slightly edged out by the Ford F-150 in Edmunds' current truck rankings, it remains an excellent pickup that we'd recommend buyers take a closer look at.
But even if you decide that the Ram is right for you, there are several trim levels to choose from before you drive one home. Let's take a closer look at three Rams across the spectrum to see what they offer and where they fall short.
For our comparison test, we drove three different Ram 1500s, all fitted with four-wheel drive: a Big Horn, a Limited and a TRX. The Big Horn, a relatively mainstream version of the truck, was equipped with Ram's optional 5.7-liter V8 that puts out 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. It's estimated by the EPA to get 19 mpg combined. The Limited is the most luxurious version of the truck, and ours was equipped with the optional 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that produces 260 hp and 480 lb-ft. The EPA estimates an impressive 24 mpg combined for this configuration.
Finally, the Ram TRX is just nuts. It's an off-road-focused trim that's powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 pulled from high-performance Dodge cars like the Charger Hellcat and Challenger Hellcat. In TRX spec, the blown V8 puts out 702 hp and 650 lb-ft. The EPA estimates that the TRX will average 12 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
All three trucks performed admirably in our test, but they excelled at different tasks. The Big Horn has access to a lot of packaged options, and our test truck came with several of those options equipped. Packages like the Level 2 Equipment group plump up the final price of the Big Horn, but they include desirable features like heated seats, extra USB outlets and parking sensors. Thankfully, at the Big Horn level, you can pick and choose the extra equipment you want and save a bit of money on enjoyable but potentially unnecessary creature comforts.
The Ram Limited is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Our test vehicle came with all the bells and whistles, including items like a 360-degree parking camera, quilted leather seats, adaptive cruise control and a 19-speaker stereo system. The Limited's softly padded seats and air suspension make for a plush ride on the highway, while the upgraded interior panels give it a luxurious vibe. Compared to the Big Horn's work-truck feel, the Limited felt upscale and ultra-refined. It might not be what you're used to in a pickup truck, but it's certainly enjoyable.
Finally, we tested the wild TRX. If you like to get muddy on the weekends or you want to find the most remote camping spot in your state, this could be the truck for you — but only if you want to do so with a ridiculous amount of power underfoot. The supercharged V8 gives the TRX a character all its own, but so do the lifted ride height, all-terrain tires, wide-body fenders and adaptive suspension dampers. Not shockingly, it's one of the least efficient full-size trucks on the road today, but the TRX is hugely capable when the pavement ends and there's no denying the fun you can have behind the wheel.
The most user-friendly and budget-friendly truck of the bunch turned out to be our favorite — the Ram 1500 Big Horn. It doesn't load you down with unnecessary options and has more than enough capability for daily use. Notably, we'd recommend the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 instead of the V8 because it provides maximum towing capability along with impressive fuel economy.