The pickup market is more competive than ever lately. With massive new Titan, ultra-modern Silverado and alloy F-150 in the last few years, you might’ve expected big changes in market share.
In fact, the biggest gainer over the last few years is the familiar Ram 1500.
We spent a week finding out why RAM goes all-caps and size 1500 font for its new badges in back. This is a machine with a bold soul!
Our rear-drive tester is the amazing Night Edition with fully blacked-out details and monochrome paintwork all around. Glossy black for the giant cross-hair grille is a first on the road for a factory RAM.
This is a truck with real swagger at stoplights, folks. Hop in and let’s roll.
We have a full review here with Exterior, Interior, Performance and Pricing section headings. PLUS what is a playful drive video with incredible HEMI sounds galore.
Performance Drive Video
400 bucks. That is the price to take Ram’s style places it has never been.
That is the cost of the Night Edition package with its full dechroming, body-colored bumpers and black details and wheels. The 20-inch alloys swell from the fenders, with the 4×2 drivetrain keeping the stance fairly low versus most trucks.
Dark inner headlamps and even a black dip for the RAM horns emblem in front create a seriously cool look. The glossy black upper grille has a menacing, boca-negra type of raciness unseen in most factory trucks. The Ram Sport’s presence is also enhanced greatly by the $775 Sport Performance Hood. Big central intake bulge and reverse hood vents are Hellcat-cool.
Beyond the Night package, the Sport Crew Cab is still one of the most handsome full-size pickup trucks around. Bulging fenders are strong but smooth – with nicely finished details like a tight gap in the back bumper for the jumbo twin pipes. There is just something sporty and on-trend in this style – without going overboard.
The Ram has one style area where it envies other trucks in 2017, however. That is with the lack of an LED DRL in front. Halogen projector beams for the lights are a throwback versus the amber LED front blinkers. LEDs for the brake lights and bed lighting are nice and functional, but could use a style upgrade as well.
Two huge Ram exclusives are the gigantic Ram box storage units in the side of the bed. These are optional at $1295 and seem like smart money for creating a sealed, locking pair of trunks, toolboxes, coolers and much more.
Cabin of the Ram leans hard on its brilliant drivetrain for modern, sporty smoothness. The first block with Ram shows a friendly drive mood and excellent chassis rigidity. This particular Ram Sport cannot hide how happy it is to see you – thanks to a throaty MOPAR cold-air intake and catback exhaust system.
You really can’t tire of such a lovely and smooth Hemi rumble and bellow – although it is ever-present inside.
Beside the exhaust, Ram is actually terrifically insulated and refined. Similarly, the build quality and cabin toughness seem best-in-class. There is none of the hollow dashboard feel of the Tundra, or the somewhat brittle feel of F-150’s door panels, etc. Ram feels 200,000-mile tough inside.
Having said that… the Ram suffers inside versus some luxed-up truck rivals on the materials front. Most of the plastics feel cheap – albeit thick and solid. There is also a sea of black and charcoal inside that could use some color, woods or metal accents. Particularly for such a cool and sporty trim.
But lordy is Ram useful and comfortable. The knob-actuated drive control is brilliant and takes no space. Insead of shift paddles or a stalk rocker switch, Ram cleanly puts the gear selection buttons on the face of the steering wheel. Special mentions for the class-best center console storage solutions and thoughtful rubberized phone mounts on the center stack.
Power pedals make up for a pretty limited set of options for drive positions. Would be nice to sit lower and with steering extending further. But as it is, Ram already feels sportier than Titan or Silverado from the driver’s seat.
Does it deliver on the road?
It is hard to overstate how much more fun Ram is to drive than F-150 or Silverado. Or Titan or Tundra.
Great as those trucks are in many ways, they are not suited to sporty driving. The gear ratios are all wrong, the tires lose grip instantly or they’re just too massive to fling around.
Ram somehow avoids all that. It still drives gigantic and takes a few miles to acclimate yourself when coming from a car. But after a few days we we’re cranking opposite lock and sliding around corners on full throttle. (As shown in detail on video!)
So, handling is ace. Ride is firm on the test truck without air springs. Ram’s coil springs all around are creamy heaven on normal tarmac, and only betray their lack of the optional air suspension over speedbumps or potholes, when sharp impacts are felt inside.
What about Power!?
What about it! This bruiser of a beast has the best drivetrain in the 1500 class truck market. Others have V8s too, or Ford’s speedy V6TT. But at this moment, none can touch Ram’s 395HP and eight-speed automatic combo. This is a truck that goads you on. More throttle, more speed!
Very, very rare to find such an effortlessly fast truck. The MOPAR goodies might add a few ponies, and this exhaust definitely ups the drama on full throttle.
With great power and great handling, Ram can carry much more pace on the road than other trucks – with much less driver effort needed. Yes, sure, a Silverado or Tundra can haul ass when you floor them. But they never really enjoy it, or feel like they want more, like Ram does. F-150 and Titan are not even in the running for fun-to-drive.
Worth noting to recreate this truck’s pace? The 3.92 axle ratio for $95 and anti-spin rear diff for $435.
Pricing for the test Ram Sport Night Edition totaled $50,245, atop which we add the Mopar intake and exhaust for $1700.
So about $52k all in.
The $10k in options above this cab base price of $41k are almost all individual goodies. The big ones were the Rambox cubbies and $1250 5.7L V8 engine. Instead of listing the other options: just know that this truck had almost everything except 4×4, leather cabin or a moonroof.
Everything else, like parking sensors, giant touchscreen nav, auto wipers/auto highbeams, 9-speaker Alpine audio and heated everything. Favorite option might be the factory tri-fold tonneau cover. This has OEM quality and warranty for something every owner needs for MPG, style and weather-proofing the truck bed. Same could be said of the $495 spray-in bedliner. You want a factory bedliner versus a dealer- or aftermarket version.
SO is Ram really worth it’s all-caps brand pride these days on the sales charts? Yes, yes it is.
This Ram Sport 4×2 is almost a perfect factory sport truck. Unlike almost all other stock trucks, this Ram is finished. The perfectly cool stance, sound and Night Edition details make Ram into a seriously bad-ass machine right off the showroom floor.
To say we enjoyed our time with RAM is an understatement. This is a 1500 truck we genuinely want to own and drive daily!
That is a rare sentence from sports-car-loving auto writers – but is the stone-cold truth.
Ram Sport is the most fun-to-drive pickup truck on the market.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.