2011 Ram 1500 New Car Test Drive
Bold and brash, the Ram is Chrysler's entry in the traditional full-size pickup market. The 2011 Ram is available in Regular Cab, Quad Cab (a long extended cab with forward-hinged doors), and full four-door Crew Cab versions. (No longer a Dodge, the Ram is now its own brand.)
The Ram 1500 offers a choice of three engines: A 3.7-liter V6 rated at 215 horsepower, a 310-hp 4.7-liter V8, and the 390-hp 5.7-liter Hemi. The V6 is fitted with a four-speed automatic transmission and the two V8s have a five-speed automatic. The V6 is available with rear-wheel drive only, but the two V8s are available with either two- or four-wheel drive.
On the outside, the Ram carries the familiar big-rig look started by Dodge. On the inside, it's full of interesting features. The Ram is an American full-size pickup truck, but it is different in several ways from its primary competitors, the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The interior has its own flavor and offers several interesting amenities, and the cargo box has some unique features.
Underneath, where for decades pickup trucks have had live axles with leaf springs, the Ram's live axle is suspended by coil springs and it is located by four trailing links and a lateral Panhard bar. And the Hemi is the stoutest V8 available across the range.
The Ram lineup gets only minor changes for 2011. A new Ram Outdoorsman replaces the previous TRX model. Repackaging has made some 2011 Ram models less expensive, others more expensive. Other changes for 2011 include power folding mirrors (taken from the Ram Heavy Duty), a factory spray-in bedliner, Garmin navigation, and an active on-demand transfer case for 4WD models.
The 2011 Ram comes in ST, SLT, Outdoorsman, Sport, and Laramie trim levels. Special edition models, such as Big Horn and Lone Star, are regional offerings with primarily cosmetic and packaging changes. Cab choices include a Regular Cab with short (6.3 feet) or long (8 feet) bed, four-door Quad Cab with short bed, and the Crew Cab with a short bed; Laramie is limited to Quad and Crew Cab models. (The heavy-duty Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups are covered in a separate review.)
A V6 and four-speed automatic are standard on 2WD Regular and Quad Cabs, the 4.7-liter V8 and five-speed automatic on most Ram 1500, and the 5.7-liter V8 Hemi is standard on Sport and Laramie and optional on everything else. No manual transmissions are offered.
Ram ST models are workhorses, with standard vinyl floor, manual windows and gray vinyl 40/20/40 bench seat, although they do include chrome grille outline, air conditioning, stability control, CD player, tilt wheel, variable intermittent wipers, locking lift-assist tailgate, trailer plug, and underfloor storage (Crew Cab). Options include chrome wheels, cruise control, sliding or heated rear window, trailer mirrors, carpeting, cloth seats, limited-slip differential, sliding rear window, and Sirius radio.
Ram SLT models upgrade with carpet floor covering, 40/20/40 split-bench seat, overhead console, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, power heated mirrors, aluminum wheels, chrome bumpers and door handles, sliding power rear window (long cabs), Sirius radio and trip computer. Options include V8 engines, RamBox Cargo Management System, on-demand transfer case, power sunroof (long cabs), rear camera and park assist, remote start, seat and upholstery upgrades, power-adjustable pedals, 10-speaker Alpine surround sound, UConnect/navigation system and hands-free communication system with Bluetooth technology, Sirius Backseat TV, ten-way power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear defroster, and 20-inch aluminum wheels.
The Ram Outdoorsman includes two-tone paint and painted flares. Power heated mirrors with turn signals, Class IV hitch, skidplates, tow hooks, leather-wrapped wheel, HomeLink, 115-volt outlet, center and overhead consoles, mud/slush floormats, auto-dimming inside mirror, 10-way power driver seat, underseat storage, illuminated vanity mirrors, limited-slip on 4x4, 32-gallon fuel tank on long-box, LT275/70R17 (only LT from factory) and aluminum wheels, security system and remote start. Options include rear park assist and surround-sound audio system, 20-inch wheels/tires, sunroof, UConnect, navigation, Sirius backseat TV The Ram Sport is available in Quad and Crew Cabs and labeled Sport R/T on the Regular Cab. It adds a 5.7-liter Hemi, slate-gray contrast-stitched bucket seats, body-color bumpers, fog lamps, on-demand 4WD and 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels. R/T models based on Sport use a 4.10:1 rear axle and 285/45R22 tires on polished aluminum wheels but will still tow 5000 pounds. Options are similar to those on the SLT. The Ram Laramie is the top of the line, with leather heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, driver memory system, woodgrain trim, power-adjustable pedals, surround sound, UConnect and 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels (17s are available). Extra-cost features include remote start, sunroof, navigation, back-up camera, heated/ventilated front seats, floor mats, heated rear seats and rear-seat entertainment.
Options available on all Ram 1500 are an under-rail or spray-in bedliner and engine block heater.
Safety features include dual front multi-stage airbags, three-point belts in all seating positions with constant-force retractors, LATCH child-seat anchors, child-protection rear door locks, electronic stability/traction control and four-wheel anti-lock brakes. Full side-curtain airbags for four-doors, back-up camera, and rear park sensors are optional.