2021 1500 New Car Test Drive
The 2020 Ram 1500 is the luxury car of pickup trucks, while also being one of the strongest in work-day chores. It can almost be any kind of truck you want it to be, with its wide selection of engine options, including mild hybrids and a new turbodiesel in 2020.
Redesigned for last year, the Ram's face is more aerodynamic and less gigantic in your rearview mirror than it had been. The handsome cabin boasts some of the finest materials in any American vehicle we've driven, pickup truck or otherwise. It comes with cloth upholstery to fine leather. A massive 12.0-inch touchscreen is available that can be used with work gloves, and there's a wi-fi hotspot.
It's available in extended- and crew-cab configurations (Quad Cab and Crew Cab) with two different bed lengths, and can be two- or four-wheel drive. Every model has four front-hinged doors.
There are four engines. A 3.6-liter V-6 comes standard with a mild hybrid system and makes 305 horsepower. A 5.7-liter V-8 is available with or without the same hybrid system, making 395 hp either way. For 2020, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 is available and makes an awesome 480 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission completes every powertrain.
The 5.7-liter V-8 is the most popular engine, and with cylinder deactivation its fuel economy is EPA-rated at 15/22/17 mpg with two-wheel drive, and virtually the same with four-wheel drive. With the eTorque hybrid system on that engine, it improves a bit to 17/23/19 mpg in two-wheel drive, and again it's virtually the same for four-wheel drive, at 17/22/19 mpg.
Base V-6 eTorque hybrid trucks earn an EPA rating of 20 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined for two-wheel-drive HFE (High Fuel Efficiency) models. The standard version gets 20/25/22 mpg. Four-wheel drive lowers those figures by just 1 mpg.
The 2020 Ram gets five stars overall from the federal government's NHTSA, but only for the two- and four-wheel-drive crew-cab models. The IIHS gives the 2019 Ram 1500 Crew Cab 'Good'? ratings in every category, and though its low-end headlights get 'Marginal'? and 'Poor'? ratings, its more expensive headlights give it the first Top Safety Pick+ award given to a truck, provided it's also fitted with automatic emergency braking.
Active safety features only come in a package that's optional on most models, but on a truck this big, that can do so much damage in a crash, we think those features should be available to every model, if not standard equipment. The Advanced Safety Group package includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, active lane control, lane departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlights.
The 2020 Ram comes in many trims, with two body styles, two bed lengths, four engines, and two drivetrains. A height-adjustable air suspension is optional on every model. The new turbodiesel costs $4,995 extra. The eTorque mild hybrid setup costs $1,450 extra.
Base Tradesman models are work-oriented and feature cloth seats, a front bench seat option, hard plastics, and minimal styling elements. They're intended for fleets.
The Big Horn (or Lone Star, in Texas), has chrome bumpers, 18-inch wheels, and a 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. An optional 8.4-inch unit includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and good infotainment software.
Laramie models add heated and cooled leather seats, the 8.4-inch touchscreen, a 7.0-inch gauge-cluster information screen, and more. It costs nearly $49,000 for a four-wheel-drive V-8 model.
The Laramie Longhorn and Limited trims include semi-aniline leather, real wood trim, 20-inch wheels, and LED headlights. The huge 12.0-inch screen comes standard on the Limited along with power running boards. The Longhorn is Western themed, with some unique styling elements.
The Rebel features a raised suspension, black plastic body cladding with a unique grille and graphics, two-tone paint options, an electronic locking rear differential, and standard four-wheel-drive.
A Limited EcoDiesel, the most expensive model, approaches $75,000.