Monday, May 14, 2018


One afternoon some time back I was sitting in an establishment enjoying an adult beverage and happened to be overhear a couple of guys discussing pickup trucks.

For the record, it wasn’t that I was eavesdropping. It’s just that we were the only people there save for the bartender, and it wasn’t a very big bar.

Anyway, one of them was a Chevy guy and the other was a Ford backer. Though not a participant in the debate, at one point I threw out a comment asking if either had considered a Dodge Ram. (That ought to date the conversation since it was announced in 2009 that Ram was being launched as a stand-alone division under the Fiat-Chrysler umbrella.)

The Chevy guy laughed, scornfully, You would have thought I had asked him to take Ford’s side and the Ford guy to pledge his loyalty to the bow tie. Or worse.

So I dropped out of the discussion and went back to more relevant issues, like should I have another adult beverage before leaving.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by that reaction. According to a recent survey by, a leading auto website, 74 percent of those buyers who purchased a new pickup last year bought the same type of vehicle, if not the same model, they had previously owned.

Only SUV buyers (75 percent) were more loyal in sticking to the same type/model that they were trading in.

Chances are, you may feel the same way, and I’m not going to try to persuade you otherwise. I’m not a car salesman, just a car reviewer. But I will say that you might want to do yourself a favor and check out what you may be missing by expanding your shopping horizon beyond the traditional segment leaders Ford and Chevy.

The Ram 1500 is a very capable vehicle, especially the 2019 model which gets some serious upgrades especially in the way of technology and driver assistance features that included a new 12-inch touchscreen with two displays to operate infotainment functions and such safety systems as a surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring.

But if you can live without techno-gadgets, you can get many of a pickup’s basic benefits and capabilities from the current 2018 Ram 1500 and perhaps even get a better deal.

Certainly there is enough to choose from.

The 2018 Ram 1500 is offered in 11 different trims from the base Tradesman to a new top-of-the-line Limited Tungsten with MSRP running from just over $27,000 to just under $54,000.

Three engines are offered with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 as standard. A 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel V6 also are available. All are mated to one of two 8-speed automatic transmissions shiftable via buttons on the steering wheel cross bar, and four-wheel-drive models have a low-range transfer case for off-road excursions.

Only one size bed (6-feet-4) is offered on Quad Cab models, but you can choose from two beds for regular cab models (8-feet and 6-4) and Crew Cab (5-7 and 6-4).

I recently spent a week in the Ram 1500 Sport Crew Cab 4X2 with the HEMI V8 and several stand-alone options and optional packages that ran the total cost from the base MSRP of $40,795 to $53,690.

Those extras included with leather-trimmed bucket seats, heated and ventilated front seats, keyless entry and push-button start, automatic high beam control, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, power sunroof, rear defroster, UConnect 4C Navigation with an 8.4-inch display, 22-inch wheels, and a parking assist program.

Included in standard equipment are a rear backup camera, rotary shifter, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, second-row storage bins, LED bed lighting, and fog lights.

In addition to the quietness and ride, the cabin is very roomy with a big storage bin on the console. Front riders get 41 inches of legroom in all trims, including Regular Cab, while second-row occupants get 34.7 inches in Quad Cabs and 40.3 in Crew Cabs.

Essentially, it makes the Ram 1500 an SUV with a open bed for hauling stuff.

What I liked about the 2018 Ram 1500 Sport Crew Cab 4X2: The technology is very user-friendly, and the ride is exceptionally smooth for a pickup. The rear seats flip up to provide an expanded, flat-floor stowage area.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 RAM 1500 Sport Crew Cab 4X2: With no running boards (available only as options on a couple of models for 2018 and a few more for 2019) getting up into the cabin can be a chore. Grips on the A-pillars help, but running boards would be a big plus.

Would I buy the 2018 Ram 1500 Sport Crew Cab 4X2? Well, I’m not a truck guy, so not for me. But if you are one, don’t be like the guys in the Ford-Chevy debate and limit yourself. You may stick with a Ford or Chevy, but you should do yourself a favor and give the Ram a look. 

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