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It's less distinctive, maybe, than it was when it first crashed the truck party back in 1994--but the Ram 1500's mas-macho grille and eighteen-wheeler aesthetics still have best-looking and gutsiest take of all the big trucks. It's more of a visual callback to big rigs than the straight-edged Ford, GMC, and Chevy trucks, and doesn't have the cartoonish quality that keeps the Tundra at a disadvantage.
Like any of the big trucks, the Ram's looks shift subtly as it moves between trim levels. There are five different grilles in all, each with its own texture and finish, even its own name. The rear taillamps are LED-lit, and so are the side-marker lights, but those are the minor updates applied to the business end of the truck since it was still a Dodge Ram, back in 1999.
If gas prices and sticker prices were no object, the HEMI-powered Ram 1500 would be the easiest choice. The sounds that pipe into the cabin from the big 5.7-liter V-8 are enough to open new hair follicles. The barrel-chested eight makes 395 horsepower and 407 pound-feet, thanks both to variable valve timing (VVT) and a cylinder shut-off system, and connects to either a six-speed automatic or the new eight-speed gearbox. Brawny power enables 0-60 mph acceleration as quick as 6.7 seconds as well as the highest towing rating of the lineup--10,450 pounds in long-bed, rear-drive form.
Four-wheel drive is available across the Ram 1500 lineup. On any model, a part-time system is the basic setup, but Ram's on-demand system takes care of the traction all the time, though it's only offered on the 5.7-liter HEMI-equipped versions.
It's not just HEMI grunt that makes the Ram a joy to drive. Hauling and towing are other strong suits of the Ram, but in the past few years, ride and handling--the truck variety--have won us over, too. The Ram's steering is now electric, and it's quicker than before, with decent on-center feel. It's not fair to expect much feedback from a huge-wheelbase, four-wheel-drive truck, so don't. It's still about the best you'll find in a full-size truck.
The Ram 1500 already had one of the best interiors in the full-size pickup class--and among all Chrysler vehicles--but last year, it merited a complete interior reskin that's left it pretty dashing, especially on truck terms. It's not much larger or more comfortable than the GMC, Chevy, and Ford trucks in critical dimensions, but it's fitted in some cases with more clever storage solutions that just aren't offered by the other Big Three and Japanese-brand pickups.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.