- The new-generation 2020 Ram 1500 starts at $32,145 in the U.S. and at $44,445 in Canada.
- Swell ride, great interior fit and finish, strong engines.
- HEMI V8 fuel consumption, lacklustre reliability score, tight Quad Cab rear-seat area.
Since Ram’s two lines of full-size pickups got redesigned, sales have been on the upswing. The Ram 1500 and the Ram HD received a new look, a round of segment-exclusive features and surprisingly well-appointed cabins. The 2020 Ram 1500 continues on that momentum with a new diesel engine and a trick new tailgate.
The previous-generation Ram 1500 is still on sale as well, rebadged as the Classic, and caters to buyers on the lower-end of the spectrum with more modest average transaction prices and hefty purchase rebates. It’s FCA’s temporary retaliation to GM and Ford’s midsize pickup push, while the new 1500 takes on more upscale variants of the Chevrolet Silverado, the GMC Sierra and the Ford F-150, not to mention the Toyota Tundra and the Nissan Titan.
The 2020 Ram 1500 comes standard with a 3.6L V6 that develops 305 and 269 pound-feet of torque, managed by an eight-speed automatic transmission. It also features the company’s eTorque mild hybrid system, which provides the engine with seamless automatic stop/start, an extra 90 pound-feet of torque at launch and improved fuel economy. And with the proper equipment, it can tow up to 7,710 pounds (3,497 kilograms). Bolted to a four-wheel drivetrain, it’s the most fuel-efficient base engine in the full-size pickup truck segment, with EPA city/highway/combined figures of 19/24/21 mpg—and NRCan numbers of 12.2/9.7/11.1 L/100 km.
Most customers will likely choose the 5.7L HEMI V8 which punches out 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. It too is managed by an eight-speed automatic, and with the right configuration, it can tow up to 12,750 pounds (5,783 kg). The eTorque hybrid system can optionally be matched to it, adding a temporary 130 pound-feet of torque to the equation and reducing its fuel consumption by 2 mpg or almost 2 L/100 km.
Now available on the 2020 Ram 1500 is the EcoDiesel 3.0L V6, a turbocharged mill that develops 260 hp and 480 lb.-ft., and allows for a max towing capacity of 12,560 (5,697 kg), surpassing the diesel F-150’s 11,500-lb. rating and clobbering the oil-burning GM cousins’ 9,300-lb. capacity. In addition, as far as fuel economy goes, it’s second only to the Silverado’s 25-mpg (9.4 L/100 km) combined city/highway rating, with an average of 24 mpg (9.7 L/100 km).
The Ram 1500 Classic gets all three engine choices, but without the eTorque system. However, Canada is denied the EcoDiesel mill in the Classic models.
There are plenty of trim levels to choose from, including base Tradesman and value-minded Big Horn, while the Canadian market gets an exclusive Sport variant boasting a monochrome appearance. The off-road oriented Rebel follows before customers can dig into the posh Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Limited trucks.
The 1500 Classic’s lineup varies from one country to another, with the U.S. market getting Tradesman, Express, Warlock, Big Horn and Laramie, while in Canada, the truck is available in ST, Express, SLT, Night Edition and Warlock. The Classic can be had with in regular cab, four-door Quad Cab and Crew Cab configurations, but the new-generation 2020 Ram 1500 doesn’t have a regular cab option.
Like all domestic-brand full-size trucks, comfort and convenience features vary wildly between the more affordable editions and the costlier (read: more profitable) ones. The new Ram 1500 can be equipped with class-exclusive reclining rear seats in addition to a dual-pane sunroof, leather and real wood trim, a 900-watt Harman/Kardon surround sound system with 19 speakers as well as a Uconnect infotainment system with a 12-inch touchscreen—biggest in class. Well, until the 2021 Ford F-150 comes along with a screen as big as the Ram’s.
The automaker offers the Rambox storage bins that are integrated into the truck’s bed sides, which are lockable and can be hosed out. And new this year is the multifunction tailgate, which is split in two sections that can be opened sideways, in addition to opening downwards like a conventional tailgate.
In the U.S., the 2020 Ram 1500 is priced from $32,145, before freight and delivery charges, to more than $72K if we check all the option boxes, while the 1500 Classic ranges from $27,645 to more than $53K.
In Canada, the 2020 Ram 1500 is priced from $44,445, before freight and delivery charges, to more than $93K, while the 1500 Classic’s price ranges between $35,220 and $69K.
In all cases, offering generous cash purchase rebates seems to be FCA’s strategy for moving out these trucks—especially the 1500 Classic. It’s best to calculate if it’s worthwhile to take out a bank loan instead of using the automaker’s own finance options.
Why You Should Buy the 2020 Ram 1500
- The new-generation Ram 1500’s cabin fit and finish is great, and the more upscale trim levels pile on the luxury with high-quality materials.
- The 2020 Ram 1500’s eTorque engines are more fuel-efficient than before, and the 3.6L V6 is fine for lighter tasks. The hybrid system includes one of the smoothest stop/start systems we’ve tested.
- Of course, the HEMI V8’s sound and thrust is just intoxicating.
- The EcoDiesel engine is fairly thrifty, and we averaged 18 mpg (12.8 L/100 km) during a winter test with mostly city driving.
- The optional air suspension provides a more refined ride, but after driving a 1500 Rebel without it, we can say that it’s not an essential feature to have.
- The new 2020 Ram 1500 Crew Cab is very spacious in back, and can even be equipped with reclining rear seats.
- There’s a trim level for everyone, from the professional worker to the weekend warrior, and each one has its own personality and appearance.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2020 Ram 1500
- The 1500 Classic is old. While it still serves a purpose, it should only be considered for those willing to spend a modest amount of dough on a pickup truck. It terms of ride quality and refinement, it can’t match the newer Ford and GM models.
- The four-corner air suspension is great, but it has had its share of reliability problems in the past. It might be better to choose it if we’re planning on leasing the Ram instead of keeping for the long haul. Just in case.
- eTorque helps out a little, but the 5.7L V8 isn’t an example of fuel economy. GM’s 5.3L V8 can do much better.
- Buyers with kids should seriously consider the Crew Cab variants over the Quad Cab ones. There’s just not much legroom back there.
- Consumer Reports isn’t too kind with the new-generation 2020 Ram 1500, giving it a reliability rating of 1 out of 5. It states problems with brakes, the electric systems, the body integrity and the on-board electronics as noteworthy issues to look out for. Meanwhile, the 1500 Classic gets a reliability rating of 3/5. That said, the GM and Ford trucks aren’t better—the most reliable full-size pickup by far is the Tundra.
The 2020 Ram 1500 pickup has a lot to offer, and seems to have conquered many buyers that previously owned a GM or Ford product. Its rugged looks, good powertrains and fantastic cabin finish nicely complement the innovations and segment-unique features that FCA has baked into the new-generation model it introduced for the 2019 model year.
On the other hand, the Ford F-150 is getting an overhaul for 2021 with new gadgets, and a fully electric powertrain is in the works. Meanwhile, GM also successfully redesigned its Silverado and Sierra pickups, so the Ram is in very good company. It’s tough to call a winner in this market segment, but we’re certain about one thing: the 2020 Ram 1500 is FCA’s best product.