By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/10/2011
Even though Chrysler has spun off Ram off as its own division, most people we know still regard the big Ram trucks as Dodges. You go to the Dodge dealer to buy a 2012 Ram 1500 pickup, most auto parts guys still file them under Dodge and the public in general doesn't seem to care much about the name change, including the Ram's loyal fan base. The 2012 Ram 1500 full-size pickup doesn't sell in nearly the numbers as its rivals from Chevy and Ford, but it does have its share of supporters, generally people attracted to the Ram's unique good looks, plush cabin, and impressive Hemi V8 engine. With better features and a strong push toward reducing the Ram 1500's base price, the 2012 Ram 1500 full-size pickup might not be able to catch up to the Chevy Silverado or Ford F-150, but it sure has a shot at containing the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan.
If you need a pickup truck that is as tough as the rugged image it portrays, but you'd also like something with a civilized ride and a nice interior to double as the family road-trip machine, the 2012 Ram 1500 pickup up makes a nice compromise. And, the Hemi badge on the side is sure to impress your buddies.
If you're looking for best-in-class figures for resale, horsepower or fuel economy, the Ram's competitors take top honors in all these fields.
For 2012, Ram has made some minor changes to the Ram 1500. Among the highlights is a premium Surround Sound audio option, a number of bed storage devices – including an improved RamBox cargo management and bed extension system – RamBox bin storage units, heated rear seats and side-seat airbags.
The 2012 Ram 1500's strong suit over comparably-equipped competitors can be found in the way it drives and rides. Thanks to an advanced coil-spring rear suspension and solid rear axle, the Ram 1500 seems to absorb bumps and distortions that cause other trucks to hop about. Trucks with a traditional leaf-spring rear suspension setup tend to ride harshly and can even experience bounding motions over ruts and uneven pavement. This is not the case for the Ram 1500, which can quickly control bouncing motions and help smooth out the ride over harsh or uneven surfaces. Its pleasant ride aside, the Ram 1500 pickup is still a big, heavy vehicle with a high center of gravity and a light rear end, so you shouldn't be expecting it to accelerate, steer or brake like a smaller car-based crossover vehicle. While we found the Ram 1500's steering and brakes to be acceptable, there is still a substantial amount of pitching and lean when rounding tight curves.
The RamBox storage system is offered on the Crew Cab. It includes 3.7 cubic feet of lockable, drainable storage space in each bed rail, as well as a cargo-bed divider that doubles as a bed extender. The RamBox also comes with a bed-rail system with sliding, adjustable cleats to tie down and secure various types of loads.
The Uconnect GPS system's 30-gigabyte hard drive holds song and picture files, as well as navigation map information. Songs can be ripped from a CD or downloaded from a thumb drive via a USB port. The hard drive lets you keep your whole music collection in the vehicle without toting a lot of CDs.
Some may argue that the 2012 Ram 1500 pickup's cabin is one the nicest in the industry, and we would be included in that group. While the Ram 1500's dash is still composed mostly of hard surfaces, areas that come in contact with finger tips or forearms are all covered in soft-touch materials. The seat fabrics, trim elements and color schemes for the Ram 1500 are tasteful without bordering on garish. Ram engineers put a lot of effort into sound-proofing the big truck's cabin and the results are impressive, especially at high speeds where wind and tire noise usually overtake normal levels of conversation. Despite the odd omission of a telescopic steering wheel, it's still easy to find a comfortable driving position in the 2012 Ram 1500 pickup. Front seat head and legroom is generally good on all cabs, but the rear seats in the Quad cab are a bit snug. If you need to carry rear passengers on a regular basis and you can live with the shorter bed, go with the Crew Cab. High-end options such as heated and cooled seats, a heated rear seat and steering wheel, and premium Surround Sound audio make the rough-and-ready 2012 Ram 1500 pickup truck feel almost limousine-like.
Despite its gruff big-rig image, the 2012 Ram 1500 pickup is one of the most comfortable and refined trucks built today. And, while the Ram 1500's over-the-top styling may be as off-putting to some as it is attractive to others, it doesn't seem to hurt sales. It would be a near-sighted construction foreman who couldn't distinguish the 2012 Ram 1500's crosshair chrome grille, prominent hood bulge and colorful two-tone paint schemes (not to mention the massive alloy-wheel options) from a Silverado or F-150. As is expected in this segment, the 2012 Ram 1500 offers a number of bed and cabin configurations including 6-foot, 4-inch or 8-foot beds on the Regular Cab, a 6-foot, 4-inch bed on the Quad Cab, and a 5-foot, 7-inch bed on Crew Cab models.
Standard safety features on the 2012 Ram 1500 pickup include side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control and Trailer Sway Control. The base ST model features air conditioning, AM/FM/CD stereo, vinyl floor covering, power locks and 17-inch steel wheels. The SLT adds carpeting, cruise control, power windows, heated mirrors, remote keyless entry and aluminum wheels. The Sport model has unique bucket seats, fog lamps and 20-inch wheels. Standard on the Laramie are dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, hard-drive radio, power and heated front seats and rear park assist.
Optional features include the RamBox storage system, a spray-in bedliner, full-time four-wheel drive (4WD), sunroof, 10-speaker Alpine Surround Sound, Sirius Satellite Radio, navigation system, rear DVD entertainment with Sirius Backseat TV, heated and cooled seat, heated rear seat, and a heated steering wheel. The Garmin navigation system is easy to operate and voice commands can be used to program destinations while the vehicle is in motion. Sirius Backseat TV has three child-friendly channels that will keep the kids' attention on long vacation drives. Available trims include ST, SLT, Sport, Sport R/T, Outdoorsman, Tradesman, Express, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn, as well as the Big Horn and Lone Star Packages.
The base 3.7-liter V6 is fine if you use your truck as basic transportation, but the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is the best choice if you plan to tow or haul a lot of cargo. The Hemi also delivers fuel economy comparable to that of the 4.7-liter V8, and it can tow a heavier load. Ram claims the Ram 1500 Sport Regular Cab with the Hemi is the fastest pickup in the class, with a zero-to-60-mph acceleration time under 6 seconds.
215 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
235 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20
310 horsepower @ 5,650 rpm
330 lb-ft of torque @ 3,950 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD, gasoline), 10/12 (2WD, E85), 14/19 (4WD, gasoline), 10/12 (4WD, E85)
5.7-liter Hemi V8
390 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
407 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD), 13/19 (4WD)
The two-wheel-drive (2WD) Ram 1500 ST Regular Cab starts at just around $22,000 and ranges up to about $31,000 for a Quad Cab with 4WD. The SLT model starts at around $26,000 for the Regular Cab and goes up to roughly $36,500 with a Crew Cab and 4WD. The Sport model costs between $32,000 and $40,000, depending upon body style. A fully-loaded Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab can easily surpass $50,000. To see what buyers are really paying for the Ram, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price before going to the dealership. Overall, the Ram starts at a higher price than its domestic competitors and ranges higher than most vehicles in its class. We expect the Ram to retain below-average residual values.