By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.9
The 2017 Ram 1500 is a worthy rival to the best-selling Ford F-150, not to mention the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra siblings. Like those full-size pickups, the Ram is available in a wide variety of configurations, from a basic single-cab work truck to a leather-lined Limited model boasting premium amenities and room enough for a family to spread out. The Ram Rebel, meanwhile, aims to appeal to off-road enthusiasts. The Ram 1500 stands out with its big, bold, semi-truck-derived styling, yet offers surprisingly comfortable driving manners. The Ram further stands out from its rivals as the only half-ton truck to offer a diesel engine, in this case a V6 that also grants the Ram impressive fuel economy.
If you want a pickup with snarling design, smooth driving manners and variety of configurations, the Ram 1500 fits the bill. Though the Nissan Titan can be had with a diesel engine in its larger XD line, the Ram is the only half-ton truck to offer one of the efficient, torque-rich powerplants.
Brand loyalties aside, the Ram can't quite match the towing capacity of the Ford F-150 or Chevrolet Silverado. You'll also find a more advanced trailer backup-assistance system on the F-150, plus luxurious massaging front seats. Others, especially fleet operators, may be attracted to Nissan Titan's 5-year/100,000-mile warranty.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2017, the Ram 1500 Rebel gains more standard equipment such as the 8.4-inch touch-screen Uconnect system, dual-zone climate control and anti-spin differential. Other models receive minor updates across trim levels, with all getting a 5-micron air filter.
The 2017 Ram 1500 remains one of our favorite full-size trucks to drive because of its relative ease and comfort, the latter derived from its ingenious coil-spring and...
... multi-link rear suspension. The Ram’s steering and road manners are among best-in-class, too. The optional air-spring suspension isn’t so much about improving comfort than providing optimal load leveling. When so equipped, the Ram can level a loaded bed, make cabin entry easier and even help improve fuel economy by reducing drag. Venture off-road and the air suspension permits maximum ground clearance. The base 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is adequate for light-duty applications, but our nod goes to the Hemi V8 or the small but potent turbodiesel V6, especially if you plan to regularly tow or haul with this Ram truck.
ECODIESEL V6 ENGINE
A diesel engine in a half-ton truck seems as natural as chocolate and peanut butter. Ram’s 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 delivers fuel economy approaching 30 mpg and offers 420 lb-ft of torque (more than the Hemi V8) and 240 horsepower. Only the larger Nissan Titan XD offers a similar oil-burner option.
The 2017 Ram 1500's optional air suspension improves ride, handling and ground clearance. With the push of a button the Ram’s cabin can be lowered to permit easy entry or raised to clear obstacles less than 10.7 inches.
The 2017 Ram truck's interior is roomy, practical and comfortable. Seating ranges from two or three in regular-cab models to five or six in quad-cab and crew-cab models. There’s more space up front thanks to the Ram's transmission dial -- just rotate it for Park, Neutral, Drive, etc. If you're used to a long lever-style transmission, this new one might entail a learning curve but soon will become second nature. Similar large dials adjust audio volume and tuning, while the Ram's Uconnect infotainment system remains one of our favorites, though unlike Ford's Sync it doesn't offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility.
The Ram 1500 continues to distinguish itself with a front end that looks like a shrunken semi-truck. Big, bold and brash, it's a key differentiator from the Ram's blocky rivals. The Ram pickup line ranges from a basic regular cab with a long or short bed to the quad cab with a long bed or crew cab with your choice of short or long bed. The brashest of the Rams is the Rebel, which includes blacked-out elements, beefy all-terrain tires and other macho bits. Higher-end Rams have big grilles with what we'll politely call two snouts on each side.
With 11 trims, the 2017 Ram full-size truck spans from basic work truck to loaded hauler that could be mistaken for a luxury truck. At its most basic in Tradesman form, the new Ram comes with a locking tailgate, automatic headlights, a tilt -- but not telescoping -- steering wheel, air conditioning, and a basic 6-speaker radio with USB and auxiliary inputs. Note that you'll have to crank your own window and manually adjust the mirrors. If you want more than a very basic work truck, we recommend climbing trims or opting for a quad-cab or crew-cab version, which includes more amenities.
With numerous options and packages from which to choose, the 2017 full-size Ram 1500 truck can be fitted to suit practically any individual and a variety of budgets. One item we recommend is the Uconnect Access infotainment system with its 8.4-inch touch screen and user-friendly interface. Additional options include a heated steering wheel, 10-way-power driver’s seat, rain-sensing windshield wipers, 115V household power outlet, LED bed lighting, and air suspension. Since the steering wheel does not offer a telescoping function, taller or shorter drivers should consider adding the power-adjustable pedals. And don’t forget to consider the EcoDiesel engine and the RamBox cargo system.
Three engine choices are offered for the 2017 Ram 1500. The base engine is a 3.6-liter Pentastar gasoline V6 with 305 horsepower and an EPA highway fuel-economy rating of up to 25 mpg. The well-known 5.7-liter Hemi V8 cranks out 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque, but the fuel economy is, not surprisingly, only average at best. The 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel V6 may be the best choice, with 240 horsepower, 420 lb-ft of torque and laudable fuel economy. This turbodiesel is unique to half-ton trucks. All engines are available with 2-wheel drive (2WD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD). An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard with the gasoline and diesel V6 engines and optional with the Hemi V8, which otherwise uses a 6-speed automatic.
305 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque @ 6,175 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 mpg (2WD), 12/17 mpg (2WD, E85), 16/23 mpg (4WD), 11/16 mpg (4WD, E85)
3.0-liter turbodiesel V6
240 horsepower @ 3,600 rpm
420 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
5.7-liter Hemi V8
395 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
410 lb-ft of torque @ 3,950 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg (2WD, 8-speed automatic), 13/19 mpg (4WD, 6-speed automatic), 15/21 mpg (4WD, 8-speed automatic)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
As a basic 2-wheel-drive regular-cab Tradesman model, the 2017 Ram 1500 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $27,600. Prices go up depending on trim level and cab/bed configuration. Plan to spend about $30,000 for a mid-trim truck. All-in as a 4-wheel-drive Limited model, the Ram 1500 can surpass $60,000. At these prices the Ram is in line with its Ford, Chevy and GMC rivals, and beneath the starting price of a Toyota Tundra, which has more standard equipment and a V8. It also undercuts the all-new Nissan Titan, which for now is being rolled out with a V8 engine and in crew-cab configuration before more trims join. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new truck. The Ram 1500's resale value is expected to continue to trail that of the F-150 and the class-leading Toyota Tundra.