Our 2011 Ram 1500 was the least optioned work truck we tested. It was also the least expensive, at $22,635 – lower even than the starting MSRP for a 2010 Dodge Dakota midsize pickup ($22,755).
The Ram’s single-overhead-cam 3.7-liter V-6 was launched for the 2002 model year. It replaced Chrysler’s earlier 12-year-old 3.9-liter pushrod V-6, used in older Dodge Ram and Dakota pickup trucks and Jeep Wrangler SUVs. Over the past nine years, it’s proven to be one of Chrysler’s most reliable and efficient truck engines.
Sometime in the next two years, we expect Ram will replace the 3.7-liter V-6 with a version of the all-new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that will deliver around 305 horsepower and 268 pounds-feet of torque, the same as in the 2011 Dodge Challenger.
The Ram 1500 had the nicest-looking interior of the group. Instead of gray, dark gray and black colors like in the Ford F-150 and GMC Sierra, the Ram broke up the monotony of the interior with beige and gray colors.
For a cheap work truck, the Ram 1500 offered satellite radio – a welcome addition. The control layout for the stereo and air-conditioning controls was similar to the Sierra’s but more intuitive than the F-150’s.
The basic steering wheel lacked audio controls, and the truck didn’t have Bluetooth connectivity to a mobile phone. It did offer an awkward cruise control lever behind the wheel that seemed to have been borrowed from the parts bin from Daimler-Benz, Chrysler’s previous owner.
The 40/20/40-split folding bench seat included hidden storage in the armrest with helpful compartments and had the best cubby area in our test.
Behind the seats was ample space that seemed to rival the F-150, but it included a tub to help keep things where we put them instead of letting them roll around on a flat surface.
Our interior gripes focused on the doors, which frequently gave us fits trying to get them to close unless we pulled hard on them. The doors had the cheapest plastic surfaces of the trucks we tested and showed exposed screws holding the plastic panels on when the doors were open.
Our truck didn’t have a security key fob like the F-150 and Sierra 1500. While most Ram 1500 models come with a cool, high-tech keyless fob borrowed from Mercedes-Benz, our work truck used a conventional key that had to be inserted into an ignition that felt like we were jamming it into a deep hole without a bottom.