The swagger-heavy 2018 Ram 1500 is the coolest pickup around, even if competitors have eclipsed it in some ways.
Ram has been doing big-rig style on its pickups for a quarter of a century now, but the 2018 Ram 1500 doesn’t have time to stop and blow out the candles. This impressive line of full-size trucks offers a commendable blend of utility and comfort with eye-catching style.
We’ve rated the entire lineup at 6.3 out of 10 points. Rams deliver a cosseting ride and have a trio of terrific engines to choose from, but while their infotainment is up-to-date, they have a troubling safety record. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The race to the top among full-size pickups has prompted the Ram crew to introduce yet another range-topping model: the 2018 Ram 1500 Limited Tungsten, which features an interior lined with upgraded leather, synthetic suede, and real wood trim. Elsewhere, the lineup’s available 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system gains Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, a rearview camera is newly standard ahead of a federal mandate, and the Ram Sport model boasts a few styling tweaks.
Ram 1500s are the lightest-duty models in the lineup; more rugged 2500 and 3500 variants are available for those who need to two or lug far more.
The Ram lineup starts with work-oriented Tradesman trims before working its way through the efficiency-minded HFE to the mainstream Express, SLT, Big Horn/Lone Star, and Sport models. Those who want a little luxe in their truck can start with the stylish Night Edition and head up to the Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, Limited, and Limited Tungsten. The Ram lineup’s crazy uncle is the off-road-ready Ram Rebel, a beefy 4x4 ready for just about anything.
Rams are offered with one of three engines, including a class-exclusive (for now) 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6. A 3.6-liter V-6 is standard on most variants, while a 5.7-liter V-8 is available as an extra-cost option on all but the Laramie Longhorn and the Limited trims, where it’s standard.
All three engines are mated exclusively to a terrific 8-speed automatic and almost every trim can be paired to a choice of rear- or one of two four-wheel-drive systems. Lower-spec four-wheel-drive Rams don’t have an automatic setting suitable for use on any pavement surface, but Big Horn/Lone Star and above trims feature such a convenient mode.
The Ram stands apart from full-size truck rivals like the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-Series by utilizing a coil-spring rear suspension setup to provide a smoother ride and more stable handling over bumpy roads. A height-adjustable air suspension is available on all but the Ram HFE for an even plusher ride and a choice of improved ingress/egress or more ground clearance at the touch of a button.
As is the norm for full-size pickups, Rams can be optioned up in too many configurations to count. Among the highlights are a choice of nearly 20 different wheel designs and sizes, an available 7.0-inch screen in the instrument cluster, and several different audio systems that start with a basic AM/FM unit for work-oriented trucks and end with one of the most advanced infotainment setups on the market today.
Where the Ram shows its age—this truck’s basic bones date back to the 2009 model year—is in its safety record. A rearview camera is now standard, as are plenty of airbags, but there’s no automatic emergency braking and both federal and independent testers stop well short of giving these trucks top marks.