By Peter Perrotta
Perhaps in these trying times that surround us, harkening back to a bit of old school “Americana” will be good for our souls right now.
For me, nothing speaks to the soul of my American consciousness more than spotting one of those old Chevy, Ford or Dodge pickup trucks with a “For Sale” on it by the side of the road. It’s usually a step above a rotted barn find, probably runs, but its going to need some work.
And, for any us who have driven across many states – when that was possible – you know that the automotive landscape changes quite drastically when you get south of Maryland and west of Reading, Pennsylvania.
All of a sudden, it seems like everyone has an American pickup truck – usually a Dodge Ram, Chevy Silverado or a Ford F-150.
“Where I come from, your truck is a reflection of who you are,” says A&E reality TV star Jase Robertson, an accomplished hunter and fisherman from West Monroe, Louisiana.
Of the pickup offerings from the big three American automakers, currently the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup seems to be currying the most favor among the respected auto review critics.
With that in mind, I recently road tested the popular 2020 Dodge Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4 X 4 pickup truck to see what all the fuss was about.
Now mind you, while this truck is more than capable of doing some heavy lifting and creative off-roading, this is not your typical barn find or work truck. It’s far too luxurious and way too expensive to be limited to just dirty work.
The Ram 1500 Rebel I tested has a base price of $47,990. However, it was loaded with $21,620 in glitzy options. When you add in the $1,695 for destination and delivery, the MSRP sticker price registered at $71,305.
Now folks, that’s a lot of cabbage to be paying for a pickup truck. At that price, you want to make sure if you do take it off-roading you sure as heck don’t end up upside down in a Pinelands sand ditch.
When you go shopping for your pickup truck, it can get a bit confusing. Each model is offered in a number of different trims with crew cab or extended cab body styles and several different engines and bed sizes. So, it’s a good idea to do your homework beforehand.
Base prices for the Ram 1500 range anywhere from $32,950 for the entry level Tradesman to $55,110 for the top-of-the-line Limited. Other models offered include the Big Horn (base price $38,035), and the Laramie ($41,735).
The Ram 1500 is offered in rear wheel and 4WD and has three available engines: 3.0 liter V6 turbo diesel (260 HP); 3.6 liter V6 (305 HP) and the 5.7 liter V8 (395 HP).
My tester was a 4WD Crew Cab that was powered by the first time offered 3.0 liter V6 turbo diesel, coupled with an 8 speed automatic transmission.
While the new turbo diesel was miserly on gas – 24 mpg overall with 29 on the highway and 21 in city driving – I found it to be a wee bit underpowered at times.
This vehicle is massive. It has an overall length of 233 inches, weighs 5,355 pounds and has a towing capacity of 11,340 pounds.
The options included: $4,995 for the 3.0 liter turbo diesel engine; $3,000 for the level 2 equipment group that includes heated seats and steering wheel, parking sensors, power adjustable pedals and more; $2,995 for the Rebel package that includes, 8- and 12-way power seats, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon premium sound system, a 12-inch touch screen with navigation ; $1,805 for the air suspension; $1,495 for a dual pane panoramic sun roof.
The truck, which is ruggedly attractive and looks like its ready to rumble at any minute, is also outfitted with a Black Appearance Package that includes a black front bumper with black back plate, a black RAM front grille badge and oversized 18-inch gloss black wheels.
My tester had a Diamond Black Crystal Pearl exterior and luxury trimmed black leather seats.
Simply put, this truck is quite attractive. It makes you want to just jump in and take off.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with this truck. It is loaded with luxurious creature comforts inside and has a very comfortable ride and almost noiseless cabin.
Almost every auto critic who reviews the Ram 1500 mentions that this truck comes standard with a rear coil spring suspension that is head and shoulders about the leaf spring rear suspensions offered up by Ford and Chevy.
I totally agree. Moreover, my tester added the air suspension as an option which made the truck even more comfortable to drive.
Inside the cabin is very roomy, both upfront and in the rear. The interior accoutrements and ergonomics are spot on. Dodge’s Uconnect infotainment system is one of the easiest to operate and is extremely intuitive.
It is very easy to sync up your phone, connect your iPod and enter a navigation destination – a task that is not as easy in some other models these days.
Moreover, the upgraded Harmon Kardon 19-speaker audio system is an audiophile’s dream. It is capable of producing ear splitting concert quality surround sound.
A few other neat features of this truck which should be noted include: a split tailgate, so you don’t have to lower the entire gate; the ability to raise and lower the suspension height to four different settings at the push of a button; a locking differential for off-roading; and lockable side storage cabinets on the out side of both sides of the pickup bed.
The Ram 1500 gets an impressive 5-star overall rating in the government’s crash tests as well.
Moreover, the EPA estimates the annual fuel cost to run this truck to be $1,950 as it uses about 4.2 gallons of diesel fuel per every 100 miles driven.
While the pickup field is crowded, the Dodge Ram 1500 is an impressive entry into this arena. Anyone, who is considering buying or leasing a pickup would be remiss not to consider one of the Ram 1500 models.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. You comments or suggestions are welcome. He can be contacted at email@example.com.