2020 RAM 1500
2020 RAM 1500
The 2020 Ram 1500 is the luxury car of pickup trucks, while also being one of the strongest in work-day chores. It can almost be any kind of truck you want it to be, with its wide selection of engine options, including mild hybrids and a new turbodiesel in 2020.
Redesigned for last year, the Ram’s face is more aerodynamic and less gigantic in your rearview mirror than it had been. The handsome cabin boasts some of the finest materials in any American vehicle we’ve driven, pickup truck or otherwise. It comes with cloth upholstery to fine leather. A massive 12.0-inch touchscreen is available that can be used with work gloves, and there’s a wi-fi hotspot.
It’s available in extended- and crew-cab configurations (Quad Cab and Crew Cab) with two different bed lengths, and can be two- or four-wheel drive. Every model has four front-hinged doors.
There are four engines. A 3.6-liter V-6 comes standard with a mild hybrid system and makes 305 horsepower. A 5.7-liter V-8 is available with or without the same hybrid system, making 395 hp either way. For 2020, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 is available and makes an awesome 480 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission completes every powertrain.
The 5.7-liter V-8 is the most popular engine, and with cylinder deactivation its fuel economy is EPA-rated at 15/22/17 mpg with two-wheel drive, and virtually the same with four-wheel drive. With the eTorque hybrid system on that engine, it improves a bit to 17/23/19 mpg in two-wheel drive, and again it’s virtually the same for four-wheel drive, at 17/22/19 mpg.
Base V-6 eTorque hybrid trucks earn an EPA rating of 20 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined for two-wheel-drive HFE (High Fuel Efficiency) models. The standard version gets 20/25/22 mpg. Four-wheel drive lowers those figures by just 1 mpg.
The 2020 Ram gets five stars overall from the federal government’s NHTSA, but only for the two- and four-wheel-drive crew-cab models. The IIHS gives the 2019 Ram 1500 Crew Cab “Good” ratings in every category, and though its low-end headlights get “Marginal” and “Poor” ratings, its more expensive headlights give it the first Top Safety Pick+ award given to a truck, provided it’s also fitted with automatic emergency braking.
Active safety features only come in a package that’s optional on most models, but on a truck this big, that can do so much damage in a crash, we think those features should be available to every model, if not standard equipment. The Advanced Safety Group package includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, active lane control, lane departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlights.
The 2020 Ram comes in many trims, with two body styles, two bed lengths, four engines, and two drivetrains. A height-adjustable air suspension is optional on every model. The new turbodiesel costs $4,995 extra. The eTorque mild hybrid setup costs $1,450 extra.
Base Tradesman models are work-oriented and feature cloth seats, a front bench seat option, hard plastics, and minimal styling elements. They’re intended for fleets.
The Big Horn (or Lone Star, in Texas), has chrome bumpers, 18-inch wheels, and a 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. An optional 8.4-inch unit includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and good infotainment software.
Laramie models add heated and cooled leather seats, the 8.4-inch touchscreen, a 7.0-inch gauge-cluster information screen, and more. It costs nearly $49,000 for a four-wheel-drive V-8 model.
The Laramie Longhorn and Limited trims include semi-aniline leather, real wood trim, 20-inch wheels, and LED headlights. The huge 12.0-inch screen comes standard on the Limited along with power running boards. The Longhorn is Western themed, with some unique styling elements.
The Rebel features a raised suspension, black plastic body cladding with a unique grille and graphics, two-tone paint options, an electronic locking rear differential, and standard four-wheel-drive.
A Limited EcoDiesel, the most expensive model, approaches $75,000.
Last year’s redesign erased much of the macho. The Ram looks like less of a semi-truck than it has in the past. It’s more sedate. It’s sleeker than ever, despite all the chrome, and the LED headlights on the top models are pretty flashy.
The 2020 Ram 1500 is as close to a luxury pickup truck as you can buy. The Ram’s cabin is easily the best in class. Most Rams come with two bucket seats and a massive configurable center console, but a three-seat bench is available. With USB and USB-C ports scattered throughout, and an optional 12.0-inch touchscreen and wi-fi hotspot, the Ram is totally tech-savvy. The mid-level Lariat is better equipped than many rivals’ top models. The Laramie models feature fine leather, real wood and metal trim.
The extended Quad Cab offers decent rear seat room, while the Crew Cab is cavernous. Rear seats on the Crew Cab slide forward and aft, and the backrest can be adjusted as well. The Crew Cab can come with either bed size, 5-foot-7 or 6-foot-4.
The Quad Cab gets only the longer bed, and the off-road-oriented Rebel gets only the short bed. Options for the beds include lights, spray-in bedliner, cargo tie-downs, and Ram Box storage.
The base Ram 1500 sports a 3.6-liter V-6 with eTorque technology to help low-speed acceleration and reduce engine load. The mild-hybrid setup puts a 48-volt electric motor and 0.4-kwh lithium-ion battery into the system to power the accessories. With eTorque, the truck pulls away from a stop under electric power, and then the gas engine kicks in. The V-6’s 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque is enough for smaller chores.
Most buyers will choose the 5.7-liter V-8, either with or without the eTorque system. At 395 hp and 410 lb-ft, this tried-and-true powertrain has plenty of grunt. The eTorque mild-hybrid system makes it smoother and a bit more efficient. It’s rated to tow 12,750 pounds.
For 2020, the Ram gets a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 that compensates for its modest 260 horsepower with a massive 480 pound-feet of torque. Torque is all about pulling, not running 75 mph on the freeway. We’ve towed 5,200 pounds of boat and trailer with the turbodiesel (it’s rated at 12,560 pounds), and felt its wave of torque that clatters to life and pulls what it’s asked without hesitation. It hits its maximum torque at just 3,000 rpm in Tow/Haul mode.
An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models but comes in two different configurations, both of which are smooth and quick.
Rear-wheel drive is standard (and the choice for towing), while four-wheel drive is available in every Ram.
A standard coil spring suspension setup is a departure from the traditional leaf spring rear design. It’s totally capable, and can take a payload of 2,300 pounds. An adjustable air suspension is also available on every model, but we found it too firm on the highway.
The Ram Rebel, with its suspension that’s raised an inch, Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires, and an electronic locking rear differential, is quite capable off-road, but it’s no Baja-basher like the Ford F-150 Raptor.
If you need the most luxury you can get in your giant heavy-duty pickup truck, the 2020 Ram 1500 is for you. It offers a choice between two beds and two passenger configurations, not to mention many trims to fit your tastes and bank account.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection