The Ram 1500 is one of the most upscale pickups you can buy, with powerful engines and a quiet car cabin. This comes at a higher price tag; therefore, most buyers opt to buy a used Ram 1500.
1981-1993 (First Generation)
The Ram 1500 first made its debut for the 1981 model year; and it replaced the Dodge D Series trucks. This first generation offered buyers two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive, with the letters “D” and “W'' designating their drive types. Buyers’ choice of engines included a 3.7-lityer slant-six with 96 hp, a 5.2-liter V8 producing 140 hp, and a 5.9-liter V8 producing 170 hp. A three-speed automatic, four-speed automatic, four-speed manual, or five-speed manual were the choices of transmissions. It featured a long 8-foot bed or a shorter 6.5-foot truck bed, as well as short, extended and crew cab options. Ram 1500 included air conditioning, power locks, power windows, and an AM/FM radio with a cassette player. Extended cab models were dropped for 1982, and the crew cab was discontinued for 1985. Electronic fuel injection was added to the 5.2-liter V8 in 1988, and to the 5.9-liter V8 in 1989. An electronic fuel injected 3.9-liter V6 replaced the 3.7-liter slant-six; and the 5.9-liter Cummins inline-six turbo diesel with 160 hp and 140 lb-ft was added.
1994-2001 (2nd Generation)
Dodge officially designated the 1500 to Ram in this generation. Since Dodge updated its engines at the end of the first generation, those engines carried over into the 1994 model year; but a multi-port fuel injection upgraded the 3.9-liter V6 with 175 hp, the 5.2-liter V8 with 230 hp, and the 5.9-liter V8 with 230 hp. The three-speed automatic transmission was dropped, leaving the four-speed automatic and five-speed manual transmission. Trims included the Work Special, LT, ST, and SLT. The Work Special was more suited for fleet needs, with the bare minimum included. In 1998, a mid-cycle refresh included exterior updates, dual airbags, OBD II, and the addition of a quad-cab with suicide doors for easy access to the rear seats. Horsepower output bumped to 245 on the 5.9-liter V8 engine; and a revised front grille, bumper, and headlights updated for the 1999 model year. The end of this generation, a six-speed manual transmission was offered.
2002-2008 Dodge Ram 1500 (3rd Generation)
This generation offered a more modern style with smoother lines and edges than the previous generation. It also included an all-new frame, suspension, and engine options. The 3.7-liter engine now produced 215 hp, and a 4.7-liter V8 replaced the 5.2-liter V8 and produced 235 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A larger Quad Cab version now had four full doors that opened in the traditional manner, and there were new single overhead-cam engines: a 3.7-liter V-6 and a 4.7-liter V-8. The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 arrived in 2003, and the high-performance SRT-10 — with a 500-horsepower V-10 and six-speed manual transmission from the Dodge Viper — was added in 2004. The roomiest Ram, a four-door Mega Cab, was added for 2006. In 2008, a new flex-fuel 4.7-liter V8 came with more horsepower and torque, and a new SXT model was an option.
2009-2018 (4th Generation)
The all-new 2009 Ram 1500 sported the truck’s recognizable big-rig look, and the rear suspension switch from leaf to coil springs. Engine options included a 3.7-liter V6 with 215 hp, a 4.7-liter V8 with 310 horsepower, or a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 390 horsepower. A short 5.7-foot, 6.25-foot, or long 8-foot bed layout is offered on select cap options. In 2012, its name changed from the Dodge Ram 1500 to the Ram 1500, and in the 2013 model year, a new 3.6-liter V-6 engine, an available eight-speed automatic transmission and an optional four-corner air suspension were available. The Hemi V8 increased its performance to 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. A new 3.0 turbo-diesel V6 was offered in 2014, and the 4.7-liter V8 was discontinued.
The Ram had a mid-cycle refresh for 2013 that included a slight exterior restyling, optional air suspension, updated interior, updated UConnect infotainment system, a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and the addition of the high-efficiency HFE model. In 2016, the Ram 1500 Rebel was first available, focusing more on off-roading. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 returned for 2018; and Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 4GLTE hotspot were added as options.
2019 – Present (5th Generation)
The Ram was completely redesigned in the 2019 model year, with increased fuel economy, higher towing capacity, a nicer interior, updated exterior styling, and more available features. The manual transmission was dropped, as well as the regular cab. Extended and quad-cab trims were available with either the 5.7-foot or 6.4-foot truck bed. It featured smoother lines and a better airflow; and it came with either a 3.6-liter V6 engine or a 5.7-liter V8 and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Technology and safety features included a rearview camera, push-button start, heated side mirrors, electronic parking brake, and available 12-inch infotainment system, hill-descent control, adaptive cruise control, and heated seats. In 2020, a diesel engine became available; and in 2021 a high-performance Ram TRX joins its trims. Pricing starts at $32,595 for the Tradesman and ranges to $70,095 for the TRX. The Ram Classic 1500 is a carryover variant of the previous generation and is offered in three trims: Classic Tradesman - $28,855, Classic Express - $30,355, and Classic Warlock - $37,445.