2021 Ram 1500 Review

Elevating the truck experience beyond focusing solely on capability.

Nicole Wakelin
Contributor
PROS
  • Smooth, quiet ride
  • Wide range of trims from basic to luxurious
  • Five powertrain options
CONS
  • Standard safety is slim on lower trim levels
  • Top trim levels approach luxury car prices
  • May induce jealous reactions from your Ford and GM truck-owning friends

The 2021 Ram 1500 is a full-size pickup truck with seating for up to six passengers. This truck was fully redesigned for the 2019 model year with improved capability, a smoother ride, and luxurious interiors for its top trims. Trims range from basic to luxurious with two bed lengths, two cab styles, five engines, and rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. 2021 Ram 1500 pricing starts at around $32,000.

Ram 1500 Exterior

The exterior design of the Ram 1500 is big and bold as you’d expect from a full-size truck. It looks like it’s ready to do some work and regardless of how fancy or how basic the trim, the Ram 1500 has the capability to tow and haul significant loads. It makes extensive use of high-strength steels, composites, and aluminum to reduce weight and improve fuel economy while still maintaining that capability.

Despite its size, the Ram 1500 was designed with aerodynamics in mind and has features including active grille shutters to reduce drag and improve fuel economy. Even the roof of the cab is designed for optimum airflow. There are available features including lockable bed storage for keeping precious cargo secure and a unique multifunction tailgate. It opens down or splits 60/40 vertically with a built-in step for easier bed access.

Ram Interior

There was a time when trucks were focused on capability with passenger comfort way down on the list of priorities. Today, trucks put passengers near the top of the list and the Ram 1500 does it better than the rest. While every truck has a top trim with leather and wood accents and power seats, the interior of the Ram 1500 quite simply looks and feels better.

There’s also the ride. It’s quiet and remarkably smooth with an available air suspension system that evens out rough road surfaces and enhances comfort when you venture off-road, too. In addition to being comfortable, roomy, and attractive, there’s the Uconnect infotainment system. This has long been one of the most intuitive systems on the market and the latest generation of the Ram 1500 adds a massive 12-inch vertical screen as an available option on all but the first two trims in the lineup.

Storage options include a large center console that can manage a 15-inch laptop or hanging file folders, cubbies in the doors, and available floor storage beneath the second row. That’s for the small stuff. For the big stuff, the 2021 Ram 1500 can tow up to 12,750 pounds and manage a payload of up to 2,300 pounds. It’s a full-size pickup that’s equally suited to managing a full load of cargo or a full crew of passengers.

Ram 1500 Powertrain

There are powertrains aplenty for the Ram 1500 starting with a 3.6-liter V6 (305 horsepower/269 lb-ft of torque) and topping out with the 6.2-liter V8 (702 hp/650 lb-ft of torque) found in the new TRX. In the middle are a 3.6-liter V6 diesel (260 h/480 lb-ft of torque) two 5.7-liter V8 engines (395 hp/410 lb-ft of torque). All are paired to 8-speed automatic transmissions. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is available on most trim levels.

That’s a lot of engine options that all come down to what you want to do with your truck. Diesel engines have long been a favorite for those who frequently tow thanks to their high torque. The V6 gas engine has better fuel economy than the thirstier V8s, but those more powerful engines deliver better overall performance with higher towing and payload ratings. It’s all a matter of knowing what you need to do with your truck and then picking a powertrain that meets those needs.

2021 Ram 1500

Ram 1500 Driving Experience

The Ram 1500 is an easy truck to drive. Yes, it’s big and if you’re not used to driving a truck it will take a little getting used to, but it’s easy to handle once you get accustomed to its size. Steering is responsive and the 1500 does what you want when you turn the wheel without feeling heavy or cumbersome. The Ram 1500 behaves a lot like a car when it comes to driving dynamics making it exceptionally nice to drive and comfortable for passengers

The focus Ram put on the suspension system not only makes for a better ride for passengers, but it also makes for a more controlled ride for the driver. It’s easy for a truck to get sloppy, especially when it’s towing a trailer. That extra weight can be a challenge, but the Ram 1500 suffers no such pitfalls. Whether towing a trailer or managing a heavy payload, it imparts aa sense of confidence that makes the job stress-free. Even without any cargo, which can often make a truck’s ride exceptionally bouncy, the Ram 1500 delivers a smooth, controlled drive experience.

While the V8 engines of the Ram 1500 are more powerful and the diesel has that instant torque, don’t discount the V6 gas engine. Unless you need the added capability, the 3.6-liter V6 is a solid choice. It has no trouble getting the Ram 1500 up to speed and will save you some money at the pump.

2021 Ram 1500 Trim Levels and Pricing

The base 1500 is offered in seven trim levels with RWD and 4WD models:

  • Tradesman RWD/Tradesman 4WD (starts at about $32,000 RWD/$35,500 4WD) – This is the base model with the V6 gas engine and a 5-inch infotainment touchscreen.
  • Tradesman HFE RWD (starts at about $34,000) – Available only as a quad cab with a long box.
  • Big Horn RWD/Big Horn 4WD (starts at about $37,000 RWD/$40,500 4WD) – Adds leather-wrapped steering wheel, chrome exterior accents, and the option for an 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen.
  • Laramie RWD/Laramie 4WD (starts at about $41,500 RWD/$45,000 4WD) – Upgrades to V8 engine, 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, and 10-speaker audio.
  • Rebel RWD/Rebel 4WD (starts at about $45,500 RWD/$49,000 4WD) – Adds off-road group, locking rear axle, and electronic locking rear differential.
  • Longhorn RWD/Longhorn 4WD (starts at about $52,000 RWD/$55,500 4WD) -Includes premium leather seats and real wood and metal interior trims.
  • Limited RWD/Limited 4WD (starts at about $56,500 RWD/$59,500 4WD) – Adds dual-zone automatic climate control, 12-inch infotainment touchscreen, and 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio

If you are looking for a more accurate idea of pricing, you can build and price a Ram 1500 on Ram’s official web site. 

There’s also the new 2021 Ram 1500 TRX (starting at about $70,000). You can read our review of the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX here.

2021 Ram 1500

Ram 1500 Best Features

The best features of the Ram 1500 are its ride quality and interior. The interior is comfortable, roomy, and quiet making it a winner on longer road trips. There’s minimal noise and vibration so you won’t be bothered by random sounds creating an unwelcome background soundtrack to your trip. The quiet ride is enhanced by the Ram 1500’s suspension system which does a phenomenal job of hiding road imperfections and smoothing out rough road surfaces.

2021 Ram 1500

What is Our Favorite Version of the Ram 1500?

Our favorite version of the Ram 1500 is the Laramie (starting at $41,500). It makes Uconnect with the 8.4-inch touchscreen standard along with a V8 engine for added capability and better performance. There are also creature comforts including heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

2021 Ram 1500

Ram 1500 Notable Safety Features

The base trims of the Ram 1500 are slim on advanced safety features, but most features are available as part of a package across the lineup. This includes features like full-speed forward collision warning with active braking and towing-specific features including a trailer reverse steering system and trailer tire pressure monitoring. While it’s not ideal that so little is standard, those with the budget to pay the extra for the right package can get a wide range of safety features.

2021 Ram 1500

Who Should Buy a 2021 Ram 1500?

The 2021 Ram 1500 holds wide appeal whether you’re focused on a capable work truck or want something that’s more luxurious.

Base trims are ideal for those who will be taking the Ram 1500 to a job site and don’t want to be bothered with fancy interiors. Buyers who need a truck to do everything, from work to play to family-hauling duty, will appreciate the roomy cabin in the Ram 1500.

Top trims do the same jobs, but with an interior that makes them ideally suited to a night out with family and friends. Any truck shopper who puts a priority on passenger comfort and ride quality will find the 2021 Ram 1500 a good choice.

2021 Ram 1500

CarExpert’s Take on the 2021 Ram 1500

The Ram 1500 elevates the truck experience beyond focusing solely on capability. Sure, it has impressive figures when it comes to towing a trailer or managing a payload, but that’s not where the Ram 1500’s appeal ends. Its multiple engines make it suited to a variety of needs as does its wide range of trims from utilitarian to luxurious. Top it all off with a superior interior and a nicer ride than what’s offered by competitors and the 2021 Ram 1500 is a top pick for anyone in the market for a full-size pickup truck.

2021 Ram 1500

Ram 1500 Competitors to Consider

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • Ford F-150
  • GMC Sierra 1500 
  • Nissan Titan
  • Toyota Tundra

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OVERALL RATING8.4
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8.2
Ride Comfort 9
Safety 7.5
Fit for Purpose 8.8
Handling Dynamics 8.8
Interior Practicality and Space 8.5
Fuel Efficiency 8.2
Value for Money 8.3
Performance 8.5
Technology Infotainment 8.6