2014 Ram 1500

Known as the Dodge Ram before Chrysler transformed Ram into a distinct, truck-focused brand, the Ram 1500 is a well-sorted full-size pickup with bold styling and a refined interior. Along with a surprisingly accommodating ride, it boasts a trio of punchy engines and a user-friendly infotainment setup.

For especially intense hauling duties, Ram also offers 2500 and 3500 models, as well as the off-roading champ of the lineup, the 2500 Power Wagon.

Recent Changes
For the latest model year, the Ram 1500 gains a class-exclusive turbodiesel option that promises low fuel consumption and 420 lb-ft of torque. The previously available 4.7-liter V8 has been broomed, while the Hemi V8 can now be had with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Last year, the 1500 received myriad upgrades throughout, including a stiffer frame, more compliant suspension, fuel thrifty Pentastar V6, an improved interior and Chrysler's UConnect Access infotainment system. An optional air suspension was also added.

Overview
Despite what its muscular sheetmetal might suggest, the Ram 1500 is really a big softie. A powerful, highly capable softie, but a softie nonetheless.

This is not a pickup that beats up its driver and passengers with a rodeo-rough ride. Unlike its competitors, the 1500 features a coil-spring rear suspension, which helps smooth out pavement imperfections and works in conjunction with recent chassis revisions to create predictable, wieldy handling.

A full air suspension can be spec'd for even more comfort and capability. It features five settings: Normal (8.7 inches of ground clearance from the base of the door sill), a 1.1-inch lower aero mode for improved fuel efficiency, two off road modes for additional clearance and a park mode that pushes the truck down 2 inches for easy ingress and egress. An auto-leveling function is included for improved towing and hauling, and a key fob button can activate the air suspension to lower the truck remotely.

Forget about basic, unsophisticated truck cabins of yore - inside, the 1500 features a design that's both attractive and functional. Material quality is excellent for the class, even in base models, and high-end trims feature supple leather and genuine wood trim. Cupholders abound, numerous USB inputs and SD card readers can be optioned, and controls are logically placed and easy to use.

Depending on trim, the 1500's gauge cluster is outfitted with a 3.5- or 7.0-inch information screen, and 5.0-inch and 8.4-inch toucschreen displays are available. The latter runs Chrysler's Uconnect Access infotainment system.

Generally regarded as one of the more user-friendly infotainment setups on the market, Uconnect Access integrates most of the truck's audio, navigation and climate control functions into one unit. An 8.4-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.

Uconnect Access features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network - for an additional monthly fee - and downloadable applications such as Bing search.

Engine lineup
Comfortable and tech-packed though it may be, the 1500 also has plenty of underhood grunt and towing capability.

The entry-level engine is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that produces 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. With the help of an eight-speed automatic gear-box and active grille shutters, the mill is capable of 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway in rear-wheel-drive form; four-wheel-drive models are rated at 16/23 mpg. Max towing capacity for properly-equipped V6 trucks is 7,400 lbs.

Power-hungry buyers can opt for a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. Depending on trim level, it's paired with either a six- or eight-speed automatic; fuel economy ranges from a high of 15/22 for the RWD eight-speed combo to a low of 13/19 for the 4WD six-cog configuration. Towing tops out at 10, 450 lbs. with the Hemi.

New for the latest model year is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that represents the first factory-installed diesel mill in a light-duty pickup in decades. It churns out 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque and pairs with the eight-speed auto. Fuel economy ratings haven't yet been revealed, but the oil-burner can tow up to 9,200 lbs.

Uconnect Access
New to the Ram 1500 for the latest model year is the availability of Chrysler's Uconnect Access infotainment system (for a complete description of Uconnect Access, check out Leftlane's Spotlight On: Uconnect article).

Generally regarded as one of the more user-friendly infotainment setups on the market, Uconnect Access integrates most of the truck's audio, navigation and climate control functions into one unit. An 8.4-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.

Uconnect Access features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network - for an additional monthly fee - and downloadable applications such as Bing search.

Bodystyles, Capabilities and Trims
The Ram 1500 is offered in Regular Cab, Quad Cab and Crew Cab models. The Regular Cab features two doors, the Quad Cab has four doors and the Crew Cab has four doors with expanded rear passenger space. Three box lengths are available: 8-foot (regular cab), 6-foot-4-inches (Regular cab, Quad Cab and optional for Crew Cab), and a new length with this latest generation box length of 5-foot-7-inches (Crew Cab).

All Ram models make towing easier with a standard 4- and 7-pin trailer hitch wiring harness and connector with a plug-in connection integrated into the rear bumper. Payload capacity maxes out at 1,930 lbs.

Nine trim levels are available, each with a unique appearance: Tradesman, Express, HFE, Big Horn, Outdoorsman, Sport, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited. With these numerous and wildly different trims, the Ram 1500 can be outfitted as a spartan work truck, a leather-lined luxury vehicle with the latest tech features, and almost anything in between.

Laramie Limited
Ram recently crowned the 1500 lineup with the Laramie Limited, which boasts one of the most luxurious interiors ever fitted to a pickup. Details include full leather seating with contrasting piping, black burled walnut trim, LED lighting and a soft, French-stitched full leather lid atop the center console. Chrome ringed-gauges with liquid graphite needles, rear flap-closure seatback map pockets and berber carpeting complete the interior treatment.

Exterior touches include a body-color front fascia and rear bumper, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels and no badges save for a small italicized block-letter "Limited" on the tailgate and the traditional Ram logo.

Standard features on the Laramie Limited Trim include a navigational radio, remote start, back-up camera, power adjustable pedals with memory, heated steering wheel, front ventilated and heated seats and rear heated seats.

Mossy Oak Edition
The limited-edition 1500 Mossy Oak Edition is the product of a joint-venture between Ram and hunting camo firm Mossy Oak.

Based on the Outdoorsman trim level, the truck gains Mossy Oak's Break-Up Infinity camo on the bedcaps and on the tailgate; additional camo can be ordered for the truck's lower cladding. A Mossy Oak logo appears on the rear quarter panels.

Inside, the truck features the same camo print on its instrument panel and doors, plus a Mossy Oak logo on all four outboard head restraints. Optional Katzkin-supplied Espresso leather features unique Mossy Oak embroidery on the seatbacks as well.

All Mossy Oak models are 4x4 Crew Cabs offered only in Black, Black Gold Pearl and Prairie Pearl monotone exterior trims, over a Canyon Brown and Frost Beige interior.

Both 6'4 and 5'7 bed lengths are be offered, as is Ram's extra-cost RamBox system.

Key Competitors
Rivals to Ram 1500 include the rugged Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and the Ford F-150, which has been the best-selling vehicle in America for decades. The Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan are also worthy competitors, and both are built in United States.