Ten years into its current model cycle and due to be replaced by a new model next year, the 2018 Ram 1500 features an aggressive design, a pleasant interior, a strong lineup of engines and powertrains, and a plethora of trim levels. But its safety scores are concerning, the available diesel engine isn't cheap, and the exterior, when chromed up, can look garish.

Best Value

Pricing begins at $28,490 (including destination) for a 4x2 base Tradesman V6 regular cab model and can top over $60,000 for a loaded 4x4 Crew Cab Limited Tungsten trim with the optional turbodiesel.

Like most full-size pickups, Ram 1500 buyers are faced with a dizzying number of choices: nearly 20 wheel designs, 12 trim levels, three bed lengths, three body styles, one rear-wheel- and two four-wheel-drive systems, as well as three engines – a 3.6-liter V6, a 5.7-liter V8, and a 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel (all mated to an eight-speed automatic).

This year, Ram has added a new top trim – the Limited Tungsten edition – as well as a leather interior option for Rebel models, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to optional 8.4-inch touchscreen systems, Sirius Guardian remote services, and a standard rearview camera across the lineup.

We'd opt for the Sport because it features body-colored front and rear bumpers, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an electronic on-demand transfer case, LED taillights and running lights, power adjustable pedals, 20-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, an 8.4-inch touchscreen display with satellite radio, and offers the option of easier-to-clean leather seats (powered, heated, and cooled up front).

  • Model: 2018 Ram 1500 Sport Crew Cab 5'7" Box
  • Engine: 3.6-liter V6
  • Output: 305 horsepower / 269 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • MPG: 16 City / 23 Hwy
  • Options: 3.55 Rear Axle Ratio ($95, required with V6 and 4WD), Convenience Group ($545, automatic high beams, keyless push-button start, rain sensitive wipers), Wheel-to-Wheel Side Steps ($695), Ram Box Cargo Management System ($1,295), Spray-In Bedliner ($495), Leather-Trimmed Bucket Seats ($1,545, 115-volt power outlet, bucket seats, folding flat load floor storage, full length upgraded floor console, high back seats heated and ventilated in front, power 10-way driver and six-way passenger seats with power lumbar, rear 60/40 split folding seat), Rear Window Defroster ($195).
  • Base Price: $45,790 (including a $1,395 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$50,655

Performance

RAM 1500

The 1500's handling is smooth and stable with very little rear-end hop, courtesy of a coil-spring rear suspension. Even the base 3.6-liter V6, mated to a smooth eight-speed automatic, offers strong acceleration. A need for heavy towing or climbing grades would be the only reasons to spend more on the V8 or turbodiesel.

At the same time, maximum towing is achieved only with a V8-powered, long-bed base model. The steering doesn't offer much feedback, the air suspension can feel rough at highway speeds, while the most affordable transfer case system is only suitable for dry pavement.

Style

The Ram 1500's aggressive high grille, low headlights and durable, rugged interior has aged well. While the Sport model's comfortable, leather-lined interior, color-matched bumpers, and 8.4-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is the perfect fit for suburban driveways, commercial buyers will appreciate the fact that the major controls can be operated even while wearing work gloves.

Conversely, lower trim models loudly proclaim their cheapness with vinyl floors, roll-up windows, hard plastic trim pieces, and bargain-basement interior fabrics.

The Best and Worst Things

A smooth ride and wide range of trim levels make the Ram 1500 a solid contender in the full-size pickup class.

On the flip side, while a rearview camera is now standard across the lineup, the absence of a wide range of advanced active safety features stands out.

Right For? Wrong For?

RAM 1500

The Ram's rugged good looks and wide range of off-road options should appeal to style-conscious weekend warriors.

At the same time, its dearth of advanced safety features and borderline safety scores mean safety-focused buyers need not apply.

The Bottom Line

Despite cheap-looking lower trims, problematic safety scores, and a lack of advanced safety features, the Ram 1500's rugged good looks, wide choice of trim levels, and smooth, controlled ride make it a top choice in the full-size pickup class.