Pros: Best-in-class ride, handling and interior; impressive infotainment tech; extra-comfy rear seats
Cons: Fewer and less advanced engine options; safety tech not standard
Last year, we pondered whether the Ram 1500 was still the best in its segment after significant improvements made to its competitors (including an all-new Tundra). Now, after driving all those extensively as well as taking another go in a Ram, we feel confident in saying that the 2023 Ram 1500 should still be considered No. 1 for most truck buyers.
It all starts with its coil spring rear suspension (or optional air suspension) that provides a degree of ride comfort and vehicle control that can’t be matched by its competitors. That includes the new Toyota Tundra, which despite going with coils at the rear too, doesn’t come close to the Ram’s almost crossover-like ride and handling. Then there’s the Ram’s interior, which despite being in its fourth year since being completely redesigned and facing tough new competition from GM, still strikes us as the most innovative, functional and highest in quality. The uppermost trim levels are also genuine luxury-grade, which is important given the genuine luxury price tag. The Uconnect infotainment suite isn’t the advantage it once was, but it remains exceptional.
If there is an area where the Ram falls short it could be under the hood. The 1500 has no answer for Ford’s electric, full hybrid or silky-smooth turbo V6 engine options that are all wildly impressive (ditto several innovative features), but we’re guessing most truck buyers won’t see that as such a big deal. Want a good, old-fashioned American V8? Well, the Ram’s Hemi still gets the job done (with potential help from an available mild-hybrid system) and sounds remarkably civilized. Heck, even the V6 manages to get better fuel economy than GM’s new turbo-four base engine. So yeah, it’s hard to find fault with the Ram 1500, and no matter which version you’re looking at, we think it should be the first truck you check out.
What’s new for 2023?
The Ram lineup gets a new luxury range-topper in the Limited Elite. Besides a variety of extra standard features, it gets a unique “jeweled” rotary shifter and digital instrument theme for the 12-inch cluster that’s been upgraded throughout the lineup with additional designs and options. The (RED) Edition returns to 2023 with its unique red grille and badging plus a new UV-C glove box light that kills bacteria. Cool? Off-Road Group package can now be fitted with 22-inch all-terrain tires, while the Rebel gains Selec-Speed Control, a sort of off-road cruise control. Finally, prices went up by several thousand dollars for every trim level, including about $11,000 for the TRX. Ka-ching.
Clockwise from top: Limited, Longhorn Southfork and Tradesman
What are the Ram 1500 interior and in-car technology like?
It’s easy to be smitten by the Ram 1500 in its fanciest Longhorn and Limited trim levels, which are bedecked in soft leather, special color schemes and unique styling elements like the Longhorn emblem literally branded into real wood trim. There are unique features like the huge vertically oriented touchscreen and the ventilated reclining back seat. They’re easily the most luxurious pickups ever made.
Crucially, however, we are actually more impressed by the basic Ram 1500 Tradesman and Big Horn trim levels. While the quality of plastics is typical for the segment (that goes for those ritzy Rams, too), the different textures and attractive design result in a cabin that looks and feels better than trucks that cost a comparable amount or more. For instance, the rich gray cloth upholstery in a Big Horn test truck contributed to a far more premium environment than what we found in a comparable Ford F-150 XLT trim level.
The Ram doesn’t just impress aesthetically. The five-passenger model’s center console features clever, multi-configuration storage solutions thoughtfully designed for how people might use this space — it’s not just some cupholders and a pair of differently sized bins. There’s also a covered compartment under the rear floor and the RamBox bins (above right) that can be added to the bed walls.
In-car technology is exceptional as well. Even the most basic Tradesman has a perfectly useable 5-inch touchscreen and three USB ports, while the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen found on other trims is one of the most user-friendly interfaces on the market and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And we thought that before the system was upgraded for 2022 to be faster and have more system memory. Additional USB ports can also be added to the rear, including the USB-C type. The top four trims can step things up further with the aforementioned 12-inch vertical touchscreen.
How big is the Ram?
The 2023 Ram 1500 is available with three body/bed configurations: extended Quad Cab with a 6-foot-4 bed, or a Crew Cab with either the longer bed or a standard 5-foot-7 bed. There are also two tailgate designs: the standard one and the optional multifunction split design. The exterior dimensions are similar to its competitors, although the new TRX is a whopping 8(!) inches wider than its siblings. It’s also 2 inches taller.
Interior dimensions are also similar to those of its competitors. The Quad Cab’s rear legroom (34.7 inches) is a bit more than a Ford F-150 Super Cab’s (33.5) and a bit less than a Silverado Double Cab’s (35.2). All of those figures equal cramped legs, and given the upright backrest angle they all share, none are exactly ideal for lengthy journeys. Neither is the six-passenger model’s front middle seat (pictured below right), but at least its seat back is notably higher than any other truck’s and should actually provide some head and neck support to go with additional comfort.
If you really need your truck to ferry passengers, though, an upgrade to the Crew Cab is a must. With it, backseat legroom grows to an indulgent degree to a whopping 45.2 inches. That’s about 2 inches better than the Silverado Crew Cab and F-150 Super Crew, and 3.6 inches better than the Toyota Tundra Crew Max. Admittedly, all possess so much massive, stretch-out legroom that there’ll likely be a full foot from knees to the front seat back. So yes, the Ram has more, but we’re not sure it really matters. What could, however, is the available reclining back rest that increases comfort considerably. The Tundra is the only other truck that offers that.
What are the Ram 1500 fuel economy and performance specs?
The Ram 1500 has fewer powertrain options than its GM and Ford competitors. The standard engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that is aided by a 48-volt mild hybrid system Ram calls eTorque. It adds a small amount of electricity while accelerating from a stop to increase power and refinement, as well as improving the automatic stop/start system and fuel economy. We explain it more in our Ram 1500 eTorque first drive. Output is 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, and an eight-speed automatic is standard. EPA-estimated fuel economy for 2023 was not available at the time of this writing, but we doubt that any of the below figures from last year will differ significantly: 20 miles per gallon city, 25 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined with RWD (which is better than Chevy’s base turbo-four engine), and 19/24/21 with 4WD. It wasn’t so long ago that V6-powered midsize sedans were getting that sort of fuel economy.
There are two versions of the optional 5.7-liter V8 available, both good for 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. One has eTorque and achieves 17/23/19 with RWD, an estimate we confirmed during our test of a Ram 1500 Big Horn. The other version does not have eTorque and achieves 15/22/17 with RWD. The penalty for 4WD is negligible. While the differences in fuel economy figures with and without eTorque may seem small, when we’re talking lower mpg numbers like these, they actually equate to hundreds saved in gas every year.
For max torque and fuel economy, the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 produces 260 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque that is tops among full-size truck diesel engines. It returns 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined with RWD, and 21/29/24 with 4WD. That’s a smidge lower than GM’s DuraMax diesel. The inflated price of diesel fuel in the past year has significantly hurt the EcoDiesel’s fuel cost advantage over the 5.7-liter V8. Yes, it’s still far more efficient, but the EPA says it’ll only save you $100 per year on fuel versus the many hundreds in the past. That may not be worth the hassle of finding the green pump.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Ram TRX and its 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8. It produces 702 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. It goes from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. It also gets a different eight-speed automatic, transfer case and rear axle to handle all that grunt. The EPA says the TRX will get a truly atrocious 10 mpg city, 14 mpg highway and 12 combined, and that’s pretty consistent with what we’ve experienced. According to EPA average fuel cost estimates, it would cost you $2,250 more per year to fill a TRX versus the V6-powered Ford Raptor. It would even be $1,050 more than the new V8-powered Raptor R since it requires premium fuel.
What’s the Ram 1500 like to drive?
The Ram 1500 continues to be so refined that it can feel like you’re driving a large crossover rather than a pickup. Thanks to its five-link coil spring rear suspension, its ride quality is buttery smooth and betters all its competitors (including the disappointing Toyota Tundra and its rear coils). That suspension design also benefits handling and trailer control, and can even be upgraded with an available air suspension capable of raising to clear obstacles and lowering for easier loading. The steering possesses linear, consistent effort and is reassuringly precise on-center.
Acceleration from the eTorque-equipped V8 is similarly buttery smooth and impressively quiet. You don’t really notice the smidgen of power contributed by the 48-volt electrical system as you would in a proper hybrid, but you also don’t notice noise or vibration coming from the automatic stop/start system. Even without eTorque, however, the Hemi V8 is still excellent and one wonders if it’ll be cheaper to maintain in the long term without the complicated extra bits attached. Similarly, you’d be hard pressed to know that the base V6 possesses eTorque, and you’ll be surprised at just how capable the Ram can be with only six cylinders. The eight-speed automatic certainly helps in this regard, especially while towing.
As for the EcoDiesel, it impresses with its quiet and confident voice, steady power, easy response and smooth acceleration. Like other diesels, it starts to run out of steam higher in its rev range, but that’s where the eight-speed automatic comes in handy once again. We towed with this engine, used it while off-roading in the Rebel and generally found it well-suited to truck duty. Pity about today’s diesel fuel costs.
Finally, there’s the TRX. Not only is it quick on pavement, it’s impossibly fast on dirt, too. You can even use launch control off-road. Its substantially overhauled and upgraded suspension, transfer case, tires, etc. add up to a truly astonishing off-road truck experience. Of course, it’s also incredible tall and wide, which can make it a chore to drive certain places and swills premium fuel like few other new vehicles on the road. For more about it, make sure to read our specific Ram TRX review.
What other Ram 1500 reviews can I read?
We put the new TRX to the high-speed test and find it to be bigger, badder and better than the Raptor.
Why is the Ram’s coil-spring rear suspension better and how does it work? Engineer Dan Edmunds explains.
More in-depth driving impressions and information about the new EcoDiesel V6.
Our editors breakdown the mid-level Laramie trim level.
Our editors also got a chance to evaluate the basic Tradesman. It still impressed.
Find out more about the V6 and V8 engines equipped with the eTorque mild hybrid system.
Our first drive of the current-generation Ram, including multiple videos and in-depth information about its design and engineering.
What is the 2023 Ram 1500 price?
Ram doesn’t offer quite as many variations are its GM and Ford competitors, but there’s still an abundance of choice and customization opportunities. You can find a fairly comprehensive listing of available features and pricing for each trim level here on Autoblog.
There are two cab styles: the extended Quad Cab with smaller, front-hinged rear doors and the Crew Cab with enormous, front-hinged rear doors. The Quad Cab is only available with a 6-foot-4 bed, while the Crew Cab offers a choice of standard 5-foot-7 or optional 6-foot-4. Note that not every trim level is available with the Quad Cab, which we indicate in the pricing below. All prices listed below include the rather excessive $1,795 destination charge that is mandatory, yet left out of advertised pricing. Prices also went up by a few thousand dollars for 2023.
(A basic work truck available in Quad and Crew cabs)
Big Horn / Lone Star: $44,420
(The volume-selling trim level with a huge number of options. It’s called Lone Star in Texas and some surrounding states. Available in Quad and Crew cabs, and offers BackCountry, Sport Appearance and Night Edition variants).
(The first luxury-oriented trim and the only one available in both Quad and Crew cabs. Offers G/T, Laramie Southwest, Night Edition and Sport Appearance package variants).
(The first of two off-road oriented models easily identified by its handlebar mustache grille. Pictured below left, it’s 4×4 only and available in Quad and Crew cabs. Offers G/T and Night Edition variants).
(The first of two extra-luxury models. It doesn’t have quite as much standard equipment than Limited and has ranch-themed design elements. Crew Cab only. It is picture above right)
(The ritziest trim level with the most standard equipment and the most intricate grille. Crew Cab only. Offers the Red package and new Limited Elite variation)
(Insane off-roader truck powered by the Hellcat V8. Crew Cab and 4×4 only. Its price went up by $11,000 for 2023)
Finally, note that Ram still sells the 1500 Classic, which is the previous-generation version originally introduced for the 2009 model year. That is not considered here, though despite being awfully outdated, is still a pretty good truck.
What are the Ram 1500 safety ratings and driver assistance features?
Front-, front-side and side-curtain airbags are standard along with a rearview camera. Forward collision warning is now standard on all trims but the Tradesman and Big Horn/Lone Star, which can add it as part of the Level 1 Equipment Group. Automatic emergency braking is included with the adaptive cruise control system that’s optional on all but those two bottom trims. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, lane-departure warning and trailer reverse control are optional on all trim levels. Much of this equipment is standard on all but the most basic Ford F-150.
The government gives the 2022 Ram 1500 Crew Cab a five-star overall rating with four-star frontal and five star side ratings. The Quad Cab gets four-star overall and frontal ratings, and the five-star side rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 1500 Quad Cab and Crew Cabs the best possible ratings for crash worthiness and its available forward collision avoidance system. Upper trim levels with LED headlights earn a Top Safety Pick+ award.
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