Pros: Competitive pricing; tons of capability; muscular looks; tough as nails
Cons: Sparsely equipped; options are a must; doesn't ride as well as Silverado and Sierra
What's New: The 2014 RAM 1500 Tradesman adds a diesel engine option and available air suspension for the 2014 model year.
The full-size RAM 1500 is a tough, capable large pickup truck that faces off against the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra. While the RAM 1500 comes in many body styles and configurations, this overview focuses on the base-level 2014 RAM 1500 Tradesman, which is primarily aimed at commercial shoppers interested in a no-frills work truck.
The RAM 1500 Tradesman is offered in three body styles. Shoppers can choose among a regular cab, an extended 4-door Quad Cab and a full-size 4-door Crew Cab. Regular cab models come with 6-foot, 4-inch or an 8-ft bed; Quad Cab models come with only the 6-ft, 4-in bed; and Crew Cab variants offer a 5-ft, 7-in bed or a 6-ft, 4-in bed.
Under the hood, the trucks offer several engine choices. Standard on all models is a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 305 horsepower, while drivers seeking more grunt can opt for a 395-hp 5.7-liter V8. Drivers who choose Quad Cab or Crew Cab models can also choose a new 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, which makes just 240 hp but returns a whopping 420 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while 4-wheel drive is optional. All RAM 1500 pickups use an automatic transmission.
If you're after standard features, the 2014 RAM 1500 Tradesman may not be the truck for you. It's sparsely equipped, offering only basics such as air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, an auxiliary plug for music and intermittent wipers. You have to pay extra for a CD player, a reversing camera, floor mats and even remote keyless entry. You can also pay extra for air suspension, which improves the truck's ride and levels the body under heavy loads.
But the lack of standard features makes sense when you consider the truck's price. It starts around $25,000 with shipping for a regular cab, $30,000 for a Quad Cab or $32,000 for a Crew Cab, making it one of the least expensive full-size trucks you can buy.
No, the RAM 1500 Tradesman isn't a luxury vehicle. If you want the latest amenities and gadgets from your truck, you'll want to look elsewhere. But as a no-frills commercial workhorse, it's a good vehicle to add to your shopping list.