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2016 Ram 1500: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Ram 1500, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Ram 1500 Review

Although the 2016 Ram 1500 hasn’t seen many changes this year, don’t think that the pickup isn’t at the top of its game. The Ram 1500 has made several major changes in recent years, from a new 3.6-liter V6 and an optional fuel-efficient diesel powerplant to an available air suspension that offers automatic leveling when towing and helps to smooth out the truck’s ride.

Inside, the Ram 1500’s cabin looks as if it were plucked from a Chrysler 300: rich in detail and craftsmanship and loaded with a wide array of electronics, including the full suite of Uconnect apps, voice-activated navigation and even a Sprint-backed wireless hub. Of course, the Ram 1500 also offers the requisite wide range of body styles you’ll find in any pickup, with varying bed lengths and a multitude of cab configurations to choose from.

In essence, the Ram 1500 excels at just about anything — and that means its only real problem is the competition. Its primary rivals — the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado — are both newly redesigned, which means you should probably give them a try before you sign the papers on a new Ram.

What’s New for 2016?

The Ram 1500 is largely unchanged for 2016, save for an improved center console and newly available LED lights for the bed. See the 2016 Ram 1500 models for sale near you

What We Like

Available diesel power; upscale interior; smooth ride; muscular engine lineup; 8-speed transmission; Uconnect infotainment and connectivity options

What We Don’t

Awkward 8-speed’s rotary gear selector; styling may prove too much for conservative truck buyers

How Much?


Fuel Economy

The 2016 Ram 1500 offers three engines. Base models use a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to an 8-speed automatic. Gas mileage is 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway with 2-wheel drive or 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive.

8-cylinder power is provided by the Ram’s available 5.7-liter HEMI V8. It makes a whopping 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque, and depending on the model, it’s mated to one of two automatic transmissions: a 6-speed or an 8-speed. Fuel economy with the 6-speed is 14 mpg city/20 mpg hwy with 2-wheel drive or 13 mpg city/19 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive. Trucks equipped with the 8-speed return 15 mpg city/22 mpg hwy with 2-wheel drive or 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive.

The Ram’s newest engine addition is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, which joined the lineup last year. It makes 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, and it’s mated to an 8-speed automatic. The diesel-powered RAM returns up to 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with rear-wheel drive or 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

The Ram 1500 is offered in a complex array of body styles, trim levels, engine sizes and drivetrain options. We’ve summarized the trims here, but note that there may be some variation in features and pricing depending on the truck you choose.

At the bottom of the Ram lineup is the commercial-oriented Tradesman ($27,000), which comes with only the basics: steel wheels, vinyl floor coverings and seats, air conditioning and a locking tailgate. You won’t even get features such as keyless entry, power locks or power mirrors, though those items are optional.

Next up in the Ram world is the HFE model ($31,700), which stands for High Fuel Economy. Only offered with 2-wheel drive, the Ram 1500 HFE includes a 3.21:1 axle ratio, a start/stop engine that shuts off when idling and a tonneau cover — all geared toward improving gas mileage. It also includes cloth upholstery and power accessories as standard equipment.

Above the HFE in the Ram lineup is the SLT, which starts at $32,400. It adds alloy wheels, chrome exterior trim and dual glove boxes. This is the Ram’s volume trim level, as shoppers can add many options to equip it in just about any way they desire.

Topping the SLT is the Ram 1500 Sport ($36,900), which adds power-folding mirrors, integrated mirror turn signals, an overhead console with a garage door opener, 20-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8.4-in touchscreen with Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system, wireless hot spot capability, voice control, power adjustable pedals, heated front seats and a power driver’s seat.

Next up is the Ram 1500 Laramie ($40,400), which is essentially a luxury pickup truck. It adds leather upholstery, driver-seat memory, a power passenger seat, an upgraded audio system, wood trim and chrome bumpers.

Topping the range is the crew-cab-only Longhorn ($49,600), which adds a remote starter, park assist, a navigation system with traffic updates, a larger fuel tank and tow hooks. An available Limited package boasts automatic wipers, keyless ignition, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats and a rear air suspension. An even pricier Limited ($53,200) version of the Longhorn trim adds improved trim, automatic wipers and automatic high beams.

The Ram 1500 offers many options. Several of the truck’s lower trim levels, for instance, offer optional features from high-end Ram models. And there are even a few available option packages, such as the feature-heavy Lone Star (for Texas truck shoppers) and Big Horn (for shoppers elsewhere) editions, which are available on the Ram 1500 SLT; the adventure-oriented Outdoorsman, which offers skid plates and all-terrain tires; and the Rebel, which adds even more off-road-ready equipment.


Standard safety equipment includes front-side chest airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags, as well as electronic traction and stability control and trailer-sway control. You can also get a backup camera, automatic high beams, and front and rear parking sensors.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests, the Ram 1500 Quad Cab earned four overall stars. That rating included four stars in frontal and rollover tests, along with five stars in NHTSA’s side-impact assessment. The regular-cab RAM achieved the same results.

Behind the Wheel

The Ram 1500 delivers one of the best rides we’ve experienced in a full-size pickup to date. The cabin is solid and well insulated from outside noise, and the new seats are supremely supportive. The new electric power-steering setup delivers good feedback and on-center feel; it also helps improve fuel economy by taxing the engine less. When equipped with the available air suspension, the Ram 1500’s ride is nearly luxury-car smooth, absorbing most road imperfections with ease. Off road, the air suspension allows the Ram 1500 to bound over dips and hills without bottoming out, all while keeping tight control over body movements that usually translate into passengers being tossed about the cab.

The 3.6-liter V6 is a capable workhorse, delivering good off-the-line acceleration and impressive fuel economy. But for heavy towing and rapid passing power, the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is still the best choice for this big, heavy truck. The V6 is tow-rated at 5,630 pounds, while the HEMI V8 tops out at 11,500 pounds in the Ram 1500 Tradesman Heavy Duty.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 — The newly redesigned Chevrolet Silverado offers fuel-efficient new engines, a redesigned interior and an impressive ride — all of which give the Ram a run for its money.

2016 Ford F-150 — The all-new F-150 boasts excellent EcoBoost powertrains, along with strong fuel economy numbers and a heavily improved driving experience and interior. Even if you’re a die-hard Ram driver, the latest Ford is worth a look.

Used RAM 2500 HD — If you need even more capabilities than the Ram can offer, you might find that the brawny 2500 HD is more to your liking. Unfortunately, prices can be pretty high, which is why we suggest checking out a used model.

Autotrader’s Advice

If you’re pulling heavy loads, there is just no substitute for the power and torque of the 5.7-liter V8. We’d get it in the Sport or Laramie editions, which are nicely equipped and reasonably priced. If your truck use is on the lighter side (just moving Jet Skis or mountain bikes), an SLT equipped with the 3.6-liter V6 is hard to argue with. It has plenty of power, delivers impressive fuel economy and can be equipped with most of the most-desirable options in the Ram inventory. But we suggest driving the diesel first to see if it matches your expectations for acceleration and passing power. Find a Ram 1500 for sale

Our editors are here to make car buying easier. We’ve driven, reviewed and compared thousands of cars. We’ve bought and sold more than our fair share, too. And as part of the sprawling Cox Automotive group of companies, we have exclusive access to a range of valuable data and insights. Whether you’re looking for the best car, the best deal or the best buying advice, you can trust... Read More about Autotrader

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