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2021 Ram 1500 Classic Review

The 2021 Ram 1500 Classic is a full-size pickup truck. It’s not unusual for an automaker to offer the previous generation of a truck for a year overlapping with the introduction of a redesigned model. However, an all-new Ram 1500 came out for the 2019 model year and the Ram 1500 Classic still endures for 2021. Since the Ram brand doesn’t offer a midsize pickup, the Ram 1500 Classic is the brand’s budget offering and has few direct competitors.

Let’s take a closer look at whether the 2021 Ram 1500 Classic is a good buy.

What’s New for 2021?

There are no notable updates for the 2021 Ram 1500 Classic other than the fact that it still exists. See the 2021 Ram 1500 Classic models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Affordable pricing
  • Diverse cab/box configurations
  • Trusty engines

What We Don’t

  • Design is older than the Ram brand itself
  • Few trim options
  • Lacks modern safety tech

How Much?

$28,700 to $43,145

Fuel Economy

There are two engines available in the 2021 Ram 1500 Classic. The base engine is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. Optional is a stronger, more capable 5.7-liter Hemi V8. The V6 delivers a nice blend of capability and efficiency by producing 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque while returning up to 17 city/25 highway mpg. Upgrading to the V8 turns up the performance to 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque and returns up to 15 city/22 highway mpg. Like all trucks, adding 4-wheel drive results in a slight fuel economy penalty for both engines.

Standard Features & Options

The Ram 1500 Classic is available in three primary trims: Tradesman, Express, and Warlock. All come standard with rear-wheel drive and are available with 4-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is a $4,570 option for Tradesman and Express, and $3,500 extra for Warlock.

A Quad Cab and Crew Cab are available on all three trims, but the Regular Cab can’t be had on the Warlock model. The V6 is standard on every model and the V8 is a $1,450 option for all three trims.

The base Tradesman ($28,700) is a humble work truck equipped with 17-inch steel wheels, heavy-duty vinyl seats (cloth seats are available at no extra cost), a Uconnect 3 5.0-inch infotainment system with Bluetooth, air conditioning, cruise control, a rotary shift knob, and a multi-function steering wheel.

The Tradesman SXT Package ($2,895) adds a lot of equipment to the Tradesman model but stops short of being its own trim. It adds 20-inch aluminum wheels, chrome bumpers, chrome grille, cloth seats, carpeted floors, front fog lamps, a body-color upper fascia, dual rear exhaust with chrome tips, and SiriusXM satellite radio.

The midrange Express ($30,200) model adds monotone paint, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and a few other options you can’t get on the Tradesman, including an Express Black Accent Package ($595). There’s an Express Value Package ($2,160) that adds equipment similar to the Tradesman SXT Package.

Finally, the Warlock ($36,745) has a distinct appearance and a particularly aggressive front fascia and headlights. It also has 20-inch semi-gloss black aluminum wheels, cloth seats, and several option packages. These include additional “Warlock” graphics, a Warlock All-Terrain Package, Luxury Group, Heated Seats and Wheel Group, and more.

Various other option packages that upgrade the exterior, interior, towing, and off-road capabilities are available across all three trims.


The 2021 Ram 1500 Classic gets a four-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA out of a possible five stars. Standard safety features on this truck include six airbags, a ParkView backup camera, electronic stability control, and a Sentry Key theft-deterrent system. Unlike most modern competitors, driver-assistance technologies like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist are not available.

Behind the Wheel

Driving the 2021 Ram 1500 Classic is a pretty familiar experience. That’s because this truck isn’t all that different than it was back in 2009 when it was still called the Dodge Ram. However, familiarity can be a good thing, and that’s what drives a lot of the loyalty in this segment. If you’re used to trucks from the Ram or Dodge brands, then you’ll be right at home in the Ram Classic.

The Ram 1500 Classic has a notably smooth and comfortable ride, partially thanks to its coil-spring rear suspension. It has the ride of a comfortable crossover SUV without sacrificing the capability of a truck. It also has pretty precise steering for a full-size pickup.

As for the engines, these are also very familiar. The tried-and-true Pentastar V6 will be the most practical choice for value-conscious shoppers, which is probably what you are if you’re shopping for a Ram 1500 Classic in the first place. In some trucks, settling for the base V6 is a compromise, but you might be surprised by the capability of this muscular V6. Naturally, the available Hemi V8 is stronger, more capable, and more satisfying on an on-ramp, but it’s also more expensive and less efficient.

The Ram 1500 Classic’s off-road capability is pretty good when properly equipped. If you get 4-wheel drive and one of the available off-road packages, some small tweaks go a long way. For example, the Warlock All-Terrain Package gives you smaller wheels and beefier all-terrain tires plus a center hub. It’s no Raptor, but it doesn’t pretend to be. 

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Toyota Tundra — The 2021 Toyota Tundra is a value choice in full-size pickups. Every Tundra comes with a strong V8 engine and one of two available 4-door cabs. It’s priced very competitively with more mainstream American trucks when similarly equipped.

Used Ram 1500 — The Ram 1500 was redesigned in 2019, which means used examples can already be had at a price point similar to a new Ram 1500 Classic. The updated Ram benefits from a new look, an upscale interior, and outstanding engines available with the eTorque mild hybrid system.

Used Chevrolet Silverado 1500 — The Chevy Silverado was redesigned in 2019, which brought not only updated aesthetics and a roomy new cab but a newly available turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

Used Ford F-150 — A used Ford F-150 can be a great value. Truck drivers looking for a deal on a well-rounded truck that’s capable, comfortable, and reliable will find a lot to love in the diverse model range of the F-150.

Autotrader’s Advice

In a world where the prices of new trucks are getting crazy, the 2021 Ram 1500 Classic is a solid value option. Yes, it’s decidedly outdated compared to more modern competitors, but it’s also more affordable vs. other new trucks in comparable configurations.

This is a very customizable pickup truck with many cab and box configurations and option packages available across three trims. That means which one is right for you really depends on what you’re looking for in a truck. No matter which one you pick, you’re getting a strong value on a new — albeit outdated — full-size pickup truck. Find a 2021 Ram 1500 Classic for sale

Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy... Read More about Eric Brandt

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