The 2021 Ram 1500 shines as a full-size light-duty American pickup truck thanks to its solid construction, good fuel economy, enviable refinement, and long list of standard features. With coil-spring rear suspension, it’s a smooth-riding pickup truck, and it’s available as a variety of models that range from the basic V6 Tradesman work truck and the luxurious V8-powered Limited model to a fuel-efficient EcoDiesel and the crazy new TRX, a serious off-road model with a stout chassis, gobs of suspension travel, and a 702-horsepower version of the supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V8.
What’s New for 2021?
If it weren’t for the debut of the Hellcat-powered Ram 1500 TRX, 2021 would be a quiet year for the Ram 1500 pickup. A Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition joins the lineup, as do an optional head-up display (HUD) and a digital rearview mirror. And when you order the available Trailer Package, it now comes with Trailer Reverse Steering Control, which makes it look like you’re a backing pro.
But the new Ram 1500 TRX is a shot fired directly across the bow of the Ford Raptor. Powered by a 702-horsepower version of the Hellcat’s supercharged 6.2-liter V8, the wide TRX is built for serious offroading, thanks to a dedicated chassis with beefy Bilstein shock absorbers and 13 inches of wheel travel front and rear. More on the TRX later. See the 2021 Ram 1500 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Supple ride quality
- Roomy cabs
- Abundant features
- User-friendly Uconnect infotainment
- Potent new Ram 1500 TRX off-roader
- EcoDiesel highway economy of 32 mpg
What We Don’t
- No Regular Cab
- Diesel is pricey
- So is new TRX
- Destination charge is a lofty $1,695
The standard engine in the 2021 Ram 1500 is a 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. It’s supplemented by a 48-volt mild-hybrid eTorque system that boosts acceleration, improves fuel economy, and supports the automatic stop/start system. An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard.
The most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered 2021 Ram 1500 pickup is the HFE version of the Tradesman. This High Fuel Economy model, available only in 3.6-liter RWD form, is rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 20 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, 23 mpg combined. A standard Ram 1500 pickup with the 3.6-liter eTorque V6 is rated at 20 mpg city/25 mpg highway/22 mpg combined. In 4WD form, the 2021 Ram 1500 V6 is rated at 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway/21 mpg highway.
With the 5.7-liter V8, which puts out 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque, a RWD 2021 Ram 1500 pickup is rated at 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway/17 mpg combined. A 4WD version of that same truck is rated at 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway/17 combined.
As you might expect, the eTorque version of the 5.7-liter V8 gets better fuel economy. In RWD form, a V8 eTorque Ram 1500 rated is rated at 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway/19 mpg combined, while a 4WD version with the same eTorque V8 comes in at 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway/19 mpg combined.
If you want fuel economy that’s better than the eTorque 3.6’s, consider the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. With 260 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque, the Italian-built 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 endows a rear-drive 20021 Ram with impressive EPA fuel economy of 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway. With 4WD, that drops only slightly, to 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway. The diesel is available on all Ram 1500s except the new TRX.
EPA fuel economy for the new TRX is 10 mpg city/14 mpf highway/12 mpg combined. (Do you buy a TRX for its fuel-efficiency or its insane off-road abilities?)
Standard Features & Options
The 2021 Ram 1500 is available in these trim levels: Tradesman, Big Horn/Lone Star, Rebel, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, Limited, and TRX. Most come standard with a Quad Cab and a 6-foot-4-in bed. A Crew Cab with that bed (or a shorter 5-foot 7-inch bed) is available on most trims, but the Rebel, Limited, and TRX models are available only with a Crew Cab and 5-foot 7-in box.
Standard equipment on the Tradesman ($35,890, including $1,695 destination) includes 18-in steel wheels (alloys optional), rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, heated power mirrors, power locks and windows, air conditioning, cruise control, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat (no driver height adjustment), a full-width rear bench seat, vinyl upholstery (cloth optional), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, three USB ports, an auxiliary audio jack, and a 5-in touchscreen.
The Big Horn ($41,185), known as the Lone Star in Texas and neighboring states, adds upgraded exterior and interior trim, 18-in alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, a rear center armrest, manual sliding rear window, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. Notable options include H1 equipment package, which has an 8-way power driver seat, power-adjustable pedals, a rear window defroster, power-folding mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded gauges, satellite radio, a CD player, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, the 8.4-in touchscreen and a premium audio system. H2 adds dual-zone automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, reverse automatic emergency braking, heated front seats and steering wheel, two rear USB ports, and a fully damped tailgate. The limited-edition Built to Serve models, with bodycolor flared fenders and graphics that honor the five branches of the U.S. military, are based on the Big Horn and Lone Star.
With unique off-road suspension bits and distinctive styling, the Ram 1500 Rebel ($47,715) likes the dirt, aided by an electronic locking differential, all-terrain tires, skid plates, tow hooks, and hill-descent control. It’s available with equipment packages that are just like the H1 and H2 above.
The Quad Cab Laramie ($43,025), a luxurious offering, comes with the 5.7-liter V8, LED headlights, leather upholstery, driver memory settings, heated and ventilated front seats, and several interior material upgrades. Most equipment found in the H1 and H2 packages is standard. Four-wheel drive adds $3,500.
Upping the luxury quotient even more is the Laramie Longhorn ($53,375), a Crew Cab V8 model with ranch-inspired touches, especially in the cabin. Among the abundant standard features are 20-in wheels, upgraded headlights, automatic high beams, side steps, a power tailgate release, heated and ventilated front bucket seats, wood interior trim and a CD player. A new-for 2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition has special badging and a Mountain Brown interior with Berber carpet.
The Limited ($57,745) gets unique styling details and interior trim. More significantly, it gets the air suspension that’s optional on all other trims. It also comes with power-operated running boards (that deploy when you open the door) and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
In addition to its supercharged 702-horsepower Hellcat V8, the 4WD Ram 1500 TRX ($71,690) has lots of other standard equipment. This new TRX, a Crew Cab fitted with a 5-foot 7-inch bed, comes with 18-inch wheels, 35-inch all-terrain tires, and a full-size spare. Inside, there are vinyl and cloth seats, plus a flat-bottom steering wheel, aluminum paddle shifters, Uconnect infotainment (with a 12-inch touchscreen), and a 10-speaker sound system.
Owing to its extremely high-performance nature, the TRX also has its dedicated chassis that’s much wider than a standard Ram 1500’s, plus it has launch control, a shift light, and a significantly improved cooling system.
Many Ram 1500 options are contained within packages available on the top trim levels. This includes the vertically oriented 12-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone charging, navigation, and modern safety features like adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, a surround-view parking camera, and automatic parking assistance.
A digital rearview mirror is a new option for 2021. Using a rear camera, it displays a real-time video of what’s behind the Ram 1500 on a screen integrated into the rearview mirror. Also, if you order the available Trailer Package, it now comes with Trailer Reverse Steering Control, which makes backing up with a trailer much simpler.
Standalone options include a sunroof (on all but the Tradesman) and nifty RamBox storage wells integrated into the Ram 1500’s bed rails (all models).
Standard equipment includes anti-lock disc brakes, stability and trailer sway control, a backup camera, and six airbags (front, front-side, and side-curtain). Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on Limited, and optional on all but the Tradesman. Forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist are optional on the Laramie, the Longhorn, and the Limited.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Ram 1500 Crew Cab the best-possible crashworthiness and prevention scores.
Behind the Wheel
The 2021 Ram 1500 is confidence-inspiring, offering great civility and an enviable sense of control. The 5-link coil-spring rear suspension greatly benefits ride comfort, and the available air suspension works wonders with its ability to raise the chassis to clear obstacles or lower it for easier ingress and egress.
With the eTorque V6 and V8s, the Ram 1500 engines get the job done, but rival trucks can match the fuel economy while offering more power.
The EcoDiesel, on the other hand, is a star. It impresses us with class-leading torque, excellent towing capabilities, and great fuel economy, but it is the most expensive engine available in the 2021 Ram 1500. The 5.7-liter V8 may not be a fuel-efficient as the diesel, but it has more power and a higher towing rating while costing thousands less than the diesel.
From basic Tradesman to opulent Limited, the 2021 Ram 1500 boasts solid construction, attractive styling, innovative storage, and abundant feature content. USB ports are everywhere; the 8.4-in touchscreen is huge; and the 12-in vertically oriented screen is even easier to use. What’s more, the Crew Cab’s reclining back seat is enormous. a greater chance of getting a truck that matches your taste.
Other Cars to Consider
Used Ram 1500 or a Ram 1500 Classic: Ram has continued selling the previous-generation model as the Ram 1500 Classic, even into 2021. They are a solid, well-rounded truck.
2020 Ford Raptor: If you’re seriously considering a Ram 1500 TRX, you can’t do so without first comparing it to Ford’s similarly serious off-road pickup. Note: The 2020 Ford Raptor SuperCrew, with an MSRP of $57,785, has “only” 450 horsepower compared to 702 for the Ram 1500 TRX.
You May Ask
What does “TRX” stand for?
The TRX name brings to mind the ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur, commonly called the T Rex. Didn’t they eat raptors?
What is the maximum towing capacity of the 2021 Ram 1500?
The max towing capacity of the 2021 Ram ranges from 6,580 pounds (Tradesman 4X2 Crew Cab with V6) to 12,750 pounds (Tradesman 4×2 Crew Cab equipped with the 5.7-liter V8 and 3.92:1 gearing).
How much can the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel tow?
The 2021 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has a maximum towing capacity of 12,560 pounds. This is for 4×2 Tradesman EcoDiesel with a 6-foot 4-inch bed. Max tow capacity of the Ram 1500 with the 5.7-liter V8 is slightly higher, at 12,750 pounds.
What’s the maximum payload of the 2021 Ram 1500?
The 2021 Ram 1500 has a max payload of 2,300 pounds. That’s for a Tradesman Quad Cab short bed with the 3.6-liter V6.
Where is the diesel engine in the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel made?
The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, the same engine now used in the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator EcoDiesel models, is constructed by FCA in Ferrara, Italy.
What’s the max towing and payload capacity of the new Ram 1500 TRX?
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX has a maximum towing capacity of 8,100 pounds (100 more than the Ford Raptor), and a max payload of 1,310 pounds (120 more than the Raptor).
What is the factory warranty on the 2021 Ram 1500 pickup?
Ram sells the 1500 pickup with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and the truck also is backed by a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain protection plan.
So many Ram 1500s to choose from, but a V8-powered Rebel represents a thoroughly enticing blend of off-road ability and easy everyday use. While the new TRX is too extreme for most buyers, we respect the Ram engineers for building an off-road warrior that finally has given the Ford Raptor some genuine competition. Find a Ram 1500 for sale