A black 2019 Ram 1500 is shown from the side parked in a field after looking at a used Ram 1500.

Does Model Year Really Matter When Looking at a Used Ram 1500?

Good question – the short answer: yes! The long answer: yes, and keep reading to find out why. When looking at a used Ram 1500, whether you’re shopping for one, looking to sell one, interested in one for a new driver or family member, or just staying on top of what’s going on in the auto industry, the model year really does matter. There are a few different reasons for why this is, and I’ll get into them below, as well as dig into some specific model years that really make a big difference for this pickup.

Why it Matters: Use and Mileage

Although this can certainly vary from one model to another, one of the biggest reasons that model year matters when looking at a used Ram 1500 – or any used vehicle really – is the wear and tear on the vehicle. This probably seems pretty obvious, but it’s still a key factor. The older a vehicle is, the more mileage and use it will probably have on it.

Like I said, this isn’t a hard rule – there’s always going to be people who don’t put a lot of miles on their truck. But, all else being equal, a model from 2010 will likely have a lot more miles and use on it than one from 2015. If it still has the original engine and other components, then those parts will have been through a lot, and the likelihood that they’ll need to be replaced increases with each passing year.

Why it Matters: Features and Engines

Beyond simply the wear and tear on a vehicle, the model year will indicate the kinds of features and options that you’ll find on a Ram truck. Vehicles in general, but certainly Ram models, get new and exciting features all the time as technology improves and more options become available. In addition to that, some things that were once considered luxury items only available on the most expensive models eventually become standard options across the lineup.

This not only affects the flashy features like sound systems and infotainment displays but also the heart of the truck: the engine. Looking at horsepower and torque on a truck engine from 30 years ago compared to now is like night and day. The technology has improved so dramatically that trucks are much more powerful, fuel-efficient, and capable than ever before. Older model years can often have weaker engines than newer ones, though it depends on specific years.

A blue 2019 Ram 1500 is shown from the front off-roading in the mountains.

Why it Matters: Certified Pre-Owned

One important detail that’s often overlooked is that model year impacts whether a Ram 1500 is eligible to be sold as a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle or not. There are a number of requirements that need to be met to be offered as a CPO model, but the clearest ones are that it has to have fewer than 75,000 miles on it and must be within five years from its original year. So if you’re looking to sell your truck to a dealership, for example, they might be a lot more interested in one that could then be offered as a CPO model rather than one that’s more than five years old – just something to consider.

Now let’s take a look at seven of the most important specific model years for the Ram 1500, which are worth noting regardless of your interest in this model.

Key Model Year: 1981 Dodge Ram Pickup

This is where it all began. In 1981, the first generation for the Ram pickup kicked off with the first models – at the time, they were sold as the Dodge Ram. This was a follow-up to the Dodge D Series of trucks that had been available since the 1960s, but it really set the stage for Ram trucks as we know them today. While some collectors might look for Dodge Rams from this era in great shape and be willing to pay a fair amount for them, most people aren’t interested in getting something that feels quite so dated.

Key Model Year: 1994 Dodge Ram Pickup

Believe it or not, that first generation for the Dodge Ram ran all the way into the early 90s – the 1994 model kicked off the second generation for this truck. Again, you’re looking at much older models that a lot of people are not really interested in, but these were very popular trucks. There are still plenty of them out there in great shape, and anyone who grew up in the 1990s probably remembers these pickups quite fondly.

Key Model Year: 2002 Dodge Ram Pickup

The third generation for this truck kicked off with the 2002 model year and an impressive redesign that was quite popular. This generation had a new frame, suspension, new engines, and a wide range of additional updates and features. Since this was also the last full generation to use the “Dodge Ram” name, they can be really appealing to a lot of people.

Key Model Year: 2009 Dodge Ram Pickup

This model year kicked off the fourth generation for this truck, and it’s about as far back as most people are really going to go when shopping for a used Ram 1500. While the “Dodge Ram” name was still used in 2009, the following year, they dropped the “Dodge” and just let it be the Ram pickup we all know and love. This kicked off a fantastic decade for this truck, and you’ll find a ton of them out there in excellent condition.

Key Model Year: 2013 Ram Pickup

Even though this was part of the same generation, there was a pretty significant update for 2013 with a lot of features worth looking for. A new high-end trim was added, the Limited, along with improved options for the engines and transmission. There was also an updated infotainment system, and all of this came together to make models from this year and later very desirable.

Key Model Year: 2016 Ram Pickup

This was a key year for the Ram 1500 because a new trim was added with an off-road focus: the Rebel. Since trucks are a perfect option for going off-road, this made the Ram 1500 Rebel a very popular choice, and they’re great on the used market. There were other updates as well for this year, but the introduction of the Rebel, which is still available, was really the standout feature that set it apart.

A red 2020 Ram 1500 is shown from the front driving on an open road at sunset.

Key Model Year: 2019 Ram Pickup

The most recent generation for the Ram 1500 kicked off in 2019, so these are some of the most advanced and impressive Ram trucks on the road. One thing to note, however, is that the previous generation was still available during this year and sold as the Ram 1500 Classic, so keep that in mind any time you’re looking at recent used models. The latest generation really established the Ram pickup as one of the most sophisticated and powerful trucks around, thanks to great features like an available 12-inch infotainment display, an eTorque mild hybrid system for the engine, and a powerful HEMI V8 engine.

Continuing Popularity

As you can see, Ram trucks have been popular for more than 40 years, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down. That’s part of why they’re so sought after on the used market and why their resale value remains high year after year. Even so, the model year of any used truck is definitely important – I didn’t even get into the fact that more recent models typically have far greater towing and payload capacities. So whatever reason you might be thinking about a used Ram truck, you’ll want to pay careful attention to what year it’s from.