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Is the 2020 Ram 1500 Ahead of Its Time?

A grey 2020 Ram 1500 is facing forward while parked in an ally.

Since its debut in 1981, the Ram pickup truck has evolved alongside its competitors to offer maximum towing and payload capacity and other truck-like technology. Still, throughout the years, Ram has seemed to always have its eye on a different path. While its competitors have settled mostly for utilitarian concepts, including the segment-leading Ford F-150, Ram has been eyeing the luxury niche in this segment. The results can be seen in the 2020 Ram 1500: a luxurious cabin, smooth ride, and state-of-the-art infotainment.

When the fifth-generation Ram debuted in 2019, it took home just about every award in its segment: the Best of Show Award at the New York International Auto Show, Popular Mechanics Truck of the Year, Wards Best Interior Winner, and the 2019 MotorTrend Truck of the Year, among others. It is no accident that it received a truckload of awards for its complete redesign. With an emphasis on comfort and technology, on day-to-day duties as well as traditional truck duties, the Ram 1500 is the truck we have all been waiting for. It’s the truck built for the modern family, one that can handle the ever-increasing demands we place on trucks these days.

An Extremely Versatile Truck

One week you might need the truck to haul gravel and sand, which is no problem with the Ram 1500, since it competes well in payload and towing capacity. Technically, it has the highest half-ton diesel tow rating in its segment. And after hauling rock and sand all week, you’ll need to hook up the boat because the kids want to spend the weekend at the lake. But what about next week? Maybe you’re finally taking your kids to Yellowstone, where normally you’d be worried about taking the kids on a road trip in the truck. But with the 2020 Ram 1500, you’re actually looking forward to it. How is this possible, you ask? Let’s take a look at the Ram’s interior and see what sets it apart from the rest of the full-size truck segment.

A red 2020 Ram 1500 is parked next to a home next with mountains in the distance.

It’s hard to know where to start because there are so many great things about the Ram’s interior. For one, there’s a brand-new instrument panel that has been reconfigured and features a 12-inch optional touchscreen with Uconnect 4C NAV. It’s so big that you can run one application on the screen or split the screen and run two different applications at the same time. This makes a lot of sense and is hopefully something other automakers will adopt as well.

For any road trip, you’ll also need lots of storage capacity, and luckily the 2020 Ram 1500 offers 100% more than its closest competitor. The center console turns into an office, essentially, with enough room for a 15-inch laptop and bag, a place for your drinks and phones, and a lid that functions as a desk. For the rear seats, the kids will appreciate the two USB ports, which connect to the Uconnect interface, and 115-volt outlets in both rows of seats.

The 2020 Ram 1500 also features a new air conditioning and heating system, which produces nearly 25% more airflow overall and 50% more for the passengers in the rear seats. So while you might have been dreading that stretch of road through the high desert, now you know it will be a breeze. The kids might even just sleep right through the whole stretch with the Ram’s comfortable seats and best-in-class legroom. The Ram 1500 now has 45.1 inches of legroom and seats that slide and recline. This makes for a perfect vehicle for quiet, comfortable road trips. Actually, if you choose the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, you also get an active noise cancellation system and acoustic glass, which reduce road and engine noise, making for an even more pleasant driving experience.

An Exterior Designed for Adventure

If you opt for the available and class-exclusive air suspension, be prepared for an even smoother ride. Here you’ll find five ride heights along with the option for load leveling for optimal ride and performance. The available 4-Corner Air Suspension bolsters the suspension even more, and it also automatically lowers the Ram 1500 at high speeds to reduce drag and provide better fuel efficiency. If you find yourself off-road, the suspension can be raised up to 2 inches for better clearance, and when parking, it can be lowered 2 inches for easy exit/entry.

While the truck automatically lowers 0.6 inches on the highway, improving aerodynamics, it also automatically closes airflow through the grille when air is not needed to cool the engine. Combined, these features make the Ram 1500 the most aerodynamic truck in the full-size segment—better than some small vehicles even. This helps with fuel efficiency, especially when you’re not towing in the summer or taking on a steep hill.

Under the Hood

A birds eye view of the Ecodiesel that's in the engine bay of a 2020 Ram 1500 is shown.

In terms of innovation, however, the engines might be the most impressive of all of the new features on the fifth-generation Ram 1500. Standard is a 305 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which uses an eTorque mild-hybrid electric-assist system. The eTorque system is a supplemental electric motor that improves fuel economy and performance. The hybrid system employs a 48-volt battery and a generator that adds torque when needed while also improving fuel efficiency. It adds up to 90 lb-ft of torque to the V6 and 130 lb-ft to the V8. This is especially helpful when towing.

If you’re looking for better gas mileage and increased torque, the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 is a great option. With 260 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque, this engine has the highest diesel tow rating among full-size pickups. The other engine option is a 5.7-liter V8 with 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. This engine also employs the eTorque system and competes well in the segment. It is an efficient V8 with a maximum fuel economy rating of 23 mpg.

Ram is Leading the Way

The 2020 Ram 1500’s MSRP starts at $32,145, and when considering that the Ram 1500 pricing is comparable to the Ford F-150, it’s easy to see why this truck has won so many awards since its launch in 2019. With its combination of luxury and grit, the Ram 1500 sets itself apart from its class. While other manufacturers focus on payload and towing capacity almost exclusively, the Ram 1500 takes on the challenges of the modern family.

It’s not enough that the Ram 1500 can tow and haul with other trucks in its segment, it has to double as a daily driver and a family vehicle. It has to be able to transform itself into an off-road beast while tackling mud and snow and be able to shrink down to its most aerodynamic posture on the highway, while still keeping the family comfortable and entertained for the long haul.

You can expect other truck manufacturers to follow in Ram’s tracks. Once everyone sees that it is possible to combine a premium-grade SUV with a dedicated work truck, there’s really no turning back. Expect future truck generations of Ram’s competitors to start developing their own version of this type of well-rounded truck. Built for the rigors of the job site, while also offering a good mix of fuel economy, off-road capability, composed handling and comfort, the Ram 1500 stands alone in its class as an industry-first innovator for the modern family.

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