That’s a good question, and there’s a pretty simple answer: people like it, buy it, and enjoy what it has to offer compared to other trucks. Just like any business, the answer to 99% of questions in the auto industry will typically come down to “because it sells.” If people weren’t still interested in this truck and buying it, then we wouldn’t see a 2022 Ram 1500 Classic or the high likelihood of this pickup continuing for at least another model year or two. When you look at what’s going on with the new-vehicle market at the moment, then it makes even more sense for Ram to offer a couple of options for customers looking for a great truck.
If you’re someone who always focuses on the newest and shiniest thing, then that’s fine, but it’s important to recognize that not everyone works that way. For some people, the latest item is also an untested item that they will pass on until it’s had a few years to prove itself. Others simply don’t have the budget for the newest option, or even if they do have the budget, they don’t consider the updates of a new generation to necessarily be worth it. Whatever the case, the Ram 1500 Classic is clearly proving itself to be an attractive proposition for a lot of customers and is selling well; otherwise, Ram wouldn’t keep making it.
What Is the Ram 1500 Classic?
You might not have really heard of the Ram 1500 Classic before, or you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, which is fine because the name isn’t immediately indicative of what it is. The current Ram 1500 is the fifth generation for the Ram pickup, which was introduced in the early 1980s as a follow-up to the Dodge D Series trucks. It was the Dodge Ram until 2009 when Chrysler (this was before they became part of Stellantis) decided to separate their Dodge and Ram names to give each their own identity.
The fourth generation of the Ram 1500 went from the 2009 model year to 2019, which is when the current generation launched. Rather than completely switch over to the new generation, Ram kept the fourth-generation Ram 1500 around as the Ram 1500 Classic. So if you look at one of these trucks, they’re essentially the end of the fourth generation, which means they have features and options from that time rather than new upgrades that you’ll find on the current Ram 1500.
I should note, however, that these aren’t just holdover models from 2018 with the word “Classic” slapped on them. They’re new vehicles that are still in production, so when you look at a 2022 Ram 1500 Classic, it’s not something that’s been sitting in a lot somewhere for the last four years waiting to be sold. It might seem a little strange at first that Ram has two different versions of their 1500 pickup available, with significant differences between them, but there are some good reasons for it.
How Is the Ram 1500 Classic Different From the Ram 1500?
It’s easy to just say, “one is the fourth-generation model while the other is the fifth generation,” but when it really comes down to it, that means a lot of significant differences. The Ram 1500 was fully updated and redesigned for the fifth generation, so it looks a lot different if you’re just checking them out side-by-side. These differences are more than aesthetic. The Ram 1500 Classic measures 209 inches long, with a 120-inch wheelbase, and about 80 inches wide, while the current Ram 1500 is nearly 233 inches long, with a 144.5-inch wheelbase, and more than 82 inches wide.
The differences also extend to the engineering in these two trucks and the kind of performance they can deliver, particularly in terms of their engines. There are two engines available for the Ram 1500 Classic: a 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 305 hp and a 5.7L HEMI V8 with 395 hp. Looking at the Ram 1500, however, there are more than double the engines on offer, including updated versions of those V6 and HEMI V8 engines, both with an eTorque mild hybrid system. You can also get a 3.0L Ecodiesel engine in the current model, while the Ram 1500 TRX has a monster 6.2L SuperCharged HEMI V8 that delivers 702 hp. So yeah, the engines are far more impressive in the current generation, which is understandable.
These differences extend beyond raw power: the modern Ram 1500 can handle up to 12,750 lbs of maximum towing, while the Ram 1500 Classic has a towing capacity of up to 10,620 lbs. That might not be a huge difference if you need 10,000 lbs of towing or less, but that extra 2,000 lbs is nothing to sneeze at and really can make a difference. Beyond this, the current Ram 1500 has a number of other engineering upgrades over the previous generation, like a Four Corner Air Suspension that automatically lowers the truck to reduce drag and boost efficiency and to make it easier to get into the cab or bed.
Ram trucks are known for offering luxurious interiors with impressive technology, and this is a clear difference between the two generations. The Ram 1500 Classic has an available 7-inch Driver Information Digital Cluster Display, along with an available 8.4-inch infotainment screen and three trims available with premium cloth seating. Inside the Ram 1500, however, you can find an updated Driver Information Cluster Display with full-color 3D graphics, an available 12-inch infotainment screen, head-up display, and six different trims with a Natura plus leather interior available.
How Well Is the Ram 1500 Classic Selling?
This is the big question, and while I’d love to be able to give you an exact number on that, sadly, I cannot because Ram doesn’t release sales figures for the Ram 1500 Classic by itself. All we have to go off are overall Ram truck sales compared to other manufacturers and their comparable models like the Ford F-Series and Chevy Silverado pickups. That being said, Ram is doing very well. Last year they were in second place for total truck sales with more than 569,000 trucks sold compared to Chevy in third place with over 519,000 sales. Even more importantly, Chevy 2021 sales represented an 11.4% decrease in total Silverado sales from the previous year; even Ford, with its F-Series, dropped by 7.8% from 2020. Ram, on the other hand, gained a 1% increase in sales; that’s not a ton, but far better than a huge drop.
So, while I can’t say the Ram 1500 Classic is necessarily booming, it’s clear that Ram is doing quite well with both models being available. More to the point, since Ram doesn’t offer a midsize truck––unlike their major competitors––the Ram 1500 Classic helps fill some of that gap. It’s still a full-size pickup, but it’s priced almost $7,000 less than the current-generation Ram 1500, which is a huge difference for anyone shopping on a budget. This is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the biggest reasons the Classic has been around beyond just a year or two.
How Long Will the Ram 1500 Classic Be Available?
If you had asked someone this question three years ago, they probably would’ve told you just a year or two, but look where we are. Covid and the resulting chip shortage have had a massive impact on the auto industry, and having the Ram 1500 Classic available likely helped Ram stay afloat in the midst of all the craziness. Generations for the Ram 1500 have run an average of about ten years since it was first introduced, and we’re already seeing the fifth model year for this generation, with the Classic still going strong. Perhaps we’ll see the Classic remain available and be updated when the next generation launches, with the Classic becoming a fifth-generation model and the newest Ram 1500 representing the sixth generation? Only time will tell, but if sales remain strong, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this model hang on for a long time.