$9,059 - $21,194

2011 Ram 1500 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Ram 1500 was new.


Performance: 9.2

Reviewers praise the Ram 1500’s 4.7 liter and HEMI V8 engines, but the biggest news about this truck's performance is its handling.  Most reviewers focus on the Ram's coil spring suspension - the only one in this class, which helps the Ram stand out. Although most test drivers advise shoppers to steer clear of the standard 3.7 V6 engine, overall the Ram 1500’s ride, handling, and best-in-class towing capability earn positive reviews across the board.

  • "Best in class. Ram 1500 is the only full-size pickup to use a coil-spring rear suspension instead of the traditional leaf-spring arrangement. The result is a remarkably compliant ride with little of the rear-end hop normally exhibited by unloaded pickups." -- Consumer Guide
  • “The 2011 Dodge Ram 1500 is a top pick in the full-size pickup truck segment thanks to its winning combination of strong performance, smooth ride and a classy cabin.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2011 Ram 1500 is available with three engines. The base 3.7 liter V6 makes 215 horsepower and 235 pound feet of torque.  Most reviewers didn't drive a Ram with this engine, but those who did thought it was underpowered.  Plus, the V6 gets no better gas mileage than the 5.7 liter Hemi, causing reviewers to strongly recommend the engine upgrade.

The second engine option is a 4.7 liter V8 that makes 310 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. While that's fairly powerful, its fuel efficiency is actually lower than the largest engine, a 5.7 liter Hemi V8 that makes 390 horsepower and 407 pound feet of torque. 

The EPA rates the two-wheel-drive V6 Ram 1500 at 14/20 mpg city/highway, which is the same rating the 5.7 liter HEMI V8 gets. Since this engine also makes the most horsepower and gets the most torque, reviewers strongly recommend the Hemi over both other engines. However, opting for the Hemi over the standard V6 adds about $2,300 to the Ram 1500’s bottom line.

The V8 engines come with a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 comes with a four-speed automatic.  Reviewers don't complain about the transmission much, but a few wish the Ram had a six-speed transmission like competitors offer. A six-speed would both improve gas mileage and towing performance.

  • "Only V8 models have been made available for testing so far. The 4.7-liter V8 is nearly the performance equal of the 5.3-liter V8 from General Motors, or the 5.4-liter V8 from Ford. It pulls strongly from a stop and has more than adequate passing punch. The 5.7 V8 is stronger still, with impressive launch power and abundant passing and merging muscle." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Perhaps the only weak point is the base engine, a 215-horsepower V6 that has EPA fuel ratings no better than those of the top-dog engine, the 390-hp 5.7-liter V8. Provided you can swing the extra cost, the big V8's huge jump in performance and work capability without a fuel economy penalty is a no-brainer." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Reviewers agree that the 2011 Ram 1500’s handling is car-like and comfortable, with some naming it the best in its class of full-size pickup trucks.  Because the 1500 has a coil-spring suspension instead of the leaf spring suspensions found on all other full-size trucks, its ride is smoother and more responsive. The suspension also helps to keep the bed from bouncing around when empty, which further improves the ride.  Reviewers are also impressed by its braking power.

  • "The Dodge design provides an uncompromised ride, especially when the cargo bed is empty." -- Cars.com
  • "With its body-on-frame construction, the 2011 Ram 1500 exhibits the expected body jiggle over bumps. However, its rear coil-spring suspension virtually eliminates the harsh ride previously endemic to full-size trucks. The result is a much smoother, more sophisticated ride that sets the Ram apart from all other traditional pickups." -- Edmunds
  • "Best in class. Ram 1500 is the only full-size pickup to use a coil-spring rear suspension instead of the traditional leaf-spring arrangement. The result is a remarkably compliant ride with little of the rear-end hop normally exhibited by unloaded pickups." -- Consumer Guide

Towing and Hauling

Reviewers say that the Ram 1500 is a competent towing and hauling vehicle as well as a comfortable commuting truck. When properly equipped, the 2011 Ram 1500 can tow up to 10,450 pounds, and can haul a maximum of 1,860 pounds.  These numbers are in line with the towing and hauling capacities offered by competitors: the Ram 1500’s towing capability is only 800 pounds behind the class-leading Ford F-150, while beating the Nissan Titan, the weakest in the class, by over half a ton.  

  • “Honestly, all of the big pickups have more capabilities than most folks will ever need, as well as the option to outfit them like luxury sedans. But the one that goes the extra yard is the 2011 Dodge Ram 1500.” -- Edmunds
  • "When towing various size trailers on a short loop, the HEMI-powered Ram acted as if nothing was attached to the rear. It just chugged along, getting up to 60 mph with ease, even with a 9,000-pound Air Stream attached on a simple hitch" -- Detroit News
  • +"Should you ever end up using the bed itself, you may put the new coil-spring rear suspension to the test only to find that Dodge indeed did its homework here: Payload capacity is retained, but ride quality is vastly improved." -- Car and Driver

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