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2012 Ram 1500 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Ram 1500 was new.


Performance: 9.2

Reviewers praise the Ram 1500’s V8 engines, and say that it has the best handling of any full-size pickup. Although most test drivers advise shoppers to steer clear of the standard 3.7-liter V6 engine, overall, the Ram 1500’s power, handling and good towing capability earn positive reviews across the board.

  • “The … 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 2012 Ram 1500 comes standard with a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 215 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. Not only do reviewers think it’s underpowered, but the V6 gets no better gas mileage than the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, causing test drivers 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 economy is also the same as the larger Hemi V8, which makes 390 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque. 

The EPA rates all three engines at 14/20 mpg city/highway when paired with two-wheel drive. It hasn’t rated four-wheel drive V6 models yet, but four-wheel drive 4.7-liter models get 14/19 mpg city/highway, while the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 gets 13/19 mpg city/highway when paired with four-wheel drive.

Overall, test drivers say that if you can afford it, you might as well shell out the extra money for the Hemi V8. There’s no penalty in fuel economy in two-wheel drive models, and you get about a third more power than the base engine has. However, both V8 engines perform admirably. Though the Ram 1500 gets a six-speed transmission for the 2012 model year, no reviewers have tested the new transmission yet.

  • “(The 4.7-liter V8) 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 Ram 1500’s handling and ride make it the best-driving pickup in the class.  Because the 1500 has a different suspension than those found on all other full-size trucks, it’s smoother and more responsive. The suspension also helps to keep the ride smooth and less bouncy when the bed is empty. Two-wheel drive comes standard on all models, though all have available four-wheel drive.

  • "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 Dodge design provides an uncompromised ride, especially when the cargo bed is empty." -- Cars.com
  • "With its body-on-frame construction, the … 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

Towing and Hauling

When properly equipped, the 2012 Ram 1500 can tow up to 10,450 pounds, and can haul a maximum of 1,909 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 nearly half a ton.  

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