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2020 Ram 1500 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.2

The 2020 Ram 1500 is refined, from its polished collection of powertrains to its composed handling. Its ride is remarkably smooth and quiet for a full-size pickup truck. Ratings for fuel economy, towing, and payload are among the best in the class.

  • "The … new 1500 is just so civilized and confidence-inspiring. True, it's not as if its competitors are agricultural, but there is nevertheless a greater sense of control, comfort and civility with the Ram. As before, the 1500 stands out with a 5-link coil-spring rear suspension that greatly benefits ride comfort, handling and trailer control by more precisely controlling the rear end than is possible with leaf springs and a solid rear axle (which every other truck has). The available air suspension also returns, including its ability to rise to clear obstacles and lower to aid loading." -- Autotrader
  • "We drove the Ram 1500 with its most popular engine, the unchanged 5.7-liter iron-block pushrod V-8. Its 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque are more than ample to move this lighter rig with enthusiasm. … The vibrations caused by cylinder deactivation are largely quelled. … Active noise canceling furthers the cause to the extent that we noticed the switch to four-cylinder mode only when the windows were down." -- Car and Driver (2019)
  • "Take the interior, now extra-quiet thanks to active noise cancellation and frame-mounted engine vibration-cancelling active tuned mass modules (all this on a pickup truck, folks!). Add in the available air suspension, which seems to have proven itself since its introduction, and the smoothest ride in the full-size class only gets smoother, if only marginally." -- Autoweek (2019)

Acceleration and Power

The 2020 Ram 1500 has four engine choices available. The base V6 has plenty of power for everyday use, while the upgraded V8 and V6 diesel engines are superior for those who do a lot of towing. Professional reviewers say the eight-speed automatic transmission, which is the only gearbox choice, responds quickly and smoothly.

The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. It has an eTorque mild-hybrid system that improves fuel economy and adds up to 90 pound-feet of torque. This pays off, as the fuel economy ratings for models with this engine are some of the best in the class at 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

Two V8 engines are available. Both are 5.7-liter and produce 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. One of these costs about $200 more and comes with the eTorque mild-hybrid feature, which adds up to 130 pound-feet of torque and saves on fuel costs. Models with the standard V8 get 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Trucks with the eTorque V8 get 17/23 mpg city/highway, and average annual fuel savings of $300 help make up for its higher price.

A 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine is new for 2020. It produces 260 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy ratings and payload capacities are not yet available for models with this engine.

  • "At idle, the EcoDiesel is muted, with a bassy patter typical of a diesel — no surprises there. Sitting still, the truck is very quiet. We made our way through town, and it remained soft-spoken, but for the high, breathy whisper of the turbocharger doing its part. … In town, the truck felt responsive off the line, with plenty of low-end grunt but without any annoyingly overeager throttle tip-in. Accelerating onto the highway as we normally would, the Ram's eight-speed automatic transmission served up quick, calm but early-feeling shifts (to be expected, on account of the 5,800-rpm redline)." -- Autoblog
  • "Pushing the start button, we were greeted by a healthy V8 rumble. Acceleration is pleasantly smooth, and we were not wanting for power. The Ram was also happy to oblige when we punched it to get past slower traffic. The transmission's shifts are well-timed and the 8-speed works very well behind the V8." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "Unless you're really striving for that last extra bit of towing capacity and a touch more economy, the familiar 5.7-liter is more than sufficient. … At one point we dragged around a trailer loaded to 6,000 pounds -- barely a challenge. It would only be news if the truck did break a sweat here; suffice it to say, the rig went (and just as importantly, stopped) just fine." -- Autoweek (2019)

Handling and Braking

Automotive critics say the Ram 1500 has one of the smoothest rides in the full-size pickup truck class. Furthermore, this pickup is stable and easy to drive. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is available.

Off-road components such as a locking differential, a 1-inch factory lift, and off-road-tuned suspension components come standard in Rebel trims equipped with four-wheel drive. This improves the four-wheel capabilities of the Ram, though reviewers say it still isn't as goatlike as some rivals.

  • "One of the Ram's strongest suits has been ride quality, and it continues to be, both with and without the optional air suspension. … Our drive through the hill country around San Antonio took us over rough roads. The suspension did an excellent job of absorbing bumps and smoothing out stretches of rough track, while the new shocks, plus the redesigned, retuned front suspension made handling feel more precise than in the previous Ram. The ride felt comfortable and well-controlled in all the Rams we drove." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "The 1500 has always been as smooth as butter on the road, thanks to its coil suspension in the rear, and for 2019, a number of improvements make it ride even better. Retuned shocks soak up the little jounces of the Arizona pavement with ease and a better-located sway bar helps keep body roll in check. New for this year are dual-rate springs that work to keep the ride feel the same whether the truck bed is empty or loaded up to its 2,300 pound payload capacity." -- CNET (2019)
  • "We didn't get the chance to really push any of the Rams off-road … but the Rebel happily picked its way down the moderately rough trail we pointed it down. The Rebel is absolutely not a Raptor-fighter, but it should have no trouble getting you into and out of camp." -- Autoweek (2019)

Towing and Hauling

When properly equipped, Ram trucks with the base 3.6-liter V6 engine have a maximum payload capacity of 2,300 pounds and a maximum tow rating of 7,730 pounds.

Models with the V8 engine have a higher payload capacity of 1,970 pounds when equipped with the eTorque mild-hybrid system. Models without eTorque have a lower payload capacity of 1,830, but they boast a higher tow rating (12,750 pounds versus the standard V8's maximum rating of 11,610).

Rams with the 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine can tow up to 12,560 pounds. Payload capacity is not yet available for models equipped with this engine.

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2020 Ram 1500

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