Fifth Generation RAM 1500 Buyers Guide [Texas Edition]

Autodigg team

Mar 19, 2021


A Superb American Pickup Truck For Texas

The Dodge RAM 1500 is often put at a disadvantage, as many don’t see it as a purely American truck. This is mostly due to Chrysler, despite being one of the “Big Three” US automakers, having been partially owned or controlled by foreign investment and management since 1998, when it merged with Daimler-Benz to form DaimlerChrysler AG. It then passed to Cerberus Capital Management after Daimler-Benz withdrew from the partnership.

After the automotive crisis of 2008 through 2010, Chrysler was then reorganized under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and managing control was sold to Fiat S.p.A. of Italy, the US and Canadian governments, and the United Auto Workers pension board investment fund. On January 1, 2014, Fiat bought out the other three managing entities to take sole control of the brand, now know as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles unofficially, and FCA US LLC officially.

However, in 2011, in interest of diversifying and keeping American vehicles American, Dodge and the Viper, SRT, and RAM names were divested from the reorganization of Chrysler. Fiat S.c.A. still maintains a controlling share, but the Dodge name is overseen by Stellantis N.V. of the Netherlands. SRT was eventually reabsorbed when Fiat bought out full control of Chrysler, but the Dodge and RAM names remained separate.

Why is this history important, we hear you asking, in relation to the RAM truck sub-brand? Throughout all the troubles, mergers, acquisitions, and bailouts, RAM trucks have stayed steadfastly American based. The engineering, design, testing, manufacturing, and principle controlling department of RAM trucks has always come from the RAM division in Auburn Hills, Michigan, where Fiat Chrysler is headquartered on American soil, and Stellantis has a share in the building.

This means that even since 1998, all Dodge RAMs have still been 100% American, no matter who actually held the keys to the office. In that time, even, they have been upgraded, improved, and developed into an incredibly strong series of trucks that, given a level playing field, could swing with Ford and General Motors and last all 12 five minute rounds. It has done so well in Texas, too, that it is one of the best selling trucks in Texas of all time.

A Quick Breakdown On Dodge RAM 1500 Trims & Cabin Sizes

Being the only trucks division of Dodge, and Chrysler as a whole, the names given to the RAM 1500 models are old fashioned, but still tie into what each truck is meant to be, and meant to do.


The Tradesman is the workhorse of the lineup, and is also the only truck available for fleet pricing from the 1500 model range. It is meant to be beaten, bruised, bashed, and still be as reliable as day one it rolled off the dealer’s lot. This trim level includes:

  • Vinyl seats

  • Vinyl floor mats

  • 6L V6

  • 8-speed automatic transmission

  • Manual A/C

  • Power locks

  • Power windows

  • Cruise control

  • 2x 12VDC power adapter sockets

  • Tilt/telescoping manual steering wheel adjustments

  • Manual control seats

  • Bench rear seat

  • Full BlueTooth connectivity for music/phone

  • Analog dash

  • Steel wheels

There is a low volume submodel of the Tradesman, known as the Tradesman HFE (High Efficiency), of which the only addition is a mild hybrid system to assist with low end torque pull-away from a stop.

Big Horn

The Big Horn trim is the “daily driver” variant of the Tradesman. It features more comfort options, better technology packages, and cloth seats over the vinyl seats of the lower trim. This trim includes all the same mechanicals of the Tradesman, but inside gains:

  • Remote keyless entry

  • Carpet floor mats

  • Leather wrapped steering wheel

  • 60/40 split bench rear seat

  • Central armrest for front seats

  • Full infotainment system, with 8.4 inch touchscreen LCD, with 6 speakers

  • Aluminum wheels with silver finish

  • Chrome details on bumpers and inside the cabin

Recognizing the importance of Texas, there is an optional model that is authorized for sale only in the friendship state. Known as the “Big Horn Lone Star,” it gains Lone Star special badging, and 20 inch aluminum wheels with a slight suspension lift. Everything else remains the same as the Big Horn.


The Laramie is positioned to be the mid-range model of the RAM lineup. It is the entry step to the luxury trims, and is also the first truck of the range to have all cabin and bed configurations available in whatever combination the customer wants. This trim includes:

  • Automatic dual-zone A/C

  • Remote engine start

  • LED lighting front/rear/interior

  • 3x 12VDC power adapter sockets

  • Built-in garage door transmitter

  • Power adjustable pedals

  • Power adjustable seats

  • Leather seating material

  • Heated and ventilated front seats

  • Digital dash and 12 inch LCD touchscreen infotainment system with 10 brand-name speakers

  • Per-wheel Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

  • Available navigation for infotainment system

The amount of customization that can be performed at this trim level is quite impressive, and to list all the available options would be an entire article on its own.


The Rebel is in a bit of an odd place in the trim levels, being more expensive than the Laramie, but having less tech and interior upgrades. However, what it does gain is all external and mechanical. The Rebel is the dedicated off-road package of the RAM 1500 lineup, and includes:

  • Short and long arm front suspension

  • Multi-link rear suspension

  • Both front and rear suspension are raised by at least 1.5 inches

  • 275/70RR18E off-road tires

  • 18 inch black painted aluminum wheels

  • Paddle-shift sequential automatic controls

  • Automatic and manual request locking rear differential

Limited Longhorn

A trim level for 2021 only, it celebrates the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the Longhorn trim in 2011. It features all the features of the Longhorn, with the following trim options being added from the Limited:

  • Full floor console between front seats

  • Full leather interior trim

  • Rear heated seats

  • Genuine wood and leather wrapped steering wheel

  • Digital dash with premium finish analog speedometer/tachometer

  • Full parking sensor system


The Limited is the truck best oriented for those wanting to travel in immense comfort. It has all the luxury trimmings that are sometimes optional, most often not, on lower trims. These include:

  • 5.7L V8

  • Full leather and wood interior trim

  • Quite literally power everything, except tilt/telescope on the steering wheel adjustment

  • Rear armrest between the split seats

  • Rubber all-season floor mats with carpet inserts

  • Blind-spot warning system

  • Full parking sensor system

  • 12 inch infotainment LCD with included GPS navigation

  • Combination digital and analog dash with premium analog speedometer/tachometer


The TRX RAM 1500 takes the Rebel trim, and then injects as much technology and power as can possibly be squeezed into the frame. This trim is the dedicated sports off-road model, and annihilates most other sport off-road offerings. The TRX includes:

  • 6.2L supercharged HEMI V-8

  • Fully functional hood mounted ram-air scoop for the supercharger

  • Bilstein Black Hawk off-road competition shocks

  • Nearly 12 inches of ground clearance

  • 13 inch front/14 inch rear suspension travel

  • Flat bottom sport steering wheel, fully leather wrapped carbon-fiber

  • 8 available drive modes and a power limiting valet mode

  • Flared fenders

  • Special RAM front grille

  • High flow cat back sport exhaust

  • 35 inch Goodyear Wrangler off-road tires on 18 inch black aluminum wheels

  • Electric locking front and rear differentials, reinforced 4x4 transfer box

  • All-conditions visible HUD

  • 19 speaker Harmon-Kardon infotainment system with 12 inch central LCD touchscreen

  • Comes only in Crew cab with short box, and only in 4x4

2019+ Dodge RAM 1500 Cabin Sizes

Quad Cab

The quad cab is quite a large cab, with ample room to fit three adults across the bench back seat. It is also not as small as competitors are with the rear legroom, which is why Dodge can claim, rightly so, that they have the most rear seat legroom in any spec below a crew cab.


Crew Cab

The crew cab is the full sized beast. Four full doors and available rear bench seat means that this cab can comfortably seat 4 to 5 adults without compromise and in quite incredible comfort


Box Sizes (truck bed)

  • Short: 5.7 ft

  • Long: 6.4ft

The Fifth Generation Dodge RAM 1500: 2019-Present


As covered in the introduction, while Chrysler may have changed hands over the past two decades quite a lot, Dodge and the RAM division have stayed Michigan-based. In fact, the fourth generation Dodge RAM 1500 was one of the best selling models across the entire Dodge and Chrysler model lineups.

However, with the fourth generation, there were some complaints about there being too many trim levels, too many options of engines and setups. It was also the first generation of the RAM 1500’s to have mild-hybrid assist added on. This was of major concern in September of 2012 when it was discovered that the lithium-ion battery packs were not receiving adequate cooling, and three of them on RAM 1500 hybrid demonstrators exploded and caused minor fires.

With the fifth generation, Dodge curtailed many of the extraneous sub-trims, and consolidated many options to be standard at certain trim levels. The only truly over-optioned trim is the Laramie, as it is positioned to be the family truck and the most commonly sold trim. And we all know that when you buy the one vehicle for family trips and general use, you want it to be your truck. We wouldn’t be Texans if we didn’t have a tiny bit of customization ego, right?

The fifth generation has also brought forth a much more muscular, yet aerodynamically streamline, shape to the RAM 1500. This has had an effect on fuel efficiency, as does the mild-hybrid assist included on every V6 engine from the Tradesman HFE to the Limited Longhorn.

This mild-hybrid system is really the only influence that the European managing interests have had on the truck, as Fiat owns multiple brands including the Ferrari S.p.A. brand. This is of importance as Ferrari has extremely in-depth experience with hybrid powertrains through both their Formula 1 racing program, and their supercars and hypercars that use both full- and mild-hybrid electrical systems, depending on model. That knowledge was shared with Dodge in the fourth generation to fix the overheating battery problem, and further input was given for the fifth generation where the power pack has dedicated cold air access and exhaust without affecting the driving or cooling dynamics of the truck as a whole.

The fifth generation RAM 1500 was introduced in its final production form at the Detroit International Auto Show in 2018, as a 2019 model available that August. Interestingly, only the RAM 1500 level trucks have been upgraded to fifth generation. The HD 2500 and HD 3500 models are continuing with the fourth generation technology and trims.

2019 RAM 1500 Updates

For the first model year, the RAM 1500 was offered in Tradesman, Big Horn, Laramie, Rebel, and Limited trims only. Three engines were available from the go, with the base for all trims except Limited being the 3.6L Pentastar V6 producing 305 HP and 269 lb-ft of torque. Optional for all trims, but standard on the Limited, the5.7L HEMI MDS V8, with MDS standing for MultiDisplacement System (cylinder deactivation), produces 395 HP and 410 lb-ft of torque.

The third engine option is the 5.7L HEMI MDS V8 eTorque, which adds a 48V mild-hybrid to the engine. Like its non-eTorque model, it produces 395 HP and 410 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid is there to reduce sudden fuel consumption while moving away from a stop, regardless of towing, carrying a payload, or simply driving the truck

As well during the first year of production, all cab sizes and bed sizes were available across all trims except those limited to one configuration only, such as the Tradesman HFE with its crew cab and short bed.

Having worked out a lot of the hybrid issues, and evolving the reliability of the RAM 1500 throughout the fourth generation, the first year of the fifth generation only had one major recall. This recall, 19V201000 03/14/2019, related to some steering columns of the RAM 1500 and Jeep Wrangler models being improperly machined around their stub shafts, which could lead to a sudden breakage and complete loss of steering control. Any owner of any affected VIN vehicle was contacted by Dodge themselves and required to bring in their vehicles for a replacement steering column. Dodge and Chrysler provided these replacements under warranty.

So the challenge of accepting an entirely new form of truck, powered by electricity contained in batteries… it’s not the easiest sell of all time. However, once an EV truck emerges that is rugged, can tow three times its own weight, and can travel 600+ miles fully loaded on a full charge, maybe, just maybe, there is a chance of widespread EV truck adoption.

So the challenge of accepting an entirely new form of truck, powered by electricity contained in batteries… it’s not the easiest sell of all time. However, once an EV truck emerges that is rugged, can tow three times its own weight, and can travel 600+ miles fully loaded on a full charge, maybe, just maybe, there is a chance of widespread EV truck adoption.

2020 RAM 1500 Updates

The 2020 model year of the RAM 1500 saw two more engines introduced to the RAM 1500 lineup. The first is the 3.6L Pentastar V6 eTorque, adding the mild hybrid from the V8 to the V6 range, and was made the standard base engine. If a customer still wants a non-hybrid V6, they can request it during configuration.

The second engine is the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 Turbo as an option to all trim levels, including the Limited. This engine produces 260 HP, but decimates even the V8 in terms of torque with 480 lb-ft. This engine came about because of customer requests, as many were disappointed that the “entry-level” Dodge RAM did not come with a diesel for dedicated towing and loading.

This year also saw the confirmation by FCA and Dodge that there was a dedicated sport model coming in 2021, that had first been teased in 2016 with a concept sport off-road truck at, of all places, the Texas State Fair. It is not too hard to believe that with the Texan attitude of big, powerful, and fun, our state’s enthusiasm had a small part in FCA and Dodge actually making that sport model.

No major recalls were issued for 2020, with the only minor one of concern regarding side curtain airbags that could rip the ignition circuitry out during deployment, creating a small, plastic tipped whip that could strike the driver or passengers in the face and neck area.

2021 RAM 1500 Updates

While the year is new, the model year is not. The 2021 model year began as expected in August of 2020, making Dodge one of the few manufacturers that continued with scheduled model rollouts despite the global pandemic.

Two new trims were released, with one new engine, for 2021. The first is the tenth anniversary of the Big Horn trim, and is available for 2021 only. Named the Limited Longhorn, it takes the Big Horn trim level and adds a lot of technology and interior trim features of the Limited. It is appropriately priced between the Rebel and Limited.

Far more exciting for sport off-road enthusiasts with deep pockets, however, is the RAM 1500 TRX. Raised suspension, 35 inch tires, 12 inches of ground clearance, massive suspension travel, a completely reworked leather sport interior, flat bottom steering wheel, and special muscular flares and protrusions on the outside, biggest of which is a ram-air intake for the engine.

And what an engine. Those familiar with the Dodge Challenger Hellcat will recognize the HEMI Hellcat Supercharged V8, which produces an earth shattering 702 HP and 650 lb-ft of torque. It is also the only trim of the RAM 1500 to have a dedicated launch control ability, able to accelerate in most conditions from 0 to 60 MPH in 4.5 seconds, despite this trim weighing in at a hefty 7,800 lbs.

2021 is too new to have any major recalls issued, and no TSBs or major recalls have come through. There is only one minor recall regarding rear disc brake caliper retention clips, however the affected vehicles number only in the hundreds, not the thousands.
NOTE: For this table, the engine and tow rating fields are what the trucks come with as STANDARD. Optional engines may increase or decrease the tow rating.

TrimYearsMSRPEngineTow Rating (lbs)Review

Recalls & Technical Service Bulletins

Throughout the fifth generation so far, there is only one major recall:

  • 19V201000: Steering column may fail at the stub joint due to incorrect machining, leading to complete loss of steering and posing extreme danger of a crash

Since the fifth generation is still young, no major TSBs or recalls apart from the one noted above have been discovered. Standard maintenance TSBs have been released, but these are of the minor level of “use this part number oil filter instead of this old part number oil filter as it has been discontinued.”

Known Problems & Reliability Issues

The fifth generation Dodge Ram 1500 so far has no known reliability issues. The hybrid has proven solidly reliable through the range so far, with the updates and development completed in the fourth generation.

In terms of reliability and maintenance, the RAM 1500 is on the level with most other trucks, although some of the higher tech interior trims do have more points of potential failure. In terms of mechanical reliability, Dodge has made sure that the truck is slightly overbuilt, with high strength low alloy steels used throughout for extended durability. Expected yearly expenses for maintenance work is between $500 to $1,200 depending on trim, which is a touch high, but still well within reason for the average layman

Which RAM 1500 Should I Choose?

While not the truck with the ability to haul the most, or tow the most, the RAM 1500 is still a tough-as-hell truck that can get the job done within reason.

Work & Trades

The Tradesman and Tradesman HFE are the choices here. We would recommend the HFE for the tradesman that can carry all he needs in the bed of the truck, such as a carpenter, plumber, or mason. The Tradesman is better for those that need to tow a trailer with decently heavy equipment, such as concrete workers, landscapers, roofing and eavestrough installation techs. No matter what, the truck is meant to take the load and be reliable day in and day out.


In terms of pure payload, the Tradesman HFE surprisingly has the best payload capacity at 2,320 lbs. The added low-range torque of the hybrid helps get the truck in motion, and the quad cab long box combo gives lots of room to load up bigger items

Trailering & Towing

If you need to tow the maximum you can, the Big Horn trim with the 5.7L HEMI MDS V8 wins out over the same truck with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 Turbo. With an available 11,650 lbs tow rating over the diesel at 10,080 lbs, the big HEMI gets even the heaviest of loads moving. This is rather surprising as turbo diesel engines are usually the go-to for trailering and towing, yet Dodge and the RAM division have worked out a way to make a gas powered 5.7L V8 chuck out an unbelievably good tow rating

Daily Driving

We put our heads together and figured out that for the daily driver, the Laramie crew cab with short box, 4x4 or 4x2, with the 3.6L V6 eTorque engine would be the most comfortable option. As the trim has the most options to add if you want them, you can personalize the truck. What swung the vote, however, was that the Laramie, for the price, is just the best standard equipped for the everyday common driver. It doesn’t have too much tech, nor does it lack in luxury and comfort. It’s a goldilocks trim, just right.

Off-Road & Trail Driving

If you want to go off-roading in a calm and collected manner, the Rebel is your trim of choice. It will get you there and back, and if you need the extra grunt, the crew cab with short bed, 4x4, and the 5.7L HEMI V8 will get you over and around most obstacles.

Now, if you want to go off-road but also be a complete hooligan while doing so, then the RAM 1500 TRX is your beast. Compared to most other manufacturers, the TRX safely can be categorized as insane. But then again, when you take a Challenger Hellcat’s ridiculously overpowered supercharged V8 and implant it into a 4x4 truck designed to take the power and torque, you get a vehicle that will hit 60 MPH in 4.5 seconds on gravel and dirt!

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