The Ram 1500 pickup gets even better for 2014. On top of the handful of updates this year is a new turbo-diesel V6 engine. Ram will also continue to offer its 5.7-liter V8 engine as an optional upgrade over the base gasoline V6 engine. The torque ratings are very similar between the diesel engine and the gas V8, but the V8 has slightly higher towing capacities (depending on the cab/bed configuration you choose), and it’s actually a less expensive upgrade than the diesel.
STYLES. The 2014 Ram 1500 is a full-size pickup available in multiple body styles. The regular cab seats three and is available with either a 6’4″ or 8′ cargo bed. The extended cab (“Quad Cab”) can seat up to six and comes only with the 6’4″ bed. The crew cab increases rear-seat legroom, and is available with either a 5’7″ or 6’4″ bed. There are six main trim levels: Tradesman, HFE, SLT, Sport, Laramie and Longhorn. The Laramie trim level (available in extended and crew cabs only) comes standard with virtually all of the Sport’s features, with a few differences (such as chrome bumpers/grille and a front bench seat), along with added luxuries such as heated mirrors, driver memory functions, leather front seats, a six-way power passenger seat, wood-grain/chrome interior trim and an upgraded sound system with a subwoofer. The Longhorn (which is crew cab only) adds a mesh grille insert, the spray-in bedliner, tow hooks, a larger fuel tank, a remote start, front/rear parking sensors, HD radio, and a navigation system with traffic updates and a Yelp-based search engine. The Limited package adds some awesome features: air suspension, monochromatic paint, chrome side-step bars, automatic windshield wipers, automatic high beams, keyless ignition/entry, a leather and wood steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.
PERFORMANCE. Standard on the Tradesman, HFE and SLT is a 3.6-liter gasoline V6 engine, generating 305 horsepower. The V6 is matched to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. Rather than a traditional shift lever, the eight-speed is controlled by a rotary “e-shift” knob on the instrument panel, which frees up storage space in the Rams with center consoles. Two-wheel or four-wheel drive is available. Standard on the higher trims (and optional on all other Rams) is a 5.7-liter V8 with 395 hp. The V8 is matched to one of two automatic transmissions, a six- or an eight-speed. The six-speed is used only on the Tradesman. EPA-estimated fuel economy when equipped with 2WD and the six-speed transmission is (14 city/20 highway) and (13 city/19 highway) with 4WD. With the eight-speed automatic, EPA-estimated fuel economy improves to (15 city/22 highway) with 2WD and (15 city/21 highway) with 4WD.
INTERIOR. The Ram 1500’s cabin is as good as it gets in the pickup segment. Even the lower trim levels boast an attractive design, with quality materials and intuitive controls that are reasonably easy to reach, while the luxurious Laramie’s wood-grain trim and leather upholstery is predictably posh. Truck owners might be thrown off at first by the rotary shift knob on the dashboard (which replaces a conventional shift lever), but it frees up useful space in the front seat, especially in Rams with a center console. The front seats themselves are soft, yet strike an adequate balance between support and comfort. The crew cab’s rear seat is very comfortable, offering loads of legroom and an agreeable seatback angle. Two touchscreen interfaces are available (one 5 inches, the other 8.4 inches) that do a great job of controlling simple and complicated tasks. The touch buttons are large and easy to see at a glance, while physical knobs and buttons provide much appreciated redundant control. Updates to the touchscreen system have made it even easier to use and more visually pleasing than previous models. Other modern convenience features include keyless entry/ignition, adjustable pedals, Bluetooth, voice recognition, smartphone app connectivity and even WiFi hotspot capability. Unique to the Ram 1500 is the optional RamBox feature, which places a pair of lockable compartments over the rear fenders inside the truck bed. With the right equipment levels, these compartments can even be locked and unlocked via remote.