2023 RAM 1500 Limited Elite is the most family-oriented luxury work truck available.
For North American families, trucks have become more than work vehicles in the last decade. It’s more of a lifestyle that they become a very important part of our lives. It can be used for tons of different activities such as towing your boat, jet skis, or motorcycles, or just getting groceries. As we expect work trucks to be more utilitarian, Stellantis (formerly known as FCA) brought the current gen RAM 1500 for people who want to use their trucks for all types of activities.
Every domestic truck manufacturer has its own way when it comes to the design language, and apparently, no one takes any risk in terms of overall looks, including the RAM 1500. Just like the previous versions, you will find the classic RAM design language in the front fascia. It offers a nice balance of rugged and powerful appearance.
The front grille is one of the most important parts that give the upscale look. However, it is not just about the looks. There are two air intake ducts to cool the engine. Depending on the trim you get, there might be minor differences, but the Limited trim offers extra chrome pieces in the front bumper and the front grille. The LED headlights look like a part of the chrome front grille, which also comes with LED daytime running lights, enhancing visibility and giving the truck a more modern look.
From the side and rear, the RAM 1500 has a traditional truck layout, and depending on the trim you get, the ride height might be different. The Limited trim comes with air suspension, which allows you to change the ride height. It also comes with 20-inch dual-colour aluminum wheels, which enhances the upscale looks of the truck. Basically, the higher trim you get, the more chrome pieces you find all around the truck, and RAM 1500 is no exception.
There are two unique features that make the RAM 1500 stand out against the competition. Granted, all domestic trucks have unique features, but I found the Multi-Function tailgate is the most useful option as you can get really close to the bed to load and unload items without having to climb anywhere. It also allows you to access the items quicker than the traditional tailgate.
The second RAM-specific feature is the RAM Box weatherproof cargo management system on both sides of the truck, which I found useful if you like the carry smaller items and want to charge them on the go. However, if you plan to place large and wide items, it might be a problem, as it generally offers less horizontal cargo space. In our test, we struggled to place a queen-size mattress, which would not be a problem without the RAM Box.
The interior of the RAM 1500 is the most significant selling point compared to the other entries in the market. Although there are some common parts that you would find in other Stellantis models, it still gives you the luxury feeling. Of course, the 12-inch vertical screen is the centrepiece of the dashboard, it is actually one of the first vertical screens used in a truck when it was first released, which created a new trend in the automotive world.
The updated RAM 1500 comes with the new 12-inch digital cluster which offers full-screen navigation and it is quite customizable. As expected from Stellantis, there are tons of useful information shown on the screen, and you can change the layout based on your liking. It also comes with the latest Uconnect software system that you would also find in other Stellantis products, such as the Jeep Wagoneer that we reviewed earlier this year. I just wish the RAM 1500 came with better adaptive cruise control, as it did not offer full lane-centering capability unlike the other entries in this segment, and that’s where you feel the age of the platform more than anywhere else.
The RAM 1500 is the only truck that uses a rotary shifter knob instead of a lever, which is located on the dashboard. It allows more space in the center console area, and that is the main reason why it is the most useful and practical interior option available. Basically, the center console is a giant storage area that has an upper level where you can put your small items and cups, it can also go forward or backward, and you can utilize it based on your choice.
In typical Stellantis fashion, the seats are firmly padded. It is not as firm as GMC Sierra we reviewed last year, but very close. Both entries have firmer seats than the F-150, so you should try all if you find the right option for you. The RAM 1500 offers tons of legroom and headroom even for larger adults, however, I was expecting to see massage seats for the front seats, as that’s something you can find in other trucks especially when you choose the top trim. The front seats offer extra adjustability and memory seat function for the driver.
The rear seats are just as good as the front seats for longer trips, and they can also recline if you need a more comfortable seating position. If you need maximum rear space, you can simply pull the bottom cushion up, and place larger items in the interior. As expected from a truck, installing a rear-facing child seat is no problem, and powered running boards make your life easier to get in and out, or when you install the child seat. The rear seat passengers get 4 USB outlets, house-style AC (400w) outlet, adjustable air conditioning vents, and heated-cooled seats just like the front seats.
There are two engine options available with the RAM 1500. The base engine is the corporate 5.7L naturally aspirated HEMI V8 engine, which produces 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. The 5.7L HEMI engine is used in several different Stellantis models. The V8 engine has a traditional pushrod layout, meaning that it has a unique engine note when you accelerate. It is one of the few port fuel injection engines available, which requires much less maintenance compared to direct injection. Our tester had the eTorque version with a 48V mild hybrid system that allows smooth start-stop operation and provides an additional 139 lb-ft of torque when needed.
It is not the traditional hybrid system that you would find something like the Toyota Tundra that we reviewed earlier, as it aims to provide a smoother driving experience than better fuel economy numbers. The electric motor is matched with a tiny 0.4 kWh battery located behind the rear seats. There is also a V6 diesel engine option if you are looking for better fuel economy and more torque. All engine options are paired with 8-speed automatic transmission.
For many truck owners, payload and towing capacity is extremely crucial as it is the main reason why people choose trucks over utility vehicles. Our tester had a not-so-impressive payload capacity of just over 1000 lbs as our tester is the top trim with all the bells and whistles, therefore it is heavier than lower trims. The maximum towing capacity is a little over 8000 lbs. When we push the payload limits, the RAM 1500 felt just fine, it did not drive any differently except for high-speed braking performance, which shows that it is quite capable even when you are at the payload limit.
Despite the low maximum payload capacity, what makes the Limited trim very appealing to families is the air suspension which comes standard with the top trim, or you can pay extra if you choose lower trims. Some entries offer air suspension in the back if you choose the right trim, like the Toyota Tundra, but the RAM 1500 comes with air suspension for both the front and rear. Either way, it is very convenient as it levels itself based on the weight you carry, or whatever you tow.
Thanks to the air suspension and aluminum suspension components in the front, It offers one of the most comfortable rides in this segment, it is where you feel the luxury aspect when it comes to the overall driving experience. However, for some reason, if you cannot get the air suspension, the RAM 1500 comes with a standard link-coil suspension setup in the back which still offers much better ride quality than the traditional leaf spring setup, especially when the bed is empty.
When it comes to the half-ton trucks, failure is not an option. The RAM 1500 might not be the newest entry, but it is still very appealing to many different types of people. It continues to be our favourite half-ton truck mainly due to the upscale interior, SUV-like ride quality, and attention to detail when it comes to utilitarian features.
It still offers a very high level of customization with tons of accessories and optional features, so you can easily dress it up or down based on your budget and lifestyle. With its 6-figure price tag, it is not easy to recommend the top Limited Elite trim as it is too pretty to be a work truck, but it can be an excellent option if you just need one truck to do-it-all.
|Engine||5.7-litre, pushrod, naturally aspirated V8|
|Electric Motor & Battery||Synchronous AC motor, 16 hp, 49 lb-ft & 0.4 kWh lithium-ion battery|
|Transmission & Drivetrain||8-speed automatic & 4-wheel-drive|
|Max power (combined)||395 hp|
|Max torque (combined)||410 lb-ft|
|0-100 km/h||6.1 sec|
|Curb Weight||5765 lbs – 2614 kg|
|Fuel Economy (as tested)||17 MPG – 13.8L / 100 km|
|Price (as tested)||$103,685 CAD|