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Here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 Ram 1500 pickup

Next-gen 2019 Ram 1500 adds mild hybrid engine, weighs 225 pounds less

In the market for a new truck? Are you considering the 2018 Ram 1500? Joining the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado 1500 as one of the top three new vehicle sales leaders, the Ram 1500 was the third-best-selling lightweight truck and the third-best-selling vehicle overall in 2016, the last complete sales year. Ram sold almost a half million 1500 pickup trucks that year.

More than twice as many Ram 1500 trucks sold than the fourth-place truck on the list, the GMC Sierra 1500. The Ram also outsold the Toyota Camry, 2016’s best-selling car, by more than 100,000 units.

Ram owners are famous for their brand loyalty. Ram is still the only lightweight truck line with an available diesel engine. Truck owners often want diesel motors for their superior towing power. Ford announced a diesel alternative for the 2018 F-150, but it won’t be available until later in the model year.

Standard on the Rebel and Limited Crew Cab models, most other Ram 1500 models can be equipped with Ram’s unique Active-Level Four-Corner Air Suspension option. The air suspension includes automatic load leveling to lower the truck at highway speeds for greater efficiency with lessened air resistance. Drivers also can select from five ride height settings with dashboard controls with the air suspension system.

What’s new for 2018 and coming for 2019

Ram introduced the first of a new generation, the 2019 Ram 1500 at the Detroit Auto Show. Highlights of the changes include an average 225-pound weight loss, an available mild hybrid battery-powered 48V electric motor paired with the 3.6L Pentastar V6, and an optional 12-inch touchscreen display for the center stack infotainment system. The current 3.0 EcoDiesel V6 is going back on the shelf and will not be available for order in 2019, at least not in the beginning of the model year. Ram is pulling its diesel in favor of the mild hybrid engine at the same time Chevy is adding a diesel option for the 2019 Silverado and Ford’s 2018 F-150 diesel engine is just coming available.

Overall, there are no dramatic changes in Ram’s 2018 model lineup from 2017. The bodies, frames, and drivetrains carry over from last year.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced the voluntary recall of approximately 1.5 million Ram trucks on December 22, 2017.  The recall is due to the failure of the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock (BTSI) if it gets too hot. The example FCA used in the recall as “when there is protracted brake-pedal application while a vehicle is idling in park.”

The result of BTSI failure is the vehicle can slip out of park and move. FCA reported it “is aware of seven potentially related injuries and a small number of potentially related accidents.” Model year 2017 Ram trucks built after December 31, 2017, are not included in the recall. Most of the affected Ram trucks are heavy-duty 2009 to 2017 models, although some Ram 1500 trucks are also included. Ram will issue recall notices to affected customers and recommends using the parking brake whenever a truck is placed in park.  Customers with questions about the recall can call FCA US at 866-220-6747.

Like other high-volume truck companies, Ram sells special edition models for different types of buyers. There are several new special editions this year. The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Southfork regional edition launched at the State Fair of Texas. The Laramie Longhorn Southfork trim is available for the Ram 1500, Ram 2500, and Ram 3500.

Ram also introduced a new special-edition truck, the Ram 1500 Hydro Blue Sport. This monochromatic and very blue pickup, available in both 4×2 and 4×4 versions, is limited to 2,000 trucks for sale in the U.S. Ram’s customers have been enthusiastic about previous color-themed special editions and we can probably expect to see at least one or two each year.  The Hydro Blue Sport edition option is only available with crew cab, short body trucks with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine. The starting price for the 4×2 version is $46,060.

In addition, the 2018 Ram 1500 Harvest Edition is designed specifically for the agriculture industry, and the Limited Tungsten Edition is now the most luxurious model in the lineup.

Ram informed Digital Trends the company currently has no plans bring the ultra-performance Rebel TRX Concept to market in 2018 – so don’t expect to see it in showrooms, even though you may continue to see it in articles or on the FCA Ram website. Billed as the go-to special edition for diehard off-road enthusiasts, with heavy duty “everything” and a promised 575-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, Ram teases the TRX in its literature.

Other 2018 trim-level changes include an appearance upgrade for the Sports model and a new factory leather interior option for Ram Rebels.

All 2018 Ram 1500 models include backup cameras. The newest standard UConnect system infotainment system with an 8.4-inch display system includes 4G LTE, HD Radio, Android Auto, Apple Car Play, and USB Flip. The display supports pinch-to-zoom and has better resolution than previous years. A Fleet Telematics Module is now available for vehicle tracking as is Sirius Guardian with SOS Call, Roadside Assistance, Remote Services, Send and Go, and Vehicle Finder.

Engines and transmissions

Ram 1500 buyers have three engine choices in 2018, including two V6 and V8 gasoline motors and a V6 diesel engine.

3.6L Pentastar V6 24-Valve VVT

The 305-hp, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 paired with a TorqueFlight 8-speed automatic transmission is the standard powerplant for most Ram 1500 trucks. The V6 is rated at 17 miles per gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway. All models except the Laramie Longhorn Crew and Limited Crew can be configured with the 3.6-liter V6. Torque output is a steady 269 lb-ft.

5.7L V8 Hemi MDS VVT

The Ram 1500’s V8 option is a 395 hp 5.7-liter Hemi MDS with fuel-saving variable valve timing technology. EPA fuel economy ratings come in at 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg in highway driving. The V8 develops 410 lb-ft, making it a better choice for towing heavy loads, rated up to 10,340 pounds depending on model and other equipment.  The 5.7-liter V8 is the standard engine for the Laramie Longhorn Crew and Limited Crew, optional on all other trim levels.

3.0L EcoDiesel V6

For maximum fuel economy and the greatest towing capability, all Ram 1500 trim levels except the Express, Night Edition, and Rebel can be ordered with a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine.  The diesel produces 240 hp and 420 lb-ft. Fuel economy is rated at 20 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. The EcoDiesel engine is awaiting certification.

You may have noticed Ram’s ads for a maximum 29 mpg model. That’s the rating for a special Tradesman HFE model, sometimes called just the HFE. Not available yet for 2018, the HFE only comes configured with a quad cab and a 6-foot, 4-inch box. Digital Trends inquired about the HFE availability. An FCA representative told us the HFE model configuration, specifications, and pricing will be available following the EcoDiesel’s certification.

Cab choices, box length

Ram 1500s can be ordered with three cab styles and three box sizes. In some cases, cab and box configurations are limited by the specific Ram 1500 model. The regular cab has two doors and front seat. the quad cab and crew cab both have four doors and front and back seats. The quad cab style has smaller rear doors and less capacious rear seats and legroom.

Ram buyers can also choose between short, standard, and long boxes. Short boxes are 5 feet, 7 inches long, standard boxes are 6 feet, 4 inches long, and long boxes are 8 feet long. The table below shows which cab styles and box sizes are available for each Ram 1500 model in both 2-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive.

2-wheel drive

Box Size Regular Cab Quad Cab Crew Cab
Short (5 feet, 7 inches)  N/A  N/A Tradesman, Express, Big Horn, Rebel, Sport, Night, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, Limited
Standard (6 feet, 4 inches) Tradesman, Express, Big Horn, Sport, Night, Tradesman, Express, Big Horn, Sport, Night, Laramie Tradesman, Big Horn, Sport, Laramie Longhorn, Limited
Long (8 feet)  Tradesman, Big Horn,  N/A  N/A

4-wheel drive

Box Size Regular Cab Quad Cab Crew Cab
Short (5 feet, 7 inches)  N/A  N/A Tradesman, Express, Big Horn, Rebel, Sport, Night, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, Limited
Standard (6 feet, 4 inches) Tradesman, Express, Big Horn, Sport, Night Tradesman, Express, Big Horn, Sport, Night, Laramie Tradesman, Big Horn, Sport, Night, Laramie Longhorn, Limited
Long (8 feet)  Tradesman, Big Horn,  N/A N/A

Which 2018 is best for you?

Ram’s 2018 1500 lineup builds on the same nine trim levels or models available last year. There are three basic pickups for work or family transportation, including the Tradesman, Express, and Big Horn. Starting prices for this first group ranges from $27,095 to $31,950. The diesel-only HFE model is another work truck, but specifications and pricing for the 2018 model have not been released.

The fancier Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited have base prices from $40,145 to $53,295. The three sporty models include increasing levels of badass-looking trim as well as performance features are the Sport, Night, and Rebel with beginning prices from $36,895 to $45,295.

As with the other truck manufacturers, you can start with any Ram 1500 model and drive the price way up with packages and options. The trim levels are bundled sets of appearance, comfort and convenience, utility, and performance options chosen to work well and look good together. Sometimes, you pay less for a package then the sum of the separate features, but that advantage fades if the package includes features you don’t care about or even want.

The Ram 1500 special editions listed at the bottom of this article take the bundled appearance and feature steps further. Special editions are typically built in smaller numbers than regular trim levels.

2018 Ram 1500 Tradesman, Express, and Big Horn

If you’re looking for a pickup to pull things, to carry things, and for transportation, the more basic Ram 1500 trim lines are the place to start your search. The starting prices for the Tradesman ($27,095), Express ($28,395), and Big Horn ($31,950) set you up with highly functional vehicles. If you want more luxury or a truck to take off-road, you’ll likely find better fits in the other Ram 1500 groups.

The RAM 1500 Tradesman starts the party with 4×2 drive, the Pentastar V6 engine, and an 8-speed automatic transmission with an auxiliary transmission oil cooler. The truck has front and rear stabilizer bars, active grille shutters and electronic stability control. Inside you’ll find cloth upholstery, manual air conditioning, an electronic vehicle information center, and a radio with a media hub for USB and Aux input. The Tradesman’s exterior features include black bumpers, automatic headlamps, a backup camera, and a Class IV receiver hitch.

The Tradesman HFE variant is configured with one engine choice only, the 3.0-liter EoDiesel V6, which in this trim level gets the best fuel mileage rating of 21 mpg in the city and 29 in highway driving. We have yet to see the full specs list or pricing for the HFE.

Stepping up just a bit from the 2018 Ram 1500 Tradesman, the Express adds fog lamps and a body-color front fascia and rear bumper.

2018 Ram 1500 Big Horn Running Footage

The Big Horn is a significant jump up in equipment and features from Ram 1500 Express. The Big Horn adds premier cloth upholstery, a power 10-way driver seat with power lumbar adjustment, one 115-volt auxiliary power outlet, and auto-dimming exterior and rear mirrors. You’ll also get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power door locks, power windows, premier door trim, and an overhead console with a universal garage door opener and temperature and compass gauge.

The Big Horn has the Uconnect 4C with its 8.4-inch touchscreen display, 7-inch multiview information display, Apple CarPlay And Google Android Auto Capable, HD Radio, and integrated voice command with Bluetooth. The list also includes steering wheel mounted audio controls, LED bed lighting, power heated, folding exterior mirrors with turn signals, and remote keyless entry with remote start and security alarm.

Trim  Tradesman Express Big Horn
Base price $27,095 $28,395 $31,950
4×4  Optional Optional Optional
Base engine  3.6L V6 24-Valve VVT  3.6L V6 24-Valve VVT  3.6L V6 24-Valve VVT
Base horsepower 305 hp 305 hp 305 hp
Base torque 269 lb-ft@4,175 RPM 269 lb-ft@4,175 RPM 269 lb-ft@4,175 RPM
Transmission  8-speed automatic transmission  8-speed automatic transmission  8-speed automatic transmission
Fuel  Unleaded regular  Unleaded regular  Unleaded regular
Fuel capacity   26 gallons  26 gallons  26 gallons
Fuel economy  18 city/25 highway 18 city/25 highway 18 city/25 highway
Maximum towing weight  9,160 lbs 9,160 lbs 10,340 lbs
Base wheels  17-inch steel 17-inch aluminum  20-inch aluminum chrome clad
Cab styles  Regular, Quad, Crew Regular, Quad, Crew  Regular, Quad, Crew
Box lengths 6-foot, 4-inch; 5-foot, 7-inch; 8-foot 6-foot, 4-inch; 5-foot, 7-inch; 8-foot  6-foot, 4-inch; 5-foot, 7-inch; 8-foot

2018 Ram 1500 Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited

Even without the Tungsten special edition, the regular Ram 1500 fancier models have successive stages of convenience, comfort, and luxury. The trucks’ starting prices climb as well with the 2018 Ram 1500 Laramie ($40,145), Laramie Longhorn ($50,095), and Limited ($53,295).

In addition to the equipment and features with the Ram 1500 Express, the Laramie comes standard with leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a 10-way power driver seat with memory and power lumbar adjustment, and a 6-way power passenger seat. Plug in your devices to 110v and 115v auxiliary power outlets while keeping your cool with automatic  A/C with dual zone control.

The Laramie includes auto-dimming mirrors, a heated steering wheel, memory for radio, driver’s seat, mirrors, and pedals, and an overhead console with a universal garage door opener. You’ll find power windows, door locks, and pedals with all with memory settings, a power rear sliding window, woodgrain instrument panel, and upgraded interior lighting. The dashboard has a  7-inch multi-view cluster and an 8.4-inch touchscreen for the infotainment center with Alpine speakers with HD audio, Apple CarPlay, and Google Android Auto support. Outside you’ll find 20-inch aluminum chrome clad wheels, exterior heated, folding, power mirrors with turn signals, and a rear assist parking camera.

The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn raises the upscale ante with a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with heavy-duty engine cooling and an upgraded 8-speed automatic transmission with heavy-duty transmission oil cooling. Interior features include bucket seats, a special Longhorn instrument cluster, and a navigation system. The Laramie Longhorn has 20-inch aluminum polished wheels with brown inserts, LED bed lighting, accent color running boards and fender flares, 32-gallon fuel tank, and both front and rear park assist

The top end of the standard model Ram 1500 luxury trio, the Limited has upgraded trim features including premium leather bucket seats and a special Limited instrument cluster. The Limited also comes standard with 20-inch polished aluminum wheels with painted inserts, chrome body side molding and tubular side steps, and 4-corner air suspension.

Trim  Laramie Laramie Longhorn Limited
Base price $40,145 $50,095 $53,295
4×4  Optional Optional Optional
Base engine  3.6L V6 24-Valve VVT 5.7L V8 Hemi MDS VVT  5.7L V8 Hemi MDS VVT
Base horsepower  305 hp  395 hp  395 hp
Base torque  269@4,175 RPM  410 lb-ft @3,950 RPM 410 lb-ft @3,950 RPM
Transmission  8-speed automatic  8-speed automatic  8-speed automatic
Fuel  Unleaded regular  Unleaded regular  Unleaded regular
Fuel capacity   26 gallons  32 gallons  32 gallons
Fuel economy  18 city/25 highway mpg 15 city/22 highway mpg 15 city/22 highway mpg
Maximum towing weight 10,340 lbs 10,220 lbs 10,220 lbs
Base wheels  20-inch aluminum chrome clad 20-inch aluminum polish 20-inch aluminum polish
Cab styles  Quad, Crew  Crew  Crew
Box lengths 5-foot, 7-inch; 6-foot, 4-inch 5-foot, 7-inch; 6-foot, 4-inch 5-foot, 7-inch; 6-foot, 4-inch

2018 Ram 1500 Sport, Night, and Rebel

Ram doesn’t leave off-road drivers and outdoor sports enthusiasts without their own light truck selections. The Ram 1500 Sport ($36,895), Night (37,290), and Rebel ($45,295) all have upgraded suspension and handling components and sport styling features.

Along with its heavy-duty running gear, the Ram 1500 Sport adds a touch of luxury with its standard heated seats and steering wheel, auto-dimming power heated and folding exterior mirrors with turn signals. The Sport also sports a glove box lamp, LED bed lighting, an overhead console with universal garage door opening, and sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors. Sport drivers sit on a 10-way power driver cloth bucket seats and have the advantage of power adjustable pedals

2018 Ram 1500/2500 Sport & Big Horn Black

In addition to the equipment and features with the Ram 1500 Sport, the Night adds black styling details instead of chrome, otherwise, they’re the same truck.

Sometimes it takes a rebel to initiate change, and the Ram 1500 Rebel has the big changes needed for significantly better off-road handling than the other models. The Rebel adds anti-spin rear differential, an electronically controlled throttle, front and rear Bilstein monotube performance shocks, 17-inch aluminum wheels with all-terrain tires, and 4-corner air suspension to keep the truck moving and upright in challenging off-road conditions. The Rebel features bi-function projector black headlamps, LED fog lamps, a 7-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster, and a sport performance hood.

Trim Sport Night Rebel
Base price $36,895 $37,290 $45,295
4×4  Optional  Optional  Optional
Base engine 3.6L V6 24-Valve VVT 3.6L V6 24-Valve VVT 3.6L V6 24-Valve VVT
Base horsepower  305 hp 305 hp 305 hp
Base torque 269 lb-ft@4,175 RPM 269 lb-ft@4,175 RPM 269 lb-ft@4,175 RPM
Transmission  8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Fuel  Unleaded regular  Unleaded regular  Unleaded regular
Fuel capacity   26 gallons 26 gallons  26 gallons
Fuel economy 15 city/22 highway 15 city/22 highway 15 city/22 highway
Maximum towing weight 10,220 lbs 10,220 lbs 10,220 lbs
Base wheels  20-inch polished aluminum 20-inch semi-glass black  17-inch aluminum wheels
Cab styles  Crew  Regular, Quad, Crew  Crew
Box lengths 5-foot, 7-inch 5-foot, 7-inch; 6-foot, 4-inch 5-foot, 7-inch; 6-foot, 4-inch

Special editions

As with the special edition models from Ford and Chevrolet, the Ram 1500 versions address specific customer subsets.

2018 Ram 1500 Harvest

The Ram Harvest comes in two paint colors to match best-selling tractor brands, so your choices are Case IH Red and New Holland Blue. The Harvest has a spray-in bedliner, on/off road tires, and is set up to be rugged, versatile, and dependable.  The Harvest special edition is available for Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 series pickups.

Ram Truck launches Harvest Edition Models

2018 Ram Limited Tungsten

The 2018 Ram 1500 Limited Tungsten outdoes the Limited model in luxury. The Tungsten’s upgrades focus on style and finish. The truck’s chrome pieces have new and different finishes. A light greystone suede headliner and light frost beige leather with indigo blue accents are used throughout the cabin, including the seats, instrument panel, steering wheel, center armrest, and doors. The interior trim includes real wood components. The Limited Tungsten special edition treatment is also available in heavy duty Ram models.

2018 Ram Limited Tungsten Editions

Note: The above Ram 1500 special editions are the only models officially announced with full specifications and pricing.

Ram 1500 Rebel TRX Concept

FCA and Ram have been showing images and videos of the Ram Rebel TRX Concept for two years.  The images and video here are the same used for what many hoped would be a 2016 model year release. FCA has stated the TRX will have a 575-hp, 6.2-liter V8 Hemi engine and will be the “most powerful factory-engineered half-ton pickup ever.” FCA informed Digital Trends there are no plans to bring the Rebel TRX to dealerships in 2018. It’s fun to imagine, but don’t count on it this year.

Ram Rebel TRX Concept Running Footage

Update: Added information about the 2019 Ram 1500 introduced at the Detroit Auto Show.

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Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
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