What’s new for 2021
The 2021 Ram 1500 gets several minor updates including the availability of a head-up display and camera-based digital rearview mirror. Ram 1500s fitted with the Off-Road Group can now display ride height, pitch and roll angles, transfer case position, and accessory gauges.
Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking is now standard except on the entry-level Tradesman and Bighorn trims and the driver-assist package, which has features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and semi-autonomous parking aid, gains pedestrian detection for its automatic emergency braking system.
The optional Trailer package now contains a trailer reversing steering control system, and trailer light checking and tire pressure monitoring. Power-folding trailer mirrors and a wired trailer camera preparation kit are now available as standalone options. A new snowplow kit adds a 220-amp alternator, plow wiring hardware, and a power-sliding rear window with a defroster.
Why is this truck so good?
Several factors make this truck stand out way above the competition, cabin materials, ride quality, handling, the best tech, and superb refinement. It seems odd that every potential full-size pick-up owner doesn’t buy one, however, in case you are thinking it might be a bit soft with all this refinement, it doesn’t mean it can’t handle the tough stuff. With the V8 optioned it will tow up to an impressive 12,750 lbs.
My 2021 Ram 1500 Laramie 4X4 with a Patriot Blue Pearl Coat exterior and Mountain Brown interior definitely looked the part. I was a tad disappointed to not get the excellent 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, but the 5.7-liter HEMI is still a pretty good engine providing 395 hp and 410 ft-lbs through an excellent 8-speed transmission.
The EPA rates the HEMI V8-equipped Ram at 17 miles per gallon city and 21 mpg highway, and thanks to a heavy right foot and some truck trails I observed 13.6 mpg, one good reason to get the EcoDiesel, despite it being a $4,000 option.
Stomp on the gas from a standstill and you’ll get to sixty in 6.1 seconds and surprise a few Golf GTI owners while doing it even though this is not what this truck is for.
I didn’t get to tow anything during my loan but did complete a few trips to Home Depot where the multi-function tailgate came in extremely useful. It’s a $995 option that allows the tailgate to be opened barn door style, split 70/30, making it much easier to get access to the bed. Of course, it still functions as a normal drop-down tailgate and a pull-out step on the left side makes for an easy hop into the back.
The RamBox Cargo Management System provides storage space above each of the rear wheels and can be locked with the fob or separately with a provided key. Stowage space inside each one is generous, I was able to fit a couple of backpacks into each side, and the driver’s side has a 3-pin power socket useful for those camping trips.
On The Road
The Ram has plenty of go, there’s plenty of torque provided by the V8, you’re not left wanting like you are with the 5.3-liter V8 in the Silverado since the HEMI has 27 ft-lbs of extra shove, which doesn’t sound much but makes a difference. There is an optional eTorque system that has a 48-volt starter-generator that provides an additional 16 hp and 130 lb-ft of initial acceleration assist.
As I said before the V8 is matched perfectly with the smooth and well-programmed eight-speed automatic transmission, which never skipped a beat, rifles through the ratios with little hesitation, and provides the Ram the performance it needs.
One of the standouts of the Ram is the silky-smooth ride and body composure, it simply doesn’t drive like other trucks. There’s none of the suspension jiggles you get from other full-size trucks I have driven before. Body-roll is kept in check, which let me tackle some twisty roads and off-road trails without worry, the standard coil springs get credit here (air suspension set up is an option)
My tester had all the off-road equipment you would expect, including 4WD high, 4WD Low, 2WD, and 4WD Auto, where the system decides what you need based on traction and road conditions. It also has Hill Descent Control, although we never ventured anywhere where we could use it and Locking Diffs should the need arise. Four skid plates help protect you from errant rocks and other hard obstacles you may encounter, including front suspension, fuel tank, transfer case, and steering.
This is my favorite part of the Ram; the luxury is apparent, and you almost would think you’re not in a full-size pick-up at all. The front seats are very comfortable and leather in the Laramie trim. In fact, there is leather and suede everywhere on the insider including the doors and seat inserts. Seats have 8-way power, heating, and cooling, and back seat passengers get heated cushions as well. Speaking of which, it’s positively palatial in the back, it’s limo like and the seats are actually comfortable not just an afterthought.
Pull up the split rear bench and there is a huge amount of space including a substantial cubby on both sides and storage space under the seat with a divider to stop things rolling around. It all been very well thought out.
On the Laramie trim you get an 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system, which is absolutely brilliant, or you can upgrade to the larger 12-inch screen which fills the center stack and does away with a lot of the knobs and controls. It’s a great system, fast and easy to use. Other manufacturers take note.
My tester’s base price was $47,530 but had several options checked to take the price including destination to $64,565. Options checked to name a few were the Technology Group which includes the Head-up Display, Trailer Tow Group (braking, steering, tire pressure monitoring, reverse steering control). It also had a full suite of safety systems (1,695), blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert system, Lane Keep Assist, Parallel Park, and Perpendicular Park Assist with Stop and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Checking the Laramie Level 2 Group ($3,995) gets you a Harmon Kardon 19 speaker system, the 8.4-inch display, 4G LTE WIFI, Auto High Beams, Heated Second row, and a whole lot of other goodies.
It’s not perfect though
But it easily could be. Two things in the cabin bugged me, both related to materials quality, were the surround for the touch screen is made of a hard-scratchy plastic that looked like someone had spray painted it and a storage cubby above the glovebox that had a door made from what feels like an Airfix kit. These are a letdown in a cabin that has tons of soft-feel plastics and generally feels a big step above the rest of the field
This is a great truck and I say that as someone who isn’t really a truck person but there’s something very special about the Ram, they have honed their art well. Sure, the fuel economy is not great, (I would option the EcoDiesel) but the rest is simply outstanding.
2021 Ram 1500 Laramie 4X4 Numbers
BASE PRICE: $47,530
PRICE AS TESTED: $64,565
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, 4WD, 5-passenger, 4-door truck
ENGINE: 5.7L OHV 16-valve V-8
POWER: 395 hp
TORQUE: 410 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
0-60 MPH: 6.1 sec
CURB WEIGHT: 5,500 (est)
MAX TOWING CAPACITY: 11,340 lb
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON: 15/21/17 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 13.6 mpg
PROS: Fantastic ride quality, Best in class interior, Modern in every way
CONS: Gets pricey with options