The excitement of a rumbling V-8 under the hood of a 1/2-ton is apart of what gives this genre of truck its appeal The Ram's 5.7L is a strong engine, but after a week of testing, , some of the judges felt as thought it lacked lo-end grunt. When you wanted power, it was there, but you had to seriously engage the pedal to get things moving. And while the six-speed auto shifts fine, we would have liked to have tested the new optional eight-speed transmission.
The ride of the truck was very smooth for a 1/2-ton, partly thanks to its air ride and multilink rear suspension. The electronic steering feels strong and on-point, but the turning radius was wider than expected. This equated to an already large truck feeling that much bigger when navigation the city. Although the visibility is great, this Ram is better left to roam the open highway.
From a brand that brought us such off-road sensations like the Power Wagon; we had high hopes for what the Outdoorsman would bring to the table. Sure, we go off-road appointments, but admittedly we were hoping for more. What we found over the course of our test though, was while we wanted more, we didn't really need more.
On hillclimbs the long wheelbase truck was sure-footed and stable. And while it felt like a bit of a land-yacht at times over the tight and rocky trails, it had the ground clearance to keep us from tumbling rocks under the chassis. Yes, we will always want from and rear lockers, but the limited-slip was very effective in the Ram platform. And since the multilink rear allows the solid-axle to flex more easily off-road, we rarely lifted a tire.
As is the case with most modern trucks, the electronic nannies were plenty invasive- especially when blasting through the sand or hanging it out in the desert. Speaking of the desert, this is one spot that proved to be too much for the trucks air suspension. It often felt too soft and some judges even experienced a suspension overheating warning light. Ultimately, the truck performed well in our entire off-road test. it wasn't perfect, but it always got the job done with little fuss.
The new Ram line is all about working smarting, not harder. And the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x4 we tested was a shining example of this from top to bottom. Time will tell if living with the modern technology will be pricey (out of warranty) experience, but for now, it all works and performs in a seamless harmony. The Ram consistently did everything we asked and was always ready for more. At the core, the Ram is more workhouse, than a subtle sheep. Again, and again the Ram surprised and impressed us, which is why it went onto receive our coveted award for Pickup Truck of the Year. Look for more PTOTY champs as we'll add quarterly reviews of the 2013 winner over the course of the year.
What's hot: Fuel-saving technology, great storage, limited-slip differential, complex, but wel working suspension, all-terrain tires
What's not: Electronic invasions, cosmetically challenged radio, Outdoor namesake, without a lot of outdoor flare
Our take: A modern Ram for a modern world.
"Where are the special features?"
"Smooth ride and great power when you need it."
"More utilitarian than off-road toy."
"Solid truck, inside and out."