The Ram 1500 has long been one of the most capable half-ton trucks on the market, and a used Ram 1500 is a great way to get one of these excellent pickups for a lower price. Although the Ram name has its origins all the way back in 1932, when a ram was used as a symbol of the power and strength of Dodge trucks, Ram did not become its own brand until the 1981 introduction of the Ram 150 pickup truck. But even this was effectively just a rebadged Dodge D150, and Ram’s first original pickup did not come until 1994 when the original Ram 1500 was unveiled. Since then, there have been a total of four generations of the Ram 1500, and all of them can be found on the used market. However, the majority of the used Ram 1500 trucks for sale will come from the second and third generations.
The original Ram 1500 introduced in 1994 is now an aging and increasingly rare vehicle. However, production did not end until 2001, so a used first generation Ram 1500 in good condition will still occasionally turn up on the used market. Although you will probably not have many options if you are shopping for a first generation Ram 1500, you should be aware that there were three available engines, including two different V8 options.
The base engine was a 3.9L V6 with 175 horsepower that is probably best avoided if you intend to use the truck for any serious work. However, two V8 options are also somewhat weak by modern standards and consist of either a 5.2L with 220 horsepower or a 5.9L with 230 horsepower. And all three engines also have poor fuel economy, averaging between 13 and 16 miles per gallon. So while you might be able to get a good deal on one of these trucks, you will probably be better off setting your sights on a second generation or newer used Ram 1500.
Introduced in 2002, the second generation Ram 1500 was produced until 2009 and is plentiful on the used market. It also marked a radical redesign of the truck with an all-new frame, independent front suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. These changes not only made the truck tougher, but it also gave it much-improved handling. The engines and transmissions of the second generation Ram 1500 were also a significant step forward. The base engine remained a 3.7L V6, but with 215 horsepower, it now competed with the outgoing V8 for power. However, the new V8 options originally did not see similar power increases because the base V8 was replaced with a smaller 4.7L, offering 235 horsepower, and the top V8 was a mostly unchanged 5.9L with 245 horsepower.
Fortunately, this soon changed, and in 2003, the top engine was replaced by a smaller but much more powerful 5.7L HEMI V8 producing 345 horsepower. This year also saw the introduction of an innovative five-speed automatic transmission with two second gear ratios, with the second being for towing and hill-climbing where a little more torque is needed. A few years later, in 2008, the middle 4.7L V8 engine also received a major power boost to 310 horsepower, making a used late model second-generation Ram 1500 competitive even against modern trucks.
The majority of the used Ram 1500 trucks for sale will belong to the third generation, which entered production for the 2009 model year and was officially phased out for the 2018 model year. But this phase out was really more of a name change, and third generation trucks are actually still being produced alongside the new fourth generation trucks as the Ram 1500 Classic. This makes these vehicles a particularly good buy on the used market. Since they are no longer the current generation, you should be able to get a good deal on one, but since they are still in production, you will have no problem keeping one running.
The largest change with this generation was the introduction of Ram’s now signature coil spring rear suspension. Although many originally considered this a downgrade from the more traditional leaf spring suspension, over the last decade, coil springs have proven to be no less capable or reliable while living up to their promise of superior handling and ride quality. Another novel feature introduced on the 2009 Ram 1500 was the RamBox cargo system of lockable storage compartments in the bed walls, which provides a convenient and secure place to store smaller items such as tools.
Under the hood, the third generation Ram 1500 also saw its top 5.7L V8 upgraded to 390 horsepower, although the 3.6L V6 and 4.7L V8 engines remained unchanged at 215 horsepower and 310 horsepower respectively. However, for the 2013 model year, the aging V6 was replaced by a larger, more modern, and much more powerful 3.7L with 305 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission. That year also saw the top 5.7L engine receive a small power boost to 395 horsepower and the introduction of Ram’s optional four corner air suspension system with adjustable ride height. The next year, the 2014 Ram 1500 dropped the now redundant 4.7L V8 engine and replaced it with a new 3.6L turbo-diesel producing 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. This was the first diesel engine offered in a Ram truck since the original Ram 150, and its 5.9L Cummins inline-6 left production back in 1998. So if you are looking for a used diesel pickup, then the 2014 Ram 1500 is a great place to start.
The fourth and current generation of the Ram 1500 was introduced for the 2019 model year and is still rare on the used market. However, they are beginning to become available and are incredibly capable and comfortable vehicles. The current truck particularly stands out for its impressive level of technology, including massive 8.4” or 12” dashboard touch screens. However, it is an entirely clean-sheet design with an all-new chassis that is both tougher and lighter than that of the third generation. And while the engine options remained unchanged, they were now available with an eTorque mild hybrid system that uses electric motors to provide more low-end power to help out with everything from pulling trailers to negotiating rough terrain.
Whichever model year you end up purchasing, the Ram 1500 is one tough truck.
The 2009 model year was a bit of a stepping stone for Ram, as the brand’s inclusions helped establish the 1500 as one of the top pickup trucks in the industry. Of course, how could you not appreciate everything the 2009 Ram 1500 provided, especially when it came to performance. Customers had the opportunity to choose between three capable engine offerings, starting with the 3.7-liter V6 engine. Despite being the pickup’s smallest offering, the vehicle still managed to pump out an impressive 215 horsepower and 235 pounds-feet of torque (it also managed to deliver an adequate 20 miles per gallon on the highway). Next on the list was the incredible 4.7-liter V8, which boosted those power specs to 310 horsepower and 330 pounds-feet of torque. Finally, for those seeking the utmost power, the 5.7-liter engine was capable of cranking out an awe-inspiring 390 horsepower and 407 pounds-feet of torque. The revised body frame helps accommodate all of this power via the addition of a new suspension and improved payload.
Of course, the brand’s changes weren’t purely mechanically. Rather, they also proved to be rather cosmetic, as Ram included a number of exterior and interior amenities that will boost the model’s style and comfort. The 2009 model saw the addition of a premium upholstery option, as well as a revamped control center. In regards to safety, engineers included stability and traction control, which would drastically improve trailer manipulation while providing the driver with much more security.
Finally, entertainment was also boosted, meaning drivers could expect a better journey to the worksite. Drivers appreciated the heated seats and steering wheel, and they’ll certainly appreciate the convenience provided by the rear backup camera and sensors. The MyGIG multimedia infotainment system provided easy access to an assortment of useful applications, including a navigation unit or SIRIUS satellite radio. Out back, your passengers will surely appreciate the inclusion of the DVD entertainment system, which allows them to enjoy any of their favorite movies or tv shows.
The pickup truck remained mostly intact for the 2010 model year, as the brand included the same trio of engines and an identical mechanical configuration. Perhaps the biggest inclusion came via the assortment of standard safety functions, which included an extensive air bag unit. Customers could also opt for the appreciated RamBox Cargo Management System, which allows owners to stay organized during their journey to a worksite.
The biggest addition to the 2011 model was the inclusion of the Outdoorsman Package, which replaced the defunct TRX Package. This offering included a number of features that will improve the truck’s off-roading prowess, as inclusions like larger tires, improved lighting, and a protected underbody should be able to get the driver through any rugged terrain.
Several of the trim offerings saw changes for the 2012 model year, with engineers adding a number of technological amenities. For instance, the SLT trim saw the addition of remote keyless entry, which drastically boosts convenience. This specific trim also included 17-inch wheels, satellite radio, and interior amenities like carpeting, providing drivers with a number of stylish and innovative inclusions. Meanwhile, the Sport trim included hulking 20-inch wheels, a pair of exhausts, and several additional exterior cosmetic inclusions (like LED running lights and a body-colored grille).
The Laramie version of the pickup added a number of stylish exterior features, like dual exhausts and chrome bumpers. The interior also saw several revisions, including the addition of heated/cooled front seats and a dual-zone automatic climate control system. Finally, the Limited Package provided drivers with several exclusive paint trims, as well as automatic wipers and the renowned RamBox storage system.
In 2013, the RAM 1500 surpassed the Ford F-150 as the top full-size pickup on the market, and this accolade could certainly be attributed to the changes the model underwent. While the exterior saw minor upgrades, it was the truck’s interior that saw the biggest overhaul. In regards to technology, drivers appreciated the inclusion of the larger eight-inch infotainment system, which proved to be the perfect companion during any long journey. To boost safety, engineers also included a “911 button,” which would immediately connect drivers with emergency personnel. Some of the trims saw the addition of higher-quality leather and wood surfaces, bringing the nameplate’s opulence to a whole new level. The shift knob’s position was also revised, making it significantly easier for drivers to seamlessly switch gears.
While the exterior may not have seen many changes, the vehicle was revamped mechanically. The vehicle was significantly lighter than previous renditions, providing a smoother driving experience. The suspension was also revised, improving the RAM 1500’s overall off-roading prowess.
While the 2013 model saw some major renovations, the 2014 model only witnessed minor revisions. Notably, engineers did include their new EcoDiesel 3.0-liter V6, which boosts the truck’s efficiency and emissions. Delivering a 25-mile-per-gallon highway fuel efficiency, drivers were hard pressed to find a more economic offering. Despite the efficiency, the truck is also plenty powerful, cranking out a respectable 240 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque.
2015 was a bit underwhelming when it came to changes, as the brand slightly revamped their exterior as they prepared for a complete overhaul in 2017. Engineers included a new grille and hood, but that was pretty much the extent of the changes. It was the same deal in 2016, as the brand switched up their interior and boosted some of the power specs.
While the brand was seemingly preparing for a reboot in 2017, they ultimately maintained many of the previous-year model’s features and attributes. Notably, technology was boosted, as the innovative Uconnect system (with an accompanying 8.4-inch screen) now came standard on all trims. The brand also added remote start functions (thus improving convenience), as well as a backup camera and rear park assist (which boosts safety).