2011 Ram 1500 Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
February 8, 2011

The 2011 Ram 1500 vies with the latest Ford F-150 as the most desirable full-size pickup truck you can buy.

Pickups no longer hold the must-have status they did as recently as three or four years ago, but despite the swing in attitudes, trucks like the 2011 Ram 1500 are as well-built and capable as ever--or even more so.

A merger with Fiat has seen the trucks of the Dodge brand split off into their own separate Ram section, and a revised truck for 2011 comes with the name change. Already collecting awards, the 2011 Ram 1500 holds its own as one of the toughest, most composed pickups on the market.

Pricing for the new Ram starts at $20,810 for a stripped-down base model, and rises beyond $43,000 for the most decked-out Longhorn and Laramie models, competing against other stalwarts of the open-bed segment like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Toyota Tundra.

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The Ram has style in spades, and is possibly the best-looking truck on the market, inside and especially out. Basic models skimp on the details but keep the core macho look, while top-end variants have all the luxury and style of a high-end sedan.

Performance is also a strong suit for the Ram, as long as you stay away from the anemic 3.7-liter V-6 engine. Both V-8 options provide plenty of acceleration and tow/haul power, though the HEMI V-8 really brings the capable chassis to life.

Lots of standard safety equipment put the Ram 1500 about on par with the best in the class, though crash test results show conflicting ratings between the IIHS and NHTSA. An optional rear-view camera makes it easier to maneuver and avoid rearward obstacles, and large side mirrors make pulling a trailer a safer bet.

From basic stripper pickup to loaded-out luxury truck, the Ram runs the gamut with a wide range of available options, many of which are available even in lower-spec trims as upgrades or packages.

Fuel economy is never a strength for full-size pickups, but the Ram scores well within the class, if not relative to small hatchbacks and sedans. For the power and capability, it's a reasonable tradeoff, however.


2011 Ram 1500


Carrying forward the current generation's redesign, the 2011 Dodge Ram 1500 continues to set the styling pace among full-size trucks.

The 2011 Ram 1500 shares its heritage with the previous generation of Dodge trucks, but gains a pair of new trim levels: the luxury-focused Laramie Longhorn Edition; and the off-road capable, adventurous Outdoorsman. New colors and a handful of new features add to the updates for 2011.

At first glance, the new Ram looks much like last year's model, and that's because it is. The strong fenders, tall chrome crosshair grille, smooth sides, and large wheels remain as part of the formula for the best-looking full-size truck on the market. A range of new colors add to the customization of the Ram 1500's look.

The Ram's proportions, from hood to cab to the ratio of glass to sheetmetal, accentuate the two-tone treatment available on some models. Unlike the Ford F-150, the Ram doesn't look robotic and edgy, and it's not as soft as the Chevy Silverado. The Toyota Tundra's oddball shape is an outlier among the group. Looking for details in the vast expanses of sheetmetal isn't easy, but dual exhaust pipes give the rear a powerful look, despite the somewhat plain tailgate.

Interior styling for the Ram carries forward from previous years, but its high quality and upscale flavor remain attractive and desirable. With the new Laramie Longhorn Edition, luxury can be taken to the extreme for a pickup, with some of the best wood grain and contrast stitching available in a working vehicle. Those with simpler tastes have plenty of options in the Ram 1500 range as well.





2011 Ram 1500


The 2011 Dodge Ram 1500 is probably the best-performing full-size truck you can buy, and there's every reason to choose the big HEMI V-8.

As good as it looks, the Ram 1500 performs even better--though the coarse, wheezy 215-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 is to be avoided. The other two engines in the lineup are solid performers, however, with a 4.7-liter V-8 rated at 310 horsepower and a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 good for 390 horsepower.

Sport, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn models all come standard with the 5.7-liter HEMI engine, while the Outdoorsman and SLT come with the 4.7-liter V-8 standard. The ST is the only model that has the asthmatic 3.7-liter V-6 as standard equipment, but both can be upgraded to the 4.7-liter engine.

The Ram shines brightest with the HEMI under the hood, scoring 13/19 mpg, but never wanting for power or torque, but not coming cheaply, either. You won't find six-speed automatic transmissions in the Ram like you will with the competition; the five-speed paired with the HEMI is the best bet. All Ram models feature cylinder deactivation to improve fuel economy when cruising at highway speeds.

Hauling and driving are the strong suits of the Ram, with a stiff chassis and rear coil suspension providing a better, more controlled ride than its competitors--and better than any previous Dodge truck. Steering is quick, but numb and devoid of feedback--to be expected in a full-size pickup, but somehow less than the chassis deserves. A 10,450-pound tow rating puts the Ram right near the front of the class, though new 2011 models from Ford and Chevy have taken things slightly farther.




2011 Ram 1500

Comfort & Quality

The 2011 Dodge Ram 1500 wraps passengers in ample room, with enough build quality and flexibility for just about any truck owner.

Space doesn't necessarily equate to comfort, but the 2011 Ram's wide cabin makes space for real three-across seating on the standard bench. Models with the adjustable bucket seats are divided by a huge center console.

Three cab types are available: Regular, Quad, and Crew. The Quad cab equates to the variously-named "extended" cabs found at other truckmakers, while the Crew Cab is the longer four-door model. Complementing the three cab types are six trim levels: ST, SLT, Outdoorsman, Sport, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn, though regional special-edition models are also available.

Crew Cab models' rear seats aren't the bolt-upright units you might expect, instead offering a nice recline. Leg and head room are abundant in back as well, though not in Quad Cab models. Under-floor storage bins supplement the optional, lockable Ram Box integrated into the fenders, and in general, there's plenty of storage space. Interior quality and feel are as good as or better than any other truck on the market.

The variety of truck beds available is important to commercial buyers. Regular-cab Rams can be had with 6.4-foot and 8-foot beds, while the Crew Cab models come with a 5.7-foot bed, and Quad Cabs offer a 6.4-foot bed.

Noise suppression is admirable on the 2011 Ram 1500, with both road and wind noise held to very low levels for the full-size pickup class.


2011 Ram 1500


The 2011 Dodge Ram 1500 has mixed, but generally good, crash-test scores and useful options like a rearview camera.

NHTSA and IIHS ratings for the 2011 Ram are good for a pickup; the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) rates the Ram 1500 "good" in frontal offset crashes and "marginal" in side impacts. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) rates the new Ram three stars overall under the new 2011 rating system, with frontal crash ratings of two stars in the standard-cab model doing most of the damage to five-star side-impact and three or four-star rollover ratings. Crew Cab models rate the same.

The conflicting scores between IIHS and NHTSA ratings may cause some confusion for buyers, but there's no doubt the Ram comes with a full complement of active and passive safety gear: dual front and side airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control are all standard.

Like other pickups, the Ram doesn't offer high-tech safety features like blind-spot detection though the optional rear-view camera is handy and welcome due to the Ram's high ride height reducing rearward visibility. Optional large, folding trailer side mirrors enhance visibility as well.




2011 Ram 1500


The 2011 Dodge Ram 1500 offers features-such as wireless Internet and TV-not found in many high-end luxury cars.

Base-model Rams are available with almost no features--just stripped-down work trucks--but higher-end models add just about everything you'll find on any other Chrysler vehicle.

Working up from the AM radio and roll-up windows on the base Ram to the USB and Bluetooth-enabled, hard-drive-based music system and voice-activated navigation system available on higher end models, there's even a wireless Internet and TV option with Chrysler's Uconnect system.

Other available options include a DVD player for both front and rear seat passengers; steering-wheel-mounted radio controls; Sirius Satellite Radio; and in Laramie versions, finely detailed interiors with a range of exterior color options. An available R/T package adds 22-inch wheels and tires and a restyled front air dam.

With six trim levels to choose from, plus a wide range of equipment groups and a la carte options, you won't have trouble configuring the Ram 1500 to your liking. Stepping upward through the range, it's easy to quickly build the price as you add features, however: the top-of-the-line Laramie Longhorn costs more than twice as much as the base ST, but offers so many more features and amenities it's almost a different truck.


2011 Ram 1500

Fuel Economy

The HEMI is the most capable, most fun-to-drive engine available in the Ram 1500, and it's just as efficient as the smaller alternatives.

In two-wheel drive guise, the EPA rates the 2011 Ram 1500 at 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway for both V-6 and HEMI variants, an odd result that reflects the aging design of the smaller engine and the cylinder deactivation of the HEMI. The 4.7-liter engine rates 14/19 mpg, due in part to its flex-fuel capability. Running on E85, the 4.7-liter V-8 rates 9/13 mpg due to ethanol's lower energy content relative to gasoline. Opting for four-wheel drive, available only on V-8 models, knocks 1-2 mpg off the city and highway ratings for a 13/18 mpg rating with either engine.

The lack of fuel savings with the V-6 makes it a non-starter if you can afford the upgrade to the V-8, and choosing between the HEMI and 4.7-liter is again down to purchase price unless you need and can take advantage of the smaller V-8's E85 capability.

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February 22, 2017
2011 Ram 1500 2WD Quad Cab 140.5" SLT


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May 12, 2015
2011 Ram 1500 2WD Quad Cab 140.5" Lone Star

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Put 60,000 miles on it and never had an issue at all. Solid truck. All street driving. I lowered the truck 4" in the rear and 2" in the front, 20" Dodge Ram R/T wheels, summer performance tires, K&N cold air... + More »
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$10,500 - $31,995
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Styling 8.0
Performance 8.0
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Fuel Economy 5.0
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