2020 Ram 1500 Limited — Going to Home Depot in style

By Russ Heaps
Clanging Bell

(June 18, 2020) Even when penning an evaluation of the highly capable, exciting-to-drive 2020 Ram 1500, writing a review of a pickup is more work than fun. There are just way too many engines, cab configurations and options to cram into one itty-bitty review. That's why, when deciding what to review in a given week, any pickup truck gets pushed to the next week. Well, for the 1500, it's next week.

Rather than get bogged down with all the possibilities you might face when shopping for a Ram 1500, this evaluation will concentrate on the most recent version that graced my driveway. Keep in mind, however, Ram lists seven trim levels, including the top-of-the-line Limited reviewed here. They range in price ($1,695 factory destination charge included) from $33,840 for the entry-level Tradesman Quad Cab to $55,610 for the Limited Crew Cab. Engines range from an eTorque (electric assist) V6 to two versions of the Hemi V8 to the new V6 turbo diesel powering my test Limited. There are two cab configurations and two cargo-box lengths. All are available with rear-wheel- or 4-wheel drive.

Having driven the Ram 1500 in several grades, both cab styles, all four engines, as well as with and without 4WD, did I really need to drive another one? Yes. Yes, I did. In the early stages of a kitchen renovation, I had to make runs to the dump with all the flotsam generated from ripping out cabinets, flooring and appliances. Moreover, I needed something to haul home the new cabinets and other construction materials. Ram answered my request for a full-size truck with a 2020 Ram 1500 Limited Crew Cab 4x4, sporting the new 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel. Hey, I need to go to the dump, not the opera.

This is a luxury pickup. Don't get me wrong: With the V6, it can still tow a maximum of 12,460 lb., when appropriately equipped. It's no delicate flower; but in its Limited trim, it's closer to a pair of Lucchese boots than it is a pair of Carhartt's. Not to mention, it arrived with the tri-fold tonneau cover over the bed that's part of the optional $3,995 Black Appearance Package. My first act was to remove that and stick it in my dining room. Figuring out how to dismantle it required a trip to the owner's manual, but the actual process probably didn't take more than a minute.

An extra-cost feature worthy of your consideration is the $995 Multi-Function Tailgate. It operates as a traditional, hinged-on-the-bottom swing down tailgate or it functions as a split, swing-two-door tailgate, like the rear twin doors on a panel truck. In this case, though, it's a 60/40 split. It allows you to belly up to the end of the actual bed when unloading cargo (or unloading junk at the dump). I gave it a real workout during my week with the 1500. When you use it, be prepared to attract onlookers and field a question or two about it. Apparently, it's a curiosity to most folks.

I was glad to spend some quality time with the new turbo diesel. It's expensive, as diesels go. Ram tacks an additional $4,995 to the bottom line when you check that box. Providing a notable increase in mileage over the eTorque V6, the 3L turbo diesel also lacks some horsepower, but more than makes up for it in the torque. Generating 260 hp, the turbo diesel also delivers 480 lb-ft of torque. This compares to the eTorque V6's 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque.

No matter the engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission shuffles output to the wheels. 2WD models with the turbo diesel provide government-estimated mileage of 22 miles per gallon city, 32 mpg highway and 26 combined. Opting for 4WD drags those numbers down to 21 mpg city/29 highway/24 combined. With 2WD, the eTorque V6 gets 20 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.

Ram redesigned the 1500 last year. Less in your face than the previous generation's styling, the current 1500 is a bit more refined appearing. Ram has spent a lot of time, energy and treasure creating a superior passenger experience in the 1500. Every bit as tony as many luxury SUVs, the Ram Limited's cabin is not only comfy, but down-right grand. Leather and soft-touch surfaces are everywhere. Listed among Limited's standard features are wireless device charging, 115-volt power outlet, power-adjustable pedals, heated wood/leather steering wheel, 8-way power-adjustable heated/ventilated front seat, push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, 12-in infotainment touchscreen, navigation, Uconnect, 9-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 20-in alloy wheels, rearview camera, front/rear park assist, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

My test truck also had roughly $8,000 of comfort/technology upgrades including 22-in aluminum wheels, an upgraded 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, dual-pane panoramic sunroof, ventilated rear seats, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, forward-collision warning with emergency braking, lane-keep assist, parallel/perpendicular park assist and a surround-view camera.

By the time you total all the options, packages and factory destination charge, my test 1500 totaled out at $74,910. Anyone knowing anything about full-size pickups knows cresting $70,000 for a truck is as common as flag flying on the Fourth of July. Get into heavy-duty trucks and you can easily drop $90,000 on a truck. Because I drove it at the height of the WuFlu hysteria, I didn't get to drive it much of anywhere else, but I did go to the dump and the home-improvement store in style.