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Test Drive: 2018 Ram 1500 Limited

2018 Ram 1500 Limited
2018 Ram 1500 Limited in Granite Crystal Metallic

2018 Ram 1500 Limited Crew Cab 4X4

Class: Large Pickup Truck

Miles driven: 271

Fuel used: 20.3 gallons

Real-world fuel economy: 13.3 mpg

Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 15/21/17 (city, highway, combined)

Base price: $53,595 (not including $1395 destination charge)

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortA
Power and PerformanceA-
Fit and FinishA-
Fuel EconomyD
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyB
Tall GuyA
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.

Options on test vehicle: Limited Package 26V ($3200) Limited Tungsten Edition ($1825), Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover ($595), 3.92 Rear Axle Ratio ($95), Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle ($435), Power Sunroof ($1095), Single-Disc Remote CD Player ($345), Ram Box Cargo Management System ($1295), Trailer Brake Control ($295), Suede Headliner Delete Credit (-$300)

Price as tested: $63,870


Quick Hits

The great: Cavernous, sumptuously finished cabin; lots of luxury features

The good: Muscular V8, good control layout

The not so good: Fuel economy

More Ram price and availability information


John Biel

Given the Ram truck’s proclivity for invoking cowboy culture (i.e. Laramie, Longhorn), it’s fitting to point out that 2018 is the last roundup for the big pickup in its present form. There’s a next-generation Ram in the wings for the 2019 model year, one that promises to be lighter, more aerodynamic, and easier on gas.

As is common when an old design is about to give way to a new one, there are no big improvements built into the ’18 Ram. All models now have a standard rearview camera, leather upholstery is available for the off-road-oriented Rebel, and there’s a new Tungsten Edition package for the line-topping Limited. Consumer Guide® editors got a taste of what’s new when they sampled a 4-wheel-drive Limited Crew Cab with Tungsten gear.

Befitting its status as the line-topping model in the Ram 1500 lineup, the Limited Tungsten Edition is decked out with luxury trim and features inside and out. Specially finished 20-inch wheels, “Tungsten Chrome” body trim, body-color running boards, and body-color bumpers are a few of its unique features.

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The $1825 Tungsten package puts a Satin Carbon/Mineral Gray cast on the Limited’s 20-inch alloy wheels. Tungsten-chrome highlights adorn the bodysides and grille, and the external door handles, mirrors, front bumper, and Ram tailgate nameplate are rendered in body-color paint. Black-bezel projector headlamps and “sport” taillamps are included, as are body-color running boards and a twin-nostril-intake hood. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with looking good, but at least the running boards improve the experience by making it easier to get in and out of this high-riding truck.

Even before getting dressed to impress, the Limited is set up to coddle occupants in a cushy cabin. Soft-touch materials cover the top of the dash and a considerable portion of the door panels. Comfortable seats are clad in leather. So are the grab handle and the part of the steering-wheel rim that isn’t wood. Front seats are heated and ventilated; rear seats are heated. The steering wheel is also heated—and it warms up in a hurry. The front seats are power adjustable: 10-way with memory for the driver, 6-way for the passenger. Underfoot are coordinated floor mats. Conveniences include a rear seat with 60/40-split cushions that flip up to reveal a folding floor-storage platform, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, rear-window defroster, and a 115-volt power outlet.

In Limited trim, the Ram 1500’s interior rivals many luxury cars. Upscale touches include floor mats with chrome Limited badges and patterned carpet inserts, leather-wrapped grab handles with contrast stitching, and door panels with dark wood inserts and leather inserts with “pinstripe” ornamental contrast stitching.

Glancing around the interior, it quickly becomes apparent that you will not be allowed to forget you are a) driving a Ram vehicle, and b) this Ram is a Limited. Badges that attest to both abound. Neither, though, can you miss the presence of lots of storage spaces for personal items. There are dual glove boxes, an immense two-level console box, small pockets in the sides of the console, big pockets in the doors (with twin bottle holders in front), small trays around the door handles, a covered bin in the console, and a saddlebag-like pouch on the back of each front seat. Pairs of cup holders are found in the console, in the pull-down rear-seat armrest, and at floor level in back.

Controls are generally easy to reach and use. The rotary selector for the 8-speed automatic transmission is just to the right of the driver, and in terms of acclimation, it is the easiest non-lever “shifter” this tester has used. Push buttons for driveline selections are right below this dial, and are not hard to get at. CG’s test truck was equipped with Fiat-Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system with navigation and an 8.4-inch touchscreen. A tuning knob on the central stack makes it easy to select desired radio stations to be saved by a touch on the screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration are standard, as are an SD card slot, a media hub with USB ports and an auxiliary input, voice control, and Bluetooth connectivity. Dual-zone climate controls have a central dial for fan speed but repetitive-push buttons for temperature—though climate-system management can also be carried out on the touchscreen.

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The Ram 1500 Crew Cab offers abundant interior room–even in the back seat, where big and tall occupants will have ample space. The seat cushions flip up and carpeted panels fold out to transform the rear-seat area into a cargo floor.

Passenger room is not in doubt. Leg- and headroom are generous in either row, with room for tall front passengers to track back and still leave space for those behind them. Three average adults fit in the back seat, even if the middle passenger doesn’t have as much headroom as his or her seatmates, and has to rest feet on the low, wide driveline tunnel. Big windows make for helpfully good driver vision, but the rearview camera and big mirrors are appreciated when backing up in this high-riding hauler.

The test vehicle had the 5-foot-7-inch pickup bed, the shorter of two available lengths, but even with its “tidier” dimensions it was no ballerina in parking lots. One tip-off to the age of this Ram’s design—it dates to 2009—is the lack of a “soft-landing” tailgate. Let go of the tailgate and there’s nothing but a couple of cables to stand up to gravity.

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Included in the $1295 Ram Box option is an adjustable bed cargo divider/extender (seen uninstalled in the left photo). The Ram Boxes steal a bit of space from the bed itself, but they provide handy, lockable storage space for smaller items.

Performance of this CG large-pickup “Best Buy” is a familiar known quantity by now. The 395-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8 generates power easily, and the 8-speed automatic is cooperative and quick to downshift, but it is a thirsty powerplant. EPA fuel-economy ratings are 15 mpg in the city, 21 on the highway, and 17 combined, but this reviewer would have howled a bronc-buster’s whoop if he’d have gotten anywhere near those numbers. In a stint of 199.5 miles, 62 percent of it city-type driving, he got 13.62 mpg. Automatic 4-corner air suspension standard on the Limited not only helps level the ride, it can also change ride height on the highway to optimize aerodynamic function. Ride is very well controlled for a large pickup, one of the consistent strengths of this generation of the Ram 1500.

That’s how things stand as the sunset beckons this old cowpoke of a Ram, even if—as a well optioned Limited—it’s a little better suited for a dude ranch.

You pay plenty for its super-lux trimmings–and plenty more to keep its thirsty 5.7-liter Hemi engine fed–but the Ram 1500 Limited Tungsten Edition Crew Cab is about as ritzy as pickups get.

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