Well I am just going to go out and say it, I liked this truck. Usually when I rent something, I then go and get in a car that is twenty years older and just feels better. This time around, I hopped in my 1999 Yukon after driving the Ram for almost 500 miles and the Yukon felt old, tired, and ponderous. This isn’t a bad thing, as I am sort of trying to fall out of love with my Yukon so I can keep my Disco.
Full Disclosure: RAM wanted me to drive their truck so much that they sold a bunch of them to a national rental car chain that randomly upgraded me to it.
Once again, work was sending my 250 miles out into the wilderness to do some work, which meant renting some SUV or truck in order to stretch the limits of my rental agreement and my company’s rental policy. Due to some form of rental magic, my “mid-sized SUV” turned into an upgrade to a 2017 Ram 1500.
I hopped in the truck and was immediately struck by how HUGE it was. This “full sized” truck felt larger than most hotel rooms. In contrast, the 2017 Yukon I rented a while back (which got me so much flak for hating on) felt tiny and cramped.
The interior is actually very well thought out and well appointed. Clearly this thing was designed with phones, tablets, and laptops in mind. The center console rocks a funky buy remarkably effective dual phone holder, and the storage bin has what can best be described as a charging tray. Everything was covered in grippy (looking) rubber that seemed designed to prevent your phone from flying across the car at the first hint of a corner. Coming from the 1999 Yukon, I approved of this, as the Yukon is covered in 90s era plastics which are both exceedingly brittle and cheap, yet seem to actively repel electronics.
That said, this truck has a lot of poverty buttons. I mean… a lot. There is a panel that is almost entirely devoted to poverty buttons. Even the key has poverty buttons! When you get in this thing, Dodge really want you to know you should have made better choices in life. If only you’d worked a little bit harder, you could have had more buttons. But, then again, this car is rental spec so this is all par for the course.
The exterior styling is that of a truck. I have no additional data. It looks like a truck. The bed was kinda small, I guess.
Driving position was good, though I found it hard to get comfortable. I think a week of fiddling with the seats, then removing the fuse that controls them so no one could fuck it up, would help. I could see a lot of the expansive hood, but that is mostly just an observation.
Power and brakes were both good. In normal traffic the truck took very little pedal input to do what I wanted and generally did as it was told without much fuss. The only exception to this I found was when I hit the gas on the highway. Not sure if this was due to the cruse being on or… what, but if I had a sudden throttle input on the highway there was about a two second delay, followed by the engine getting the idea I was serious, dropping two gears, and generally getting a move on. I can only assume this is a “feature” or some sort of safety and/ or gas thing. Disconcerting and would be very annoying with day to day ownership. That said, it only happened twice in my 500 mile trip so… meh?
Gas was surprisingly good, averaging 21.2 MPG on 80% highway driving (~80MPH). Range was also excellent.
So what is going on here?
I know I shouldn’t be surprised when a new vehicle is actually pretty OK, but this is 2017 and I’ve been taught everything new is worse than what came before. That said, this truck has to compete with the F150 and Silvarado for sales, both of which are more popular. While I have never been a truck buyer or a loyal customer of anything, I get the impression the F150 largely sells itself, regardless of quality, design, power, economy, features, etc. You want a truck, you buy an F150. You want a bigger truck? F250. You really want to show you’re a tough, fertile, well endowed, working provider for your family… F350. Sorry… got off track there… Anyway, so maybe the Ram has to try harder to attract sales from the big boys and that is what gets us to a surprisingly good vehicle.
Did I mention the cell phone holder? That thing was kick ass!
But seriously… this thing is still a “lifestyle vehicle”. An affectation. The majority of buyers will buy a “full sized pickup” not because they need one, but because they want to look like the sort of person that needs one. The bed in this thing is smaller than that of my Tahoe, and even less useful.
What is funny, is I used to find these things really annoying, but now I’m kind of thankful they exist. Yes, they’re pointless (in the hands of most owners) lifestyle vehicles, but they’re one of the few vehicles that hasn’t become a crossover. So, for that, I like it.