If you’re in the market for a brand-new “half ton” Ram pickup truck, you may have more options than you think.
Sure, there’s the Ralph Gilles designed 5th generation 2020 Ram 1500 that we all know and love, having won our MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Best Pickup Truck award two years running.
But, what you may not know, is that there is also a somewhat less expensive 2020 Ram 1500 Classic. And they’re not leftovers, either; technically 4th generation continuation models, built concurrently with the new ones.
Known as the Dodge Ram when it was originally released in 2008 as a 2009 model, this Ram not only brought coil spring rear suspension, RamBox in-bed storage bins, and huge mega cab practicality to the full-size truck segment; it set up the Ram brand to overtake Chevrolet as the runner up in full-size pickup sales.
When the 5th generation Ram 1500 arrived for 2019; it raised the stakes further, with a luxury car-like interior, including dash-dominating tablet interface, 2-piece multifunction tailgate, and Frequency Response Damping to make the ride even plusher.
So, what are the key differences that might help you decide which one is the better selection for you?
Well, on the surface, engine options may seem the same, 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 or 395-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with both; but 5th gen 1500s come with a 48-volt eTorque light-hybrid system that adds 90 lb-ft. of torque to the V6 and 130 lb-ft. to the V8.
That additional torque, not to mention the new frame that arrived with the 2019 redo, means max towing is about 2,000-lbs. more than the Classic.
And, the 5th gen also has an available 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 with 480 lb-ft. of torque, and gets 32 miles-per-gallon on the highway.
That brings up another advantage for the new one, fuel economy. With the eTorque system, and about 200-lbs. less weight, the 5th gen’s. V6 has a combined rating of 22, compared to the Classic’s 20. Same 2 mpg difference with the V8 as well, 19 and 17.
Interior features are obviously another a big separator, with the 5th gen more akin to a luxury sedan than your grandad’s pickup. The Classic, still better than some in the truck field, but clearly missing a few things like the giant touch screen, and many things appear very dated.
You would think the biggest deciding factor would be pricing, but base pricing is only $300 apart for a Quad Cab Tradesman; with the 2020 Ram 1500 starting at $33,840, and the 2020 Ram 1500 classic starting at $33,540.
Though you can still get a Regular cab with the Classic, bringing base pricing down to $29,640; and there are even some unique trim options for the Classic like this Warlock, just to keep it spicy. Not to mention dealers may be willing to bargain a bit more with the Classic.
More realistically, the decision largely comes down to what kind of person you are. If only the latest and greatest will do, it’s 5th gen all the way for you. If you’re always on the lookout for a bargain, and the tried and true is always better; the 1500 Classic fits the bill, and even keeps a few more of them in your wallet.