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Due to their popularity, many people shopping for used cars are looking at pickup trucks. One of the best full-size pickup truck brands is Ram, and its popular “half-ton” 1500 model is an excellent choice. However, newer isn’t always better when looking at Ram 1500 trucks.

A 2013 Ram 1500 on display at an auto show.
A 2013 Ram 1500 | Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Best used Ram 1500 model years.

The 2013 Ram 1500 topped the U.S. News ranking of 70 of the “Best Used Full-Size Trucks under $25K for 2023.” There are 10 full-size Ram truck model years ranging from 2009 to 2018, with six in the top 50%. 

While the 2013 model year is the best, the 2012 and 2016 models finished just outside the top 10 in a six-way tie for 11th.

2013 Ram 1500

U.S. News ranked the 2013 Ram 1500 at the top of its “2013 Full-Size Pickup Trucks” list due to its new fuel-efficient V6, interior quality, and comfortable ride characteristics. 

The original MSRP ranged from $23,100 to $47,930. Now used ranges now fall between $12,435 and $23,178 on average. Various model offerings include Tradesman, Express, SLT, HFE, Big Horn, Lone Star, Outdoorsman, R/T, Sport, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn Edition, with three cab configurations: Regular, Crew, and Quad Cab.

The entry-level regular cab Tradesman features two-wheel drive (2WD), a 120.5-inch wheelbase, and a four-wheel drive (4WD) option. Whereas the upper-end Crew Cab Laramie Longhorn Edition comes with 4WD and a 140.5-inch wheelbase, it’s available with 2WD for less money. 

The base 4.7-liter V8 has 310 horsepower and gets an estimated 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Upgrading to the 5.7-liter V8 has 395 horsepower with the same fuel economy ratings. The best fuel economy comes from Ram 1500 HFE equipped with the 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 that gets 18 mpg in the city and up to 25 mpg on the highway.

2012 Ram 1500

The 2012 Ram 1500 tied for 11th place on the top 70 list with five other trucks and was the third-ranked full-size truck model when it came out. The original MSRP ranges from $22,570 to $46,420, with used models now in the $9,912 to $18,192 range. 

The base model 2WD regular cab 140.5-inch Tradesman allows upgrading to the 4WD. And the top-shelf 4WD Crew Cab Laramie Longhorn Edition has a 140.5-inch wheelbase with an option for 2WD. In addition, several models with regular, Crew, and Quad cab configurations in Tradesman, Express, ST, SLT, Big Horn, Lone Star, Outdoorsman, R/T, Sport, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn Edition trim levels fill the gap. 

Powertrain options include the 3.7-liter V6 with 215 horsepower, the 4.7-liter V8 with 315 horsepower, and the 5.7-liter V8 with 390 horsepower. However, they’re all rated 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway in the 2WD trucks and about one mpg less in 4WD models. 

2016 Ram 1500

The 2016 Ram 1500, ranked second of five in its class in 2016, also tied for fourth on the top 70 list. The newest of the top-three Ram 1500s on the list had an MSRP starting at $26,145 and topping out at $52,665. Used models go for about $18,000 on the low end to $32,700 on average. 

The base 2016 Ram 1500 Tradesman regular cab features 2WD and a 140.5-inch wheelbase, but upgrading to 4WD is an option. The top model is the Crew Cab Longhorn Limited with 4WD and a 149*inch wheelbase. As always, numerous trim levels and cab configurations serve various needs and desires. 

Engine options are similar to those in the 2013 Ram. However, the 2016 2WD HFE models use a 3.0-liter inter-cooled turbo diesel V6 with 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque that gets 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. 

Other options include perennial Ram offerings like the 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway and the 395-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 that gets 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. 

Is a used Ram 1500 worth buying? 

A used Ram 1500 is an excellent choice for a full-size pickup truck, whether you need it for towing heavy trailers, hauling heavy cargo, or taking that special someone for a night on the town. 

Ram features heavy-duty construction, a comfortable ride, and seating for two to six, depending on cab configuration. Also, there’s the option for 2WD or 4WD across almost any model.