Ram introduced the fifth generation of its 1500 for 2019. This light-duty, full-size pickup truck has been racking up awards ever since. Critics love the Ram’s available 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine, the smooth ride of its rear coil springs, and the fit-and-finish of its interior. While the flagship Ram 1500 TRX starts at $77,880, you can still configure a capable Ram 1500 on the cheap.
Start with the Ram 1500 Tradesman
Are you dreaming of a V8-powered 4×4 Ram truck that doesn’t break the bank? You’re in luck, Ram offers its most capable powertrains even in its entry-level trims. The Ram 1500 Tradesman starts at just $35,900. If you upgrade this truck with a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and 4WD it will cost you at least $42,490.
At this price point, you get some cool add-ons for free. Firstly, you don’t have to pay extra for a four-door cab: every 2022 Ram 1500 comes with four doors. The entry-level configuration includes Ram’s shorter “Quad Cab” and a 6’4″ bed.
The Quad Cab is similar in size to Chevrolet/GMC’s “Double-Cab.” And while the Quad Cab is not engineered to be comfortable for larger passengers on long trips, Ram owners have reported that their rear-facing child seats fit in their Quad Cab. Be certain to do a bit of research to confirm that your child seat brand will fit.
The second add-on you can get for free is Ram’s eTorque mild-hybrid system. This technology bumps your fuel mileage around town by a gallon or two by using a combined alternator/starter unit to launch the Ram 1500 from a standstill, smoothing out its auto engine start/stop technology. Ram includes eTorque on every entry-level engine and when you upgrade to the 5.7-liter HEMI you can choose eTorque at no additional cost.
Don’t be tempted by an appearance package
Ram offers the Tradesman with several appearance packages. The Sport Appearance Package ($895), Chrome Appearance Group ($1,095), and Night Edition ($1,995) all give the Ram 1500 Tradesman the look of a more expensive trim. But a couple of visual upgrades can add up to nearly the price of a higher trim level.
Do you want a unique-looking Ram 1500? Consider ordering a less common color instead of an appearance package. You can order your Ram 1500 Tradesman in “Flame Red” without paying anything extra. “Hydro Blue” pearl coat is equally sporty and costs $100. Want a more distinguished color? “Patriot Blue” pearl coat only costs $100 extra and “Delmonico Red” pearl coat costs $200 extra.
Order a trailering or off-road package
Does your lifestyle require a pickup truck capable of towing heavy trailers or conquering off-road trails? You may save some money by ordering a trailering or off-road package instead of ordering performance upgrades piecemeal.
Here’s an example: An electronic locking rear differential will cost $545 and skid plates and tow hooks will cost $395, for a total of $940. But for $840 you can order your Ram 1500 Tradesman with Ram’s Off-Road Group. This includes the locker, skid plates, and tow hooks as well as a factory lift kit, heavy-duty shock absorbers, all-terrain tires, and off-road driver aid software such as “hill-descent control.”
At $2,090, the Trailer-Tow Group costs a bit more. But it comes with a Class IV receiver hitch ($445), a trailer brake controller ($295), and an 8.4-inch infotainment screen upgrade to view the apps for the trailer tire pressures, trailer light check, and reverse steering control.
That said, ordering the off-road group requires you to make the $1,695 Level 1 Equpment upgrade which adds carpets and swaps out your vinyl seats for cloth units. Even so, you can buy a Ram 1500 Tradesman ready to off-road or trailer for less than $46,000. Ordering both packages will bump your net price to $47,115.
So there you have it: a Ram 1500 with 4WD and a V8 is relatively affordable. You can even upgrade it for maximum towing or off-roading capacity without breaking the bank. Learn more about the Ram 1500’s base trim levels or watch a Ram truck buying guide in the video below: