Trucks & SUVs

The Biggest Reason the 2020 Ram HD Won Truck of the Year

The 2020 Ram HD won the Motor Trend Truck of the Year honor this year. With the immense popularity of trucks on today’s market, and the sheer number of them, how does a truck stand out enough to win such praise from an industry authority?

Big truck numbers

The RAM 2500 at the Chicago Auto Show
The RAM 2500 HD | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The ads for pickup trucks these days are pretty similar. Dynamic trucks conquer rough and rocky terrains while a deep voice narrates. They are all-new, bigger, and more powerful. They’re shown towing impossible things like trains, fleets, and even other trucks.

Such marketing sets up the expectation of bigger towing and payload capacities among consumers. It’s reached the point that such increases don’t actually benefit the average truck owner. Once a truck exceeds a towing capacity of 26,000 pounds, legally, you need a commercial license. It puts engineers in a situation where they have to find a way to up the ante. 

Apparently, the folks at Ram took a step back and decided to put the big truck number competition aside to focus on the things truck owners really want. They considered capability, performance, and versatility to create a truck that’s well-balanced.

The Ram HD’s improved design

Heavy-duty pickup trucks that are three-quarters of a ton (2500) or a full ton (3500), as you can imagine, aren’t easy to design in such a way that they have aesthetic appeal. 

But the 2020 Ram HD has a design that’s contemporary, ambitious, and has a surprising elegance. It has a new high-strength steel platform and a slew of improvements that lend more functionality. You can get the new Ram with a crew, regular, or “mega” cab with a choice of a 6-foot-4-inch bed or an 8-foot bed. You can also choose single or dual rear wheels. The design makes it more aerodynamic than the others in its class with an alleged 0.40 coefficient of drag. 

There are six trim levels that each offer a specific grille, wheel options, and more that matches the truck’s character. The Tradesman models are ready to go to work. The Power Wagon models can take you on all your big adventures. The Limited models offer great luxury and were a particular favorite of the team at Motor Trend.

The interior offers color scheme choices, a variety of infotainment and connectivity options, and offers a nice, quiet ride. There are a lot of great storage spaces in the cab too.

Improved Ram HD performance

The Motor Trend team thoroughly tested the 2020 Ram HD, and in each test, the truck excelled. Whether it was driving without a payload, hauling, towing, or an off-roading adventure, the Ram did well. They tested with a 20,000-pound gooseneck trailer hitched up to the H.O. Cummins-powered 3500 Limited, and it provided a stable towing platform.

They also tested it using their Davis Dam frustration trials where it towed 17,730 pounds between the excavator, skid-steer, and trailer up a steep grade. It managed the task with confidence and without labor. It was at the back of the pack on tow tests at this particular testing ground, behind even the GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali, which had the advantage of 180 fewer pounds, 45 more horses, and four additional forward gears.

The Ram 2500 Power Wagon impressed the team with its versatility. The eight-speed automatic transmission combined with the Hemi makes the engine aggressive with a bigger gear ratio spread. It’s faster with improved shifting efficiency. The body control is better and the steering is greatly improved.

Off-road, the Ram Power Wagon is a beast. It has an impressive arsenal of aids, including front and rear locking differentials and an electronic anti-roll-bar disconnect. The upgraded 12,000-pound Warn winch made the Power Wagon pretty unstoppable.

It has the lowest payload and towing capacity in the Ram 2500 lineup due to the off-road-oriented suspension, but that didn’t hamper it much. With the 6.4-liter V8 engine and that improved transmission, it towed over its maximum towing capacity handily.

The clear winner

Thanks to the new aerodynamics and the new transmission, gas models, according to Ram, improve fuel efficiency by 8-to-10 percent. When it comes to price, the base 2500 Tradesman offers a better starting price than both the Chevy Silverado and the GMC Sierra. The Ram 3500 Limited costs less than the Denali and Ford F-350, and it offers the swankiest cabin of the lot, according to Motor Trend. Its list of standard equipment and options is unmatched in its class.

The Motor Trend team found that no truck consistently succeeded against its testing criteria to the same level as the Ram HD trucks. Its competitors could haul more or complete a task quicker in certain cases. None had the same balance necessary to better meet the needs of consumers. The team found the Ram HD models to be capable on-road and off with an impressive level of efficiency and safety and that was the biggest reason why the 2020 Ram HD is their Truck of the Year.