Living in a state that sells the most trucks in the nation, Texans know about trucks, which made winning the “Truck of Texas” award for the 2011 Ram 1500 particularly sweet for Texan and Ram brand president and CEO Fred Diaz.
“The truck market in Texas is as competitive as it gets. These awards help differentiate the Ram Truck brand from the competition,” he said.
To win the Truck of Texas honor, the Ram was driven on and off road over a two-day period by members of the Texas Auto Writers Association. On a recent test drive of the Ram 1500 SLT, I drove it around town, revealing its day-to-day utility.
From cab size, to bed size, to four-wheel or two-wheel drive (2WD), trucks come in hundreds of configurations. On this test, I drove the 2WD, regular cab with a six-foot-four-inch box, powered by a 5.7-liter HEMI with 390 horsepower and 407 lbs.–ft. of torque, and matched to a five-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy is not the bright spot for most trucks but the HEMI’s variable valve timing and sequential electronic fuel injection help it achieve an EPA estimated fuel economy of 14 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.
Additionally, a subtle grey illuminated ECO indicator in the instrument cluster appears to note fuel-efficient driving. There’s also an average fuel mpg reading as part of the onboard Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC). I managed an average mpg of 14.2.
For 2011, a factory spray-in bedliner is available on all models, providing extra protection when transporting material. New power folding mirrors are shared with the Ram 1500’s big brother, the Ram HD.
As configured, the Ram SLT with the R/T package that I drove should achieve a maximum payload capacity of 1,580 lbs. and maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs.
Capable of big jobs, the Ram also offers utility features for day-to-day chores, like the hooks behind the front bench for keeping shopping bags, and their contents, contained. I managed to fit ten bags on the hooks and in the wells behind the seats.
More and more trucks double as family as well as work vehicles, and as such, safety features need to be available and plentiful. Standard features on the Ram 1500 include technology that helps keep the truck on the road, like the Electronic Stability Program, Hill Start Assist, and Trailer Sway Control.
The anti-lock braking system, brake assist, an energy-absorbing steering wheel, side curtain air bags, and the tire pressure monitor are standard. The SLT model adds remote keyless entry, a tire pressure monitor display, and power door locks.
The test model included optional equipment like the ParkView back-up camera but a back-up sensor (which is available) would also be helpful, if not more so than the camera. I’m still hoping this feature, like the tire pressure monitor that was mandated by Congress, will become standard.
Creature comforts on the Ram 1500 include air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD and MP3 compatible stereo and a tilt steering wheel. The SLT adds speed control, dual glove boxes, a one-year subscription to Sirius Satellite radio, and EVIC (a personal favorite) with steering-wheel controls, compass, outside temperature, average fuel economy, trip info, and the before-mentioned tire pressure readout.
Optional features on the test model included power lumbar adjust, leather–wrapped steering wheel, power ten-way driver seat, and dual rear exhaust. Navigation was added as well as power adjustable pedals and remote start.
The base price on the 2011 Ram 1500 SLT is $25,055. The as-tested price came to $33,790.
2011 Ram 1500 SLT
Engine: 5.7-liter 16-valve HEMI V8
Torque: 407 lbs.–ft.
Drivetrain: five-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 14/20 mpg