New 2011 Ram 1500 Tradesman Offers Awesome Value


Update 1: Feb-15 2011 3:15 pm PT

Added new towing and hauling figures to the comparison chart.

Out of the box, the two-wheel drive short bed Ram 1500 Tradesman with a 3.55 rear axle will be able to tow up to 9,100 pounds and haul up to 1,580 pounds for a MSRP of $22,780, according to Chrysler.

The two-wheel drive Ram 1500 Tradesman with optional 3.92 rear axle and long bed will be able to pull up to 10,450 pounds and haul up to 1,670 pounds for a MSRP of $23,130.


The Ram 1500 Tradesman was introduced at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. In our opinion, it’s an aggressive and well-placed shot at Ford, which recently introduced an all-new high-performance 302-horsepower, 3.7-liter standard V-6 for the F-150. But where the F-150 starts at $23,390 (including destination), the Ram 1500 will cost only $22,780 (including destination).

Last year, due to reader demand, we held our first Work Truck Shootout to find the best-performing entry-level full-size pickup. All the trucks we tested came with standard six-cylinder engines and base MSRPs starting around $23,000 — the Ford F-150 and GMC Sierra 1500 were priced higher because of their options. It’s too bad the new 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi-powered 2011 Ram 1500 Tradesman wasn’t part of the comparison. It might have won.

Bare bones regular cab work trucks haven’t traditionally been a competitive segment.


According to RL Polk’s vehicle registration data, over the past five years, there have been two significant trends in regular cab full-size pickups that coincide with the introduction of the 2009 Ford F-150, which dropped a six-cylinder engine from its lineup altogether.

First, from 2005 to 2008, the mix of regular cab V-6 to V-8 trucks was split about in half. After 2009, the split shifted to one-third V-6 and two-thirds V-8. Second, from 2005 to 2008, regular cabs made up about 12 percent of all half-ton sales. After 2009, regular cab share dropped dramatically. Through September 2010, regular cab trucks made up just 7.6 percent of 2010 truck sales.

That could change with the introduction of the Tradesman; Ram expects a shift upward in sales because of the Tradesman’s strong out-of-the-box work capabilities. It can tow up to 10,450 pounds — nearly twice as much as its closest V-6-powered competitors. It will also carry the same EPA-rated 15/20 mpg city/highway fuel economy as the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 WT pickups.


The Tradesman is a tremendous deal compared with the 2011 Ram 1500 ST we tested at the Work Truck Shootout. That stripper was just $145 less than the Tradesman’s sticker, with a 215-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 and worse fuel economy — 14/20 mpg.

If fuel economy is your main concern, even compared with Ford’s thrifty 3.7-liter engine, which is rated at 17/23 mpg, the Hemi V-8 shouldn’t cost much more to operate. We crunched the numbers with an average fuel economy (unloaded) of 17.5 mpg for the Hemi and 20 mpg for the Ford six, and calculated that it would cost an extra $321 a year to drive 12,000 miles in the Tradesman versus the same distance in the F-150, if gas prices average $3.75 a gallon. That’s an extra $26.80 a month — likely worth it for all of the Tradesman’s extra capabilities and power.

How will other manufacturers respond to this threat? Stay tuned. There’s likely to be a knife fight at the low end of the market. And we can’t wait for the all-new fuel-efficient 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 to show up in the Ram 1500, possibly by 2012. That’s likely to put more pressure on all the players and push prices even lower.

As the U.S. economy struggles to regain its footing, it’s a good time to be a work truck shopper.


@Dave: Standy. I'm working to answer all the points you've raised.


Also if you look at that link at the 4.7L V8 it has the same standard 5k rating. It is very clear that there is a typo there but I am not going to waste my time and argue with someone who obviously probably is against Dodge anyway. I will just stick to the info I received from my sources. There is no way a 4.7L and a 5.7L has the same standard tow rating. Don't believe me go to the nearest Dodge Dealer and ask for a manual and brochure and prove me wrong.

@Dave: Thanks for keeping me on my toes. Appreciate it!

Here are the updated towing/hauling figures and prices (also in the comparison table).

Out of the box, the two-wheel drive short bed Ram 1500 Tradesman with a 3.55 rear axle will be able to tow up to 9,100 pounds and haul up to 1,580 pounds for a MSRP of $22,780, according to Chrysler.

The two-wheel drive Ram 1500 Tradesman with optional 3.92 rear axle and long bed will be able to pull up to 10,450 pounds and haul up to 1,670 pounds for a MSRP of $23,130.

Mike, Thanks.

Here are my final thoughts on this.

Properly equipped Ram Tradesman:
5.7 V8
Regular Cab
8' bed
10,450 towing
1,670 payload
14/20 mpg

Properly equipped V6 F-150:
3.7 V6
Regular Cab
8' bed
6,100 towing
1,920 payload
17/23 mpg

- Ram wins on towing by 4350 lbs
- Ford wins on payload by 250 lbs
- Ford wins on mpg by 3 mpg in the city
- Ford wins on mpg by 3 mpg on the hwy
- Ram wins on price by $860.
- better mpg on Ford will make up the price difference

Conclusion: If you need/want a bare bones regular cab to tow 9-10,000 lbs, then go with the Ram. If you don't need that much towing, then the V6 Ford may be the better choice with higher payload and better fuel economy.

$860 buys a lot of fuel when the difference is 3 mpg. I hear the lease rates are going to be very low for Tradesman. Stay tuned.

@Mike Levine,

Any word on Ram Box?

Does it come standard on the Tradesman (which it should) or is it an option.


Yeah, well Ford puts such little tires on reason they get the mileage numbers....selling stripped down don't even get a cd player in a ford. I would also bet Ford being so proud of their product won't come down much..wonder what the gas mileage differance is when a 6100 pound pound trailer is attached?

CD player is optional in F150 XL but I thought you wanted a stripped truck?

F150 XL RC tire size: 235/75R17 or 30.9 inches

Ram ST RC tire size: 245/70 or 30.5 inches

Now all the dodge fans are ok with fleet sales since with these prices and if what mike says lease rates may be low fleets will love these.

@lou and fx4tim,
Tires are much smaller on the F150. Tiny tires are the only reason it gets better mileage. Lou likes small tires. lol.

Ram gives you a CD plyaer and sat radio standard! AWESome!!!

Read it and weap! CD Player standard, baby.

Standard equipment on the Tradesman includes air-conditioning, a 12-volt power outlet, media center with CD player and iPod jack, automatic headlamps and tilt steering wheel.

Business customers should like such features as a standard Class IV trailer hitch, heavy-duty engine and transmission oil coolers, 17-inch painted steel wheels, heavy-duty shocks, four-wheel disc brakes, locking tailgate and rear wheelwell liners.

Buyers can choose from cloth or vinyl split bench seats and either vinyl or carpeted flooring.

@ Ramman - relax bub. I don't recall saying anything negative about this truck. You remind me of Bob. I can read press releases as well as the next guy.

@ Ram man - does Fiat supply a pizza cutter with those bigger tires?

I actually like the bigger tires on the Ram.

A savvy purchaser is going to take tire size, load ratings, pavement or gravel road usage into consideration. Any truck used extensively on gravel or rough surfaces and with heavy loads will need a LT heavy ply tire. None of the 1/2 tons come stock with LT tires.
You can easily chew up any stock tire in less than 30,000 miles on gravel roads even without a load.

I am considering buying my first pickup as I am buying a home with several acres. How many entry level trucks have the V-8 and long(est) bed? I am looking for the best price on:

1. Carry load
2. Volume or length of load
3. Pulling capacity

Price is nice but so is the best comprehensive warranty and service. Thanks!

Want to really change the ballgame....I like what they are up to here, Ford will always give the best competition against the Ram, I know that from growing up on the farm. So with that said, here's my one last offer, a TRUE truck engine, a 360 CI Inline six gasoline engine with Direct Injection and Dual Overhead cams, hooked to a 6 speed manual twin disk clutched tranny! Time to start separating car power from TRUCK power. Even tho the HEMI is an awesome engine, I just think that the torque of an inline 6 will always be superior to any V-8. Bring out a 300HP 450 FtLb torque inline 6 gas engine and you got a monster work truck. Just look at the DOMINATING Cummins Turbo Diesel, 350HP and 800 Ft Lb torque. BEAST!

Hey guys! Why cant we South Africans get the big Chevs, Fords and other great American trucks here for our bush hunting and fishing? Sure we need right hand drive but all we get are toyotas and other eastern stuff with small motors. lots of guys have to tow 22 - 28 foot boats and trailers to the coast - long hauls to Mozambique is this not a market!!!?

I would just love a bid diesel 4x4!!

Any entrepneur out there willing to get some big 4x4 diesels (mix of ford, dodge, chev etc) and have them converted to right hand drive dress them up with long range tanks and winch etc for the bush or for pulling our "ski boats" - boats used to launch thru the surf and catch game fish there is a big market here for that. totota land crisers were used but they rae now being dumpoed because of the pulling raio GCM and trailer meight of vehicle.So there is a gap guys!!!!

put the doge, ford, and chevy side by side at dealership. salesman didn't want to do it. walked away with Dadge tradesman 8' box 4x4. drove up 10% grade at 6500 ft. 75 mph. pedal left to spare. awsome! now talk to me in 10 years and we will see about reliability. (last truck 94 toyota)

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