Ram Shows Off 1500 Tradesman HD, Longer RamBox

By Mark Williams

Ram Truck sprung a few surprises at the State Fair of Texas. With more than 100 local and national media outlets in attendance, the truck-maker took the wraps off two more new trucks and increased the reach of its RamBox storage system. 

Ram is banking on the fact that the new Tradesman will be an industry hit, offering class-leading towing and hauling capacity with a strong value story to tell. The idea of the Tradesman is pretty simple: provide the most value and work capability as possible. That typically means crank windows, manual door locks and rubber floormats. And when the 2011 Ram 1500 Tradesman is measured against its Ford and GM competition, the numbers pan out pretty well against its regular cab half-ton competitors.

But Ram is going a step further by expanding the Tradesman’s reach to include a competition-beating regular cab long-bed model. But there is a twist: The all-new Ram 1500 Tradesmen HD is actually a dressed-up (or is it dressed-down?) regular cab 2500 underneath. Yes, those are leaf springs and a heavy-duty frame underneath the new 1500 Tradesman HD, but Ram still technically calls it a 1500 to be more closely aligned to its short-bed regular cab Ram 1500 sibling.

The 1500 Tradesman HD will offer a class-leading (measured against the Ford XL and Chevy Silverado LT models) 3,100 pounds of payload and a class-leading maximum towing capacity of 11,500 pounds (GCWR 17,500). It will only be offered with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and six-speed automatic transmission.

Ram hopes both Tradesman pickups (short bed and long bed) will be a perfect fit for hard-working small-business owners, construction job site contractors and fleet operators. Expect pricing to start around $30,000.  

Two new configurations of the popular Ram Express were also shown: Quad Cab and crew cab.

The Express is Ram’s value-priced sport model that offers monochromatic paint schemes, plenty of standard equipment, 20-inch rims, fog lights and more starting under $25,000. Pricing for the Quad Cab four-door will start at $28,050, and crew-cab models will begin at $30,210. (Neither price includes destination charges.) The Hemi is standard on all Express models.



The final piece of big news from Ram is that a longer 6-foot 4-inch RamBox is now available on all Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 models where applicable. The weatherproof, lockable storage unit will now be available for regular cab and Quad Cab half-ton models as well as three-quarter-ton and 1-ton (single-rear-wheel only) regular cab, Quad Cab and Mega Cab models. That means the RamBox will be available to more than 80 percent of all Ram pickups, including the Power Wagon. (We think that will make it especially attractive to the National Park and Forest Service, not to mention military personnel).

The new box size offers 18 percent more room, with almost 9 cubic feet of cargo space.  Both RamBox lengths — there will also be a 6-foot 4-inch unit — will cost $1,295, 32 percent lower compared with last year.

The larger RamBox option will continue to include the tailgate extender and cargo rail slider system with adjustable tie-downs. Although sales of the RamBox option was initially sluggish, we’d expect this larger-model lineup will help boost take-rate numbers.

More pictures from the 2011 State Fair of Texas are below.








A 2500 under a 1500 badge? I guess that's what it takes to equal Ford's 1/2 ton ratings.

You can't argue with how cool the RamBox option is though. I wonder how long until everyone else copies it.

The biggest weekness of the Rambox is the inability to mount a camper shell. On a dually they could offer a full width bed and integrate the Rambox into the fenders. You could put a cap on the bed and still have access to your toolboxes. Also, it would probably be a hit with the 5th wheel crowd because it could be easily accessed while the trailer is hitched.

I like havy duty half tons! Good Job Ram! By the way thr F150 debuted in 1975 as a "heavy half ton". in 1997-1999 there was the F150 7700 with its seven lug rims, heavy chassis, trans and axles. Chevy made the 1500HD and then Ford offered again the Payload Package (2004). I guess now its Ram's turn.

Cool, HD w/ rambox 6'4". I trust the 2012 with a ZF 8-speed floor mount tranny would be awesome. I hope someone makes a really nice retractable tonneau cover with an aerodynamic adjustable ladder/canoe rack.

Selling a 2500 under a 1500 badge to win the advertising game is exactly what Ford has done for years. Ford's "HD package" includes a different frame made of 25% thicker steel.

Curious to see how many actually opt for the Rambox. I can't say that I have seen any here in CT. Shrinks the bed and as said previously, no caps, tonneaus, slide in campers and limited roof rack systems. Might not even work with a 5th wheel attached depending on the bed rail clearance. 5th wheels are wider than the truck bed.

Awesome news! The RamBox should prove more popular now with the new available size and new lower price.

I like the Heavy-Half idea.

Now Ram just needs to have an "Express" decal or emblem somewhere on the Express model. Let the Camaros and Mustangs know, ahead of time, that they are in for a big surprise when they read: "Express" on the side or back of the truck.

Point made and taken. Now I remember ford even did a light duty f-250 on a f-150(ish) chasis in '97 or '98. Not sure the purpose of it.

Am I the only one a little shocked that a "stripped down" tradesman pickup costs more ($30,000+) than the pimped out Quad-Cab express ($28,050+)?! Am I missing something here???

@ Jesse

Was curious about the price too. Why are truck makers making 1500HD models and not just selling HD's then? Arent they almost identical?

I wonder if this means that the 1500 Mega Cab will make a comeback?

MPG figures for the new heavy half?!

I'd imagine that it drops by at least 1 because of the extra weight.

Any news on the 8-speeds coming in for 2012.5 or 2013?

@Buy American - I was thinking the same thing. The "mega cab" 1/2 ton was a rebadged 3/4 ton.

@toycrusher84 - Ford had a light duty 3/4 ton from 1987 to 1991 IIRC. It had slightly more capacity than the 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton frame, bigger brakes, 3/4 ton spec tires, but did not have a full floating rear end. I owned a 1990 truck. it was nice. Rode better than a HD, had more ground clearance, and capacity than a 1/2 ton. I got 15 years of life out of it.
They did have a 3/4 ton based on the F150. it was initially badged as an F250. It later become the T7700 IIRC.

I wonder why Ram is doing a rebadged 3/4 down to 1/2 ton? It must be cheeper to licence and insure than a comparable 3/4 ton.

The best new for me is the 6.4 box option in a crew cab. I love the longer box. Nice to see than when I'm ready to replace my truck, I'll have one more choice if I want to stay with that option.

I thought I had read somewhere that Ram was designing a lighter weight truck to handle the 3.6 V6 to get better gas mileage, not a heavy half ton which will get worse gas mileage. You would think instead of trying to up the competition they would go the other route and make something lighter and better gas mileage and let the competition try to catch up with them.....

FYI Nissan has has a long bed cc Titan since like 2008...

The price fails, you can get an F150 XL with Ecoboost to tow 11.300 lbs and haul 3060 lbs for $27,190 and it would end up getting better mpg than the 2500 with the 1500 badge on it. Getting the Ram Box will also decrease payload capacitly as the Ram box does take up bed space.

Its funny how Ram just slaps a 1500 badge on a 2500 and it still cant beat an F150.
BTW the F150 7700 package is upgraded axles and springs, the Frame is still a regular F150 frame.

There is a mistake in the article. I believe the max tow rating is 11,500#, not 11,300#.

Tom, read a fleet order guide sometime. The HD package uses a different frame.

https://www.fleet.ford.com/truckbbas/non-html/2011_F150.pdf (Page 10).

Heavy-Duty Payload Package F-150 also includes a heavy-duty frame.

Source: F-150 build and price

But the frame thickness of a Heavy Duty Payload F-150 is the same as a regular SuperCrew F-150 so tehnically the Heavy Duty F-150 still uses a regular F-150 frame.

So they threw on a little more for the 7700? The owners told me its just beefier axles and springs. But its still not an f250 with a f150 badge


That is cool and all but it is still only a Nissan in the end. No matter how you look at it; an F-150, Ram 1500, Sierra 1500, or Silverado 1500 it is not.

All 156" WB trucks (6.5' bed screw) and 163" (8' bed scab) get the heavy frame.

All 145" trucks, which is to say 90% of them on any lot I've walked onto, get the light frame unless you spec the HD package.

I can just see people trying to get in the things and cross the border. Don't get me wrong, great idea, but I can just see that happening

The question is, is it the REAL six speed that the diesel 2500s and 3500s use, with a V-8 bolt pattern, or the 545 that has just been renamed?

Just suprised that the coil spring trucks have such low GVWR. It was low before the change to coils tho, even in 2008. There's Laramie crew cabs that have 1,000 pound payloads, which including passengers isn't much. I know they can do a decent job, as decent as I expect from a 1500. It seems that a company that can make a sway bar such as a power wagon has would come up with something to stiffen it some. I am not talking anywhere near the capacity listed above, just say quad and crews (same wheelbase, some carry more people, some more stuff.) 4x4s from 6700 to 7100-7200. It does the job it was rated to good. Unlike some others with higher payloads that can't slow down good with a load


Because this is the HD frame, I assume this is the 66RFE. The 66RFE has the same internals as the 68RFE, but is stuffed into the 545RFE case.

I really hope this isn't the 545/65RFE.


On the Ram website, it shows the 1500 Tradesman HD max trailer tow capacity as 11,350 pounds. Is that a mistake?



I checked Ram's website, but it doesn't show that you can build a crew cab with a 6'4" box. Where did you hear that?

Ford F-150 and the Nissan Titan both have a 6 1/2' box available on their crew cabs, but I didn't see it available on the 2012 Ram 1500 (or the Silverado, Sierra, or Tundra for that matter).

To all those saying there are no options for the Rambox... go and actually look. There a few companies making tonneau covers, Blackdiamond has a really nice one that allows a quad to be parked on top. You can get bed slide-out trays that fit and most ladder racks are adjustable. Also, if you want a camper make sure the bottom fits the bed width and slide it in. You don't need the Rambox storage if you have a big box on the back. The only area left is a bed cap... but I doubt the aftermarket industry will let that slide for long.

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