It had three engine choices: 3.7-litre V6, 4.7-litre V8, and 5.7-litre V8. You could get this full-size truck in two-wheel and four-wheel drive configurations, with a couple of automatic transmission choices and regular or extended cab body styles.
All things considered, the larger engine mated to a six-speed automatic was the best choice and the most popular. The V6 was a little under-powered and the larger V8 delivered the most power of the three, with fuel consumption that wasn’t dramatically inferior to that of the smaller V8. This was thanks in large measure to a multi-displacement shut-off feature (MDS) that deactivated up to half of the engine’s cylinders during certain driving conditions, mainly on the highway.
With 350 horsepower on tap for the 5.7-litre version, the Ram 1500 was no slouch when it came to off-the-line acceleration and/or hauling cargo. But despite MDS, it was kind of thirsty; Transport Canada rated it at 16.2 litres/100 km in town and 10.8 on the highway for the all-wheel-drive model. But it did run happily on regular gas.
The ST was the base version and the Laramie, the top-of-the-line model, offered interior amenities such as dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, power and heated front seats, and one-touch up-down power windows.
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You could also get extras like leather interior, ventilated front seats, backup camera, clever Ram Box storage compartments in the rear fenders, and a “protection package,” which included tow hooks, transfer case skid plate and front suspension skid plate. One note here: if you hauled anything with the back gate down, you lost the backup camera.Functional features included four-wheel, anti-lock disc brakes, engine block heater, cruise control, power door locks, keyless entry, a tire pressure warning system, and shift-on-the-fly all-wheel access. This was accomplished via a dash-mounted rotary knob, and the all-wheel-drive version featured off-road capability as good as it got for this size of pickup.
All Ram 1500s were built in Warren, Mich., or St. Louis, Mo.
Transport Canada safety recalls range from problems with the front steering linkage components, to potential loss of braking, to non-functioning windshield defogging/defrosting, to issues with windshield wipers, to various electrical gremlins, not to mention transmission malfunctions. Lots to consider here, in other words.
Prospective buyers should also bear in mind that these trucks were often put to work and preowned models may have seen their share of abuse.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had six technical service bulletins for the ’12 Ram 1500. These included front bumpers that may rust and corrode prematurely, issues with the heat/ventilation/air conditioning system, front-seat upholstery that may “tear” during normal use, and a tendency for some trucks to “wander” during highway driving.
Consumer Reports gave this iteration of the Ram 1500 a tentative thumbs-up. They described it as being more “up-to-date” than previous versions, and finally on equal footing with its Ford and General Motors rivals. Most areas received above-average grades, with the exception of the paint and trim, transmission, climate-control system, suspension and the inevitable squeaks and rattles.
Both the two-wheel and four-wheel-drive versions received an “average” used car prediction rating from Consumer Reports. Some comments from owners:
- “Long trip comfort is great;”
- quad cab rear seats are too cramped for most adults;”
- “love the Hemi;”
- “has not been as reliable as I had hoped.”
From a price of just under $22,000 for a base ST V6 in 2012, the Ram 1500 has more than held its own, value-wise. Pickup trucks are insanely popular right now and, like most full-size trucks, this one came in a wide variety of models and trim levels.
Depending on the model, powertrain and cab configuration, prices these days range from the low-mid teens, to $30,000 and up for a fully-loaded Laramie Crew Cab four-wheel-drive. Four-wheel-drive seems to add $2,000 to $3,000 to the truck’s price.
2012 Dodge Ram 1500
Original base price: $21,795
Engine: 3.7-litre V6, 4.7-litre V8, 5.7-litre V8
Horsepower: 350 (5.7-litre V8)
Torque: 407 foot pounds (5.7-litre V8)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 16.2 city and 10.8 highway, with regular or premium gas
Drive: rear-wheel or four-wheel
Alternatives: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Ford F-150, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.
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