2025 Ram 1500 First Drive Review: A Stout Pickup That’s Not the Truck You Know

Initial impressions of the twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six are strong—almost as strong as a 40-70 mph pull in the high-output version.

byCaleb Jacobs|
Ram 1500 photo
Caleb Jacobs


You’ve heard it a thousand times before: Trucks ain’t what they used to be. That’s usually said as a slight because instead of being simple workhorses, new pickups are often fancy, newfangled, or highfalutin. The 2025 Ram 1500 is, at times, all three at once. So how good of a truck is it?

The new Ram departs from the de facto half-ton formula by ditching the V8 altogether. In the stalwart Hemi’s place is a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six that comes in two states of tune, both of which outperform the old 5.7-liter. It’s a stout powerplant that we’ll spend more time talking about later, though for now, it’s important that we note how big a step it really is for Ram. Suddenly, this is the brand’s bread-and-butter engine after the Hemi stuck around for roughly two decades.

Caleb Jacobs

It also wouldn’t be a new pickup without a healthy heap of luxury at the top end, and the truck’s flagship Tungsten trim is a leap above anything ever offered on a Ram before. The manufacturer is clearly putting more focus on premium because that’s where the money is. Of course, the lower trims are still around, but they aren’t Ram’s main focus.

Knowing all this, I still think this snazzy status-mobile is a good truck. Allow me to elaborate as I recount my day with it on Texas roads.

2025 Ram 1500 SpecsV6S.O. I6H.O. I6
Base Price (Tungsten as tested)$42,270$62,025 (Laramie)$77,645 ($89,150)
Powertrain3.6-liter V6 | 8-speed automatic | rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive3.0-liter twin-turbo straight-six | 8-speed automatic | rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive3.0-liter twin-turbo straight-six | 8-speed automatic | four-wheel drive
Horsepower305 @ 6,500 rpm420 @ 5,200 rpm540 @ 5,700 rpm
Torque271 lb-ft @ 4,900 rpm469 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm521 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
Max Payload (Engine TBA)2,300 pounds
Max Towing (Engine TBA)11,580 pounds
Max Off-Road Angles (Engine TBA)23.3˚ approach | 22.9˚ breakover | 22.8˚ departure
Max Ground Clearance (Engine/Trim TBA)10.7 inches
EPA Fuel EconomyTBA<<<<
Quick TakeA big departure from tradition that pays off—so long as it holds up.<<<<

The Basics

The 1500 is Ram’s truck for everybody—unless they need an even mightier pickup, in which case there’s the HD. Buyers flock to full-size trucks in droves, so Ram has to come correct in its fight against General Motors, Ford, and Toyota. It isn’t the best-selling in the segment, but Ram has owned that by gearing it toward those who want more.

This is proven by that Tungsten trim I mentioned earlier. It’s a newly created top-shelf option that goes quite a ways beyond the Limited and Limited Longhorn models that once ruled the roost. Ram kept those two trims for the 2025 model year, but neither of them can touch the Tungsten and its interior that you wouldn’t guess belonged to a truck if I hadn’t told you.

It wears an exclusive Sea Salt grey and Indigo color scheme; the seats are adjustable 24 ways with that good-good massage functionality and powered headrests; and there’s killer Klipsch audio with bangin’ subs and 23 crystal clear speakers. Factor in all the metal accents with a diamond knurling pattern that draws inspiration from tungsten carbide drill bits and there’s a lot going on that points to premium. Key touchpoints like the inside door handles are still kinda meh (read: plastic) and the grab handles have just a small patch of leather sewn around the center, but Ram isn’t the only American truck maker getting away with cost-saving stuff like that

Caleb Jacobs

There’s also a shortlist of design features across the rest of the trims that’s worth talking about straight away. The front end looks more focused now as the headlight signatures are sharper and seemingly narrower than before. This also accentuates the grille, a key styling element on any new truck as companies aim to make them more imposing, for better or worse. The automaker’s design team also upscaled the “RAM” badge and lifted it higher, making it more prominent. A “bigger is better” theme carries on inside where the screens are large and in charge. The base Tradesman now gets an 8.4-inch display, and it steps up to an improved 12-inch screen with higher resolution on most trucks while the crème de la crème gets a 14.25-inch infotainment center with a 10.25-inch passenger screen.

At the heart of the base truck is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 making 305 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque, no change there, but above that is the 3.0-liter Hurricane inline-six. I would call it a thumper, but that’s more appropriate for a rowdy V8; instead, I’ll call it a scooter because boy, is it quick. You’ll find this engine standard in the Laramie and optional on trims below making 420 hp and 469 lb-ft of torque, which are both better than the old Hemi’s 395 hp and 410 lb-ft right off the bat. It’s the high-output that’s most impressive, and heck, I’ll call that one a zoomer because it gets you there in a hurry with 540 hp and 521 lb-ft.

Caleb Jacobs
Caleb Jacobs

Ram’s parent company Stellantis developed the Hurricane for use in all kinds of cars and trucks. It’s already been introduced in the Jeep Wagoneer family, and we knew it was a matter of time until it debuted in a Ram. The closed-deck block is made of lightweight aluminum, helping this engine weigh about 90 pounds less than the Hemi, and the crankshaft is forged steel. The pistons are aluminum—cast on the standard output running 10.4:1 compression and forged on the 9.5:1 high output

It’s undeniably small at just 3.0 liters (183 cubic inches!), but those turbos make a world of difference. A body-off chassis and powertrain model was on display at the press event allowing you to see the whirlybirds hanging off the driver-side. They provide 22 pounds of boost on the standard output and 28 pounds on the high output. Each is fed by three cylinders and Ram’s powertrain engineers say they’re small in size for quick spool, but golly, they come on with a wallop.

Caleb Jacobs

Driving Experience

I spent almost all my time in a high-output Ram 1500 Tungsten, zooming across Texas hill country outside of Austin. The truck gets away from a stop light cleanly but breaks traction after a 20-foot rollout with the throttle pegged. That’s when boost hits and things get squirrely. Keep in mind that 540 hp is a class-leading number; not even Ford or Toyota with their hybrid twin-turbo V6s can match that. It feels like something else, too, because there’s really no noise worth remarking on. I mean, there is a noise, but it’s muffled so much that you aren’t focusing on the exhaust note even as it makes peak power at 6,200 rpm.

There’s a certain franticness and fury to the Hurricane that kicks in as the revs climb. I wouldn’t call it laggy like old-school turbo engines but torque surprisingly doesn’t come on as low in the rpm range as it does with a Ford EcoBoost V6. Once you’re in boost, though, it steamrolls on. The ZF eight-speed transmission is still clearly a truck gearbox but it doesn’t get in the way of the powerband. Really, it’s an impressive powertrain from a performance standpoint.

All this combines with a ride that’s straight-up cushy for a pickup. I don’t say that as a person who’s only ever driven old trucks, either (though I have owned my fair share). Ram has been trending in this direction ever since it swapped to coil-sprung rear suspension in 2009 and the company has been refining it for 15 years; air assist only makes it better. The truck is simply composed.

Caleb Jacobs
Caleb Jacobs

The same can be said of the new Ram off-road. We took a small fleet of Ram 1500 Rebels with the standard output Hurricane through grass, gravel, and mud as a purpose-built four-wheeling trail was on site. I won’t pretend like it was the most challenging course in the world, so I can’t say a ton about the truck’s max capability, but it handled every obstacle smoothly. Rear axle articulation is impressive and especially welcomed at low speeds, and even at speeds of up to 45 mph on a tight dirt path, the truck stays pointing straight. An even more optimized off-roader is coming in the form of the Ram 1500 RHO later on, but for now, even the more pedestrian Rebel handles a variety of terrain with relative grace.

Ram 1500 Features, Options, and Competition

I can’t comment extensively on the lower-trim models as again, I only had a few hours in two of the higher-tier trucks. Still, I know that the entry-level Tradesman starts at $42,270 in extended-cab, 4x2 spec with the 3.6-liter V6. Pricing for the Big Horn, the next trim up, begins at $46,930 and those are like two birds of a feather. I say that because the Laramie kicks off a whole other category with a starting MSRP of $62,025. That’s partially because it comes standard with the S.O. Hurricane as well as the full crew cab. Limited and Limited Longhorn go a step further at $77,150 and $77,645, respectively, with the H.O. Hurricane as standard as well as 4x4, the 14.25-inch infotainment screen, and more niceties. Finally, the Tungsten comes in at a whopping $89,150 and there’s almost nothing left to option besides a max-tow package.

Caleb Jacobs

How does this compare to a 2024 Ford F-150? Well, the cheapest one of those I could build online came in under the Ram’s base price at $39,120 including destination. That gets you a single-cab F-150 XL with the 5.0-liter V8 and two-wheel drive. On the other end of the spectrum is the F-150 Platinum, which goes for $77,025 with no options added. That’s a crew cab, 4x4, loaded-up truck with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost making 400 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque (the PowerBoost hybrid is a $1,900 option and gets you 430 hp and 570 lb-ft). 

A true base 2024 Chevy Silverado 1500 comes in at $38,795 after destination. That’s a single-cab WT trim with a short bed, the 2.7-liter turbo-four, and 4x2. Going more expensive, the top-dog High Country is $68,495 with the crew-cab, 4x4, and 5.3-liter V8 which admittedly is a long way off either of Ram’s Hurricane offerings with just 355 hp and 383 lb-ft. You could step up to Chevy’s 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque for $71,185.

Either way, Ram’s lineup skews more high-dollar than Ford's or Chevy's. It doesn’t offer a true single-cab option and as you climb from one trim to the next, they’re more about standard equipment than catering to every type of customer. That’s not to say there aren’t options for people who want a simpler Ram but they won’t find as many basic examples as they would with the other manufacturers.

Caleb Jacobs

The Early Verdict

Wrapping things up, I think the 2025 Ram 1500 is a solid purchase for people who know what they want in a truck. If a person wants big luxury and big power at the high end, then hey, this is it. But if someone is indifferent about performance, amenities, and the like, it isn’t the best budget pick. American truck buyers are all over the map as some want a little while some want a lot; if you fall in the latter category then higher-trim Rams are for you.

I believe Ram has a competitor here that’s more than solid and more than worthy of being compared to Chevy and Ford. It’s too early to tell how the Hurricane I6 will hold up in the long term but from where we sit now, it’s a mighty impressive engine. The rest of the truck is complete and well-thought-out, from fundamental aspects like the frame and suspension to the finer points like interior packaging.

It’s true that trucks ain’t what they used to be. And yeah, this one is fancy, newfangled, and highfalutin. But your grandpa could have never imagined a pickup like this.

Got a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: caleb@thedrive.com

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