Compared to its competition, the Tungsten Edition offers very similar pricing and capability.
With more than half a million units sold in 2017 in the U.S. alone, the Ram 1500 stands as one of the best selling trucks in North America along with fellow domestics like the Ford F-150 (reviewed here) and the Chevrolet Silverado. With the looming arrival of the redesigned model, the 2018 Ram 1500 Tungsten Edition represents the sunset ride for a nine-year run of this workhorse. With a MSRP of $76,345, our test truck is completely decked out with all the fancy trimmings and seems a far cry from the working man’s machine. While I’m no avid truck follower, I have visited many construction sites and am highly exposed to the market; I figured this would be an interesting Christmas to spend with this big boy.
Clad in Maximum Steel Metallic, this Tungsten edition of the Ram looks somewhat benign only to be betrayed by the sheer size of it. Equipped with 20” wheels and high profile all-terrain tires, the Ram 1500 looks nice and chunky. The optional ventilated sport performance hood adds an aggressive accent to the front of the truck. This bulge is far from a necessity as once you pop the hood open and realize it’s all empty space and actually cuts down the front end visibility by a noticeable margin.
Then again, you are driving a truck powered by a 5.7 liter HEMI V8 pumping out 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft. of torque so everyone should just get the heck out of your way right? With that much power on tap, the Ram 1500 comes with a hefty eight-speed TorqueRiteTM automatic transmission coupled to a 4×4 system that allows for strictly two wheel drive mode for cruising, 4×4 lock and an 4×4 automatic engagement which allows the computers to determine if its needed.
Working together with an adjustable ride height system that allows for three modes (entry, normal and high mode), the Ram 1500 can be stuffed into the crevices of a condominium parking lot and will also adjust itself to aerodynamic ride height when running down the highway. When said and done, this truck is rated to burn through 16.1L/100km in the city and 11.5L/100km on the highway, with a combined rating of 14L/100km. In my test period, I managed to get roughly 15.7L/100km, albeit in the coldest and snowiest two weeks we have had this winter.
Adding to the value of the truck is the host of touches that Ram has provided in the form of custom embroidery on the surfaces that adorn the interior. This ranges from the wood panel that backgrounds the console, to the complicated stitching running on the seats and the center armrest, and the belt buckles for the map holder pockets. This is clearly not something that say a drywaller, would care for as it would be the first thing to get torn or ripped with daily use.
For example, the large centre armrest with two levels of storage, the top of which has two USB slots and a large flat area that looks perfect for the litany of paperwork that most job sites go through these days. Try to fit a 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper and you’ll quickly find out that the side with the USB slots bulges into the flat area and chews up the corner of the papers when the lid comes down. A slight change to the charger, making it face up instead of sideways and tucking it into the floor of this space, would have made this far more usable.
The equipped Alpine audio system is actually quite good and comes equipped with an Android Auto and Apple CarPlay ready infotainment system, but tends to stutter occasionally in either of those modes or via Bluetooth. A fellow colleague seems to have identified the cause as the message synchronization system but I was unable to confirm this.
For most part, the touchscreen was quite responsive, easy to use and the ever-so-handy volume knob is a welcome redundancy. Steering wheel mounted volume controls do exist on this vehicle but in typical FCA fashion, volume controls are on the back of the wheel, which can lead to some initial confusion. Given the distance and angle from the driver’s seat, it became somewhat annoying that the screen is located flat against the dash instead of having it tilted towards the driver. On more than a few occasions, the glare made it somewhat hard to read on the edges, where a good chunk of the touch buttons are laid out.
At 5’10, I figured ingress into the cabin should be easy, but it worked out to be somewhat awkward. The step leading to the cabin is almost too high. The steering wheel does tilt but does not telescope, which means you are likely to be forced to use the seats entirely to find the proper driving position. For me, it meant moving myself forward which put my knees in a slightly precarious position next to the dash. This resulted in one little knee injury that may or may not have led to a cacophony of profanity from me.
In terms of the ride, the Ram 1500 is no different than its body-on-frame truck competition. It’s smooth on good pavement and bouncy on rough terrain. The power and torque are both clearly there and with a towing capacity of anywhere between 7,990 to 10,240 lb. depending on the drivetrain mode and axle ratio, it is a truck with a lot of potential. The Ram Box mounted on the side of the truck bed is handy for quick access and (un)locks with a press of the remote key but with it mounted directly over the rear axle, makes for some awkward ergonomics when rummaging for stuff in there unless you’re over 6’4” tall.
Compared to its competition, the 2018 Ram 1500 Tungsten Edition offers very similar pricing, capability and packaging on paper with the key differences being the nuances of daily usage. While the aforementioned $76,345 MSRP appears to be high, keep in mind that there are almost always massive discounts to be had at the dealer. The reality is that if you’re reading this as research for what to buy, you’ve made up your mind on the brand but want to know the details. This is exactly the mindset you should go into when exploring the 2018 Ram 1500 Tungsten Edition. It’s a good thing to notice the little things when you’re going for that test drive and who knows? It might open your rethinking of what you would want in a truck.