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The 1500 is Ram's light-duty pickup truck, and since it kicked off its fifth generation in 2019, the 1500 has been a hit with buyers and car gurus alike. This year introduces us to the all-new TRX - an off-road oriented variant that receives 702 hp from its V8 engine. You had better believe that we are excited about this new trim level, and we suspect that you will be too after you read this trim level comparison review.
Truth be told, there is one qualm that we have with Ram regarding the 1500 line-up. The problem? Many of the standard driver aids are relegated to the higher trim levels. Whereas many of Ram's competitors are offering these features on lower trim levels (some even on their base trims), only the mid-tier Laramie trim and above offer things like forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and parking sensors. You will see what we mean in just a moment. Ultimately, it is something Ram might want to change if they want to compete even better.
That being said, there are many things to enjoy about the Ram 1500. The ride quality exhibits impeccable control and smoothness thanks to the well-tuned suspension (which is rather unique unto itself), and the cabin remains quiet and comfortable for long road trips. If it is fuel economy you are looking for, the diesel engine option balances that well with a high max towing capacity. And, of course, the new TRX trim offers unparalleled off-roading capabilities not seen in any of the other trims.
So, which trim level should you invest your hard-earned money in? This solid line-up offers seven choices: the base Tradesman, the Big Horn, Rebel, Laramie, Long Horn, Limited, and the new TRX. We will pit them one against the other, and, in the end, declare which trim level we think provides the best overall deal for buyers.
Compare the 2021 Ram 1500 Tradesman vs Big Horn - What is the Difference?
The 2021 Ram 1500 line-up begins with the base Tradesman trim level. You can get it as a quad- or crew-cab, which are both crew cabs although the quad offers less leg room in the rear. It has a 6-foot, 4-inch bed while the crew-cab can have either the long or short bed (which measures in at 5 feet, 7 inches). An 8-speed automatic transmission comes with all trim levels. Rear-wheel drive comes standard while all-wheel drive is optional. This vehicle can come as the HFE, which utilizes the same 3.6-L V6 24V VVT eTorque engine but is tweaked for high fuel economy (hence the name HFE).
The base Tradesman can be equipped with the optional 5.7-L V8 HEMI MDS VVT engine, the 5.7-L V8 HEMI MDS VVT eTorque engine, or the 3.0-L V6 Turbo Diesel Engine Gen 3. A Class IV receiver hitch and Mopar's Trailer Camera Wiring Prep Package come as options on the Tradesman. The Big Horn gives you the option of adding another Class IV Receiver-Hitch. Other mechanical features include a 800-Amp Maintenance-Free Battery, a 180- or 250-amp alternator (depending on the engine equipped), an optional 48-Volt Belt Starter Generator, optional active noise cancellation, an option for trailer light checking, and an optional 400-w inverter.
There are a number of packages that you can opt to equip. On the Tradesman, you can add the Tradesman Level 1 Equipment Group (with carpeted floor coverings, cloth on a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, a rear power-sliding window, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio), the Sport Appearance Package (18-inch Cast Aluminum Painted Wheels, carpeted floor coverings, front fog lights), the Chrome Appearance Group (bright front and rear bumpers, a chrome grille surround, and 18-inch Cast Aluminum Painted Wheels), the Tradesman Group (a class-IV receiver hitch), Level 1 Safety Group (advanced brake assist, full-speed forward collision warning plus, a 3.5-Inch TFT Color Display-Cluster, pedestrian braking, lane keep assist, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror), the Bed Utility Group (Mopar's spray-in bed liner, 4 adjustable cargo tie-down hooks, and LED lighting in the pick-up box), the Max Tow Package (Diesel or HEMI), and the Cold Weather Group (an engine block heater and Mopar's Winter Front Grille-Cover).
The Big Horn adds options for the Big Horn Level 1 Group (an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, power-heated folding side mirrors, a class-IV receiver-hitch, a glove box light, an 8-way power-adjustable driver seat with 4-way power lumbar support, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and the HomeLink universal garage door opener) and the Big Horn Level 2 Group (remote start, two 115-v auxiliary power outlets, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch TFT color display cluster, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a security alarm, a rear window defroster, and ParkSense with front and rear sensors).
You can also opt for the Night Edition (20-inch Premium Paint/Polished Wheels, black exterior badging, black headlight bezels, black interior trim, black bumpers, black dual-exhaust tips, memory on the side mirrors, and deluxe cloth bucket seats), the Built-to-Serve Edition (20-inch aluminum wheels, a 9-speaker sound system with a subwoofer, premium cloth/vinyl bucket seats, Mopar front and rear rubber floor mats, and an 8-way power driver seat), the Technology Group (a head-up display, a LED center high-mounted stop light, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror), and the Premium Lighting Group (front LED fog lights, LED reflector headlights, and LED taillights).
Now, for the standard features. There are ten exterior color options to choose from, ranging from Hydro-Blue Pearl to Flame Red. The side mirrors are done in black, and there are optional power trailer-tow mirrors for both trims. On the inside, you will find two color options on the Tradesman and two additional ones on the Big Horn. The Uconnect 3 infotainment system with a 5-inch display comes equipped, giving you access to SiriusXM, Bluetooth hands-free phone calling and audio streaming, and voice text reply.
There is an option for the Uconnect 4 with an 8.4-inch display on either trim, and the Big Horn also offers the Uconnect 4C NAV with an 8.4-inch display or the Uconnect 12-in display with built-in navigation. You also get options for upgrading to 4G LTE WiFi hot spot connectivity and HD Radio with the Big Horn trim. Additionally, you can opt for a power sunroof on the Big Horn.
Compare the 2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn vs Rebel - What is the Difference?
The Rebel takes a lot of the Big Horn's optional features and makes them standard. The Rebel gets upgraded to have more aggressive exterior styling elements, a fuller array of LED exterior lighting, an electronic locking rear axle, and four underbody skid plates. Hill descent control also comes equipped, and the upgraded suspension and shocks are accompanied by all-terrain tires for extra stability and control.
On the exterior, you only get the black paint color or a choice from six 2-tone color options. Inside, there are just two interior color options. The V6 comes standard, and there is an option for an exterior 115-volt AC outlet. The Bed Utility Group, Cold Weather Group, Night Edition, Technology Package, Advanced Safety Group (stop-and-go with adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane keep assist, parallel and perpendicular park assist, pedestrian braking, and a surround-view camera), the Rebel Level 1 Equipment Group (heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, rear window defrost, HomeLink, etc.), the Rebel Level 2 Equipment Group (remote start, a 115-v auxiliary power outlet for the rear, 2 charge-only USB ports with the media hub, and rain-sensing windshield wipers), Rebel 12 (leather-trimmed bucket seats, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system, and Uconnect with the 12-inch display and navigation), Rebel 12A (9 amplified speakers with the subwoofer), and the Comfort and Convenience Group (memory for the side mirrors and driver seat, 4-way power lumbar support on both front seats, a power tailgate release, a wireless charging pad) come as options.
Compare the 2021 Ram 1500 Rebel vs Laramie Trim Level. - What is the Difference?
If you opt for the Laramie trim level, you will see the standard addition of the 8.4-inch display for Uconnect. You also get a power rear window and power side mirrors, leather upholstery, heating and ventilating front seats, and forward collision warning. 18-inch aluminum painted wheels come equipped.
Compare the 2021 Ram 1500 Laramie vs Long Horn. What is the difference?
The Long Horn makes a few fun additions to the 1500. On this trim, you get standard side steps, heated reclining rear seats with storage compartments underneath the seats, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, built-in navigation, Mopar's in-bed lighting and spray-in bed-liner, and parking sensors for the front and rear of the truck. 20-inch aluminum painted/polished wheels are standard issue. You also now get 4G LTE WiFi hot spot connectivity as a standard feature.
Compare the 2021 Ram 1500 Long Horn vs Limited - What is the Difference?
The Limited trim level is even more luxury-oriented than the Long Horn, and it is powered by the 5.7-L V8 engine. This engine serves up a hefty 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque and comes with or without eTorque. The 12-inch touchscreen display becomes standard, as do a four-corner air suspension (which lowers or raises the truck's ride height), a wireless charging pad, bucket seats adorned in premium leather upholstery, power-deployable running boards, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Compare the 2021 Ram 1500 Limited vs TRX Trim Level. - What is the Difference?
The new TRX trim level slates at the top of the line now and offers much of what you will find on the Limited trim. However, it is absolutely meant for off-roading. It is only available with AWD and a massively powerful 6.2-L V8 engine that gets a power output of 702 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. The mechanical specs are through-the-roof too, starting with the Bilstein adaptive dampers that come with remote reservoirs. The TRX also has a 2-inch suspension lift, huge 35-inch all-terrain tires, a Dana 60 solid rear axle, upgraded brakes, an electronic locking differential, and five underbody skid plates. From the 12-inch touchscreen, you can access real-time performance data and launch control.
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Which Trim to Choose?
There you have it, folks - the 2021 Ram 1500 line-up. There are many exciting options to choose from, but that can be a bit overwhelming due to how many configurations exist. To help narrow it down, we think buyers will like the Laramie trim level. It provides a good balance of standard features and price. More options open up on it than what you get on the Tradesman and Big Horn, so you can play around more with customization without feeling overwhelmed.
We do, however, really like the new TRX trim level. If you can swing the cost and plan to do a lot of off-roading, then this is the trim for you. Its power delivery is nothing short of impressive, and the way it handles mud and snow shows how advanced Ram has become at off-road orientation. It almost exists in a class by itself and is a great addition to the 2021 line.
• Compare the 2020 Ram 1500 Trim Levels