By on April 7, 2011

Good, cheap, fast: Pick two. Or so the saying goes. The new RAM 1500 Express promises to be all three, offering a 390-hp HEMI, the coil-sprung platform which supposedly offers better dynamic qualities than the commpetition, and some youth-oriented features like 20-inch wheels, at an out-the-door price around $23,830.

Of course, that’s the price for the regular cab variant. It’s been a long time since that body style ruled the roost in pickupville. The RAM excuse, er, reason is that this truck is aimed at young people.

Quoth the release:

In addition to the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine with 390 horsepower and 407 lb.-ft. of torque, Ram 1500 Express comes loaded with features that emphasize its high-performance character.

The first thing drivers will notice is the Ram 1500 Express’ racy, monochromatic paint scheme. A body-colored grille with black honeycomb inserts, body-colored front fascia and body-colored rear fascia with chrome-tipped dual exhausts shout “high-performance.” The new Ram model will also get fog lamps and 20-inch aluminum wheels with locking lug nuts. There’s also a locking tailgate, cargo lamp, rear-bumper step pad, 6″ x 9″ side-view mirrors and rear wheel-well liners.

Standard features also include a 160-amp alternator, 26-gallon fuel tank, 3.55 rear axle ratio, 700-amp maintenance-free battery, four and seven-pin trailer wiring harness, heavy-duty front and rear shock absorbers, front and rear stabilizer bars, power rack-and-pinion steering, halogen headlamps, heavy-duty engine and transmission cooling and a full-size spare tire.

Inside, the 1500 Express will get a heavy-duty vinyl 40/20/40 split-bench seat, and buyers will have a choice of vinyl or carpeted floor covering. Other features include air conditioning, an instrument cluster with tachometer and 120-mph speedometer, 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, four-spoke tilt steering wheel, six-speaker media center with CD and MP3 player, as well as audio jack input for mobile devices, automatic headlamps, behind-the-seat storage bins, driver and passenger assist handles, power accessory delay, rear dome lamp, rear-view day/night mirror, tinted glass windows, tip start and variable intermittent windshield wipers…

Ram 1500 Express comes as a regular cab, short-bed model, with a choice of 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrain. When equipped with an optional Class IV hitch, the new Ram 1500 Express will tow a maximum trailer weight of 10,450 lbs.

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for the new Ram 1500 Express will start at $23,830, including $975 destination charge. It will arrive in Ram Truck dealerships in second quarter 2011.

This looks like an astute move to us; younger buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to earn solid money and this “Express” might bring them back into showroom. Expect most of them, however, to leave with an extended-cab or crew-cab truck.

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61 Comments on “The Ram Express: Cheap, Fast… Good?...”


  • avatar
    cmoibenlepro

    vinyl bench seat?

  • avatar
    segfault

    This is basically a Ram 1500 Tradesman with some nice alloy wheels.  No cruise control, no keyless entry, power locks, or power mirrors (I hope they’re available as options).
     
    If the vinyl seats are the two-tone vinyl seats I’ve seen in other Rams, they actually look OK and would fool a lot of people into believing that they’re leather.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      In other words, it’s the way a lot of us have been buying trucks for years. Less stuff to break, less expensive to service.
       
      I concur on the vinyl bench. I think vinyl bench seats get an undeserved bad rap nowadays. Sure, in the 80s and early 90s, the vinyl bench was truly the cheapest option, and it showed in terms of comfort and durability. (Remember those splitting seams in the old ribbed vinyl bench seats in your dad’s pickup?) But now, most vinyl benches in pickups are actually pretty nice and can fool folks into thinking they’re leather. Many people have been fooled by the genuine naugahide in my 2006 Ranger. I actually think the vinyl is the more durable seating surface in Rangers after 2004 or whenever it was they went to the new seats with the square headrests. The cloth seats seem to wrinkle and wear out quickly in the butt area, from the many examples I’ve seen.

  • avatar
    V572625694

    Uh, Jack, we’re kinda counting on you to read the press releases so we don’t have to.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      There’s no sense insulting your intelligence by just re-wording the release. I *did* cut out about 50% of the text, mostly the stuff related to marketing, made-up quotes from various important people, and whatnot.

      If you want to preserve the illusion that somebody’s writing a completely unique article about something within thirty minutes of the press release for a vehicle which virtually nobody in the country has seen outside Texas, there *is* a site for that, it’s called JalopCockLink or something like that!

      • 0 avatar
        V572625694

        Ha ha. At least you didn’t say, “Torsional rigidity has been increased by 17% over last year’s model” and pass it off as results of your own tests the way the buff books do.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh, snap.
         
        From the headline, I was sort of expecting some kind of small Dodge truck, a la Ford Transit Connect. Instead, I see a “new” Chrysler product with a price point clearly targeting people who really want a 15mpg V8 pick-em-up hotrod, but can’t remember the last time they could afford to actually put more than $20 in the tank.
         
        Then again, we can’t have ALL the latest Chrysler news be about Cinquecentos, Pandas, and Chrysler-badged Panda Lancias “imported from Detroit.”

      • 0 avatar

        About sites – but this one I’ve been linking more than JalopCockLink as of late – did you quit Speed:Sport:Life? Also, Does it really only do 120? I mean, 390 horses, 407 torques. Brick as it might well be…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Make mine red, please. Call it “Li’L Red Express Truck”! Oh, put the chrome back on too, or forget the whole thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      YES YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES!  Sorry if I didn’t already have a truck and if I actually owned a fuel efficient car to drive right now, I’d be seriously looking at one of these suckers.  If my F150 gets too boring for me in say a decade or so I might be trolling used car lots looking for one of these suckers and with a set of these sitting in my garage awaiting instillation.  http://www.chromeroom.com/listman/listings/images/31_1.jpg
       

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Oh, and Dan, I forgot to mention the gold lettering that spelled out proudly “Li’l Red Express Truck”! I had to type that in again – a very pleasant memory seeing a few of those in my old neighborhood.

    • 0 avatar
      crayon

      And don’t forgot the side pipes mounted vertically like stacks. That was one of the best parts. All kidding aside I loved those trucks!

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Check Educator Dan’s link – I think he already bought them in expectation! Maybe I’ll see him drive through on his way to northern Ohio this summer!

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @Zachman, nah… that was just a pic I found online.  The exhaust finally rusted out on the F150 (after 8 years of desert living) and I’m thinking of just buying a Gibson catback system and installing it myself.  But of course you couldn’t have a “Little Red Express” without stacks.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Vinyl Seats.  In my day, the definition of a truck was “a vehicle such that when you clean out the interior, you use a garden hose.” 

    My how we whiners have become so accustomed to expensive, laziness inducing features in our vehicles.  No cruise control?  No keyless entry?  No Power locks? Or power mirrors?  The horror.  Why this vehicle should be immediately sent to the garage without its supper….

    America…we need to get back to our roots, when men were men, and men rolled their windows up and down using muscles in addition to those in their index fingers.  And women liked it. 

    We bitch and moan about any assembler who dares delete ‘modern conveniences’ and yet, when we see  vehicles from 30 years ago roll by in all in all their unsophisticated splendor, we drool and say, “Why don’t they build them like that anymore?” Go figure.

    Lately, being American appears to be its own class of mental disorder….

    • 0 avatar
      Flybrian

      The cars of 30-50 years ago that I lust after did have cruise control, automatic headlamps, power seats, automatic headlamps, etc…

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Which 1961 cars had automatic headlights Lincolns or Caddys? Most 1961-71 cars I have seen are lucky to have front disk brakes, power steering, automatic transmission and windshield squirters unless it was something very high end.

      • 0 avatar
        M 1

        @ponchoman, Caddy had automatic headlights in either ’54 or ’55, I forget which.

        My ’55 Buick Super is a solid middle-tier car for it’s day, yet it has all-factory power brakes, power windows, power steering, front and rear under-seat heaters, and a power antenna. They pretty much ALL had window-squirters.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s not about the wimpification, it’s the it’s cheaper to just have that stuff electronic, even on base models, since a) often the electronics are cheaper than the Rube Goldberg mechanicals, and b) it’s less expensive to build everything the same, and if the bulk of your cars leave with electronic locks, why not save the cost of differentiation?
       
      Personally, I’m glad “they don’t build them like that anymore”.  I sat in too many of “them” as a kid, and have no illusions about how much better—in every way—new cars are: more reliable, more efficient, nicer-riding, roomier, etc, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        I’m different I guess, I miss those kind of vehicles. I learned to drive in an old Ford farm truck in hay meadows. I miss that truck too, it had a 3 on the tree and not much else. I know that power is reliable and cheap and in demand now but I would love to have something without the power seats, the touchscreen and all the other accessories. Just somrthing simple and fun to drive is all I ask.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      That’s why my 2004 F150 Heritage has bench seats, rubber floor, and crank windows.  A truck should be a by God truck.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        I don’t have an auto tranny, cruise control, keyless entry, power locks, power windows, or a/c in my ’97 Dodge but I do have power mirrors. I wouldn’t give up those power mirrors for anything. They come in very handy when backing up on narrow logging trails with a trailer on.

      • 0 avatar
        black turbo

        I’m 20 years old, in college, and my DD has crank windows, non-functioning a/c or cruise, manual locks and mirrors, and I shift the gears myself. I couldn’t be happier.

        It’s an ’85 Saab 900, and it starts every time.

      • 0 avatar

        I would pass on the crank windows, as I enjoy driving with all of them down, and a four door (probably not your case) is just a drag without them. And since here in Brazil 2 door equals “ultra-cheap” or “sports car (What? Sports car?- cue George Carlin voice from Jammin’in New York – TAX THEM!!!!) you just have to have them.

  • avatar
    turbobeetle

    Simple, sharp, and powerful. It was everything I wanted in a truck back in high school sans step-side bed. I’m not sure how much of a market there is for this truck. 23k is still a lot of money for the truck loving younger generation in general. And as much as I cringe at the thought of saying this about a Dodge err Ram…. I kinda like it.
    I know the other two build good trucks as well, but the Dodge.. err Ram is the only one that has held on to that sporty look. Ford had it will the 97-03 body style and took advantage of that with the lightning, but now Ford’s trucks look all business meets bling. If gas prices were to sustain a low price (not holding breath) I might check one of these things out.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    Drop some of the faux performance stuff, 20-inch wheels, dual exhausts and the like and it sounds liek a good value basic truck. Make it in extended cab and with the normal Chrysler incentives it ought to sell a decent amount of trucks.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Not my cup of meat, but I would agree this is a pretty good idea. Kind of like a modern day Road Runner with a lot more utility.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    They have to do something to spark their truck sales.  Good on Crapsler for doing something the others are not.  IMHO the RAM is the best “looking” full size on the market.  But then again…  IMHO Chrysler produces the worst vehicles in North America.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    If there was ever any explanation about why manufacturers pushed trucks over cars in the last two decades, this should be it.  Between economies of scale, relatively crude mechanicals and CAFE exemptions, why would even try to make a car.

  • avatar
    JKC

    Forgive this bit of car enthusiast apostasy, but does a pick-up truck with a big, under-stressed V-8 and an automatic transmission really need a tach? Personally, I’d gladly trade the tach in a pickup for a complete set of engine gauges (i.e. oil pressure/temp, coolant temp and voltage.)

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    “this truck is aimed at young people.”
     
    Even at $24k this is a $500/month 4 year loan, so unless you’ve hopped straight out of college into a pile of Google shares then it isn’t affordable to many young people not living off their parent’s tab.
     
    “5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine with 390 horsepower”
     
    And when I was young I had trouble getting insurance for a 1.8 liter Hyundai Excel with less horsepower than a novelty windmill. I can imagine some dude phoning up his Farmer’s agent trying to get insurance from that and saddling his parents with another $500 a month payment.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      When in the USAF in NoCal in 1969-1973, single, military, I could only get an “Assigned Risk” policy that would land you with any number of insurance companies. I paid by the month, too, approx. $33.00±. This rate was for a used car – the Chevy I owned. I only cleared, in 1970, $130.00/month! This was expensive! This cost was in addition to the monthly payment on the car. Even though gas was 25¢ per gallon. I worked on the car all the time, too – sometimes necessary, sometimes not, but that car kept me away from drugs at a time when much of the U.S. military seemed to be high, so it was worth it. Broke almost all the time until I learned how to manage money!

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      It’s entirely do-able.  I had a $470-some/4-year loan on my Dakota which I bought when I was just a year out of college, and I paid it off in just over two years.  The secret was saving up a good down payment and having a degree that actually has earning potential (engineering, in my case.)

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    I like the concept of the vehicle, but driving a RWD light-in-the-rear 390HP vehicle around on Seattle’s wet roads (and lately they’ve been that almost daily, in our never-ending winter), and well may I suggest some permanent sandbags tied in the back corners of the bed?

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The other big 2 need to do likewise. Why every car needs to come std with power everything, 18-20″ wheels, cruise, remote locks and start, blind side alert, radar cruise etc is getting way out of control. We are spoiled beyond belief. There are still many folks out there that I have spoke to that just want simple basic transportation without loads of stupid gimmicks to break, especially in a pickup trunk. 

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    This isn’t a cheap vehicle.  Gas and insurance is going to be at least as much as the payment.  LOL, you’re going to need $100 each time you fill it up.  4 or 5 times a month.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    They can market this to whoever they want… you know who is going to be buying these?  Older guys looking for a better looking work truck.  This will be huge with empty nesters, retired guys, guys with boats/bikes/horses or whatever other toys that need to be pulled.  Guys at my work are going nuts for it to use for hunting.  My dad would buy it in a heartbeat if he wasnt too cheap to give up his paid for 98 Silverado.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yup, reminds me of when I was a Four Wheel and Off Road magazine subscriber.  They would list the cheapest 4X4 trucks each year.  It wasn’t for young guys, that was a list for old guys to pick out vehicles to hunt, fish, plow, and tow crap with.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    Being that I live about 1/2 mile away from the plant in Warren where these things are built, I am somewhat biased. I think it is a good idea to have a more affordable truck.
    That said, this product is doomed. The gas station right across the street from the plant-$3.87 a gallon today. NO ONE is going to buy Rams with gas that price. Or F-150s. Or GM trucks. This summer will be a repeat of ’08. With no product moving. With home construction over for a generation or so…who will buy trucks?
     

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    When I bought my first new vehcicle in ’93, a Toyota 4X4 PU, I went with what was called the “Deluxe” versus the top of line “SR5″.  It had the bench seat, crank up windows, plain jane wheels, ect. After 11 years and 200K if I had had to do it over again, you damn right I would have spent the money and went w/SR5. You don’t hook boat trailers to power window switches or load a ton of river rock on the bucket seats. In other words give me the creature comforts because it doesn’t affect the ability to work the truck one bit.

    The truck looks good from the outside but I think most will be disappointed once they open the doors. Maybe it will still sell on price but I’d be surprised. The only people that want stipper trucks are those that drive cars and dream about the good all days. 

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      Exactly!  My pickup lives a divided life; on the one hand it’s my main (if not only) daily driver for 5 months out of the year, so it has to be nice inside.  But on the other hand, I grew up on a farm and still live near enough to home that I can go back on the weekends and help out.  I really can’t say I care about the vinyl seat/rubber mat version, because the lowest level I’m willing to go to has cloth and carpet; if I’m all icky from farm work I’ll just lay a towel over the seat.

  • avatar
    detlump

    I think if you are going to get a regular cab pickup I would prefer an 8 foot bed, just for the versatility of cargo.  The short box looks better though.  But it is nice to toss sheetrock or plywood in a full length bed (or a sofa).
    BTW, my 68 Caprice has power seats, hidden headlights, fiber optic light displays on the fenders and rear package shelf, and auto climate control with AC.
    I still like the idea of a more basic truck.  I don’t need Bluetooth or other complicate stuff.  I mean, look how much a replacement mirror costs these days?  With power adjust, heat, turn signal display they run hundreds to replace.  I don’t need that or want it.
    As said above, less to break is the way to go.  Power locks are nice though as these trucks are wide to reach across to unlock the pass. door.

  • avatar
    Loser

    I like it. Lose the ghetto rims ans I’d be interested, could sell them I guess. Cruise would be nice, I tend to get tickets without it..

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I suspect this is going to be a good example along the lines of Mr. Baruth’s column down the page about the difference between acquisition cost and ownership cost.
    As a group, pickup trucks have dismal accident statistics, even without giving them 150 hp that they don’t need.  So, that plus the usual young, male driver surcharge is going to make insurance pricey (assuming its even available).  Then, of course, there’s the cost of gasoline @$4/gallon, of which this thing will want a lot.
    Looks pretty cool, though!

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      As a group, pickup trucks have dismal accident statistics…
       
      Excellent point. I don’t know if it’s required in this type of vehicle, but Chrysler should make Stability Control standard, given the Darwin Award tendencies of the average buyer here. Chrysler needs to preserve the few customers they have.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    Actually the price is very reasonable for a full size truck…operating costs are another story.  In addition to fuel prices I can’t imagine it’s very cheap to light up those 20in tires on a regular basis.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Muscle Car Truck Lives?

    I guess it would have pissed GM off if Chrysler had called it the RAM 1500 Formula?

  • avatar
    Doc

    Removing some of the chrome from this truck improves the looks quite a bit I think.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    I like it. Can it be had in yellow with black “racing” stripes?
     
     

  • avatar
    obbop

    Impress me when the critter comes with a quad I-beam front suspension.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Not a pickup guy, but this one is begging to be slammed. How low can you go?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I could swear that the c. 1970 GMC pickup my next door neighbor had when I was a kid had long trailing arms and coil springs for rear suspension purposes. I recall reading that the trailing arms used in NASCAR essentially evolved from the ones used on GM trucks 50 years ago. Why did GM go from coils and trailing arms to leaf springs 38 or so years ago on their half ton trucks?

  • avatar

    I just wanna say that, should this model not succeed/please/do well/be generally disliked up in the US of A, feel free to ship one to me. Me and my fishing buddies would effusively thank you and my girl, my mom and the State Police, not so much…

  • avatar
    Sharpshooter44

    I replaced my 90 GMC pickup with a new RAM Express about a month ago.
    I spent 20K on this pickup and I am very impressed how much truck I got for the money. I talked to my local Chevy dealer and wanted a short bed stripper truck with a 6.2 gas engine for towing only. The dealer said you can’t get that engine in short bed so I went with the RAM. Cruise, tilt, intermittent wipers, power heated mirrors, HEMI engine, power locks/windows,
    6 speed auto, tinted glass, heavy duty cloth seats (upgrade from the pleather seating) and chrome 20 inch wheel covers. Very nice ride, plenty of power and about 17.3 mpg not too bad. If I can get 200k miles on this truck I’ll be happy. So far so good.

  • avatar
    keithexpress25

    i acually purchased one of these when they came out in crew cab and the gas mileage is really good to my surprise i get 22 highway here in vegas and beat the hell out of it when i go on trips in the mountains surpassing all my thoughts about it after the test of accidently jumping it its driven the same as the day i pulled it off the lot


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