By on August 5, 2019

2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock_1

For those of you who value, um, value in your pickup purchase, there’s good news. Ram’s 1500 Classic, the name given to the previous-generation half-ton that soldiers on alongside the new-for-2019 1500, shows no signs of impending death.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley made that point abundantly clear during an earnings call last week. Debuting for the 2009 model year, the Classic earns its moniker, yet the advancements and refinements showered on its successor hasn’t diminished demand for the old model — the new-gen 1500’s higher price point assures FCA of a steady stream of buyers.

Amazingly, a refresh may be in the works.

Manley’s comments come via Motor Trend, which reports that the automaker still has no end date to etch on the 1500 Classic’s tombstone. In February’s multi-billion-dollar plant investment announcement, the Classic’s Warren Truck birthplace earned a stack of its own, earmarked, in part, for a production extension of the Classic. The automaker said the cash was needed “to meet market demand.”

Ram 1500

Now comes word that the Classic, besides just seeing its lifespan extended, may see an update before eventually biting the dust. Manley didn’t commit to the refresh, but the fact he mentioned it makes it a strong possibility. Without a midsize pickup to lure buyers of lesser means into the brand, Ram’s decision to keep the old, long-since-paid-off 1500 in production was a wise one. Once the new generation came fully online, Ram sales soared, pushing the brand ahead of the Chevrolet Silverado nameplate in terms of volume.

The gap between old and new isn’t an insignificant one. Starting at $29,340 (after destination) for a stripped-down, regular cab Tradesman, the Classic line’s entry point is nearly six grand lower than that of the new generation — and there’s cash on hand for lessees. Tradesman buyers who prefer the next-gen model’s swankier looks can expect to pay $35,135 for a base quad cab.

This year also brought the introduction of the Warlock model to the 1500 Classic line, ostensibly to placate fans of the departed old-gen Rebel.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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51 Comments on “Classic-er: With No Midsize in Sight, Ram’s 1500 Holdover Stands to Live On...”


  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    That gray one pictured above is pretty darn sweet, 10 year old design or not. I wonder if incentives are greater on the Classic…

  • avatar
    thornmark

    after a decade or so the bugs should all be gone

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      They aren’t as old as they look, the 2013 refresh kept the same body panels as the 09-12 but was substantially updated everywhere else. New frame, electronics, steering, interior, transmission, two new engines, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yes and no. To draw a parallel, my ’16 T&C is on the long-running 5th gen Caravan platform, yet they still have some common well known issues, stemming from from bottom-barrel cheap supplier parts. Chrysler knows about these things, it’s just not worth the money to fix them.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        Curious…what “common, well-known issues” do you refer to?

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          Yes, please elaborate.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Rear AC lines rotting out by year 4, HVAC blend door motors crapping out, my van had a blower motor replaced at 34k miles for a bead bearing (annoying squeak), and of course the real gorilla in the room is the TIPM (Totally Integrated Power Module) that might start crapping out at just about any point with a whole litany of bizarre symptoms that may result.

          I bought an extended warranty for 4 years out to 85k miles… aside from the blower motor (fixed for free) and remote start not working in -6F mornings (not fixed) I’ve got no complaints really.

          It’s an older platform, they’re not going to invest anything in part revisions at this point unless they’re shared with a newer FCA product IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            Thank you. This is the first I have read of these issues, but not being an owner, I have not sought out the information either.

            What I do know about Grand Caravan is mostly from my experience driving rentals. I have probably put 2000 miles on rented GCs this year. I really like how comfortably my old man butt and stiff lower back feels in the driver seat–all day comfortable for me. I like the Pentastar…and the trans seems well sorted. The AC kept me cool, and the infotainment was good, though I didn’t like needing to use voice interface to pair my phone–cannot be done via touchscreen alone! If I was in the market for minivan, I would buy one in a heartbeat…based on my rental experiences.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Yep, they’re not perfect and lag behind the Pacifica and others in terms of NVH and suspension noise/quality especially (the Pacifica in particular is impressive), but for the money I couldn’t say no. $18k for a 34k mile 2016 Touring L with heated seats and steering wheel, rear entertainment, remote start and power doors etc, a comparable Odyssey or Sienna would have been about $6-8k more. And I actually prefer the T&C interior to those two cars in terms of features (stow&go, removable front center console) and surprisingly enough material quality in a number of areas.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            One serious concern with Fiat-era Chryslers is that their suppliers took a bath in the ‘bankruptcy.’ Some of them were burned enough to scrap warehouses full of replacement parts. Most of them had no interest in doing business with FCA without being paid what they were owed, and FCA no longer has access to the same quality of parts that they once did. And those were just meh. I was told this by a Jeep service team leader who was explaining the difficulty we were having getting a working crank position sensor for a Jeep. The other techs knew about the phenomenon too.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Interesting, what about the Daimler/Cerberus period Chrycos?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            You’ll be OK. The last gen DGC and CT&C have had lower warranty costs than the average Toyota for quite some time.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            “Interesting, what about the Daimler/Cerberus period Chrycos?”

            Those are the cars that had parts availability issues while other suppliers were found to replace disposed of spare parts. Now they’re probably all past the point where Fiat needs to stock parts for them.

            Denying warranty coverage of repairs keeps down warranty costs. Fiat is fighting paying for repairs in court, but the combination of sand-casting quality issues and OAT coolant in Pentastar V6s through at least 2017 is clogging expensive to replace heater cores. https://www.carcomplaints.com/news/2017/jeep-wrangler-pentastar-engine-reliability-lawsuit.shtml
            Assigning book labor times that are a fraction of the time it takes to do the job right saves warranty cost while increasing the likelihood of the job being done poorly. Take a look at All-Data to see the difference in labor times between estimated completion and warranty approval. A job that takes 1.8 hours might pay 0.8 hours if it is a Fiat warranty claim.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      You’d think so, but the DS Rams are still having several recallable defects a year right up through MY18.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I don’t know, I don’t see the economic sense in building two half-ton platforms, with different bills of materials, not to mention forcing dealers to stock parts for both. Ford continued to build the 1997-2003 F-150 for one year after the new 2004 model debuted (as the F-150 Heritage), but that was just for one year, and in a limited number of configurations.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      I don’t get the execution here either. I can see keeping the paid for production line going, I can see keeping the blue collar trucks distinct from the expensive ones, but then why is there a new body style Tradesman at all? There isn’t a new body Express.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      So Ram is saying- this strategy is working and working well, so well Ram may even double down with an update. So it appears it must make economic sense.

      Personally I think it’s a good idea- there is always a group that says they just want a no frills truck. This gives them the ability to sell a no frills truck to that group while keeping the new models more upscale.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “…I don’t see the economic sense…”

      The 2019+ Ram 2500s to 5500s are still “classic” previous gen, with refreshed cosmetics.

      Except since they still share the platform with the Classic 1500, it does make sense, especially for Mexico, partly because they’re all built in Mexico, and no need to ship the new generation, USA made Rams 1500s down there.

      Also, Ram is big in Mexico, outselling Silverado and Sierra combined, and not just recently.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      The “economic sense” is simple. Both versions are selling briskly, at profitable price points. From a tactical business perspective, that is pretty much all that matters.

      Comparing this scenario to Ford’s in early 2000s isn’t too instructive however. FCA is a deeply struggling player right now, while Ford, then, was stronger, and better able to act strategically, while FCA is currently acting tactically.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Using the Ram Classic to compete with the Canyonero and Ranger reminds me of when Plymouth ran ads comparing the Duster to the Vega and Pinto.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Hamilton

      The Duster was a good, relatively reliable, durable (except for the rust) car. You can still find many Darts and Dusters for sale at pretty high prices. You can’t say the same for Vegas and Pintos.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The Duster was definitely a better buy than the Vega or Pinto, just as this truck is probably much better at everything than a Colorado or Ranger except for fitting in a narrow parking spot.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      AMC did the same with the old Gremmy…and Pacer. Never made sense to me.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The Gremlin was a compact that was shortened to subcompact length. The interior was tiny, but the weight and mechanicals were pretty similar to a Hornet. The funny thing is Gremlins beat the sheisse out of BMW 2002s in IMSA Radial Sedan racing. Maybe that’s why BMW copied the Gremlin concept to vacuum the interior room out of a 3 series and create the 2 series with zero benefits to efficiency or mass.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          I just never understood how AMC could market a 232 cid six against the 2.3L fours in Vega and Pinto…made no sense to me.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            The 1973 Oil Crisis was still in the future, so small cars were mostly sold on convenience and price. Mazda was doing a good business selling tiny sedans that used gas like big block muscle cars right up until there were gas lines. People were more concerned that Mazda’s engines only lasted 35,000 miles than that they returned 12 mpg.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Even in pricey Vegas, dealers are offering RCLB, stripped-out 1500 Classics for $24k. That’s about the same price you’ll pay for a stripped-out Colorado.

    I’ve heard tell that in other parts of the country, you sometimes see 1500 Classics priced at $19,999. I think that’s a bargain.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I haven’t seen any Classics with those prices. The ones I have seen had an MSRP of high $30s to high $40s, and were very well equipped with HEMI, side steps, trailer hitches, heavy duty cooling and alternator, alloys, and power driver seat.

      Of course, the equipment ordered is the function of the dealer doing the ordering based on what sells in that area.

      But I can’t understand why any dealer would order strippers since there is no margin on those. How much of a demand is out there for a V6 RAM?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    FCA has the Gladiator, no need for another midsize.

    Use that money developing a full-size solid axle SUV, GM is about to give up the segment, perfect time to take it.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      The Glads are selling pretty well, and at pretty steep prices, I’ve been told.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Don’t hold your breath. There won’t be any full size SUVs with solid rear axles in the very near future at all. Frankly they won’t be missed by many. The interior space packaging with IRS is far better with no real downsides aside from cost. Buyers of those things aren’t terribly price conscious.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Interior packaging is a design flaw not because of the axle, Suburbans before 2000 all has lots of space in the 3rd row, it was GMs horrible packaging that hurt them. There are no advantage to IRS it just needlessly complicates the truck. FCA has already announced a solid axle SUV, they’re smart enough to realize GM is about to give up the entire segment with its poor design.

        Frankly there’s not a single reason to buy a IRS Tahoe or Suburban over a AWD minivan if the Tahoe/Suburban doesn’t have the solid rear.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    As an automaker with deep and severe limitations, I gotta give plucky FCA some credit.

    FCA has masterfully worked to continuing generating revenue from 4 old platforms—Journey, Grand Caravan, the LX cars, and the Ram Classic. Sure, manufacturers with stronger financial footing (and enthusiasts here) are quick to scoff at these “ancient” offerings, but with a constant stream of updates, FCA has kept these vehicles compelling for certain slices of the marketplace.

    There are still plenty of buyers willing to pay for a heavy Charger of Challenger—-while the technically superior Camaro is headed for cancellation.

    Credit where credit is due: FCA, carry on with the old hardware. Keep giving your customers what they want to pay for! Do so, and you just might survive long enough to fight another day!

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yep I respect their game. Offer genuinely exciting and interesting colors, variations on trims and packages, roll out some serious hi-po motors, nothing wrong with that and I’m glad to see them being rewarded in sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      To relate to another story here, this is why going mid-engine auto only in pursuit of the ultimate performance car will bite GM in the butt with the new ‘Vette.

      The Chargers and Challengers turned out to be good daily drivers with some performance to go with it. Sure, the Hellcats are muscle cars in the truest sense, but people don’t want a race car to ride in every day. Just nice looking, competent vehicles.

      I miss the Viper though!

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    As good as the classic truck is, I cannot believe people are buying it over the new one.

    A friend of mine just had his 2014 Ram totaled by a moron and he gout a well equipped new generation Ram for $36k after incentives (MSRP $51K-$52K). LED lighting package, V8, heated seats and wheel, 8.4′ uConnect, crew cab, etc.

    The classic is very decontented and only offers a few options.

    • 0 avatar
      kkop

      Top level in Classic is Big Horn, which can be equipped pretty nice, including all options you listed, except LED lights.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        But then you have to drive a vehicle with giant “Big Horn” badges on it, meaning every middle-schooler that sees your truck will be guffawing for as long as you own it.

        Seriously, I don’t think there’s a worse trim level name in all of autodom.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Personally, the Classic is the better looking truck. Unless you want a Rebel or Power Wagon. Those look good in the next gen clothes.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      This sounds intriguing. Can a crew cab fit in a two-car garage, though? I’m not willing to give up my garage spot just so I can drive a macho truck, as much as I might enjoy that.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I have yet to see one of these mythical garages that cannot fit a full-size 1/2 ton pickup. Now a crew cab 3/4 truck with the 8 ft bed might cause issues but there aren’t any 1/2 ton trucks with those dimensions.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Visit my house. It’s a plain old 1953 ranch built into a steep hillside in Seattle. It has a one-car garage under the house, at the lowest corner of the lot. (Most of the house is on crawl space foundation because most of the lot is much higher.)

          The last car I parked in the garage with any regularity was a Lexus LS 460 (standard wheelbase), 200 inches long. It had about a foot of total clearance lengthwise, front and rear. That’s not enough room even for a RCSB.

          There are some built-in shelves in the front, which could be removed for about another foot of room. Remove those and a RCSB would fit, but nothing with either more doors or more bed.

          I stopped parking in there when I sold the LS460 because the replacement wasn’t as 100% immaculate and the car was so big it made it impossible to get to anything else in the garage, especially including the bike I commute on daily. I should try putting our Bolt in — at just 69″ wide and 164″ long I think it would fit pretty well.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Our 1942 built bungalow barely fits my wife’s Camry, my old 4Runner is actually noticeably shorter and narrower and fits nicely but even then requires care when parking (I have a motorcycle, toolbox, and lawnmower I keep along the wall).

        • 0 avatar
          Robotdawn

          I have a brand new (2017) house which unbeknownst to me prior to purchase will not fit my 16 Sierra Doublecab. I mean, technically it may fit, if I had the bumper touch the back wall and parked it dead square, I think the garage door might close. I’m passing on finding out for sure.
          This isn’t uncommon where I live, where I’m under the impression most people use their garage as storage rather than parking.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The standard 2-car garage is 24X24 ft, with a 20X20 minimum. Anything less doesn’t conform to the Uniform Building Code for North America, or what’s called subpar, bootleg, non permitted, etc.

            Or 12′ wide minimum for the single-car garage. Most F-150s are under 20′ and sure that doesn’t leave a lot of room, but as said, most garages are used for (junk) storage.

            It’s fact of life most fullsize pickups aren’t loved enough for inside storage, even when they technically fit, at least not after the 1st or 2nd year of ownership.

            Minty condition 10+ year old pickups are the exception, not the rule.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    The new-new Ram is much more sophisticated inside but I like the looks of the Classic better. Transmission and engines are generally the same. One would think that the Classic Ram is super reliable by now but apparently there are some very expensive issues with the Hemi lifters happening. Some people think it is because of the MDS system, some say because of the 5-20 oil…hard to tell what causes the issue but forums mention this issue a lot. The V6 seems to be bulletproof. Transmission also.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I just noticed the red Classic in the picture above. I wish more full-size trucks were trimmed like that. It’s like the descendant of the simple, clean trucks of the ’90s. Plain body-color bumpers and grille, no chrome, no moldings, no giant garish wheels. On the more modern trucks, even the “subtle” appearance options tend to have giant blocky black or chrome grilles and big chrome or black wheels.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Not offering a midsize pickup is a mistake (Ford found out about) as most midsize pickup buyers aren’t cross shopping fullsize pickups, no matter how much greater the value proposition is.

    Just ask Vulpine… For most Americans, “midsize” is the biggest pickups they care to take on (and they’re even pushing it), and wouldn’t own a fullsize pickup in a million years, thanks to their size, not even ’70s, ’80s “fullsize” pickups.


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