Dodge RAM 1500 Generations

Stellantic manufactures RAM pickup trucks in North America. Before 2010, the truck was part of the Dodge brand and known as a Dodge RAM. Since 2010, it has been marketed under the RAM Trucks brand and known as RAM Trucks. The truck was first introduced in 1980 as a 1981 model year. Today, the RAM 1500’s fifth generation is on the market.

RAM 1500 generations by years are:

  1. First generation: 1981 to 1993 Dodge RAM 1500
  2. Second generation: 1994 to 2001 Dodge RAM 1500
  3. Third generation: 2002 to 2008 Dodge RAM 1500
  4. Fourth generation: 2009 to 2018 RAM 1500
  5. Fifth generation: 2019 to Present RAM 1500

The RAM 1500 received “Truck of the Year” awards from MotorTrend magazine 8 times.

Dodge Ram 1500 Generations Chart

Currently, the Dodge Ram 1500 has five generations. Dodge continuously adds new features and technologies in each generation, making Dodge Ram a top-competitive vehicle in the market.

Here is a Dodge Ram 1500 generation chart and key features:

GenerationYearsKey FeaturesEngine Highlights
First Generation1981-1993Square body style, optional Cumming Turbo Diesel engineSlant-6, V6, and V8 engine options
Second Generation1994-2001Rounded design, first time use airbags, introduced the Ram name as a standalone brandMagnum V8
Third Generation2002-2008Bold design, muscular look, return of the Power Wagon trimHemi V8 engine introduced, offer multiple engine option
Fourth Generation2009-2018Improve the fuel economy, Introduction of RamBox storage system, start to use advanced technologiesEcoDiesel V6, Pentastar V6, and Hemi V8 engines
Fifth Generation2019-PresentSuper luxurious interior, coil spring suspension option, impressive towing capacityPowerful Hemi V8 engine, and innovative eTorque mild hybrid system

All Generations of Dodge Rama 1500

Now, let’s start the discussion about the Dodge RAM 1500 pickup truck’s all generations and each generation’s good and bad sides.

1st Generation Dodge Ram 1500 [1981-1993]

The Ram first-generation truck was introduced in October 1980 as a 1981 model year. The new model of Dodge Ram replaced the Dodge D-series trucks. The first-generation model comes with both 2WD (two-wheel drive) and 4WD (four-wheel drive) options.

The first generation offers “Club” extended cab, standard cab, or crew cab configurations. The configurations come with 6.5 foot and 8 foot bed lengths. As a replacement for Dodge D-series, the new Ram offers various advanced features, including dual rectangular headlamps, wraparound tail lamps, and squared-off body lines.

This generation also came with an updated interior, which includes a new dashboard, a new bench seat, an ammeter, a speedometer, an updated instrument cluster, fuel gauge, temperature gauge, and an oil pressure gauge. However, the temperature and oil pressure gauge are optional packages and without the package, buyers get an indicator light in that place.

The front bumper guard, cruise control, air-conditioning, and other features also come with the first-generation Dodge Ram. After 1982, Ram discontinued the “Club” cab but reintroduced it in the 1990 model.

Note that, in first-generation trucks, Dodge used “Ram 150” just like Ford truck’s F-Series to indicate a half-ton truck, “250” to describe a three-quarter-ton pickup truck, and “350” to describe a one-ton truck.

The Ram 150 comes with a 3.7L slant, 5.2L V8, and 5.9L V8 engines. I have provided the engine’s performance and other capabilities below. If we consider transmissions, we can see that the first-generation Dodge Ram uses a variety of transmissions.

From 1981 to 1993 Ram trucks come with a 3-speed automatic, a 4-speed automatic, and a 5-speed manual transmission. In 1988 Ram model, Dodge introduced a powerful 5.2L V8 engine, and in the 1989 Ram model 5.9L V8 engine.

The basic Ram 100 was introduced in 1984 and replaced by the Ram 150 in 1990. The Ram 150 1990 model comes with some upgrades, such as an updated instrument cluster and a voltmeter (in place of the ammeter). Dodge also reintroduced the “Club” cab configuration in the 1990 model.

However, with all the features and technologies, these trucks sold low numbers compared to the General Motors and Ford F-Series trucks.

Here is the Dodge Ram first generation’s engine information by year:

EngineModel YearHorsepowerTorque
3.7L I-61981-198795 hp170 lb-ft
3.9L V61988-1991124 hp195 lb-ft
3.9L V6 (Magnum)1992-1993175 hp225 lb-ft
5.2L V81988-1991170 hp260 lb-ft
5.2L V8 (Magnum)1992-1993231 hp280 lb-ft
5.9L V81981-1988175 hp260 lb-ft
5.9L V8 (Magnum)1993230 hp325 lb-ft
5.9L V81989-1992190 hp292 lb-ft
5.9L I6 (Cummins 6BT)1989-1993160 hp400 lb-ft

2nd Generation Dodge Ram 1500 [1994-2001]

Dodge Ram’s second generation first debuted on October 1, 1993, at the North American International Auto Show. The production year for the second generation is July 1993-July 2001 as 1994-2001 model years. Dodge started to develop the second-generation Ram in 1986.

The models of this generation have come with more standard designs that replace the conventional truck design. Dodge officially used the “1500” title for Ram in its second-generation models. This generation is designed to focus on durability and reliability.

That’s why the first model of the second-generation 1994 Ram 1500 received “Truck of the Year” awards from MotorTrend. This generation of models perfectly fights with their competitors, such as Ford and General Motors trucks.

The 1996 Ram 1500 is considered to be the best model year among the second-generation because Dodge sold around 411,000 units of the 1996 model. The second-generation models are equipped with the same engines as the previous generation.

But a new 8.0L V10 engine and Cumming Turbo diesel engine were introduced in the second-generation Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 models. The updated 3.9L V6 engine provides 175 horsepower, while the 5.9L V8 provides 230 horsepower, and the 5.2L also provides 230 horsepower.

Like the previous generation, the second generation also offers two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive options. This generation model years offered both long 8-foot and short 6.5-foot cargo beds in different cab configurations. The most common trim levels of the second-generation Ram 1500 are LT, SLT, ST, and Work Special.

Among these trim levels, the SLT is the most advanced one and offers a more comfortable interior with power locks, power windows, a cassette player, and AC. The 2000 Ram 1500 offers 6-speed manual transmission.

An overview of the second-generation (1994-2001) Dodge Ram 1500 is given below:

EngineGasoline3.9L V6 5.2L V8 5.9L V8 8.0L V10
Diesel5.9L Cummins ISB turbo I6
          TransmissionsAutomatic4-speed TorqueFlite 47RH-RE transmission4-speed TorqueFlite 46RH-RE transmission4-speed TorqueFlite 42RH-RE transmission
Manual6-speed New Venture Gear 56005-speed New Venture Gear 45005-speed New Venture Gear 3500
Body and Chassis2-door regular cab1994-2002
2-door Club cab1995-2002
4-door Quad cab1998-2002
DimensionsLength204.1-244.1 inches
Height71.5 or 74.5 inches
Width79.3 or 93.8 inches
Wheelbase118.7-153.7 inches

3rd Generation Dodge Ram 1500 [2002-2008]

Dodge started to develop the third generation Ram 1500 in 1996 and debuted it on 7 February, 2001, at the Chicago Auto Show. The third-generation Ram 1500 is more stylish than previous generation models.

2003 Dodge Ram, starting model of the third-generation, also offered Ram 2500 and 3500 models. This generation of trucks comes with some major updates, including new frame, powertrains, sheet metal, suspension, and interior. This generation Ram trucks is the first full-size truck to offer side curtain airbags feature.

Another notable change is that the extended cab was upgraded to a four-wheel quad cab, while the single cab option was still available. The four-wheel drive replaces the live suspension with an independent front suspension.

Users get shorter bed configurations for single cab models, but the four-door quad-cab models come with a 6.5 ft truck bed and 8 ft bed options. The 3.7L V6 engine is also used in this generation, but it was updated this time and produced around 215 horsepower.

The 5.2L V8 engine is replaced by a 4.7L V8 engine in the third-generation models. The 4.7L V8 engine produces 234 horsepower and 294 lb-ft of torque. The 5.7L V8 and 5.9L I6 engines are also available in different model years.

Many special additions to Rams are also available in this generation, including Dytona, Power Wagon, and SRT-10. The SRT-10 comes with the most powerful 8.3L Viper V10 engine, which produces around 510 horsepower and 535 lb-ft of torque.

The 2006 Ram 1500 makes a noticeable change in the third-generation model. The 2006 model offers a Mega Cab configuration which is the large version of the Quad cab that provides a 22-inch space and 6.25 ft bed. This model year also offers advanced technologies, such as navigation, rear-seat DVD system, and Sirius satellite radio.

An overview of third-generation [2002-2008] Ram 1500 Regular Cab is given below:

EngineGasoline3.7L PowerTech V6 5.7L V8 4.7L Hemi V8 5.9L Magnum V8 8.0L V10 And 8.3L Viper V10
Diesel5.9L Cummins ISB turbo I6 6.7L Cummins ISB turbo I6
          TransmissionsAutomatic4-speed TorqueFlite 48RE transmission4-speed 45RFE transmission4-speed 42RLE transmission5-speed automatic6-speed automatic
Manual6-speed New Venture Gear 56005-speed New Venture Gear 45005-speed New Venture Gear 3500
Body and Chassis2 door regular cab 
4 door Mega Cab 
4 door Quad cab 
  DimensionsLength207.7-295.1 inches
Height75.7 or 80.8 inches
Wheelbase120.5-160.5 inches

4th Generation Ram 1500 [2009-2018]

The fourth-generation 2009 Ram 1500 was also introduced at the North American International Auto Show 2008, in Detroit. To keep Ram as the market’s top competitor, its manufacturer, Chrysler LLC, made many changes and upgraded the fourth-generation 2009 model.

Some of the highlights of the 2009 Ram 1500 are a four-door cab configuration, an updated Hemi engine option, the latest suspension, and a new storage system.

From the 2010 model year on, the Ram started to use the Ram 1500 as a brand name and separate from Dodge. Then Dodge started to focus on the car, sedan, SUVs, and minivan industries. On the other hand, Ram separately moves to the light and full-size truck industries.

As a result, Ram 1500 started to be manufactured on its own platform, which continues the previous trims SLT, ST, Sports, TRX4, and Laramie.

Transmission options in the fourth generation are similar to the previous generation: 2- and 4-wheel-drive. This generation offers a variety of cab configurations and bed options.

There are four cab styles available in this Ram’s generation with three different lengths of bed, including 5.5 inches, 6.3 inches, and 8 inches bed.

In the fourth generation, the leaf springs are replaced by a coil spring rear suspension to give Ram 1500 proper stability and good handling.

Ram gives priority to ride comfort in its fourth-generation models. Features like heated rear seats, rearview camera, and power-adjustable floor pedals are added to give passengers and drivers a comfortable ride.

At the start of 4th generation, 3 engine options are available, including a 5.7L Hemi V8 that produces 390 horsepower, a 4.7L V8 that produces 310 horsepower, and a 3.7L V6 engine producing 215 hp.

The 3.7L V6 engine was replaced by a 3.6L Pentastar V8 in the 2013 Ram 1500, which increased the power output to 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque.

For the 2014 model, the 4.7L engine was discontinued, and a 3.0L EcoDiesel engine option was added for the 2014–2017 Ram 1500 models.

Depending on the engine option, this generation vehicle offered a 4-speed automatic, a 5-speed automatic, and a 6-speed manual transmission.

The 2013 Ram 1500 comes with some minor changes including updated interior, air suspension (optional), a slight exterior restyling, updated 8-speed automatic transmission, Uconnected infotainment system, and high-efficiency HFE model.

Ram introduced a new trim “Rebel” in 2016 that is mainly designed to focus on off-road driving. Ram again made some changes in their 2018 model and added HD radio, Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system, AT&T wireless 4G LTE, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

From 2018 the Lone Star Silver Edition and the Night Edition trims were continued. Ram returned the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine at the beginning of 2018 following allegations of emission cheating in 2017.

5th Generation Ram 1500 [2019-Present]

The 2019 Ram 1500 comes as a fifth-generation model with more advanced features and new designs than its predecessor. In this generation, Ram uses new advanced metal technology that reduced the 2019 Ram 1500 weight to around 225 pounds.

The 2019, 2021-2023 model years are extremely appreciated for comfort interior. Therefore, the 2019 and 2021 models are rated to be the best half-ton pickup trucks of the year. The 2019 Ram 1500 offers only seven trim levels, while the previous model year offer 11 trim levels.

As a pickup truck, Ram works in its towing capability and enhances the towing capacity by about 12,750 pounds, which is 2,300 pounds more than the previous year.

In 2020 model, Ram introduced a Black Appearance Package in Warlock trim, which gives this model year a more aggressive and attractive look. The Ram 1500 Classic Warlock trim offers an Off-Road package in the 2021 model year. The Off-Road Package includes unique aluminum alloy wheels and all-terrain tires.

In this model year, Ram updated the interior and added a new 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system, HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and Apple CarPlay & Android Auto system.

From 2022, all Ram trim levels come with Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The Ram 1500 dropped the Express trim and short bed configuration in 2023. This model year again updated the interior by adding a new Uconnect 5 infotainment system and continuing the other previous features.

In the 2024 model, Ram dropped the EcoDiesel engine option. The fifth generation also dropped the base manual transmission and regular cab. This generation offers Quad cab and extended cab configurations with 6.4-foot and 5.7-foot bed sizes.

Fifth-generation Ram 1500 models offer a 3.6L V6 engine or 5.7L V8 engine. Note that, both engines come with a mild-hybrid eTorque system and also offer an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The latest Ram 1500 comes with the most advanced technology and safety features, including heated side mirror, cylinder deactivation system, electronic parking system, push-button start, and rearview camera.

Some optional features are also available in the latest model years, including a class-leading 12-inch infotainment system, adaptive cruise control, heated seats, and hill-descent control.

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