Plain Jane Ram more than up to the task

Ram’s base-model Tradesman is a stripper for sure. Basic white body with steel wheels. Vinyl seat and floor mats. Crank widows and push-down door locks. Black steel bumpers.

Trucks don’t get more vanilla.

But it’s perfect for the business owner that needs a cheap, er, inexpensive pickup to haul stuff, and occasionally tow a trailer.

I recently spent a few days driving the city streets, interstates, and mountain roads between Phoenix, Az. and Laughlin, Nv., in a 2015 regular cab two-wheel-drive Tradesman.

2015 Ram 1500

What wasn’t bland was under the hood: the 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6.

Ram’s standard 3.6L 305hp V-6 is a strong motor, delivering 18/25mpg on city/highway. But if you are going to be towing heavier trailers and hauling heavy stuff in its 6’4″ bed, then it’s the $4,500 EcoDiesel V-6 option that I was driving you want.

The EcoDiesel Tradesman sips fuel like a camel trekking over the Sahara. During a joint test with the folks at Cars.Com, I saw 29.2mpg on a 110- mile highway-driving loop that included a 20-mile section of twisting mountain roads.

This particular truck also bested the EPA’s 20mpg city driving numbers with better than 22mpg navigating through moderate stop-and-go traffic.

It’s a fast, strong package, too. It pulled a 4,500 pound trailer with great ease even in the mountains. Not surprising as the diesel makes about 50-percent more torque than the gas V-6, pushing out 420 lb-ft of torque running through a very smooth eight-speed automatic.

On top of the power, I found the regular cab Tradesman both nimble and comfortable–even when spending hours behind the wheel. It takes the bumps, dips, and irregularities in the road with aplomb, and the vinyl 60/40- split-bench seat is both comfortable and adjustable enough to make even taller drivers and passengers be at ease.

Ram’s base-model 1500 Tradesman with the optional diesel V-6  is a true work truck. It may look plain Jane, but it’s power and overall performance is pleasantly colorful.

Basic Specifications

  • Model: 2015 Ram 1500 Tradesman Regular Cab 2WD
  • Base Price: $25,195
  • Price As Tested: $32,020
  • Major options: EcoDiesel ($4,000); 8spd automatic ($500); Uconnect ($660)
  • Engine: 240hp 3.0L V-6 EcoDiesel
  • Transmission: 8spd TorqueFlite Automatic
  • Axle Ratio: 3.55:1
  • Fuel Economy (EPA): 20 city/23 combined /28 hwy
  • Observed: 22 city/29.2 hwy/17 towing
  • Maximum Towing Capacity (hitch ball): 5,000 lbs

Maximum Towing Capacity (Weight-distributing): 8,240 lbs.