Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A white 2024 Ram 1500 is shown parked near a horse.

What’s the Ram 1500 Classic and Should You Even Care?

My preferred way to approach shopping for a vehicle is to think of it as looking at the vast ocean of different models out there and eliminating everything that won’t work for you until you find the vehicle that best meets your needs. If you’re interested in used trucks, for example, you can narrow things down to, say, full-size pickups, then a particular brand, and go from there. Let’s say you’ve done your research, and determined that a Ram is the best truck for you. Once you’ve excluded all those other brands, though, you still have numerous Ram trucks to choose from.

Your biggest choice comes down to the class that will best meet your needs, like the Ram 1500, the Ram 2500, or the Ram 3500. If you’ve decided that the Ram 1500 is the right truck, you still have one more decision: the Ram 1500 or Ram 1500 Classic. What even is that? Let’s look at the Ram 1500 Classic, understand what it is, and figure out if it’s worth buying when the standard Ram 1500 is right there, tempting us with its gleaming exterior and exciting new features.

What Is the Ram 1500 Classic?

Our beloved Ram pickup has been around in one form or another for a long time. Its modern incarnation has been available for more than 40 years, dating back to the old Dodge Ram until Ram became its own brand in 2010. It’s the same truck, now known as simply the Ram 1500 since the 2011 model year. It received an update and facelift for 2013, and then Ram launched a fifth-generation version for the 2019 model year.

That’s when our Ram 1500 Classic was born. Even though Ram was confident about the updates and new features of the fifth generation, they couldn’t deny that the fourth generation had been a huge hit, with many people still quite passionate about it. Ram decided to keep making that fourth-generation model a bit longer and called it the Ram 1500 Classic. In other words, the Ram 1500 Classic is the fourth-generation model still being made new alongside the fifth generation. Its options have become a bit limited, but it has also received some updates since it first launched.

One of many popular used trucks, a 2019 Ram 1500, is shown parked off-road.

The Ram 1500 vs. Ram 1500 Classic

It’s easy to say that the Ram 1500 Classic is the fourth-generation model still being made as new, but what does that actually mean? The best way to understand this is to compare it against the standard Ram 1500, which is the fifth generation of this truck. Looking at the 2024 models (the fifth-generation is getting an update for 2025, so we’ll keep things simple), there are some significant differences between these two vehicles.

The 2024 Ram 1500 features a standard 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine with an eTorque mild hybrid system that delivers 305 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. For added power, there’s an available 5.7L Hemi V8 engine, also with the eTorque system, offering 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque, which gives you two great engines to choose from. Now, looking at the Ram 1500 Classic, it appears to have the same engines as the Ram 1500, except neither of them is equipped with the eTorque system. As a result, the 1500 Classic’s fuel economy is slightly worse than the 1500 with the equivalent engine and drivetrain. Horsepower and torque figures are almost identical, demonstrating that eTorque does not increase power as in many hybrid vehicles, but improves fuel economy instead. But the 1500 Classic may appeal to drivers who prefer simplicity, with no worries about the hybrid system causing problems down the road. Also, the Ram 1500 has a beastly supercharged 6.2L V8 option, but only in the TRX model, which the Ram 1500 Classic does not have.

Another difference between the Ram 1500 and the Ram 1500 Classic is their towing capabilities. With its standard V6 engine, the Ram 1500 Classic can tow up to 7,660 lbs, while the available Hemi V8 pushes that up to 10,620 lbs. The current generation Ram 1500 with the V6 can tow up to 7,730 lbs, almost the same as the 1500 Classic. Step up to the Hemi V8, however, and that figure grows to 12,750 lbs, more than 2,000 lbs more than the 1500 Classic. While the starting difference isn’t that impressive, the contrast with the available engine is huge.

This difference in capabilities is more profound when it comes to payload capacity. The 2024 Ram 1500 Classic with the V6 has a 1,930-lb maximum payload, while the 2024 Ram 1500 V6 can handle up to 2,300 lbs. That might not seem massive, but it can certainly make a difference when you’re loading up your truck, and it illustrates how the new generation has improved. The Ram 1500 Classic also has some older tech, such as a 5.0-inch Infotainment display, though an 8.4-inch screen is now available. You can get this same display in the current Ram 1500, but a gorgeous 12-inch infotainment display you won’t find in the previous generation is available.

A close-up of the grille on a black 2024 Ram 1500 Classic is shown.

Is the Ram 1500 Classic Worth Buying?

This is the big question, and it doesn’t have a simple answer. Honestly, it comes down to what you need from your truck and what you can find. If you’re looking for the latest tech features and options, or you need to be able to tow 12,000 lbs, then the Ram 1500 Classic will leave you wanting. On the other hand, if you need no more than 10,000 lbs of towing, and the latest tech isn’t that appealing, the Ram 1500 Classic can meet your needs. Just be sure you find one with the available Hemi V8 engine to get your desired power and capability. Also, the Ram 1500 Classic Tradesman is available with a standard cab and eight-foot bed, a configuration not available in any newer Ram 1500.

Finally, I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t bring up one other factor: price. Since the Ram 1500 Classic is a holdover from the previous generation, it sells for less than the current model. Looking at 2023 models, for example, the Ram 1500 starts at just over $38,000 MSRP while the Ram 1500 Classic starts at about $32,000. That’s a tremendous difference, and if you’re looking at pre-owned models, you may save even more money by going with the Classic over the fifth-generation Ram 1500. What you need from your truck should come first, but this difference in price tag is nothing to sneeze at.

Focus on the Details and Get the Perfect Truck

If you don’t need the latest and greatest, or if you require an eight-foot bed, the Ram 1500 Classic is worth buying. It’s still a powerful and reliable Ram truck with an impressive engine, capability that competes with many other models, and great features, inside and out. You simply have to decide whether the details missing from the Ram 1500 Classic are deal breakers for you. Also, keep in mind that moving into the 2025 model year, the Ram 1500 is getting an update with a new Hurricane engine rather than its long-standing Hemi V8, which calls the future of the Ram 1500 Classic into question. This might not affect you right now if you’re interested in a used truck, but it could come into play in the years ahead, so plan accordingly.