If you’re in the market for a pickup truck and its capability but aren’t looking to break the bank to get one, we’ve got just the rig for you, as we spent the last week driving the 2020 Ram 1500 in its base Tradesman package with the EcoDiesel engine upgrade. There’s far more truck here than the price tag admits and the new Ram 1500 is definitely not your grandpa’s Dodge farm truck with its uncomfortable bench and painful drive experience.
Here are some fun facts: The 2020 Ram 1500 Tradesman, being the base model for the truck, starts at about $32,000 and is part of the new-generation Ram 1500 introduced last year. This year, the Tradesman can have the EcoDiesel upgrade, which adds a diesel engine to the Quad Cab package, for about $3,300 more.
That upgrade price puts the 2020 Ram 1500 Tradesman EcoDiesel at $36,000 and change, but moves from the base model’s six-cylinder 3.6 and its 305 horsepower, past the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and its 395 horsepower to a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that puts out 260 horsepower and a whopping 480 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Opting for the EcoBoost engine boosts the Ram 1500’s towing capacity from 6,280 pounds to a best-in-class 12,750 pounds, leaving the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and GMC Sierra 1500 in the dust. What’s not to love about spending a little over three grand to double your towing capacity? Oh, and did we mention the 32 mpg on the highway that this truck delivers?
The 2020 Ram 1500 Tradesman package has very few amenities. This is the low end of the Ram Truck lineup, but it’s nowhere near cheap. It’s got 18-inch no-nonsense steel wheels, sure, and a tiny little 5-inch touchscreen, you bet. But it has 4G WiFi hotspot capability and keyless push button start. Trailer sway damping is also standard in the Tradesman model. A few upgrades are available, mostly for comfort needs, and the Tradesman can be in both Quad Cab and Crew Cab options with the EcoDiesel upgrade. Either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive are available.
Cloth seats come standard in the Tradesman, with a front bench and a middle seat that folds down for an armrest and small storage bin. The back seats in the Quad Cab are big enough for adults to use when necessary and perfect for kids. The Crew Cab adds a lot more space at the rear if adults are going to be regulars back there. The cloth seats are durable and good and the interior, while plain compared to other Ram 1500 trim levels, is functional and not cheap.
As a work truck, though, it’s hard to beat this base level Tradesman package for the Ram 1500. It drives well, it’s fuel efficient, and it has a lot of capability. Especially if you go with the diesel engine upgrade. Which is a big deal as it wasn’t available last year (you can thank the 2018-19 government shutdown for that, as it delayed the engine’s EPA certification).
While the Rebel and Limited packages for the Ram 1500 seem to get all of the headlines and credit, it’s nice to see that the base model for the truck got attention from Ram’s team. The 2020 Ram 1500 Tradesman is a great, low-cost option for pickup trucks and definitely keeps the bar high in entry-level trucks.