In another “déjà vu” moment this week, Ram has repeated as Top Tailgater on the KBB.com 10 Best Tailgating Cars list. The Ram 1500 took top honors to kick off football season last year and it wears that crown again as we once again prepare for the fall ritual.
“Pick up some friends, stop by the store, park near a stadium and you’ve got yourself a tailgate party. But just as the right food and drink can elevate the experience, so too can the right car,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. “In choosing this year’s Best Tailgating Cars, the KBB.com editors vetted our favorite vehicle features for parking-lot party fun and came up with a list of 10 vehicles that are sure to delight pigskin fans across America.”
The top two spots are occupied by pickups, rightly so, with the remainder of the top five being sport utes and crossovers. Obviously “tailgating” is getting less about the physical device and more about the visceral experience as these cute utes lack the defining feature the activity was named for. But I digress.
Back to the top Tailgaters for 2012 and the 2012 F-150 follows behind the 2012 Ram. Both Ford and Ram have new trucks coming this football season but apparently none were available to vie for this year’s title.
Behind the two trucks are the 2012 Toyota 4Runner, 2013 Mazda CX-5, and 2012 Kia Soul (yes, the one with the hamsters, and we’ve seen those party animals in action).
The Chrysler Group celebrated its 10th year of producing a Lone Star edition Ram pickup for the No. 1 truck market but unfortunately this anniversary edition fell a bit short.
Sure, it was on the Crew Cab 4×4 1500 but the package was so underwhelming compared to previous versions. Ram fell a bit short of the unofficial state slogan of “everything’s bigger in Texas” by outfitting the truck with such subtle badging that it went unnoticed by many. Shame.
Still, the Ram 1500 is a good truck, with its emphasis leaning more towards the comfort side of things than the work aspect pickups have been historically known for.
Over the past decade or so truck buyers have enlisted their (half-ton) pickups for domestic duties as opposed to industrial or bucolic chores now being performed by larger, heavier duty ¾- and 1-ton models.
Not too long after we brought you the 2013 Ram 1500 debut at the New York Auto Show the automaker brought me the 2012 Lone Star truck for a week. I still like the Ram if I am not towing anything significant or hauling an oversized payload – Ram’s domestic competitors handle that abuse a bit better.
I don’t want to call the Ram 1500 a “fancy” truck because it is not but it sure can shine up good when heading out for a night on the town while still being able to get down and dirty with some of the best of them.
In the half-ton pickup segment, the truck wars are heating up yet again (actually, they never died down) with fuel economy battles all the rage. The next Ram will see the new corporate Pentastar V-6 (although there are reports Chrysler has had a few minor issues with some of them) that, along with new eight-speed gearbox and electric power steering should put them tops in the mpg column at least for a little while.
The outgoing tailgate champ offers fuel economy ratings of 13 mpg and 19 mpg via the 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI engine and its six-speed automatic gearbox, even in 4WD running gear. Pricing for the 2012 we tested began at $35,790 with the final tally coming to just over 43 grand.
Ram introduced its Outdoorsman package for the 2500 series trucks a couple of years ago and earlier this summer I received a test model equipped with such.
I gotta tell ya, I thought they mislabeled this truck. I crawled all around it and with the exception of 4WD running gear and the HEMI engine, I found it to be more Tradesman-like than Outdoorsman. Yeah, I think you folks mislabeled this rig.
Our tester came in a regular cab, long cargo box configuration more commonly found on a bean counter’s fleet-purchase spreadsheet. Outdoorsman? Give me a shorter wheelbase for better maneuverability, give me RamBoxes to store fishing and hunting gear … GIVE ME SOME CAMO! The only thing “outdoorsman” I found on the test truck was the badging.
Don’t get me wrong, I find the ¾- and 1-ton Ram pickups to be great workhorses and very popular with folks that need a rugged, reliable truck, just get your marketing department to figure out how to fit the round peg in the round hole.
Our 2500 tester came with a rear feature in vehicles today – a bench seat. OK, the center seatback folds down to give the impression of dual buckets but when upright three can sit across when heading out to the job site (sorry, campsite, I am still confusing this with a Tradesman) or, perhaps better yet, slide your sweetie over next to you on date night.
Pricing for the 2012 Ram 2500 Outdoorsman 4×4 begins at $34,655 with our tester riding in at 41 grand and change thanks to taller rear gear ratio, media center with 40gb hard drive, touch-screen display, Bluetooth, satellite radio, SiriusXM Travel Link, and navigation, spray-in bedliner, and heavy-duty snow plow prep package.
Fuel economy figures are not required to be posted for the heavy duty pickups but our tester came with the 5.7-liter HEMI in 4×4 running gear so figure slightly lower than EPA numbers on the 1500 above.
Let me reiterate I like Ram pickups but if you are considering one make sure you look at the features on the truck and not the label on the fender.
And happy (and safe) tailgating!