Fisherman make a lot of demands on their pickup truck. It may have to haul three buddies (and their gear) to a favorite stretch of water one day, and be a workhorse on the job the next. It has to have the capacity to tow anything from an aluminum skiff to a bay boat, and the space to hold rod cases, bulky coolers and wader bags. Performance, both on and off-road, are also big concerns, especially if you enjoy fishing distant lakes and streams that require serious four-wheeling to reach. And finally comfort — not just for the driver and whoever's riding shotgun but for the two guys sitting in back. Picture two adults in waders and fly vests or two big Vikings fans dressed in heavy boots and insulated ice-fishing bibs and parkas, and the need for backseat legroom (and the ability to get in and out of your truck easily with all your gear on) becomes major plusses.
Not every vehicle can meet all of the specific needs that anglers have, but the wide array of models, price points and options available in the Ram 1500 line come about as close to making a perfect cast as we've found.
The Outdoorsman® : Equipped for Anglers
The Outdoorsman® is a distinct model in the Ram lineup developed specifically for anglers — or anyone who'd rather be outdoors than in. These trucks are offered in four-door/five-passenger Quad Cab or Crew Cab body styles and with standard four-wheel drive. A heavy duty suspension and towing equipment are built into the package, as are extra skid plates, all-terrain tires and an Anti Spin rear differential for enhanced traction.
Power for Trailering
The 3.6-liter Pentastar gas V-6 standard in the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman® puts out power reminiscent of V-8s of just a few years ago: 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of peak torque. While that's plenty to tow an aluminum skiff or a flats boat, those with bigger hauling chores can choose from two more powerful engine options.
The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 makes power the old-fashioned way: Optimized air/fuel burn in hemispherical combustion chambers results in 395 peak horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. For max towing capabilities in the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman® , the Hemi is King.
The second option is the new EcoDiesel 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6. This thoroughly modern powerplant doesn't sound or smell like most diesels, but tipping into the throttle delivers 420 lb-ft of torque, more than the Hemi from an engine that's about half the size.
The new V-6 EcoDiesel in the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman® is not just a smaller Cummins engine. It's built by Italian manufacturer VM Motori, which is owned by Ram's parent company and has been a Chrysler engine supplier since 1992.
The EcoDiesel is a 3.0-liter, 60-degree V-6 with dual overhead cams, 24 valves, and a single, water-cooled turbocharger with variable vane technology to reduce low-speed turbo lag. Its 50-state emissions compliance comes from a robust combination of exhaust scrubbers, including a Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) system that allows the engine to operate at full power even when fluid levels are low. The engine is B-20 biodiesel compatible and can go as long as 10,000 miles between oil changes when the recommended synthetic oil is used.
Fuel Efficient for Long Hauls
Ram engineers developed a number of features under the umbrella term "Fuel Saver Technology" to maximize the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman® miles per gallon. Active Grille Shutters can redirect airflow around the grille when cooling system demands are low to improve aerodynamics. The Ram's optional air suspension system lowers the truck at highway speeds to further reduce aero drag. Electric power steering relieves the engine from having to drive steering hydraulics, which both improves efficiency and nets horsepower. The truck's frame and powertrain are lighter than previous models, and the body is more aerodynamically efficient.
All three of the engines available in the Ram are teamed with the new TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission, which has enough gears in its case (including two overdrives) to ensure that the engines are always running in their "sweet spot."
The result: The EcoDiesel returns a best-in-class highway fuel economy of 29 mpg. The Pentastar V-6 isn't far behind at 25 highway mpg. Even the big-inch Hemi manages 22 highway mpg.
Towing & Trail Capability
The multi-faceted Ram 1500 Outdoorsman® delivers, whether hauling an open-water boat or heading up-trail to a backcountry lake. The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 gives the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman® a maximum tow rating of 10,650 pounds (in 4x2 models, a few hundred pounds less for 4x4s), enough to pull a 26-footer with twin outboards. For lightweight boats, the Pentastar V-6's 7,600-pound max tow rating is fine, and the standard V-6 is easier on the wallet. In terms of all-around capability, the EcoDiesel stands out, delivering fun-to-drive responsiveness, excellent fuel economy, and a max trailer tow rating of 9,200 pounds.
The Ram 1500 Outdoorsman® is also an excellent four-wheeler, truly in its element off the pavement. The coil spring suspension keeps all the tires on the ground even through deep ruts or over rocks for optimal traction. The all-terrain tires — 31 inches tall on Outdoorsman® models — provide extra ground clearance. And all that torque, especially from the EcoDiesel and Hemi, will keep the Ram moving over rocks, up hills, through mud, and across streams.
Comfort — Even With Your Waders On
The Ram 1500 Quad and Crew Cab offer generous seating room for five passengers. The front bucket seats are firm and supportive, and the driver's seat is 10-way power adjustable, so drivers of any stature can find that just-right seating position.
The Ram's back bench seat is surprisingly spacious. In either cab style there's enough leg room so even the tallest passengers won't bang their knees against the front seats. Hip room, too, is ample, easily accommodating guys in waders, insulated suits or other bulky gear. And speaking of room, the rear doors in the Ram Quad and Crew Cabs open wide, so getting in and out isn't a chore.
Tackle Storage Plus
Any fisherman knows the sport requires a lot of, for lack of a better term, "stuff." The Ram 1500 Outdoorsman® pickup bed will easily hold the big items; and the optional cargo management system, with its movable cleats, makes it easy to secure rod cases, coolers and other gear.
Inside the cabin, little cubbies are everywhere, for tide charts, boat keys, extra sunglasses. The cavernous console between the front seats will swallow anything from extra jackets and dry clothes to a laptop computer. That console is also home to two 12-volt car chargers, USB and auxiliary jacks, even a 115-volt outlet so your cell phone, portable GPS, and other electronics can be powered up on the drive. There are storage bins under the rear seat, and that seat folds flat for additional cargo space.
In the Outdoorsman® trim the Ram 1500 is equipped with the full gamut of power accessories, including a powered sliding rear window, which comes in handy when talking to a helper at the boat ramp or while attaching a trailer.
Stay Connected — Even When Away From It All
You may fish to "get away from it all," but that doesn't mean you want to be completely off the grid. Ram 1500 trucks are available with Uconnect infotainment systems that will let you stay as in-touch as you want.
Bluetooth connectivity with your cell phone and hands-free calling are just the start. Satellite radio, traffic and navigation systems are available via subscription, and emergency assistance is as close as the "911" button. With the Uconnect Access program drivers can access Yelp search, send and receive text messages via voice commands and turn the truck into a Wi-Fi hot spot. Another program, Uconnect Access via Mobile, runs cell phone-based music and Internet apps using the phone's data plan. There's even an app that will unlock the doors and start the engine via cell phone or computer.
Bigger Boat? Go Heavy Duty
A 32-foot center console boat can weigh almost 9,000 pounds — and that's dry. Add the outboards, fluids, gear and trailer and the rig is well over a Ram 1500's tow capacity. Time to check out the Heavy Duty option. Ram 2500 (three-quarter-ton) and 3500 (one-ton) trucks have the same amenities as their light-duty cousins — and are offered in Outdoorsman models — but with powertrains and chassis built to haul serious loads. The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is the base engine in these trucks; also available is a 6.4-liter Hemi and the Cummins 6.7-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel, now rated to produce 385 horsepower and 865 lb-ft of torque (in High-Output versions). That's enough grunt to tow as much as 17,970 pounds with a 2500 model, up to 30,000 pounds with a 3500 dualie.