New 1500 model great buy for price savvy truck shoppers

I have to tip my hat to the folks at Ram.

Not content to rest on what has been a stellar, award-winning year, it is apparent that Chrysler’s truck division has every intention of keeping the coveted “Truck of Texas” honors for the foreseeable future.

Launching a number of new trim levels this year, Ram has done it again with the new 1500 Express, which is just now starting to arrive in dealerships nationwide.

Designed for the price savvy truck buyer, the Ram 1500 Express packs a lot of value into a full-size pickup that will literally do it all.

With a base price starting around $20,000, the Ram 1500 Express provides a standard HEMI V-8 engine (390 horsepower/407 lbs.-ft. torque) capable of towing up to 10,450 pounds.

Oh, I forgot to mention, it also has an EPA fuel economy rating of 20 mpg highway.

The genesis of the 1500 Express is to provide a regular cab, short bed truck that appeals to a cost-conscious, new-vehicle buyer who doesn’t want to give up performance and capability.

If that was the mission, Ram knocked the ball out of the park.

This truck is absolutely amazing.

While it comes with a nice list of standard features, it is also available with hundreds of accessories for those who want to personalize their truck.

Available in rear- or four-wheel drive configurations, the Ram 1500 Express features a racy, monochromatic paint scheme with body-colored grille and black honeycomb inserts. Chrome-tipped dual exhaust, fog lights, 6X9 side-view mirrors and 20-inch aluminum wheels with locking lug nuts round out the exterior features.

Standard features also include a 160-amp alternator, 26-gallon fuel tank, 700-amp maintenance-free battery, four- and seven-pin trailer wiring harness, heavy-duty front and rear shocks, front and rear stabilizer bars, power rack-and-pinion steering, halogen headlights, heavy-duty engine and transmission cooling and a full-size spare tire.

Interior features include a vinyl 40/20/40 split-bench seat, air conditioning, instrument cluster with tachometer and 120-mph speedometer, 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, tilt steering column, six-speaker media center with CD and MP3 player as well as audio jack input for mobile devices, automatic lights, behind-the-seat storage bins, driver and passenger assist handles, power accessory delay, rear-view day/night mirror, tinted glass windows and intermittent wipers.

Safety features include dual front airbags, front curtain and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, theft deterrent system and tire pressure monitoring system.

As I mentioned before, there are lots of Mopar options available to allow the buyer to customize their 1500 Express — and with the affordable base price, lots of money left over for add on options.

While Ram has a great lineup, I look for the Express to do extremely well as it offers buyers both performance and style at a very affordable price.

I absolutely recommend this for the test drive list.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

MODEL:

2011 Ram 1500 Express

3-seat regular cab, short box full-size pickup 

Rear- or four-wheel drive

PRICE RANGE:

$21,000-$28,000

ENGINE:

5.7-L HEMI V8 (390 hp/407 T)

TRANSMISSION:

5-speed automatic

EPA: 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway

FUEL: Regular unleaded (mid-grade recommended)

TRACTION CONTROL:

Electronic stability control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 209 inches

WHEELBASE: 120.5 inches

WIDTH: 79.4 inches

HEIGHT: 74.6 inches

WEIGHT: 4,009 lbs.

TRACK: 68/67.5

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 26 gallons

PAYLOAD: 1,580 pounds

TOWING: 10,450 pounds

TIRES: 20-inch