Car and Driver calls the Ram 1500, “the best driving and most comfortable” half-ton truck, and we agree. Enhancements including a split-folding tailgate, a giant 12-inch infotainment screen, and an impressive 12,750-pound max tow rating. But before you buy, it’s extremely important to know what the truck is rated for when it comes to payload. Why is the payload rating so important when buying a truck camper? Because the payload rating tells you how much weight you can safely carry without overloading your truck. The weight rating includes passengers, your camper, and cargo—basically everything not permanently attached to your truck.
Unfortunately, finding Ram’s payload and GVWR ratings online can be a chore and very time consuming. Sure, you can quickly find the maximum payload rating for an Ram 1500 regular cab long-bed model, but very few consumers go that route. Most go with the short-bed, crew cab model. Fortunately, Truck Camper Adventure has done the research for you. Now you can find all of these ratings in one, easy-to-read location. In order to streamline the payload information presented in our chart, only Ram’s Tradesman trim is presented with one engine choice though various options including drivetrain (2WD, 4WD, and AWD) and bed-size are presented to help buyers make the right choice.
2023 Ram 1500
FCA offers four engines for the 2023 Ram 1500, including the standard 3.6L V6, a 5.7L Hemi V8 with ETorque, a 6.2L V8 that puts out an impressive 702 horse power, and an EcoDiesel 3.0L turbo diesel. All are paired with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic. Consumers can choose from one of three gear ratios, either a 3:21, a 3:55, or and 3:92. For hauling a truck camper, we recommend going with the 5.7L Hemi V8 for extra power and efficiency along with the 3:92 rear. Consumers will enjoy the Ram 1500’s smooth ride thanks to a rear suspension that uses either coil springs, or an air suspension (crew cab models only), rather than the traditional leaf-springs found on the competition.
In spite of the coil and air spring offerings, however, the Ram 1500’s payload ratings compare favorably with its rivals, though some owners with truck campers still report an excessively soft and “bouncy” ride with sway corrected only through the use of a sway bar and either Timbrens or SumoSprings. A quad cab model with 2WD and a 6.4 foot bed gets a decent 2,325 pounds of payload with a 7,100 GVWR, while the regular cab with an 8-foot bed and 2WD gets an impressive 2,856 pounds of payload. For aggressive off-roading with a pop-up truck camper, we recommended the Rebel (rather than the TRX), which offers the 3.6L V6 engine, size-33 Wrangler DuraTrac all-terrain tires on 18-inch aluminum wheels, upgraded Bilstein shocks, a 1-inch lift, hill-descent control, a rear locker, skid plates, a 3:92 rear diff, and a host of other upgrades too long to mention here.
- Base price: $37,410
- Powertrain: 5.7L V-8 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission
- Max payload: 2,335 pounds
A Warning About Options
When it comes to payload, options can either hurt or help a truck’s rating. As a truck camper owner, you should always opt for the “maximum payload” or “max tow package” as this maximizes payload. As for other options, however, choose wisely. Yes, having a diesel engine is great for climbing mountains and raising your testosterone, but it’s also heavier. This means less payload—not to mention more emission hassles—for you. Ditto for 4WD. That feature, while great for driving on rough roads, sand, and snow, isn’t so great for your payload rating—the typical 4WD drivetrain weighs 300 pounds more that the 2WD version. Think twice about getting that spacious crew cab as well. That larger cab outweighs a standard cab by roughly 350 pounds. For a half-ton truck, that increase in weight is huge.
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