Ever since our first drive in the current generation RAM 1500 pickup, it’s been a favorite because of its well sorted chassis, excellent build quality and the wide range of models and trims made available.
For 2022, the near entry level RAM 1500 Big Horn got the Back Country off-road package which brings to the lower trim levels many of the same top-drawer off-road hardware previously held out for the much more expensive RAM Rebel.
While it does add $2,695 to the base price of a RAM 1500 4×4, the package brings a truck load of features starting with a raised ride height, off-road suspension, 18-inch wheels with off-road tires, a locking differential and all the software automated traction tools found in the Rebel.
There are many more things visual and included but the meat of the package brings to the lower trim grades the capability of the Rebel without the interior and exterior appearance upgrades that many don’t mind missing out on to save $5,000-6,000.
Our tester did ring in at a heady $63,760 due to a stack of additional packages and stand alone options some important adds in our book. Chief among these is the air suspension that allows you to set the ride height depending on what you’re up to giving you a range of ground clearance from 6.1 to 10.2-inches. Nice.
Inside the cabin shows off mostly the bargain basic Big Horn trim grade but features seating with a sturdy cloth and vinyl combination that was both comfortable and attractive. Trim treatments were well executed with good quality and fit.
Ours was optioned with the larger 12.6-inch portrait style infotainment screen and upgraded Alpine audio system. It featured the full boat of what you expect on the high-end for infotainment systems today including Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
Audio quality was top notch as are the menus and graphics easy to use. Missing in our opinion at this price level however was a 360-degree camera system.
Under the hood was the optional 5.7-liter eTorque HEMI V8 which provides 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and takes power to all four-wheels with an electronically shiftable transfer case.
With the mild hybrid system an additional 130 pound-feet of launch torque can be provided but honestly we didn’t really feel the difference. The system is mostly about increasing fuel economy by adding assist to the engine here and there.
It’s rated at 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. In our week we only achieved 14 mpg combined, quite a bit less – leaving us to simply feel that a standard HEMI V8 would be fine given the $2,250 upgrade price for the eTorque.
The big like for us was the handling and off-road prowess of the Back Country. With the air-suspension it is one of the best handling light-duty pickups on the market compared to Ford, Chevrolet and even the new Toyota Tundra. It’s just well done and makes it to our “Id Buy It” list.