Even though 2020 is already shaping up to be a big year for RAM, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2021. It looks like the 2021 RAM line-up is going to feature a few pleasant surprises. That’s a good thing, because FCA is heavily reliant on RAM’s truck sales to help keep business ticking over. Together with Jeep, RAM is arguably the most important part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ North American business. That’s no mean feat for such a young brand.
RAM was first established in 2010, when Chrysler decided to create the Dodge RAM division, which specialized in creating vehicles for “real truck customers.” These trucks were designed and engineered for heavy-duty driving, maximum durability, and hard work, as opposed to other trucks on the market that were created as fashion accessories for the image-conscious casual truck driver.
Fortunately, the newly established RAM brand quickly captured the attention of the American public. Over the years, the brand has moved from strength to strength, becoming one of the most important FCA sub-brands. By 2018, the FCA family posted record sales figures, with an increase of 9% in the USA alone, with a total yearly sales volume of 2,235,204 units sold. That year, the bulk of those sales belonged to Jeep and RAM, with RAM accounting for 597,368 of vehicles sold, trailing behind the Jeep brand, which sold 973,227.
The majority of RAM’s sales that year were trucks, with 536,980 trucks sold, and the remainder being the brand’s Pro Master work vans. Burly trucks are very much the company’s bread and butter—which is fortunate considering that the brand only operates with any authority in North America, with very little presence in other markets. In terms of global sales, only 13.5% of the brands sales are in Canada, 4.7% in Mexico, and a miniscule 0.3% in Saudi Arabia, which leaves the rest to the USA. It’s a good thing that American customers are big fans of hard-working trucks.
Despite the brand’s relative success, there’s always room for improvement. The 2020 model year is looking promising, with the HD 2500 and HD 3500 expected to get significant updates—with both models expected to be huge sales success stories and likely to be some of the best trucks that 2020 has to offer. There’s also an update of the 1500 on the cards too. If all goes to plan, the brand could very well sell more than 600,000 vehicles in the US for the first time in history. But that’s 2020. We’re looking even further ahead to see what the 2021 RAM line-up is shaping up like.
Here are the models that we’re most looking forward to seeing, have heard rumors about, or fully expect to see in the 2021 range. Some of these are official announcements, some based on rumors from so-called insider sources, and some are based on educated guesses. Let’s take a look.
What To Expect From The 2021 RAM Line-Up
2021 RAM Dakota
RAM is expected to introduce a mid-size truck back into their stable for 2021 with an all-new Dakota model. For years, RAM has been the only truck manufacturer that hasn’t had a presence in the mid-size truck arena, but all that is set to change. Ever since the Dakota was discontinued in 2011, the mid-size truck market has really taken off, but RAM has been left behind.
Despite the success of the brands HD series, RAM has seemed reluctant to branch out from their core vehicle line-up. While Jeep has taken a few adventurous risks, with large SUVs, and a wider selection of model variations, RAM hasn’t really taken any real gambles. And even the re-introduction of the Dakota is hardly a gamble, it’s a safe bet. The market for mid-size trucks is booming, and a mid-size with a RAM badge isn’t going to be a hard sell.
Going up against the likes of the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and Jeep Gladiator, the RAM Dakota has a lot in the way of competition, but with careful design and well-thought-out practicality, along with impressive performance specs, then the Dakota could easily become a front runner in the segment.
The new Dakota is expected to be built using the same body-on-frame platform and architecture as the above mentioned Jeep Gladiator but with massive differences. The overall Jeep and RAM differences far outweigh their similarities. And it’s those differences that RAM will have to work to emphasize if they’re going to make a big impression on the marketplace.
Underneath the hood, we’re expecting a few engine options, including the Pentastar 3.6 liter, a diesel V6, and a turbocharged four-cylinder. There’s also talk of a hybrid option, which would make a lot of sense. There will be more than engine variations though; a single-cab and quad-cab option is expected, with short and long bed variants too. Currently, the Jeep Gladiator is only available as a four-door, with a short bed. If the RAM wants to carve out a name for itself in the market, these variations are exactly what would be required.
It also helps the RAM Dakota move away from the Jeep Gladiator, becoming a solid model in its own right. To make that differentiation even clearer, RAM will probably opt for independent front suspension, unlike the Jeep’s live front end.
Whatever the differences, the price also has to be right. To be competitive, the new 2021 RAM Dakota would have to be priced much lower than the Jeep’s $35,000 starting price. Similarly, it would also have to sell itself as a viable alternative to the RAM Classic in terms of specification. So, a base price of around $25,000 would be a good starting point, putting it below the RAM Classic and the more expensive Jeep Gladiator, but with more options and variations available.
For those curious to see what the new Dakota could look like, the folks at automobilemag.com have a few tasty looking renderings for you to look at.
2021 RAM 1500 Rebel TRX
The 2021 RAM 1500 Rebel TRX has already been spotted out testing, but these pre-production vehicles aren’t at all what we should be expecting from the full production model. These prototype models are based on the Laramie Black edition, but these prototypes are just used for component testing, so that RAM can fully test their TRX technology in a body that doesn’t give too much away. That doesn’t mean that these prototype aren’t worth looking at though—they have a lot to say and give us some nice indications of what to expect from the 2021 RAM 1500 Rebel TRX.
The first thing about these spy shot prototypes is that they’re wearing Michigan license plates. Other insider sources have also states that the Sterling Heights plant in Michigan is gearing up for the Rebel TRX’s pre-production, ready for it to be released as a 2021 model. So, it definitely is coming soon, make no mistake about that.
Eagle-eyed RAM enthusiasts haven’t wasted any time pouring over these spy videos and spy shots, and they’ve made some excellent discoveries that they’ve confirmed with alleged insiders. So far, we know that the new Rebel TRX is going to have a massive hood scoop rather than the usual performance hood, to funnel cold air into the 6.3 liter supercharged V8 Hellcat engine. The engine is said to be able to produce the full 707 horses, rather than the previous 2016 concept’s 575 horsepower.
Like most spy shots, the best pictures are of the rear end. Luckily, this has revealed a few interesting features. For example, the rear axle appears to be a full-floating Dana 60, which should improve the overall capabilities of the Rebel TRX, and help control the power delivered from that powerful Hellcat engine. The front axle is likely the same. The exhaust outlets are also interesting, with the TRX sporting a true dual exhaust system, with visible mufflers or resonators.
The shots also reveal that the rear wheels are 8-lug units rather than 6-lug, like you’d find on a regular 1500. The spy shot front wheels have the standard 6-lug arrangement, but these will probably morph into 8-lug for the production model. Other notable features include brawny control arms, hidden remote reservoir shocks, rumored to be King Off-Road racing units.
Lastly, the prototypes all have a wider track than standard 1500s, and they sit much higher too. In terms of tires, they’ve got 35 inch tall tires on them. The TRX concept was actually fitted with 37s, but it looks like the production model will wear 35s, which is a far more reasonable option.
For now, we can only ogle at spy shot pictures and videos, or look back at the amazing TRX concept. However, as the weeks fall off of the calendar, we can expect to see more of these pre-production prototypes and test mules out on the streets, and there will be no shortage of high-quality spy shots to keep you interested until RAM pulls the covers off of the final production model.
As for an estimated price for one of these? Somewhere between $60,000 and $70,000 seems like a decent guesstimate. Way more than the usual Rebel, that’s for sure.
2021 RAM ProMaster City
Despite only accounting for a tiny slither of RAM’s overall sales, the ProMaster series of vans have always been an appealing choice for workers and tradesman. Unfortunately though, the ProMaster’s haven’t been given the same kind of attention that RAM’s big trucks receive. Luckily, 2021 is going to bring a much needed update to the ProMaster City van. And about time too.
At the moment, not a lot is known about the updated Ram ProMaster City. It’s likely to be powered by the same 2.5 liter Tigershark four-cylinder engine that you’d find in the Dodge Dart, Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler 200, and existing ProMaster City. In terms of performance, that would give the ProMaster City a maximum power output of 178 horsepower, and 174 lb-ft of peak torque, capable of propelling the van from 0 to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds. Nothing new is expected there.
Since the ProMaster City got a facelift in 2019 that improved the front grille, we’re expecting 2021 to bring something a little more significant to the table in terms of a bodywork upgrade. A new ProMaster could benefit from straighter lines and smoother curves, improving the overall aesthetics and aerodynamics, but also increasing potential cargo space. New headlights are also on the cards.
It’s not all about looks though. The new ProMaster City is expected to feature improved driving aids such as traction control, and other driver comforts such as more efficient air conditioning too. But the most important addition to the 2021 RAM ProMaster City is the fact that it’s definitely getting Level 2 autonomous capabilities.
Level 2 autonomous driving basically means that the vehicle can do a lot of the fundamental aspects of driving without you having to put too much effort in. For example, basic steering, braking, and accelerating can be controlled by the car—but a driver will still have to be in control, since the system may not be able to pick up on all changes to the road conditions. It will certainly make driving easier, and RAM, or rather the whole FCA line up, is expected to have a high degree of autonomy introduced over the next few years.
As you can see on the screen grab above, the 2021 will have Level 2 autonomy. The same graph also informs us that an all-new ProMaster City will due in 2021, possibly as a 2022 model. Finally, the last thing that we can see that’s worth noting is the fact that RAM has no intention of replacing or even significantly updating the larger ProMaster work van. It will be getting 100% connectivity, but that’s it. No real updates of any kind are to be expected in the near future. We imagine that the ProMaster will be retired and replaced by an entirely new model instead. When? Who knows?
For now, we know that a slightly more advanced ProMaster City is on the way for 2021, and will probably retail for around $25,000, depending on the trim level. Traditionally, the trim levels are Base Wagon, Tradesman Cargo Van, Tradesman SLT Cargo Van, and SLT Wagon.
No doubt there will be other models that RAM hopes to introduce for 2021, but at the moment these are the only models that we are confident will have some kind of an update or introduction for the 2021 model year. A lot can happen between now and then, and there are plenty of trade shows and expos where secretive concept models can make their first appearances. So we will have to wait and see.