2020 Ram 1500 Big Horn Review: Putting the 'Light' in Light-Duty

Kshitij Sharma
by Kshitij Sharma


Engine: 3.6L V6 w/ electric motor
Output: 305 hp, 269 lb-ft
Transmission: 8AT, 4WD
US fuel economy (MPG): 20/25/22
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 12.2/9.7/11.1
Starting Price (USD): $41,985 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $51,840 (est, inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $53,745 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $66,825 (inc. dest.)

Size does matter, and a week behind the wheel of the 2020 Ram 1500 Big Horn drove home the fact quite well.

A small confession first. I am from a country where a 2.0-liter turbo is worthy of bragging rights and envious stares from your crew. And the number of pickup trucks in the market that you’d actually want to own is exactly one. So we are used to pickup trucks being just that, a truck to only pick stuff up—and you wouldn’t want to be caught dead driving one.

Get a Quote on a New Ram 1500

But here, they are a matter of pride. Driving a pickup is like a badge of honor. There is a recipe to follow: A huge body, a cabin you climb into, and a push-rod V8 engine with enough grunt to tow a house. While the 2020 Ram 1500 Big Horn we have here ticked two of those essential boxes, it skimps on a critical one. This fully equipped hunk of American patriotism packs a 3.6-liter naturally aspirated Pentastar V6 with a small electric motor instead of a push-rod V8. But does that make it any less of a pickup truck?

But the cabin first


The cabin is about a foot off the ground and the optional running board is more of a necessity than anything. Once inside, the truck feels almost palatial and surprisingly, quite good looking. The only thing it’s missing is the (optional) sunroof. The front seats are extremely comfortable and roomy. In fact, the missus preferred the seats of the Ram to some of the bigger and more expensive urban SUVs I had recently driven. Under thigh support was ample and the seatback was flat and contoured in just the right places. It felt like driving from our favorite armchair at home. You can move around the seats and yet don’t feel you could slide out of them.

There is no power adjustment for the passenger but you do get a 4-way lumbar and 8-way electrically adjustable driver’s perch. Plus, the middle seat folds down nicely to make an armrest with considerable girth and storage space. It also doubles up as makeshift dining table, which, given the current situation has become more of a necessity if you want to eat hot food outside. But my favorite by far is the electrically adjustable pedals. Those combined with the adjustable seat and steering help you achieve your perfect seating position.

The rear is spacious too, and the bench equally so. You can seat three in the rear with ease and they can move their lower limbs about as they please. The seatbacks are placed against the back of the cab though, and offer absolutely no adjustment. The seats though well-contoured are a bit too straight. It’s not uncomfortable but on long journeys, the occupants will want a bit more give from them. To store your valuables you can use the under-floor and under-seat storage bins which can take in a considerable amount of luggage.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Review: An Off-Road Beast …and a Hero

Unfortunately, most of the aforementioned features, especially the ones worth having, are only available with the Big Horn Level 2 Equipment Group which adds $2,500 ($2,995 CAD) to the overall cost.

Tech and tow

The 8.4-inch Uconnect system is also a part of the Level 2 Equipment Group. You can go for the top-spec 12.0-inch screen but that will set you back by $2,095. If you live in Canada, the 8.4-inch system is the best you get with the Big Horn. And if you want navigation and Wi-Fi along with it, that’s $795 ($770 CAD) extra. Honestly, the 8.4-inch system works quite well. It is intuitive and well laid out. Even with the smaller screen, you will not feel short-changed.

There are no redundant buttons for the touchscreen and with a UI this good, you don’t really need them. Plus, you can have all the information you might need on the well-laid-out 7.0-inch MID screen in the instrument cluster and toggle through the info via the steering-mounted controls. In addition, the smaller screen leaves more space for other controls like the HVAC, parking assists, and towing.

A pickup truck’s utility is a determining factor for people considering owning these huge workhorses. Our tester here was equipped with almost everything you might need for hauling and towing. Though mostly optional extras, you have options of a tri-fold tonneau cover ($695, $660 CAD) a multi-function tailgate ($995, $1,095 CAD) that can open like clubvan doors and drop down like a normal pickup trucks tailgate. As for towing-specific features it comes with trailer sway control and rain brake assist as standard and a Class IV hitch receiver as a part of the Level 2 package. So technically, it has everything you might need in a half-ton truck.

Is the V6 enough?

The 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar here comes with eTorque. It is a mild-hybrid system that assists the engine whenever necessary. With a 48-volt battery pack and a belt-driven electric motor on board, the eTorque system adds 90 lb-ft of assistance to the 305 hp, 269 lb-ft output. It essentially runs the start-stop function and fills the torque gaps between gear changes from the eight-speed automatic and helps the truck get to cruising speeds. Though it sounds great in theory but turns out to be adequate at best. It is also worth noting that the system adds over 100 lb of heft to the truck as well. Yes, it can be efficient: if driven consciously, you can hope to get 22 mpg. But there is just too much truck for the engine to pull for it to feel organic.

Quick getaways are difficult as the engine always feels stressed whenever you put your foot down. There is little to none of the mid-range grunt big American trucks are usually renowned for, and you can’t help but feel disappointed. That is not to say it can’t gather speed, despite the assistance from the electric motor, it takes time to get to cruising speeds. But once at speed there is little to no drama.

Although you rarely ever feel it working, the eTorque helps with fuel efficiency, and with a truck this big, every ounce saved counts. We saw a total mileage figure of 16.8 mpg. Admittedly that is far below the claimed figure of 25 mpg. But on the high mileage days during the week, the weather was absolutely terrible. Most of the time the truck was in 4WD mode and I had to switch to low ratio as well for a short time. Hence the absurdly low figure. In usual circumstances, the eTorque Pentastar should be good for around 21 mpg. Quite good considering its 2.5-ton heft.

Not So Good Then?

It is actually quite a good truck. Again I haven’t driven many extensively but whenever I have gotten behind the wheel of one, it always felt intimidating. But the Big Horn here is quite a friendly giant. The chassis and suspension tune is impeccable. It feels planted at all times. And despite the ladder frame, you don’t feel most bumps and undulations you usually do even on modern body-on-frame SUVs. The truck seems to shrink inside the city and since it doesn’t have a heavy V8, the front end feels light and maneuverable. I only wish the steering were of a lesser girth.

Out on the highway too, it feels surefooted and pliant. It handles better than I expected it to. It’s obviously no corner carver but you can go around bends with confidence that pickups rarely inspire. And if the weather turns as it did for us, the 4WD system with locking diff, a low ratio gearbox, and anti-spin rear differential really comes in handy.

Verdict: 2020 Ram 1500 Big Horn

The 1500 Big Horn is a good truck. It looks quite good, has almost crossover-like road manners, and is surprisingly nimble in the city. It can haul a fair amount of stuff in its massive bed and yet return a decent mileage for its size. It’s the ideal truck for small business owners who live in the city but regularly haul stuff with sporadic freeway stints thrown in.

Prices start from $41,985 ($53,745 CAD) before discounts but it rises considerably once you add the necessary features. The one we have here will set you back by $51,840 ($66,825 CAD). It has nearly $10,000 worth of options. But on the bright side, you can have it as the only personal transport in your garage—provided your ownership doesn’t include heavy towing. Speaking of, you can tow up to 7,460 lb with the eTorque motor, but we wager it’d be far from effortless. So if you want something that can tow your 10,000-lb trailer without breaking a sweat, it’s best to stick with the V8 or go for the diesel model.

Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.


  • Good looking and comfortable cabin
  • Great road manners
  • Utility


  • Engine is merely adequate
  • Most must-have features are optional extras
  • Limited towing capability
Kshitij Sharma
Kshitij Sharma

More by Kshitij Sharma

Join the conversation