Best & Worst Dodge Ram (RAM) Years

We've ranked each Dodge Ram (later named RAM) model for every generation so you can avoid picking the worst RAM years and pick the best year.

In this guide, I’ll analyze the latest Dodge Ram (RAM) generations, revealing the best years for the Dodge Ram (RAM) and the worst years to avoid.

Drawing from authoritative sources like NHTSA and Consumer Reports, we provide a detailed Dodge Ram (RAM) assessment, focusing on reliability, safety ratings, common owner-reported problems, and recalls.

Specifically, I’ll highlight the significant changes across generations, offering insights into their impact on performance and value.

Let’s dive right in!

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Table of ContentsShow

Dodge Ram (RAM) Generations

The Dodge Ram, now known simply as RAM, has been a prominent name in the full-size pickup truck segment since its introduction. The first model, which debuted in the early 1980s, revolutionized the pickup truck market with its bold design and powerful engine options.

It is important to note that the Ram Trucks brand was separated from Dodge, starting with the 2011 model year. So, I’ll mention the 2011 model year and after as RAM.

I’ve compiled a table detailing recent generations to provide a clear overview of the Dodge Ram’s evolution.

GenerationYears
3rd Generation (DR/DH/D1/DC/DM)2002-2008
4th Generation (DS/DJ/D2)2009-2018
5th Generation (DT)2019-Present

The changes between generations often reflect significant advancements and can be a critical factor in deciding which model year is the most suitable for your needs.

Dodge Ram (RAM) Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When assessing the best and worst years for the Dodge Ram (RAM) across different generations, our rankings and categorizations are based on several key factors:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • Cars.com owner ratings

A forthcoming graph will provide a visual representation, combining all these ratings to give a comprehensive view of Dodge Ram’s performance over the years.

Dodge Ram RAM Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Based on our extensive analysis, the following table categorizes each Dodge Ram (RAM) model year into best, neutral, and worst years.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
3rd Generation (DR/DH/D1/DC/DM)2007
2008
N/A2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
4th Generation (DS/DJ/D2)2009
2010
2011
2012
2017
2018
20132014
2015
2016
5th Generation (DT)2020
2021
2022
2023
2024
N/A2019

It’s worth noting that the RAM nameplate was used from 2011 onward.

“Neutral Years” refers to those model years demonstrating average performance, reliability, and owner satisfaction.

Some factors, like NHTSA recalls, can hurt a vehicle’s reliability. A high number of complaints and recalls usually indicates a lower reliability score for the car.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst years of the Dodge Ram (RAM).

Best & Worst Years for Dodge Ram 3rd Generation (2002-2008)

Dodge RAM 3rd generation 2002 model
The 2002 Dodge Ram

The third generation of the Dodge Ram, from 2002 to 2008, was marked by a more aggressive stance, improved interior quality, and a focus on power and durability.

2007 and 2008 are the best years for the third-generation Dodge Ram, while the early years are categorized as the worst Dodge Ram years to avoid.

The Best Years: 2007, 2008

The best years of this generation, 2007 and 2008, showcased the Dodge Ram’s evolution into a more refined yet powerful truck.

Engine options included the 3.7L PowerTech V6, 5.7L HEMI V8 gasoline engines, and 6.7L Cummins ISB turbo I6, the most reliable Dodge Ram diesel engine.

The 3.7L models typically saw fuel efficiencies of around 14 city/20 highway mpg.

They featured advanced safety elements like upgraded airbag systems and ABS brakes.

Trim levels varied, providing options from basic work truck setups to more luxurious editions with leather interiors and advanced infotainment systems.

Despite facing recalls for tie rod failures, these Dodge Ram years were generally well-received for their reliability and overall driving experience, making them the most reliable in this generation.

The Worst Years: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

2002-2006 were the worst Dodge Ram years to avoid in its fourth generation due to many recalls and owner-reported complaints on NHTSA.

Common problems included cracked dashboards, frame corrosion, and air conditioning failures. The 2002 and 2003 Dodge Ram models faced issues like loosened pinion bolts causing driveshaft separation.

The 2004 and 2005 Dodge Ram models were notorious for engine stalling and driveshaft failures.

New issues emerged in the 2006 Dodge Ram, including headlight malfunctions and suspension-related problems like the infamous “death wobble.”

These models were part of multiple recalls addressing critical concerns such as airbag malfunctions, replacement air intake systems, ABS module corrosion, steering column electrical connector issues, and vehicle hub assembly.

See NHTSA 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Dodge Ram recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Dodge Ram (RAM) 4th Generation (2009-2018)

Dodge RAM 4th generation 2009 model
The 2009 Dodge Ram

The fourth generation of the Dodge Ram (RAM), introduced in 2009, represented a significant leap forward in design, technology, and performance.

2014-2016 are the worst RAM years you should avoid, like the plague, while 2009-2012, 2017, and 2018 are the best years for the fourth-generation Dodge Ram (RAM).

The Best Years: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017, 2018

Our research shows that the best years for the fourth-generation Dodge Ram (RAM) were 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017, and 2018.

These models offered a 3.6L Pentastar V6, the powerful 5.7L HEMI V8, the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6, and 6.7L Cummins ISB turbo I6 diesel engines.

Transmission options included a 6-speed automatic and an 8-speed automatic.

The fuel efficiency for these engines varied, with the V6 averaging about 17 city/25 highway mpg, while the HEMI V8 offered around 15 city/22 highway mpg.

These years stood out for their advanced safety features, such as stability control, advanced airbag systems, and various trim levels ranging from basic to luxurious.

The interior technology included Uconnect infotainment systems with touchscreen displays.

However, these years still have some issues with rear axle pinion bolts, exhaust manifold bolts, and transmission, so I recommend thorough checks via VIN.

The Neutral Year: 2013

The 2013 RAM is considered neutral for the fourth-generation RAM. It shared many engine and transmission options with the best years but didn’t quite reach the same level of acclaim.

This model still offered the 3.6L V6 and the 5.7L HEMI V8 engines, along with the 6-speed and 8-speed automatic transmissions.

Safety features and interior technology were like in other years, with the Uconnect system and various safety enhancements.

However, the 2013 RAM had power steering issues, with many owners reporting power steering loss.

This model was subjected to recalls concerning Electronic Stability Control malfunction, tailgates opening unexpectedly, and others.

The Worst Years: 2014, 2015, 2016

The worst fourth-generation RAM model years to avoid – 2014, 2015, and 2016, were the most problematic in the fourth generation, with an average of 1000+ complaints on NHTSA.

These years saw issues with the electrical system, engine, and powertrain.

Owners mostly complained about various electrical malfunctions, loss of power steering assist, and engine issues, including broken exhaust manifolds and bolts, faulty fuel gauges and sensors, and corroded fuel tank straps.

Necessary recalls for these model years cover Cruise Control malfunctions, random loss of instrument cluster lighting, crankshaft position sensor failures, cracked Exhaust Gas Recirculation cooler in the 3.0L Eco Diesel engines, high-pressure fuel pump failures, rear shock absorbers, and tailgates.

See NHTSA 2014, 2015, 2016 RAM recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for RAM 5th Generation (2019-Present)

Dodge RAM 5th generation 2019 model
The 2019 RAM

The fifth generation of the RAM, commencing in 2019, marked a new era for the renowned pickup truck, showcasing its sophisticated exterior, enhanced interior luxury, and more robust capabilities.

The best years for the fifth-generation RAM are from 2020 to 2024, while 2019 is the worst year to avoid at all costs.

The Best Years: 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024

What year RAM is the most reliable? Based on our research through NHTSA owner complaints and Edmunds reviews, I can confirm that the best years of the fifth-generation RAM are 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024.

These models feature a variety of robust engine choices, including the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with eTorque, the powerful 5.7L HEMI V8, and the efficient 3.0L EcoDiesel V6, all paired with 8-speed automatic transmissions.

The HEMI V8, especially, balances power and efficiency, providing approximately 15 city/21 highway mpg.

Safety features in these models are comprehensive, including advanced driver-assistance systems like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring.

The interior of these trucks is notably refined, with multiple trim levels ranging from the practical Tradesman to the luxurious Limited, all featuring state-of-the-art Uconnect infotainment systems.

The Worst Year: 2019

With the highest number of owner complaints and recalls, 2019 is the worst RAM year to avoid in its fifth generation.

Owners complained about infotainment system glitches, instrument cluster failures, broken exhaust manifold bolts, transmission issues, and loss of power steering assist.

The 2019 Ram had many recalls, including airbags, inoperative rearview displays, cruise control malfunctions, crankshaft position sensors, cracked EGR coolers, high-pressure fuel pump failures, driveshaft failures, Occupant Restraint Controller (ORC) malfunctions, brake pedals that may separate from the pedal assembly, power steering assist loss, tailgates, and inoperative windshield wipers.

These issues, combined with the high number of recalls (25 on NHTSA as of the article’s writing), impacted the 2019 RAM’s desirability and reliability, making it the worst year in the fifth-generation RAM lineup.

See NHTSA 2019 RAM recalls and complaints.

Dodge Ram (RAM) Resale Values

See the graph below for a closer look into the Dodge Ram (RAM)’s average resale values over time.

Dodge Ram RAM Average List Price

Conclusion

In conclusion, for those considering the best model years of Dodge Ram (RAM), 2009-2012, 2017, 2018, and 2020-2024 models are the most reliable and feature-rich options.

At the same time, 2002-2006, 2014-2016, and 2019 are the worst Dodge Ram (RAM) years to avoid.

Have you owned any of the best or worst years of the Dodge Ram (RAM)?

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.