September 10, 2015
By Drew Hardin
Like the multi-tool hanging from your belt, a deer hunter's truck is called on to perform a number of tasks efficiently and effectively. It's not enough to just take you and your buddies into the woods or to camp.
It has to have capacity for provisions and gear (not to mention room to take your deer to the processor's after a successful hunt), the strength to haul a camper or tow a trailer, and the all-weather, all-terrain capability to do so in conditions that can turn nasty in the space of a few hours.
That kind of multi-faceted ability can be hard to find in one pickup truck. However, the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman was designed specifically with a hunter's needs in mind.
It's a roomy, hard-working, sure-footed pickup that will serve you well during deer season as well as providing comfortable transportation once the season is over.
Built for Hunters
The Outdoorsman (one of 11 distinct models in the Ram 1500 line) is available in four-door/five-passenger Quad Cab and Crew Cab body styles and with a choice of 6-foot, four-inch or five-foot, seven-inch bed lengths.
Four-wheel-drive is standard equipment, as is a heavy-duty suspension, Anti-Spin rear differential, protective skid plates and beefy LT265/70R17 on/off-road tires.
Power to Get There and Back
The Ram 1500 Outdoorsman's standard engine is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that produces 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque while still delivering up to 25 mpg on the highway.
For bigger trailers, or if your camper is heavier than a simple pop-up, look to the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which produces 395 horses and 410 lb-ft of torque, or the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6, making 240 horses and 420 lb-ft of twist.
Ram was the first manufacturer to offer a diesel engine option in a light-duty pickup, and the EcoDiesel has proven to be a game changer. Built by Italian manufacturer VM Motori (a long-time Chrysler engine supplier), the 60-degree V-6 features dual overhead cams, 24 valves, and a single, water-cooled turbocharger with variable vane technology to reduce low-speed turbo lag.
Its 50-state emissions compliance comes from a robust combination of exhaust scrubbers, including a Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) system that allows the engine to operate at full power even when fluid levels are low.
The EcoDiesel is B-20 biodiesel compatible and can go as long as 10,000 miles between oil changes when the recommended synthetic oil is used.In the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman, the EcoDiesel can return 28 highway mpg, leading the light-duty pickup class.
All three engines are backed by 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmissions. They're operated not by the usual floor- or steering-column mounted levers but through a rotary dial on the dashboard.
Having all those cogs in the transmission keeps the engines operating at maximum efficiency — a key ingredient in the Ram's fuel efficiency equation.
Ram was the first — and still only — pickup manufacturer to replace traditional rear leaf springs with coil springs, a change that improved the truck's ride and handling qualities without sacrificing one bit of towing or payload capacity.
The Ram 1500 Outdoorsman builds on that foundation with heavy-duty front suspension components and extra-heavy-duty shock absorbers in back, for better support and control of the heavy loads the truck was made to carry.
Because the Outdoorsman trucks are 4x4s, their hauling and tow capacities are just a bit lower than the peak numbers you see advertised for 4x2 models. Yet they can still get the job done, with payload ratings of more than 1,700 pounds and tow capacities of up to 10,220 pounds — more than enough to tug a trailer carrying two ATVs into the woods.
The coil-spring suspension under the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman also makes it an excellent four-wheeler, as having a coil spring at each corner allows better wheel articulation over uneven terrain.
That translates to improved traction off the pavement (and on), as the truck's big tires stay planted on the ground. Added traction assist comes from the Anti-Spin rear differential that's standard on the Outdoorsman.
You'll find a healthy amount of ground clearance under the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman: almost 10 inches under the front end and more than 9 beneath the rear.
The optional air suspension can lift the body an additional 2 inches to clear trail hazards, while also lowering the body an inch at highway speeds to improve the truck's aerodynamic efficiency.
There's a reason Ram product planners limited the Outdoorsman models to the bigger, four-door Quad and Crew Cab models. They recognized the need hunters have for extra space inside the truck's cabin, for themselves and their hunting buddies.
Cold-weather gear is bulky, so broader seat cushions and a few more inches of elbow room mean a lot when you're all geared up and headed for your deer stand
That kind of thinking went into the design of the Ram's instrument panel controls, too. Climate system and infotainment functions are accessed through the truck's central touchscreen, but there are also old-fashioned buttons and dials to turn on the heater and change the radio stations — handy when you're wearing gloves.
You won't get any complaints from the back seat passengers, either. In even the shorter Quad Cab, leg room is ample enough so no one's knees are stuffed into the seatback in front of them.
And all four doors in both cab types swing wide open to ease access even when wearing heavy cold-weather deer gear.
Rolling Hunting Lodge
Ram has a long-standing reputation for designing truck interiors with more than ample storage space. The cavernous console between the front seats was designed to swallow a laptop computer and more, so it will easily accommodate binoculars, maps, dry clothes, extra gloves, and any other gear that typically just floats around the cabin in other trucks.
There are also storage cubbies in the dashboard and the door panels for ATV or gate keys, cell phones, travel mugs and such.
Form follows function in the choice of materials for the Ram Outdoorsman's interior. The seats are covered in easy-to-clean premium cloth upholstery, while the floor is protected by thick rubber mats.
Choose the special Mossy Oak Edition and the trim on the center stack and door panels is covered in Mossy Oak Infinity Breakup camo.
In the Backcountry, but Still Connected
Dominating the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman's instrument panel is the center touchscreen, home to Ram's Uconnect infotainment systems. Bluetooth connectivity with your cell phone and hands-free calling are standard equipment, while satellite radio, traffic and navigation systems are available via subscription. Uconnect even has a "911" button for emergencies.
For hunters who relish their time in camp but just can't stand to be off the grid, the Uconnect Access program offers Yelp search, text messaging via voice commands, and the ability to turn the truck into a Wi-Fi hot spot.
The Uconnect Access via Mobile plan runs cell phone-based music and Internet aps using the phone's data plan. There's even an app that will unlock the doors and start the engine via cell phone or computer.
Ram 1500 Model Lineup
The Ram 1500 Outdoorsman featured here is just one of 11 distinct Ram 1500 models available. Like the Outdoorsman, each is designed to appeal to a specific niche of the pickup market.
The lineup starts with the Tradesman, a working truck with the essentials like a standard spray-in bedliner, Class IV receiver hitch, vinyl upholstery and roll-up windows.
For the true fuel miser, a new EcoDiesel HFE model further tunes the truck's aerodynamics to reach 29 highway mpg with the turbodiesel. New to the Ram line is the Ram Rebel, aimed squarely at off-roaders with 33-inch tall tires, standard air suspension, and ruggedized front-end design.
At the top of the Ram heap is the Limited, which treats its occupants to premium leather upholstery covering heated and cooled seats, plush Berber carpets, real wood trim, and all the electronic bells and whistles in the Ram catalog.
Ram has already equipped the 1500 Outdoorsman with features handy for any hunter. Other options on the order sheet will make the Outdoorsman even more useful.
RamBox cargo management system: Lockable storage compartments that make use of otherwise wasted space in the bedsides. They're long enough to accommodate rifles; and the RamBox Holster, from the Mopar accessories division, is a rack made to fit inside the RamBox that secures two rifles or slug guns with scopes.
Air suspension: Lowers the truck at highway speeds to improve fuel economy and also raises the body up to 2 inches in 4WD mode to clear trail hazards.
Spray-in bedliner: Protects your truck bed's sheet metal from scratches and dings when loading and unloading campers, ATVs and other gear. And clean-up after hauling game is as simple as hosing the bed out.
Trailer Tow Group: With a Class IV receiver hitch, an integrated brake controller and folding 7x11-inch trailering mirrors, it's a must-have for anyone who tows.
Comfort Group: On those days when you come off stand feeling so chilled to the bone you don't think you're ever going to warm up again, heated seats and steering wheel are a nice luxury to come back to.
Rear camera: A huge help when hooking up a trailer by yourself.
Mossy Oak Package: A nice styling touch that includes Mossy Oak's Infinity Breakup camo pattern on exterior and interior trim panels.
2016 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman 4x4 Quad Cab
- Engine (std): 3.6L V-6, 305 hp @ 6,400 rpm; 269 lb-ft @ 4,175 rpm
- Engine (opt): 5.7L Hemi V-8, 395 hp @ 5,600 rpm; 410 lb-ft @ 3,950 rpm
- Engine (opt): 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6, 240 hp @ 3,600 rpm; 420 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission: TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic
Transfer case: Electronic part-time, 2.64:1 low range
Axle Ratios: 3.92 w/Anti Spin rear differential
Fuel tank capacity: 32 gal.
- Front: A-arms/coil springs/twin-tube shocks
- Rear: 5-link/coil springs/twin-tube shocks
- Front: Vented disc/2-piston caliper
- Rear: Disc/single-piston caliper
Steering: Electric power assist, 17.9:1 ratio
Turning radius: 45 ft.
Tires: LT265/70R17E on/off-road
Wheels: 17x7 painted cast aluminum
- Front: Premium cloth bucket seats
- Rear: Premium cloth 60/40 split folding bench seat
- Overall length: 229
- Wheelbase: 140.5
- Overall width: 79.4
- Overall height: 77.7
- Ground clearance: 9.8 front, 9.3 rear