One of the biggest deals in consumer trucks just got bigger...literally. Dodge's truck brand Ram has expanded the Express package for 2012. Originally only available in a single cab configuration, the RAM 1500 Express package will soon also be available in crew and quad cab styles.
The Express bundles a premium exterior appearance and powerful engine with a budget interior to create a value package designed to attract first-time truck buyers. The truck receives body colored bumpers and grille to give an overall sporty appearance. Other exterior touches include fog lamps, 20-inch aluminum wheels, and dual chrome exhaust tips. The choice of either a 4x2 or 4x4 chassis is available for all body styles.
What really makes the Express package stand out is the standard 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine. Its 390 hp and 407 lb-ft of torque represent the most powerful gas engine in Ram's lineup. Chevrolet and Ford offer full size pickups that are similarly equipped to the Express and competitively priced, but neither offer the monochromatic appearance or come close to offering this much V-8 power for the price.
The Ram 1500 Express quad cab has a base price of $28,050 while the crew cab starts at $30,210. The price of the single cab Express remains $23,080 (prices do not include the $995 destination charge.)
Similar to the way a fast food chain might cut costs by offering a limited menu selection, the value of the Express comes at the expense of a beefier options list. Form-over-function has traditionally been a popular design theme within the pickup segment though, which is why the Express package has enjoyed such success. The concern, however, is wether an expansion of its availability could prove cannabalistic to the Sport trime as a whole.
When the Express was offered exclusively as a single cab model, its HEMI engine and body-colored fascias made it a direct threat only to the R/T Sport truck. Now that the Express package is availabe on a wider range of cabs, it makes a tough argument against upgrading to the Sport line on any cab configuration - not just single. For example, both the Express and Sport lines come with the body colored bumpers, 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, six-speed automatic, 20-inch wheels (22-inch on the R/T Sport), fog lights, and dual chrome exhaust.
The Sport line does have a few extra standard features over the Express though, including body colored door mirrors with turning signal indicators, body colored door handles, a more aggressive exhaust note, and a chrome grille (the single cab R/T Sport has a body colored grille like the rest of the Express line.) Inside, the Sport line comes standard with features like a 10-way power seat, steering wheel mounted audio controls, and a trip computer. The Sport line also boasts a longer list of available options compared to the Express line. These may seem like worthwhile arguments for upgrading to a Sport truck, but this package may not offer enough value.
The Sport lineup has an average price 25% higher than a standard Express model with the same cab and drivetrain. There may be less comfort and convenience inside an Express, but outside the difference is virtually indistinguishable. So, the full Express line will likely not only appeal to the intended first-time consumers, but likely with the value-minded seasoned truck shoppers as well. It may even be attractive enough to pull some customers away from the competition - as well as other Ram trims.
It's certainly curious to see the 1500 coupled with such a predicament, but fortunately the average customer needn't worry. It just sounds like a great deal to us, we'll take it.