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FROM LIGHT BEER TO AGED WHISKEY: 2022 RAM 1500 BACK COUNTRY EDITION w/ eTORQUE

If you have been following me for a while, you would know that I don’t typically favor the concept of a special edition – I see it as an easy escape out of introducing a mid-model refresh and/or new technological updates to an outgoing model. However, Ram has introduced a new special edition to their RAM 1500 Big Horn that I think we can all get on board with.

Lately, Ram has been introducing quite a few special editions to their different trim options on their 1500’s with the Southwest Edition on the Laramie, GT Edition on the Rebel, the Southfork Edition on the Limited Longhorn, the RAM Red Edition on the Limited, and a Night Edition available on all trims. This specific special edition is the BackCountry Edition featured solely on the Big Horn that combines some of Ram’s most popular features into one nifty package.

Mostly being focused as an off-road package, the BackCountry Edition features off-road tuned shocks, hill decent control, beefier all-terrain tires, upgraded skid plates, front tow hooks and a rear electronic locking differential. Now one would say, you could get all of that with the standard 4×4 Off-Road Package; however, combining the best of both worlds from the Sport Appearance Package and the Night Edition, the BackCountry gets a host of appearance upgrades that makes the Big Horn look rather bro’d up 18-inch black painted wheels, black tipped exhaust pipes, black headlight bezels, and a tonneau cover – as if it went from drinking light beer and cigarettes to aged whiskey and paired with a smoky cigar. And things get even better when jumping behind the driver seat with a mix of leatherette and cloth seats, the huge 12-inch Uconnect infotainment system, and featuring the type of interior finishes that don’t mind getting a scuff or two from a hard day’s work.

However, to get the BackCountry Edition, the Big Horn trim must be equipped with 4×4 and offers the choice of either the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 or the 5.7-with eTorque – the 3.6-liter V-6 nor the 3.0-liter Turbo Diesel is available with the BCE. Both engines carry a $2800 premium and if I were to have it my way, I would have gone with the standard 5.7 – but since my example showed up with eTorque system, it’s not like I had much of a choice. As we’ve seen in the past with the 2019 RAM 1500 and the previous generation 2018 RAM 1500, the standard 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 is a healthy grunt with all the right power in the all the right places. Opting for the eTorque system however is a little different…

If you’re unfamiliar with the eTorque system, it all started back in the FCA era, before Stellantis merger. eTorque is a mild hybrid system that doesn’t necessarily work like a traditional hybrid – it is more of an assist system, like a bro who has your back in a sort of way. In a sense, there are always gaps in performance where an engine may lag, the eTorque in essence is supposed to be there to help support that lag and provide that boost of power where the engine may require backup. The eTorque system also powers up a lot of the onboard electronics that may suck up fuel to keep running. In my first experience with the eTorque system with the 2018 Jeep Wrangler 2.0-liter Turbo, the fundamental properties had an excellent result; however, paired with the Ram’s 5.7-liter HEMI, my experience, to simply put, was not quite the same.

Since the eTorque system is bolted to the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, we get the same amount of horsepower and torque figures, 395-hp/410 lbs-ft of torque. However, with the eTorque system, on paper, it provides an additional 130lbs-ft of torque at initial launch. During execution on the other hand, its like the HEMI V-8 caught the eTorque system cheating on its girl and neither one wants to communicate to the 8-speed automatic transmission which results in this moment of hostility from the driver, a.k.a. me, yelling at the system to get it together and come the, errrr, to hurry up with the acceleration. Now this disconnect only occurs at the first form of acceleration when completely stop or coming to a stop and then reapply the accelerator. Beyond that, their connection remains to be on par like any typical bromance.

Like I mentioned before, I am not a fan of special editions unless its for a good reason; and while the BackCountry may not be a real “special” edition, but a glorified premium package, it is one I can get onboard with that transform an entry level Big Horn pickup into a well packaged piece that won’t make you hate yourself with the comfortable $53,140 price tag – give it take some optional equipment.

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