2018 Auto Show

I made it to the local car show. Karen decided to stay home with the dogs. Our son-in law gifted us some tickets in advance (thank you John). I found a couple walking towards the door of the show and handed them Karen’s ticket. The only goal I had in mind was to play with the trucks and see what I could learn.  If you are a Chevy/GMC fan, I’ll say sorry in advance because there will not be anything in this post about them. To date, I’ve decided to concentrate my search for a truck within the Ford and Ram models. All three big truck manufacturers can handle the trailers we are looking at. Chevy/GMC cargo capacity is the lightest of the three but still not a reason to consider them if your interested. After studying all three brands, the Ford and Ram were what I am most attracted to.

The show turned out to be smaller than expected. I found no factory representatives or engineers to answer technical questions. And sales people were hard to find. The one I did find was a Kia car salesmen who said most people go to the show and buy a car later. I also found with few exceptions, there were no brochures offered. For sure that might be because many do their research online. I personally like to have a book to study and mark up. Fortunately, months ago I went to individual dealerships and picked up 2016/2017 brochures just to learn all the truck options.

The show proved to be just a good way to sit in most of the models and trim packages I was interested in. The vehicle batteries must have been disconnected (for good reasons) so I was not able to test features.  I’ll catch that when I finally test drive something. A friend just bought a 2018 Ford Lariat dually so I’m betting I’ll knock out a test drive of his in the near future. He says the ride is awesome and the cab is very quiet. He ended up paying 13% less than MSRP for a fully loaded truck. I’m not sure what factory incentives the 13% discount included and were combined with the dealer’s discount. He knew what he wanted to spend, the dealership got close to the price so he bought it the same day. He had nothing to trade-in and paid cash. Otherwise he suggested traveling from here to the Don Vance  dealership in Missouri. I think it would have been worth his time to contact the internet sales department of at least a couple dealerships before heading out to buy a truck. 

I found a side by side comparison of the all new 2019 Ram 1500 parked next to a 2018 version. If you are looking to buy a Ram it may or may not be important to note in 2020 the Ram 3500 will also be redesigned.  From what I can find, Ram had the older body style since 2009. And Fords 2017 update truly changed some series features not offered during the many years the previous version was on the market. 

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2019 on the left and 2018 on the right. The white truck is a Bighorn. The 2018 Laramie trim headlights would be slightly different.

Regarding Fords: I like their tow mirrors compared to both the Ram and Chevy for that matter. Ford does not offer factory air bags, in fact only Ram does that. But I’m thinking it might be better to wait to see if you even need it such as if the trailer does not ride level because the truck is squatting under the load. Figure I’ll just wait and see on that one. The Ford electronics are clearly a step ahead of the rest. I could see using their blind spot warning system. Karen has the feature on her car and it’s beneficial. The system brings up a light on your outside mirrors when someone is alongside your vehicle.  And there is no need to fret over which transmission to get, because the Ford F350 diesel has no options. They designed and build their own transmission to their standards. The 2018 Fords will be the second year for their new designed truck. Some feel it’s important not to buy the first-year version of any new body style because the bugs need to be worked out. A couple other points that might influence the decision is the Ford diesel long-bed comes equipped with a 48-gallon fuel tank. Yup, read that twice, that’s a big feature. And the cargo capacity is considerably higher than the other brands. That’s important for trailer pin weight and all the other stuff we might want to haul at the same time. But maybe not as important for fifth wheels in the 16,000 pound range.

Regarding the Rams: They offer three gear ratios which are the 3.55, 3.73 and 4.10. I’ll have more on gear ratios in a future blog post. I’m sure it will be good reading material to help you fall asleep. We are looking to pull a trailer between 16,000 to 17,500 pounds. I’m leaning towards the Aisin transmission option because Ram offers two version of their Cummins diesel. The high output model only comes with the Aisin transmission. Towing capacity with a safety margin is greatly improved. Complicates the decision for sure. Personally, I thought the Ram interior was more comfortable and usable than the Ford. That view might change after a test drive. I’ll have to remember to get adjustable foot pedals for my shorter wife. They are still using steal for the body while Ford went to high strength aluminum beds. Bet that will cut down on corrosion which was an issue in one of my prior Fords. The Ford’s corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles. Rams corrosion warranty includes repairs to sheet metal panels that have rust through due to manufacturer defect or workmanship. Try proving that one if you have a warranty issue! All panels are covered for 3 years regardless of mileage, but outer panels are covered for 5 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Confusing stuff.

I’ll add one last point regarding what I learned at the show and as part of my general experience. The cloth seats are nothing like what we had years ago. They seem to be stronger and more durable. My assigned work vehicle (a Ford) has cloth interior as does all the other vehicles in our departments fleet. The cloth is holding up very well. I’ve had several personal vehicles with leather interior. I have always babied them along, making sure to treat and clean the leather often. You can tell when someone gets in and out of a leather interior with great frequency as the corners of the seats will be crushed down or cracked. Really like the air-conditioned seating in my personal vehicle even when its garaged and does not sit out in the heat of an RV park. A feature only available with leather interior. We also use our heated seats in the winter, but only for a few minutes. That feature is available in the cloth interior as well. Although we don’t plan to spend much time in cold climates.

I spent about two hours at the show. It was Sunday and all the car dealerships were closed. Great time to narrow down the list of color options to a few choices! So I stopped along the way home. Later Karen took a drive with me and picked a couple colors she liked as well. Good to see we were in agreement on our selections. Like most of you I’m sure, we have owned one of about everything. The lighter colors tend to show less dirt. But I sure like the metallic shinny red trucks and one of the dark grayish versions.  They all heat up when left out in the sun for a while. The new tan and brown interiors are attractive to me compared to just the standard black leather or grey cloth. Nice to see the lighter interior options are available with both cloth and leather. Being flexible with any of several options for exterior and interior colors, transmissions, electronics and gear ratios will hopefully improve the chances of finding one on a dealership lot, especially should we go with a slightly used model.

I took photos of the window stickers so I could remember the color names later.  I’ve also started to look at the same truck colors as I see them on the road. I’m not particularly concerned about matching the fifth wheel with the truck. Ford and Ram have versions of the same colors.


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Ruby Red Metallic

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Ingot Silver

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Stone Grey – Karen and I like this one

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White Gold

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Standard white on the left, white platinum (I prefer) on the right which is a light cream color

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An all new 2019 Ram 1500 interior – thought I’d throw this one in for the wow factor. Good luck Ford, you might loose that battle to the Ram.

And finally, the tan/brown leather interior. I had it on a Ford with leather once. It was not hard to keep clean. My work vehicle has the standard grey cloth interior and it has not been hard to keep clean either. Wish I had taken a photo of the Ram version as it was remarkable. I clipped a couple photos off the internet.



8 thoughts on “2018 Auto Show

  1. Good stuff Brother! I found myself reflecting on my old car selling days…thinking of how I could help get you the info you need..lol
    I can’t wait to see what you choose…no matter what, it will be right for you.
    Would have loved to gone with you had I been in town.
    Your sis


    • Mary, seems to be a better selection of trucks in your area than up here. My intuition tells me to stay with buying one year old vehicles like I’ve done so many times in the past. Seems to be a better way to get all the bells and whistles for less than the new prices. Maybe for the first time I’ll even buy an extended warranty because of all the towing we will be doing. Might have to travel out of Missouri to find one. Also might take a swing at negotiating on the internet, which is something different than in your time at the dealership. Wish mom was here to help me spec out a truck:)

      Some of my new RV friends have been successful at finding a truck online and flying in to pick it up. Heck, we are even looking at maybe heading to Michigan or closer to Indiana where RVs are built, when it’s time to buy one.

      For sure waiting until after I sell off the motorcycle. Not sure yet if I’m trading in the Lincoln or selling it outright yet. But it’s going before the truck arrives if not a trade in. I’m still trying to figure out if you get a sales tax break both if you trade in or sell it yourself. That could make a $600 to $700 dollar difference. In other words, the sales tax break might only come with a trade in as you pay taxes on the difference. Jeff Harper just bought a new truck with no trade in so he is going to figure that one out for me.

      Buying the truck before the trailer. Which can be dangerous if one does not know the weight of the trailer they might be getting. No problem here, I’ve got my top five selected already:) That way we will have a truck to haul junk off from the house and haul some materials to fix the house up. So far, Karen is keeping her car until we get closer to the move.


  2. Hi Mark. I love your Blog and stumbled on it a month or three ago, doing a search on the Montana 3120rl which my wife, Bev and I are looking to buy. Like you, I love the Cummins engine, having had one in a launch we owned for ten years and also a Class A diesel, which we have owned for the last ten years. It seems like a ‘ten year itch’ is behind us selling our used Vectra and now wanting to buy a new 3120RL RV and RAM tow vehicle. I’ve been meaning to write since I first discovered your blog, so while a little off subject with the car show story, what follows is what I’ve discovered in my research journey over the last year and some of the questions I’m still trying to find an answer. Maybe like you, I’ve been accused of being a bit anal about these things and having an engineering background, I research anything like this to the enth degree.

    The tow vehicle for us needs to be a daily driver and so while a dual wheel 8 foot bed RAM would be ideal, for parking and other use, we are opting for a SRW and 6 ft bed. I have scoured the US market place and discovered that the cheapest RAM prices seem to be around Boise. In fact the dealership you mention, Don Vance has a 2018 RAM Big Horn, diesel with the usual extras for $61,690. The best equivalent I have found is a dealer in Caldwell, Indiana for $49,695. They are able to take that down to $46,695 if you qualify for additional discounts. They don’t haggle and the price they offer is the price they sell to everyone at. Obviously they get business from all over the US. The discount is worth while, even taking into consideration flying one way and driving home. Something for you to consider?

    In terms of the Montana 3120RL pricing, obviously there is the MSRP that’s generally around $75k up to $85k. You don’t have to look to hard to find quite a few dealers selling them for $59,995. I have found three pricing under that amount. I’ve read maybe 1,000 posts on the Montana owners Group website, did I mention I love to research the billy’o out of things… and I worry about some owners that seem to have been left high and dry by the dealer they have brought from. Basically, once they have the purchasers money, they don’t seem to want to know them at all. Having parted with all that money, what do you do if your new pride and joy remains locked up in the dealers yard, waiting for a service person to order the parts, and or complete the repairs on your supposedly new RV and three months has ticked by? I think that would be my worst nightmare. Of course that thought doesn’t even cross my mind when it comes to buying the RAM. Service expectations are high, anywhere I’m located in the USA for a car or tow vehicle.

    The problem seems to be that my age group, Baby Boomers, have finally got the kids out of the house and are now free to enjoy, after years of hard graft that dream of sitting in a comfortable deck chair, maybe beside some lake, outside their new RV, finally enjoying retirement. Probably many, like Bev and I, have downsized from a big family home into a smaller unit and because of the property boom over the last ten or so years, we now have a tidy profit sitting earning next to nothing in a savings account. Even after paying off both our kids mortgages, we still have enough left over to buy a new RV and tow vehicle, after years of going without, buying something new, for the very first time. We have enough put aside to pay the MSRP, but after years of saving a dollar here and there for example at the supermarket, your DNA changes and getting a good deal now seems to be a way of life.

    Some dealers are pushing the Warranty for Life, and in principle, it seems like an excellent solution. The blog however are full of stories of people that brought an RV or car with such a warranty, that cost the new owner nothing, but required them to have a qualified and recognized service person complete regular maintenance on the rig or motor vehicle. If owners were late in getting the service work completed, the warranty was void from that time onward. Reading the stories of complainants, it seems that the warranty company ( an insurance type company) were motivated to void the warranty at any and every instance of non compliance of the buyer, even if they were a few days late getting the service work done. Of course you were not allowed to use drive in and out of oil change franchises. The work had to be done at a recognized warranty dealership. The dealerships that did this work were sold on the principle that uses of the warranty for life would be good repeat business customers. Buyers complained that there was no such dealership in their town and that they had to drive to another city to have service work done. On an RV there were some things that were not covered that might fail.

    Normally, warranty work by a RV dealership is the least profitable and therefore the jobs that always get placed in the bottom of the dealership schedule. Because RV sales have gone through the roof, dealerships have not been able to employ and train enough new service people. RV Manufacturers have to authorize any warranty work and also put a price on the labor that can be claimed. This from what I have read always favors the manufacture and never the RV dealer. So when you buy your new RV, you don’t know if its going to be a lemon or a good one with a few just minor problems. So what do you do?

    Initially I thought that if you brought it as cheaply as you could and from a dealer that has good service reviews, you would be on the right track. However, without knowing what the sales volume is at any particular dealership, you have no way of measuring the number of poor reviews per dealership to make that decision. You need to be aware that people that buy and have no problems rarely post reviews. Of course that’s the opposite for those that buy and have poor service and many problems. Again, having read hundreds of these reviews for a few key dealerships I’ve researched, you can get a good ‘seat of the pants’ indication after reading many of these reviews. Many people never read the instructions, others forget, as there is so much information to retain when you go through your dealer pre delivery check and there are others that are as rough as guts and expect the manufacturer to cover every eventuality. One couple I spoke to at a rally commented on a previous couple that had commented about spring shackles that broke on their High Country RV. They blamed Keystone for poor design and I note that they are improving that aspect of the design. The second couple said they have seen the first couple’s trailer cutting corners and mounting the curb often, putting huge stress on the RV suspension, no doubt contributing to the spring shackle breakage.

    Considering all these risks, the best solution I see is buying your RV as cheaply as possible and being prepared to travel anywhere within the USA to do so. Because we are retired, we are able to combine the delivery/collection trip for the RAM and the 3120RL. Combining like this I believe I can save about $10k minimum. If I have any warranty problems, I can offer any dealership service department a service completion bonus when its completed, or use a mobile RV mechanic, cash to complete any repairs. I have done all my own service work over the years and have a well equipped workshop at home. I’d actually rather do my own repair work anyway, than rely on someone else to do it that doesn’t have the same financial and emotional investment in the RV as I do.

    We are looking to buy in the first half of 2018. I like the ideal of buying a new 2018 RAM, before a new model comes out in 2019 or 2020, so I don’t have the extra risk a new model brings with it. This will probably be the last new tow vehicle I will ever buy and it will last longer than I will, because we will not put that many miles on it each year. Regarding the 3120RL, we are starting to see the older version, 3160 which has been superseded by the 3120RL being discounted already.

    The three lowest prices I have obtained so far are.

    $57,990 from Haylett RV

    $54,699 from CW Salt Lake City

    $52,256 from Lakeshore RV center. Listed on eBay.

    Again thank you for your research and to taking the time to post your findings. I live in New Zealand and maybe your furthest blog follower. I am also the founder of the American RV Group in New Zealand and produce a 8-10 page newsletter each month on all aspects of owning and maintain an American RV, having published to our Group over 500 pages of information over the last ten or so years. I travel to the USA each year, sometimes multiple times a year. Our Vectra which we brought in Tampa and drove to Los Angeles and loaded it on a ship for the USD $10k ride to NZ. Once here, we converted it from Left hand drive to right hand drive (cost about $10kUSD) and have done a 40k kilometers driving it around our country over that time. The RAM will also need to be converted and there are a couple of shops that do the job and you would never know it was LHD originally. The cost of doing the conversion is US $23,500.Once converted, a new RAM will sell for about USD, $120k

    Kind regards

    Rob & Bev Wallace, Auckland, New Zealand


    • Bob, I’m not sure where to start my reply. I believe it should be with a huge thank you for all the information you provided. The exact reason I started blogging was to meet others and share information. I greatly appreciate your comments.

      One of my readers recently bought his 3120RL from Lakeshore and I’ve not had a chance to ask him about the experience. I’m with you on the idea of traveling for a good deal. I will of course give the local dealership a shot and if the price is fair, I’d buy from him just on the off chance any warranty work over the first year could have a chance of being moved to the front of the line. We are purchasing our fifth wheel about a year or so before we leave to live in it full time. During that year I’d suspect we will spend a couple months in it, a week or two at a time. I’ve not made the decision on an extended warranty but suppose I’ll put that decision off until near the end of the manufacturer’s warranty expiration. I’m with you on the “life time warranty” perhaps not being the best approach given the restrictions.

      I truly wish the Grand Design Solitude brand would make a few changes to include building a unit that has much better cargo capacity. Hence they have not scored well with me and their 35′ version is almost the exact floor plan as the 3120RL. I’ve come to believe they may have one of the best reputations for customer service after the sale. And our local dealership, year after year, insists Grand Design is the most responsive company when his dealership requests parts. And he sells Montana, Redwood and the Heartland Landmark for comparison.

      I believe the Ram may be the best value of the three big truck brands. But, I am still considering the Ford F350 so have not made that decision.

      I understand the benefits of not having a dually truck in regards to a daily driver. I’ve just seen to many posts where folks later upgraded to a dually when pulling these heavy trailers around the country full time. If I was vacationing or spending a few months at a time on the road, a dually would not be my first choice.

      That was an amazing price your quoted in the Bighorn example. I’ll have to check online for the dealership. I suspect the dealership is Dennis Dillon in Caldwell Idaho rather than Indiana.

      From what I can tell after looking at the new 2019 Ram 1500, most of it’s “new” features I could care less about. And if the look of the new 3500 (coming out in 2020 I’m convinced) is an issue. The current Laramie has a better-looking setup for the headlights than the lessor trims. I keep reminding myself I’ve never fallen into the trap of wanting the newest version. Fortunately, if we decide on a Ford then I’ll be able to get a used one in the new body style. Fact is, I’ve always found buying a one year old vehicle to be the best bet. I’ve always been able to get all the bells and whistles such as leather and electronics for a price far less than if I’d bought it new. These big trucks may turn out to be the exception. They seem to hold their value the first year and for maybe a few thousand more one might be able to order the one you want, leaving off the equipment that does not matter.

      Reading about your RV experience and research adds great confidence that I’m heading in the right direction with my own decisions.

      I believe you are the furthest away reader I’ve communicated with. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.



  3. Dave Smith in ID also has a rep for pricing also. I went to Chicago show (alone like you) and I had an eye for Chev/GMC vs RAM. GM did not bring a dually but RAM did. I was totally impressed with the RAM. The only “dings” were not deal breakers. Agree the RAM is very comfortable. I can see myself behind the wheel. GM had some issues too and a couple felt cheap, interior door handles come to mind. Constant reminders like that don’t give me a warm fuzzy, despite the awesome new engine. Still, a solid truck for the most part, but RAM won the day. Fords were nice, just not my/our cup of tea. Since Cindi likes the RAM, and I could have gone either way… it looks like we have a selection for TV. The only thing that can change this will be the test drive of both. On specs and subject feel, at this time I’d say Cummins, Aisin, 3.73 gears, 14K GVWR dually, rear auto level suspension, cloth bucket seating, aluminum wheels and Big Horn trim level. add in a few other frills and there you have it. Yeah I’d like a hauler bed but we’re having a hard time working it into our budget, (I can hear our mentor sighing, LOL) especially when we have so many trailer upgrades to gets also. Perhaps a miracle will happen… we could always retrofit should that happen, right?


    • Brian,

      I’m on the fence about the rear auto leveling suspension so far, should we go with the Ram. I wonder if it is a risk just to wait and see if it’s needed and if so add some aftermarket brand like they do on the Fords. Or does the auto level improve the ride when not pulling a load also? For sure the Aisin transmission is a must in order to get the high-output Cummins. And I’ve heard the transmission is much smoother and runs cooler than the standard transmission.

      I’m hoping to get a couple test drives in soon.

      I’m also not come to any conclusion on the leather vs cloth. Makes it hard to decide now that the cloth interiors are so nice. I suppose I’ll have to get Karen to make the decision!

      I’d be leaning to your selections as well – Cummins, Aisin, 3.73 gears, 14K GVWR dually. That give you a tow rating of 25,020 according to the chart I have for the 2017 truck.

      I’d be interested in your opinion of engine noise inside the Ram compared to the Ford.


      • I’d bet it’s quieter in the Ford, but I’ll never know since we don’t even have Ford on our radar. Just a personal taste thing, it’s certainly capable for our application. I sat in one at the show, doors sound solid but interior felt “plastic”, The RAM just felt right…

        In some of the YT vids I have seen, the purr of the Cummins is sweet. Doesn’t seem to be too loud in the vids or from some reports, others (possibly Ford or GM fanboys) say otherwise. While I am not an avid automechanic, I am not averse to simple mantenance and the under hood access on the RAM vs either Ford or GM is impressive.

        I’d go with the rear auto level because it would be covered under the factory warranty and the reports of ride improvement. The Kelderman 4 point link air ride suspension is night and day better according to everything I read… but at $5700+ it’s an expensive aftermarket upgrade. If I do a hauler bed, we’ll probably get it since we’ll going all in at that point but at this stage it is beyond our budget. A plan B might be to find a cream puff 2014-2016 and retrofit the hauler bed and suspension to try and keep it under the cost of a new factory equipped set-up. All options are on the table.

        I’ll shoot you a report when we get to the test drive phase this spring if you haven’t pulled the trigger by then.

        Liked by 1 person

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