That strategy allowed Ram's pickup to outsell the Silverado among all U.S. buyers in 2019, making it the industry's No. 2 nameplate for the first time.
Steven Wolf, dealer principal at Helfman Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram- Fiat in Houston, said the Classic has attracted subprime as well as commercial buyers.
But there's likely an "expiration date" on how long the Classic strategy will work as the technology offered on it ages, said Jennifer Newman, editor in chief of Cars.com.
Edmunds said the lower price point of the Classic has appealed to many younger buyers who can't spend $50,000 on a truck. The average transaction price of a Ram Classic was $39,121 last year, according to Edmunds, compared with $48,753 for the newer version.
Ram Classic buyers, on average, pay the highest interest rates in the segment and roll more negative equity into their loans than buyers of any other full-size pickup, Edmunds said.
"I think having more options at different price points worked well for them, particularly because they have a flagship product to be the halo truck and then everything else slotted underneath," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights for Edmunds.
Ram doesn't offer a midsize pickup, so the Classic effectively is filling that space, said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions. The Classic is a "premium alternative to the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma, appealing to younger buyers on size and price," he said.
"Full-sized pickup buyers, and especially Ram buyers, are loyal to their brand," Fiorani said in an email, "so buyers of the 1500 Classic are likely to move up to the more expensive Ram 1500 when they buy their next truck."