The 2019 Ram 1500 is a whole new animal. How will the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 compete against the best trucks from Ford, GM, Nissan, and Toyota? Ram says this next generation half-ton truck is now the most refined, most capable, best riding, most high-tech, and most luxurious 1500 truck the company has ever made. Let’s break it down to see what it’s all about.
The 2019 Ram 1500 is a new truck from the frame up. The new truck is lighter, bigger, has higher payload & towing capacities, and offers more options than before. Name any option or feature currently available on a competitor’s truck and the 2019 Ram has it. It also has a few features others do not offer. There is a lot to talk about.
The Ram Rebel off-road truck is coming back in a big way. It is now offered in either Quad (extended cab) or Crew cab configurations, and with either an air suspension or a traditional steel coil spring suspension. It offers a factory suspension lift and now comes with 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires.
Chassis and Capability
Ram chose to use ultra high strength and high strength steels as the primary materials for the frame, cab, and bed. The new truck also has an aluminum hood and tailgate, and carefully engineered weight savings in many other components. All this results in a net weight savings of approximately 225 pounds.
The frame is fully boxed with taller side rails with several redesigned cross-members. Ram says they were able to shave off about 100 lbs from the frame while making it stiffer thanks to the use of 98% high-strength steel. As we know from testing many other trucks, having a rigid frame allows for more precise suspension tuning (more on this later). The new Ram now uses 6-bolt wheel hubs (instead of 5-bolt as before).
The new chassis, axles, hubs, brakes, and powertrain combine together for improved payload and maximum towing capability. The new numbers are: 2,300 lbs of maximum payload and 12,700 lbs of maximum towing capacity. This is impressive for a “half-ton” pickup truck, and it is a big improvement over the outgoing 2018 Ram 1500, but these numbers are not class leading. Ford claims 13,200 lbs of maximum towing with with updated 2018 F-150. We will have to test all of these new trucks on the Ike Gauntlet(TM) and show you exactly how they do on the world’s toughest towing test. [Note: previous generation 2018 Ram 1500 was rated at max. payload: 1,880 lbs, max. towing: 10,620 lbs.]
Engines / Power
Big news is the introduction of the eTorque 48-volt mild hybrid system for all 2019 Ram 1500 extended and crew cab pickup trucks. That’s right. All new 1500 trucks will offer either a V6 eTorque or a V8 eTorque powertrain. Ram chose to keep the 3.6L Pentastar V6 and the 5.7L HEMI V8 and enhance them with added torque from an electric motor. The HEMI will launch first and the 3.6L V6 will join it a little later.
What is eTorque and how does it work? Think of it simply as an added electric boost off the line and at lower engine speeds. This is not additive power at the top end, so don’t expect 500+ lb-ft from your stock Ram 1500 HEMI. Good old gasoline combustion engines need to get revved up to make their maximum power. Why not give them an added boost with electric power?
The eTorque electric motor sits under the hood in clear view, connected to the gas engine and all other accessories via the serpentine belt. The new eTorque motor handles starting of the gas motor, it helps with the power needs during the automatic engine start/stop, it is able to recoup some energy from the braking system for more efficiency. The system includes a small suitcase-sized 300 watt-hour battery pack that is mounted in the back of the truck’s cab (extended cab and crew cab only).
5.7L HEMI V8: 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. Yes, the total power output rating for 2019 is the same as in the previous generation 2018 trucks. However, the V8 eTorque system is able to provide up to 130 lb-ft of torque for initial acceleration. ram says the eTorque system also helps to prolong the use of cylinder deactivation under light loads. The V8 will be connected to an upgraded 8HP75 TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission. It uses the latest generation of electronic controllers for faster processing and coordination with the eTorque system. Ram says there more than 40 individual shift maps to optimize gear changes. Most of these transmission schedule changes are transparent to the driver.
The dial or knob transmission shifter is still there, but it has been completely redesigned with a more hefty and mechanical feel. We will have to reserve final judgement until we drive the new truck.
3.6L Pentastar V6: 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Once again, the power rating remains the same as in 2018 trucks. The V6 eTorque electric motor is able to provide up to 90 lb-ft of torque for initial acceleration. The V6 will be hooked up to FCA’s 850RE TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission. This one also has the latest electronic controllers.
Will the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 return to the Ram 1500? Ram says yes, but the company did not provide a timeframe or final specifications for the turbo-diesel engine in the new truck.
Fuel efficiency is still very important, hence Ram’s introduction of the eTorque system, overall weight reduction of the new truck, and special attention to aerodynamics. Ram claims to have produced the most aerodynamic pickup truck with 0.357 coefficient of drag. Most other trucks are currently at 0.360 coefficient of drag. In general, tall trucks and aerodynamics are not friends.
2019 Ram 1500 uses a segment exclusive “active aerodynamics” from air dam device. If you are in a 2019 Ram 1500 that is not a Rebel or a truck without air suspension, the front chin spoiler will automatically lower 2.5 inches at speeds over 35 MPH to improve aerodynamic efficiency. If you Ram is equipped with air suspension, the truck lowers itself at higher speeds (feature available on older Rams) and the active air dam is not included.
Lower overall weight, improved aerodynamics, and the new eTorque power options should improve the MPG ratings. Ram did not specify what the MPG rating they anticipate. EPA ratings are not yet available.
The 2019 Ram is offering more distinct looks, trim levels, packages, and options than ever before. The seven trim levels break down as follows: Tradesman, HFE (High Efficiency), BigHorn, Rebel (Off-road), Laramie, Longhorn, and Limited. There are no fewer than 16 new wheel designs, ranging from 18 to 22 inches in diameter. There are a total 12 colors (with four new colors).
Ram used seven different craftsman hammers to draw inspiration for each one of the trim levels. This has to do with the way the truck looks and functions inside and out. Case in point is the top of the line Limited model. This truck has a headlight and front grille design that is different from other 2019 Rams. It also offers a Uconnect infotainment system with a new giant 12-inch vertical touch-screen.
Ram paid special attention to the interior design of the new truck as well as differentiation among the many trim levels. Designers use various hammers to draw inspiration from for the interior theme design. Consider a sledge hammer for the design of the Tradesman work truck, or an intricate craftsman hammer for the luxurious Limited model.
After getting in and out of several different Ram trucks, the first impression of the interior is very positive. Both the Rebel and the Limited designs feel high quality with great attention to detail.
Ram also went all in to redesign the center console. You have to see it and play with the different storage cubbies in order to get all of the detail. The new console is much larger, has several separators, cup holders, USB, and power outlets, and some “easter eggs” as well. [Note: please watch the video below for all the details.]
Ride and Handling
Ram redesigned the suspension geometry as well as the air suspension control unit for quicker response. Ram says the truck rides better than ever before. We need to drive it and really put it to the test. There are also clever vibration modules (ATMM) mounted to the frame that are electrically controlled to cancel out some unwanted vibrations, such as the ones that result from the HEMI V8 engine going into four-cylinder mode.
The other good news for off-road enthusiasts is that the Rebel will be offered with traditional steel coil and shocks suspension and a one-inch factory lift. You can still get the Rebel with the air suspension, but many enthusiasts prefer to ride on a more traditional setup.
Technology and Toys
The 2019 Ram is loaded with latest technology and the headline-grabbing 12-inch vertical infotainment screen. It’s offered on high-end Laramie and Limited models, and can be configured to display two separate screen views (one above the other). It means you can be see the Android Auto screen on the bottom and climate controls on top, or vise versa. It’s refreshing to see that many of the controls and functions are also duplicated with physical buttons and switches around the digital screen. We all know that it’s easier for the driver to find a physical button or switch while driving.
Ram is offering the Sirius 360L satellite music service. It means that the user can search and access a vast archive library of music and build their own playlist, instead of simply listening to the predefined radio channels as before.