2019 RAM 1500
by John Davis
Things have certainly been looking up for FCA’s Ram brand lately, as their full-size pickup sales have been steadily increasing, even outselling the Chevrolet Silverado a few months along the way.
It was the 3rd generation 2002 Dodge Ram that really got the ball rolling, ushering in firsts like the Mega Cab, plus the return of Hemi power. 2009 saw a 4th gen. Ram with all-coil spring suspension and side-saddle Ram Box storage. Now, 2019 sees the most all-new Ram 1500 in decades, one that FCA hopes will usher in a whole new era of power, comfort, and utility.
Much like Ford, the Ram 1500 went on a diet, though not as drastic, shaving only about 225-lbs; mostly due to more high-strength steel in the frame, with aluminum for the tailgate and some suspension parts. That frame is still stronger, however, boosting payload and towing capacity.
The exterior look is smoother, yet still has a hint of the big rig look of the 90’s. No more crosshairs, just lots of big Ram letters. We much prefer the Rebel’s, blacked-out malice and spent time doing some nastiness of our own in the Arizona desert.
The Rebel’s off-road capabilities take a small step up; its 1-inch of lift now coming from hardware, not simply pumping up the air suspension as before. You also get a locking rear differential, unique Bilstein shocks, skid plates, and updated electronics.
The Ram 1500 was already the best riding rig in the full-size pickup ranks due to the only 4-corner air suspension out there; new Frequency Response Damping for this year, takes it one step further.
For now, only the two gas engine options return and their output stays the same; which means 305-horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque for the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, and 395-horsepwer and 410 lb.-ft. of torque from the 5.7-liter HEMI V8. Both get an eTorque mild hybrid system with a 48-volt battery pack that enables auto stop/start, boosts overall efficiency, and even provides a little extra torque. It’s standard with the V6, optional on the HEMI. No word yet on if or when a diesel will return. The sole transmission remains an 8-speed automatic, and everything is still put in motion with a dash-mounted rotary shifter.
The upgraded interior of the 1500 is far more impressive than the exterior. We loved the available 4th generation of FCA’s UConnect touchscreen, now 12-inches in size. It remains logical and responsive as always. Front seats are very comfortable and top-line Limited trim is simply exquisite. Both Crew and Quad cabs are available, with the most interior space in the segment.
For more first driving impressions of the 2019 Ram 1500 pickup, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3734 that begins airing April 27, 2018. For a listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable network.
Well, just when it looks like things are set to really take off for the 2019 Ram 1500, there’s an inconvenient truth, that an all-new Chevrolet Silverado is arriving at almost the same time. So, FCA had better make some hay while the sun’s shining if their goal is to permanently take home the silver.