Say sayonara to Ram’s crosshair grille, as every iteration of the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 abandons the design cue that dates back to the truck’s Dodge-branded days. The new grille treatment is just one new element of the 2019 Ram 1500, which receives some of the most revolutionary design and technological changes the pickup has seen in a quarter-century.
As in the outgoing model, the 2019 Ram 1500 is powered by a 305-hp 3.6-liter V-6 (called Pentastar) or a 395-hp 5.7-liter V-8 (Hemi). Both engines mate to an eight-speed automatic transmission. New for 2019 is the adoption of hybridization by way of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ eTorque system, which replaces the alternator with a motor/generator unit that can feed energy to a 48-volt lithium-ion battery pack. The technology is standard on Ram 1500 V-6 models and optional on 1500s with the pushrod V-8. Along with stop/start capability that should provide smoother and quicker starts than traditional systems, eTorque can provide a brief torque boost of 90 lb-ft to V-6 Rams and 130 lb-ft to V-8 models. Regenerative braking feeds energy to the small battery pack mounted behind the rear seats. (Ram officials assured us that a diesel engine, sans eTorque, will return to the lineup in the 2019 calendar year.)
In addition to the powertrain changes, the Ram 1500 also benefits from a number of aerodynamic additions aimed at improving fuel economy, although Ram has yet to release any EPA figures for the new truck. These include active grille shutters and a front splitter that automatically lowers by 2.5 inches at speeds greater than 35 mph. Opting for the available four-corner air-spring suspension, the 4x4 Off-Road package, or the Rebel trim deletes the splitter; however, air-spring-equipped Rams mitigate this loss by lowering the truck 0.6 inch at speed.
Ram’s quest for greater efficiency also affects the new 1500’s exterior design, which boasts bedsides that have been raised by 1.5 inches and a small lip spoiler on the tailgate in the name of reduced drag. Meanwhile, the hood is designed to push air over and away from the windshield wipers to further improve airflow around the truck.
Larger and Lighter
Underpinning the new Ram 1500 is a reengineered chassis that is both lighter and stronger than before. Extensive use of high-strength steel results in the truck’s ladder-type frame shedding 100 pounds. Additional weight savings come courtesy of a new electronic parking-brake system that’s 20 pounds lighter than the old cable-operated unit, an electrically assisted power-steering system that accounts for a six-pound weight reduction, and a host of aluminum components, including the tailgate, engine mounts, the steering gear, and front-suspension and transmission crossmembers. In total, Ram says that the new truck in its most popular trim and cab configuration—crew-cab Big Horn 4x4 with a V-8—is nearly 225 pounds lighter than its predecessor, a claim we’ll verify once we get various versions on our scales.
Crew-cab models with the standard box ride on a 4.1-inch-longer wheelbase than before and measure 3.9 inches longer from stem to stern. The smaller quad-cab models are dimensionally similar in length to the previous truck. Regardless of cab, every 2019 Ram 1500 is half an inch wider than before. Overall height is within a fraction of an inch of the outgoing 1500 pickup.
A new 4x4 Off-Road package, however, boasts a 1.0-inch suspension lift over the standard 2019 Ram 1500. The package also includes an electronically locking rear differential, 32-inch-tall on-/off-road tires, package-specific damper tuning, exposed tow hooks, rear-fender decals, hill-descent control, and skid plates.
Those in search of even more off-road ruggedness will be glad to know that the Ram 1500 Rebel returns. Once again wearing its own special bodywork, the Rebel includes all the goodies featured in the 4x4 Off-Road bundle and adds burly 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires and Bilstein dampers with remote reservoirs. Previously available only as a crew cab with an air-spring suspension, the new Rebel can be had with steel coil springs or the air springs and as a crew cab or a quad cab.
Particularly impressive is the Ram’s redesigned interior, which is available with a new 12.0-inch touchscreen Uconnect 4 infotainment system on high-end Laramie, Longhorn, and Limited trims. The massive screen includes a navigation system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and is capable of displaying information in full- or split-screen formats. During a brief stint with the new infotainment system, we found that Ram managed to successfully combine the general ease of use of Uconnect with the showmanship of the large touchscreen displays found in high-end luxury cars. As with FCA’s other touchscreen infotainment systems, the display is surrounded by an array of redundant physical buttons for controlling key infotainment and climate functions.
An older Uconnect 3 system with a 5.0-inch display is standard on Tradesman, HFE, Big Horn, and Rebel models, while a Uconnect 4 system with an 8.4-inch touchscreen interface with available navigation is optional on Big Horn, Rebel, and Laramie trims and standard on Longhorns and Limiteds. Like the bigger 12.0-inch Uconnect setup, the 8.4-inch unit is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.
Accompanying the trio of available infotainment screens are additional interior enhancements, including more spacious rear-passenger quarters on crew-cab models, which see rear-seat legroom grow from 41.0 inches in the current truck to a Bentley Mulsanne–besting 45.1 inches in the new truck. Upper-crust versions treat those in the rear to available heated and cooled seats and also include seatbacks that offer eight degrees of recline. An available panoramic sunroof extends over both rows of seats.
Up front, a reconfigurable center console for trucks equipped with front bucket seats offers more than one cubic foot of available stowage space, or nearly twice that of the current model. Other noteworthy details include a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, the return of the rotary shift knob, as many as five USB ports (three standard ports in the front and two available ports for rear passengers), and luxury items such as hand-stitched leather and real wood trim in higher-end models.
Towing and Hauling
Of course, the 2019 Ram 1500 wouldn’t be much of a truck if it didn’t have the payload and towing figures to back up its brawny looks. Rated to tow up to 12,750 pounds and carry a payload of up to 2320 pounds, the new Ram improves upon the same maximum ratings of the current truck by 2080 and 420 pounds. Towing such large loads, however, requires checking the option box for the Max Tow package, which is limited to rear-wheel-drive trucks equipped with the eTorque-assisted V-8 engine and the 3.92:1 final-drive ratio (Ram also offers 3.21 and 3.55 rear ends). The highest ratings for four-wheel-drive 1500s are 11,460 pounds of trailer and 1870 pounds of payload.
There are two available bed lengths: a 67.4-inch short box that’s exclusive to the crew cab and a 76.3-inch box that’s available with any cab configuration. (Ram isn’t talking about a regular-cab version or an eight-foot bed at this point.) The covered and lockable RamBox bedside storage areas return but now with lids that are better integrated into the bedsides and an AC power outlet in the driver’s-side compartment. RamBox is available exclusively on crew cabs with the shortest bed.
The Ram 1500 finally adds active-safety and convenience features such as blind-spot monitoring, a 360-degree camera system, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights. LED headlights and taillights are available on almost every Ram 1500 trim, save for the lowly Tradesman and HFE.
The 2019 Ram 1500 goes on sale in the first quarter of 2018 in seven trim levels: entry-level Tradesman, fuel-economy-focused HFE, middle-of-the-road Big Horn, off-road-oriented Rebel, and the luxurious Laramie, Longhorn, and Limited models. Look for pricing to be revealed closer to the truck’s on-sale date.