DETROIT, Michigan—The 2019 Ram 1500 goes on sale in the first quarter of the year, and with the introduction of a new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra to take on the F-150 together, makes for an exciting pickup truck battle in 2018.
The handsome ’19 Ram noses its way into this exploding pickup market with a new, crosshair-free grille with active grille shutters, a redesigned Ram logo, a front air dam that deploys at 35 mph and retracts at 15 mph, a Mopar-developed pullout bed step, and 48-volt mild hybrid powerplants available. The Ram 1500’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 will come standard with a new 48-volt e-torque system that adds 90 pound-feet of torque capability. It will have stop/start capability, and no alternator.
The 48-volt e-torque system also will be offered as an option with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which will feature eight-to-four-cylinder shutoff. Ram says the 48-volt system smoothens the eight-four transition. The truck’s eight-speed automatic has 40 shift schedules available, and there will be two new electronically selectable transfer cases available. The EcoDiesel engine will return a short time after launch.
Bragging rights numbers are 2,300 pounds max payload and 12,700 pounds max towing capacity.
Using aluminum in the transmission cross-member and front control-arm crossmember, along with extensive advanced high-strength steel, helped the ’19 Ram 1500 shed 100 pounds from its frame, 120 pounds from its rolling chassis, and up to 225 pounds overall, depending on configuration. Front suspension roll stiffness is up 20 percent and it has aluminum lower control arms. The independent rear suspension returns with five-link coils, with all this adding up to what Fiat Chrysler calls “next level” ride quality.
Perhaps most striking in the new design is the ’19 Ram 1500’s organic, “fuselage”-style side surfacing, recalling Chrysler design of the early ‘60s and again, the early ‘70s. Designers also raised the top of the bed rails by 1-1/2-inches, says Ram’s design chief, Joe Dehner.
“It gives us the highest capacity bed, and also helped on aero,” Dehner says.
Ram claims a 0.357 coefficient of drag, a 9-percent improvement over the last truck. The Ram 1500 Crew Cab’s overall length is up by four inches, all added within the wheelbase for a more capacious rear seat. Rear doors are one-inch longer than before. The truck is about 1 inch taller, and a half-inch wider at the fender flares.
Up front, the 1500 Limited Ram showed at an embargoed preview featured a rich-looking, crosshair-bereft chrome mesh grille, with the front-facing camera hidden in the “A” of the “Ram” badge, while a Rebel on display featured an updated version of the ’17 Ram Rebel’s racetrack-shaped grille under a new hood. It has a powder-coated black steel front bumper, and will be offered with air- or steel suspension options.
The pickup gets new steel bumpers, a dampened, assisted tailgate, and a lower stepover, at the license plate. The Ram Box built into the bedside is larger and more capacious, with a capacitor switch replacing the chrome button. Dual exhausts have a new, larger 4.5-inch tip, half an inch larger in diameter.
The ’19 Ram 1500 Limited will come with full leather seats, and with real wood interior trim. Trim levels will include, in descending order, the Limited, Longhorn, Laramie, Rebel, Big Horn, and Tradesman. There are 12 paint colors, four of them new and three two-tone schemes, and 15 new wheel designs, from 18-inch stamped to 22-inch cast-aluminum. Those various trim levels require three different taillamp designs, and as in the new JL Jeep Wrangler, Ram 1500s equipped with blind spot information systems have the safety feature’s camera built into them.
A button on the keyfob now can drop the tailgate, making for one of those surprise-and-delight features that make you wonder why no one thought of it before.
Theme for the interior design is “body & soul,” says interior design chief Ryan Nagode. His team has developed six “distinct, focused” interiors, he adds, emphasizing storage, function, and technology. The Ram 1500 Longhorn is available with a black and cattle-tan interior and a “barn wood” feel to the wood trim and branding iron marks, for example. Laramie comes with black-wrapped surfaces. Rebel features cloth and high-wear vinyl seats and hand-wrapped finishes. Big Horn gets black sport cloth seats.
Nagode’s team designed the center console first, giving it five USB outlets and a wireless charging pad. The center console can swallow a 15-inch laptop. There are three 115-volt outlets, and in back, an iPad holder.
Seats are heated and vented, front and rear, on the top three trim levels. There are four-way headrests, four-way power lumbar support in front and rear seats that recline up to eight degrees.
There’s a brand new e-shifter, and a flat load floor, with no tunnel bi-secting the rear seat. A 20-liter under-seat storage bin deploys for a full 40 liters.
Information/entertainment and connectivity systems, standard or optional depending on trim level, include the usual plethora: Fiat Chrysler’s UConnect system with a 12-inch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 360-degree surround-view camera, a full-size navigation screen with 3D view, smartphone remote start and a smartwatch connection. A 19-speaker, 900-watt Harmon/Kardon stereo hi-fi is available on the 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie, Longhorn, and Limited.
Phew. And so ends a big, long story, on a big truck designed to assure that for a price, you can take it all with you.