2019 Ram 1500 is stronger, kinder

The new 2019 Ram 1500 pickup is both stronger and kinder. It’s stronger in terms of its capability and kinder in luxury and style. Its body and soul are both more beautiful. A quick preview drive in Scottsdale, Arizona proves the new truck can handle extreme off-roading, haul more payload, tow large trailers, and comfortably move your peeps.

A buff new body is more aerodynamically efficient, but continues the dropped semi-style front fenders that have been a hallmark of the truck since 1994, even going back to the Power Wagon before that. Gone is the split-hair grille, replaced with chrome (or gray plastic on Rebel editions) emblazoned with “RAM”. Adaptive LED headlamps brighten top models. More important to passengers, the wheelbase and cab are 4” longer, stretching rear legroom. A taller bed allows unimpeded bodylines front to rear, accentuated by swelled fenders and available 22” wheels. Optional “Ram Box” storage compartments return to the bedsides. Aluminum is reserved for the hood and tailgate.

Within the larger cab, passengers savor enhanced luxury and technology. An available 12” split-screen touchscreen that you can swipe, pinch, and zoom dominates the center stack on trucks so equipped, but that’s only the greeting. Designers stepped up with real open-pore wood on Limited/Longhorn editions–wood that’s hand-branded with the Longhorn logo. On premium models, swaths of real stitched leather and artful metal speaker grilles add delight. Color combinations like Indigo Blue/Frost on Limited and Black/Cattle Tan on Longhorn could only come from Fiat Chrysler. Red trim and seats embossed with the truck’s tire pattern distinguish Rebels. No detail was overlooked.

There are features you may not expect on a pickup truck, like an available 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, dual-pane sunroof, wireless phone charging, and 4G Wi-Fi. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto simplify infotainment. Simplifying driving, controls for four-wheel-drive and auto stop/start are placed in the same pod as the rotary gear selector. In-floor cubbies, a configurable center console, and caverns beneath the rear seats rival YMCA lockers, while there’s a clever tablet holder molded into the back of the center console. A full suite of adaptive cruise and collision avoidance systems will be available.

At launch, we’ll only be able to buy the Ram with a 395 horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8. It has plenty of power, but that’s just the opening salvo. Diesels arrive in 2019, but before that, Ram will add 5.7-liter V8 and 3.6-liter V6 engines with eTorque–a light hybrid system that employs a belt-drive motor generator and lithium-ion batteries to add 90-130 lb.-ft. of torque for smooth re-starts and optimized fuel economy. Expect a 10% improvement over non-hybrid models. Power routes to the four-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

So, what can Ram accomplish? Well, it can haul up to 2,300 lbs. in its capacious bed and hook onto trailers weighing up to 12,750 lbs. Larger brakes, in-dash controller, and automatic blind spot extenders (which automatically take the trailer’s length into account) make towing as easy as watering the lawn. Engineers also conjured up active frame-mounted modulators to detect engine vibration and electronically cancel it. Power-deployed front spoiler and grille shutters enhance fuel economy.

We drove Rams of all trim levels on-road and off, but really pounded the new Rebel over desert trails. On-road, the trucks are clearly quieter, steering is more direct, bodies are more solid, and the rear suspension does a better job of eliminating hopping and chatter. Pulling a 30-foot boat was easy-peasy. An optional air suspension does an even better job, allowing the truck to be raised for off-roading and lowered for better aero on the highway.

Ram needed to become both stronger and kinder to appeal to today’s truck buyers, who will soon be tempted by redesigned pickups from Chevrolet and GMC. Mission accomplished.

Prices start at $31,695, rising to $35,695 for Big Horn, $40,690 for Laramie, $43,995 for Rebel, $51,390 for Longhorn, and $53,890 for Limited editions.

Storm forward!

Send questions and comments to Casey at AutoCasey.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.

2019 Ram 1500
5 passengers, 4WD Pickup
Powertrain: 395 hp 5.7-liter V8, 8-spd auto trans
Suspension f/r: Ind/Solid axle
Wheels f/r: 20”/20” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Style, Capability
Towing Capacity: 12,750 lbs. Fuel economy: TBA
Assembly: Sterling Heights, MI
Base price: $31,695-53,890