2019 Ram 1500 First Review
Totally redesigned for 2019, the new Ram 1500 is lighter, stronger, more comfortable, more capable and more efficient than the previous truck, all while sporting a more refined look that no longer uses the traditional cross-hair nose. Ram was already in a good place with its truck, which has established a strong reputation as a good all-around truck that appeals to a wide spectrum of buyers. The Ram sets itself apart from rivals like the F-150, Silverado, and Tundra with its segment-exclusive coil-spring suspension, an excellent infotainment system, and upscale interiors. There are also numerous trim levels and special editions to choose from, ranging from the budget-friendly Tradesman to the near-lux Limited (and upcoming Laramie Longhorn), with the off-road-biased Rebel also in the mix.
The Ram has been the rising star of the truck world for several years. It’s the third best-selling vehicle in America, behind the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado, and more than half a million new Rams were sold in 2017. In addition, over a 5-year period, Ram sales doubled in the U.S., a staggering feat. How does Ram continue its upward sales trajectory for 2019?
Power and Efficiency
When the first Rams arrive at dealer lots next month, the sole engine will be the 395-horsepower, 5.7-liter V8. This standard engine remains relatively unchanged for 2019, with variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. The Hemi works with an 8-speed automatic transmission operated through an easy-to-reach dash-mounted dial. Pushing the start button, we were greeted by a healthy V8 rumble. Acceleration is pleasantly smooth, and we were not wanting for power. The Ram was also happy to oblige when we punched it to get past slower traffic. The transmission’s shifts are well-timed and the 8-speed works very well behind the V8.
If you’re willing to wait a few months, the engine options get interesting. We haven’t driven the Ram with eTorque (yet), but the mild hybrid system uses a 48-volt battery pack and a motor generator to add torque when specific driving situations call for it, while improving the truck’s fuel economy. The small battery pack is mounted to the rear wall inside the cab, and the motor generator replaces the alternator. The system is also designed to speed up the restart part of the truck’s start/stop system. Ram’s eTorque is standard on the 3.6-liter V6 and is an $800 option with the V8, adding up to 90 lb-ft of torque to the V6 and 130 to the V8. It employs regenerative braking to charge the battery pack. We also anticipate that a diesel engine will be offered in the new Ram later in the product cycle.
Ride and Handling
One of the Ram’s strongest suits has been ride quality, and it continues to be, both with and without the optional air suspension. Credit the use of new 2-valve Frequency Response Damping shocks, which automatically adjust to changing road situations. They use a bypass valve that can soften damping, improving ride quality on the highway. When cornering, the valve closes to improve response. Our drive through the hill country around San Antonio took us over rough roads. The suspension did an excellent job of absorbing bumps and smoothing out stretches of rough track, while the new shocks, plus the redesigned, retuned front suspension made handling feel more precise than in the previous Ram. The ride felt comfortable and well-controlled in all the Rams we drove.
Another Ram hallmark has been interior quality, and for 2019 the designers have gone above and beyond what you would expect in a truck. It isn’t just one layout that looks nice; there are several. Materials and fit and finish are excellent, and while we didn’t get to see all the possible combinations of cloth, leather, wood, and metal, what we did see was arguably best in class, while the controls were logically placed and in easy reach. The interior was also quiet, as the V8-powered trucks we drove used active tuned-mass modules which reduce any shuddering that may happen when the engine is in 4-cylinder mode as well as active noise cancellation.
The truck is now longer and wider, and the cab now has four more inches of interior space. In addition to making the cab roomier, this also means that the rear seats can recline. The middle rear-seat passenger no longer has to share a footwell with the side passengers, thanks to the fully flat floor. That new floor design also benefits anyone who wants to stow large items in the back when the seats are up. And the seats proved comfortable on long stretches behind the wheel.
Ram reconfigured the center stack, moving the 4-wheel-drive controls around the transmission knob, adding a set of toggle switches below the infotainment screen and surrounding the touchscreen with plenty of redundant push buttons and knobs to let you decide which way you’d prefer to control climate and audio. There are three screen sizes to choose from; we sampled two above the base 5.0-inch unit: the 8.4-inch screen, and the all-new 12-inch screen, which is essentially double the visual space of the 8.4-inch display. That smaller screen provides more buttons and controls underneath, which may be more appealing for buyers who prefer more manual controls. However, the 12-inch screen is a clear, vibrant control center for all things communication, navigation, climate and audio. While the setup still has some redundant controls, using the touchscreen system is easy. You can have the whole screen dominated by a map, or make it a split screen, and it allows you to use both the Uconnect system and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto if you like. Both are available in Big Horn and higher trims. A 19-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system is also available, as is wireless charging. There are plenty of safety offerings, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation, hill-start assist, trailer sway control, and blind-spot monitoring, which also factors in your trailer.
Ram also increased the truck’s storage space. In addition to the expandable storage areas under the rear seat, there are RamBins under the rear floor. Hidden by the floormat, this is a handy spot to keep small items out of sight. In front, the center console storage area is best be described as huge. It fits a laptop and then some – it’s big enough to hold 39 liters of gear and can be reconfigured 12 ways.
Stronger Foundation, Increased Capability
One of the most essential parts of the 2019 Ram is its all-new frame. Made almost entirely from high-strength steel, the frame is more rigid and stronger than the rails under the previous generation, while also weighing less. The truck is about 225 pounds lighter overall. The increased rigidity and strength was also a big part of the reason for the Ram’s capability improvements. Maximum towing capacity is now 12,750 pounds, up from 10,640 last year. Payload capacity has also increased: the 2,300-pound payload capacity eclipses last year’s 1,880 maximum. These numbers are near the top of the segment, but keep in mind that the Ford F-150 has a higher towing capacity plus more tech features that make it easier to tow, and that Chevrolet and GMC have not yet announced towing capacity for the new-for-2019 Silverado and Sierra 1500.
We towed a 6,000-pound trailer with the Ram, a good example of the weight many people tow, and the truck felt comfortable and confident with the trailer hooked up. And whether we were towing or driving the Ram unloaded, the brakes were firm and linear.
The RamBox option returns for 2019, offering handy in-bed storage. The tailgate, made of lightweight aluminum, is now damped with a lift-assist feature. You can also lower the tailgate from the cab or with the key fob. For those who want to venture off-road, there’s a new 4x4 package that adds an electronic locker, 1-inch suspension lift, and hill-descent control. There’s also an off-road-ready Rebel model.
Numbers and Details
The 2019 Ram 1500 will go on sale in Quad Cab or Crew Cab form, initially powered by the 5.7-liter V8 engine. The eTorque-powered trucks will become available later in 2018. Ram has not yet announced if a regular cab will be offered. The Ram will be sold in six trim levels. At this point, the 2019 Ram will be sold as a Quad Cab (extended cab) and Crew Cab. Ram hasn't announced whether or not there will be a regular cab for 2019. The least expensive is the Quad Cab Tradesman, which starts at $33,340. Next up is the Big Horn ($37,340), Laramie ($36,840), and Rebel ($46,340). The other two trim levels are only available as Crew Cabs: the Longhorn ($53,335) and Limited ($55,835). Add $3,500 for four-wheel drive.
If you're deciding which Ram you might want, there's a potentially sneaky value for the more frugal shopper -- the 2018 Ram will continue to be sold in dealerships at least through the end of calendar-year 2018. But for those who want the extensive list of features the new Ram offers, it’s worth it to opt for the new truck.
When it comes to configuring a truck, there can be hundreds of thousands of possible combinations you could create. Instead of trying to provide specifications for every combination, here is an overall look at the 2019 Ram 1500’s specifications.
2019 Ram 1500 Engines and Specs
Standard Engine: 3.6-liter V6, 305 hp, 269 lb-ft
Optional Engine: 5.7-liter V8, 395 hp, 410 lb-ft
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Suspension: Control arm, coil spring (front), 5-link, coil spring (rear); optional air suspension
Length: 228.9-241.8 in
Width: 82.1 in
Height: 77.5-79.7 in
Wheelbase: 140.5 in (Quad Cab), 144.6 in (Crew Cab, short bed), 153.5 in (Crew Cab, long bed)
Ground Clearance: 6.2-10.7 in
Bed Length: 67.0 in (Crew Cab), 76.0 in (Quad Cab and Crew Cab)
2019 Ram 1500 Exterior and Interior Photos
More New and Redesigned Vehicles for 2019