2019 Ram 1500 Pickup First Look | Edmunds

2019 Ram 1500 Pickup First Look

More Tech, a Bigger Cab


We've been consistent fans of the current-generation Ram 1500, which truly separated itself from the pack by adopting a link-coil rear suspension when it was last redesigned in the 2010 model year. During its run, the brand invested in other truck engineering breakthroughs, including a powerful 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 base engine, a clever eight-speed transmission and a four-corner air suspension. The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 continues the tradition with a broad range of improvements and innovative solutions hidden beneath its fully redesigned skin.

The 2019 Ram's new sheet metal has been crafted with airflow management and passenger comfort in mind. The sales-leading crew-cab version is 3.9 inches longer from bumper to bumper, and it rides on a wheelbase that has been stretched 4.1 inches. It shows up inside the crew cab itself, which is 4 inches longer. All of the familiar interior roominess dimensions are unchanged except for one: Rear legroom has increased from 40.3 inches to a whopping 45.2 inches. The Ram 1500 once trailed behind the competition in this critical area, but the 2019 crew cab has instantly become the class leader.

The interior has been classed up with nice-looking materials, and controls such as the rotary shift knob have been improved to be more attractive and better integrated with similar functions. But the most obvious advance comes from the fourth-generation Uconnect system, which can be paired with an 8-inch touchscreen or further upgraded with a massive 12-inch, portrait-oriented touchscreen. As we recently saw on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler, the new Uconnect system delivers crisper graphics and faster response. It also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Ram engineers have added multiple USB and micro USB input ports.

2019 Ram 1500

You'd think this extra length would have a bad effect on the Ram's U-turn radius, and that is the case because it now needs more space to turn around than a Toyota Tundra CrewMax pickup. But its new turning radius of 46.2 feet is still better than that of the 2018 crew-cab competition from Ford and Chevrolet. Ram engineers have also more than offset the extra length by installing a new steering gearbox that's some 15 percent quicker. The upshot is the driver's hands may, in fact, be less busy than before.

As for aerodynamics, the familiar forward-leaning grille has been chamfered along its upper edge to smooth the flow over the hood. The longer crew cab provides extra roof length to better stabilize the airflow before it heads over the cargo box, and the bed sides of the cargo box itself stand 1.5 inches taller. The obvious side benefit is an extra 1.4 inches of cargo-box load depth.

2019 Ram 1500

But the coolest detail by far is one you might not notice in photographs or in person: an automatically retracting front spoiler. At speeds under 35 mph, it stays up out of the way to maintain off-road and driveway approach clearance. Above that speed, it drops down a full 2.5 inches to smooth airflow and improve fuel economy. Ram 1500 trucks with the optional air suspension do not have or need this feature because the entire truck can be raised or lowered instead.

2019 Ram 1500

On paper, the engine output figures of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 (305 horsepower, 269 pound-feet of torque) and 5.7-liter Hemi V8 (395 hp, 410 lb-ft) look unchanged from before. That's true, but both have been significantly enhanced by the addition of the eTorque mild hybrid system and its 48-volt lithium-ion battery that hangs vertically behind the back seat. But please don't read too much into the H-word; the Ram 1500 has not suddenly morphed into a Prius pickup. The eight-speed automatic transmission is still there, and we expect the Ram 1500 to drive much the same as it always has, if not better. The eTorque enhanced stop-start system has been added to improve fuel economy, but Ram engineers are not yet ready to release exact figures. It's standard on the Pentastar V6 and optional on the Hemi V8.

2019 Ram 1500

eTorque is essentially an oversize belt-driven alternator (generator, in this case) that also acts as the starter. It generates a good deal of the energy it needs for this task, as well as the energy needed to support the truck's 12-volt backbone and accessories, while coasting and decelerating. The V6 version can output 90 lb-ft of torque, while the V8 system produces 130 lb-ft. But you can't add this grunt to the peak torque generated by the engine because eTorque is mainly used at the beginning of each stop-start launch. The system essentially starts the truck in gear and gets it moving smoothly until the engine stabilizes and takes over at about 1.5 mph. At other times, it fills in the gaps to smooth power delivery through the usual pauses that accompany upshifts. We've already sampled eTorque during a drive of 2018 Jeep Wrangler with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, and the benefits were clear.

2019 Ram 1500

Additional fuel savings come from the expanded use of cylinder deactivation during a wider range of driving conditions. The usual barrier to this sort of thing is the unsavory interior noises and vibrations that result when the engine is running on half its cylinders. But Ram engineers have developed an answer. They've attached dynamic mass modules (actively controlled mass dampers, if you like) to the frame rails to quell the vibrations. As for the noise, they've erased that using active noise cancellation through the speakers.

But that's not all they've done to improve fuel economy. Further benefits come from an intensive weight-loss program that trimmed about 225 pounds. Exactly 100 of those pounds were removed from the fully reimagined frame. A full 98 percent of it is made from high-strength steel alloys, but the engineers have also optimized the cross-sectional shape of the frame members themselves. Additional weight savings come from the expanded use of aluminum. The hood was always made of the stuff, but it's now joined by the tailgate, the engine mounts, the front axle housing, two frame crossmembers (transmission and suspension), and the steering gear. Additionally, the front suspension's upper control arms include composite materials.

2019 Ram 1500

Another nod to efficiency improvement is the new thermal management system that helps to heat up the axle lube more quickly to reduce internal friction in extreme cold. But it also helps durability by carrying away excess heat when carrying heavy loads or towing trailers up hot desert grades. This matters more than ever because the 2019 Ram is more adept at both of these tasks. The maximum payload and tow ratings of the "properly equipped" versions have increased to 2,300 pounds and 12,700 pounds, respectively.

We have not yet driven the new 2019 Ram 1500, but when we do we'll be paying close attention to the ride quality. That's because the truck now uses shocks with frequency response damping (FRD), a scheme that relies on one valve to control the routine motions of most roads and a second that comes into play during sudden shocks caused by potholes, railroad tracks and certain off-road surfaces. The ride of the last-generation Ram was already class-leading because of its link-coil rear suspension, so it'll be interesting to see how much smoother the engineers have managed to make it.

2019 Ram 1500

Those who want to spend time off-road now have two choices, the Rebel and the new 4x4 Off-Road package. Each stands an inch taller than a regular Ram 1500, but unlike last year's air-suspended Rebel they both use a lifted version of the coil spring suspension. Both have locking rear differentials and hill descent control, and the Rebel has a tougher front end with extra clearance, 33-inch tires, and the option of air suspension if you want it. The Rebel also employs Bilstein monotube shock absorbers, this year upgraded to include remote reservoir shocks in the rear.

2019 Ram 1500

The number of small detail changes goes on and on, but you get the idea. The folks over at Ram truck engineering have been very busy, and the result is a 2019 Ram 1500 pickup we can't wait to drive. We won't have to wait long because the 2019 Ram 1500 will begin appearing on dealer lots sometime in the first quarter of this year. Stay tuned for a full report on Edmunds once they start hitting the streets.

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