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2019 Ram 1500: What's It Like To Live With?

We Owned and Tested The New Ram For Over 30,000 Miles

Ram 1500 2019
Miles DrivenAverage MPG

Latest Highlights (updated 1/14/21)

  • In-cabin technology in this truck is class-leading
  • No complaints from the Ram's 5.7-liter V8, aside from its thirst
  • Our best range record was an impressive 567 miles on one tank
  • We've spent $645 on routine maintenance in 30,000 miles

What We Bought And Why

byDan Edmunds, Director, Vehicle Testing

Our test vehicle: 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab Short Bed 4x4
Base MSRP: $45,695
MSRP as tested: $60,540
What we paid: $55,158.50
What it sold for: $31,000 (56% of paid price)

This purchase was inevitable. We mentally reserved a spot for the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 pickup on our long-term "buy" list the moment we hopped inside one during its debut at the Detroit Auto Show this past January. Weeks later we got our first opportunity to drive the new Ram in Texas, and the serious business of budget-planning and calendar-watching got underway soon after they pried the keys from our reluctant hands.

What Did We Buy?
Though it is a fully redesigned truck, the new 2019 Ram 1500 retains the coil-spring suspension concept and eight-speed transmission of its predecessor. A 5.7-liter Hemi V8 still represents the heart and soul of the lineup and carries over unchanged apart from some calibration tweaks. New eTorque versions of the familiar 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar and the 5.7-liter Hemi were not available when we bought this truck. Nor was the EcoDiesel V6.

Changes this time around boil down to the frame, which is both longer and stronger. The crew cab grew by 4 inches, resulting in a worst-to-first transformation of rear-seat legroom and comfort. Ram's designers doubled down on the extra space with considerable leaps in interior material and switchgear quality. They've also swung for the fences with infotainment options. On its own, the available 8.4-inch Uconnect system is enough to give the competition fits, but Ram went ahead and built an impressive 12-inch touchscreen that has no equal.

Extra frame strength allows for more load carrying, which in turn enables a boost in the 2019 Ram's maximum payload and tow ratings. Ram advertises 12,750 pounds as the Ram 1500's maximum rating, but crew cabs the configuration most people will buy come in around 11,000 to 11,500 pounds, still a hefty improvement.

What Options Does It Have?
The enlarged and enriched crew cab is where the action is, so that choice was easy for us. Same goes for the 5-foot-7-inch short bed. It's the most popular crew-cab pairing. And for us, it's a practical matter of needing to park a 4-inch-longer truck in the tight confines of Los Angeles parking spots.

As for power, the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and four-wheel drive were no-brainers.

From here, the Laramie was our jumping-off point, and the crew-cab short-bed 4x4 starts at $45,695, plus another $1,195 for the V8. The Laramie is a notch above the volume-selling Big Horn/Lone Star trim level, and it's where you need to start when seeking the 12-inch touchscreen option, as we were. We also like how this choice enables us to compare today's truck to our previous Ram long-termers, both Laramies.

A typical Laramie is impressively equipped. Highlights include dual-zone automatic climate control, a telescopic heated steering wheel, and heated and ventilated leather front seats. But from the factory, the front seats are a 40/20/40-split folding bench with a fold-down center console. We wanted the impressive new fixed center console (trust us, you do, too) and bucket seats, which added $795 straightaway.

The 12-inch touchscreen navigation system required a bigger commitment. To get it, we first needed to spend $4,595 on the Level 2 Equipment Group, which includes a 19-speaker premium stereo with all the bells and whistles, navigation and unrelated items such as parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, heated rear seats, and blind-spot monitoring. Then we needed to spend another $1,095 just for the 12-inch display itself.

Towing was on our minds, so we bought a trailer brake controller ($295), a 33-gallon fuel tank ($445) and the 3.92 axle ratio upgrade ($95). The latter is necessary to boost the Ram's tow rating to 11,290 pounds. With the standard 3.21 gearing, the Ram is capable of just 8,190 pounds.

Other options include a massive panoramic sunroof ($1,295), handsome 20-inch polished rims ($1,295) and Ivory Tri-Coat exterior paint ($500). Another $1,595 got us the Advanced Safety Group, which includes stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, automated parallel/perpendicular parking, and a surround-view camera.

Add all that up, and you get $13,200 in options. Including options and destination, our 2019 Ram 1500's window sticker price was $60,540. But we didn't pay nearly that much. We bought ours for $55,158.50 from Cowboy Dodge in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and drove it back home. That's a story you're sure to hear more about later.

Why We Bought It
We're acutely aware that the truck market is a tough arena. As much as we've admired Ram 1500 trucks we've owned in the past, the competition has moved on, too. Have Ram engineers done enough with the new truck to separate it from competitors, especially with the imminent arrival of new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models? Early indications suggest they've hit it out of the ballpark, at least with interior quality and accommodations.

But Ram has largely stood pat on the powertrain front, eTorque notwithstanding. The Hemi V8 is a stout offering, but Ford and GM haven't sat on their hands. And the competition is leapfrogging ahead in terms of transmission gear count. Ford and GM both have 10-speed gearboxes; the former has been on sale for more than a year and the latter rolls out this fall. Are the Ram's eight gears enough? Or will more-is-better thinking prove true and make the 10-speed the new killer truck app?

These are merely the broad strokes. The 2019 Ram 1500 is brimming with many detail changes that we plan to delve into over the next year. As ever, our goal is to drive 20,000 miles in that time, but experience suggests our Ram 1500 will rack up many more. Care to hazard a guess?

Follow along as we put our 2019 Ram 1500 through its paces, and look for detailed impressions and regular updates.

What Did We Learn?
Our test is over. We owned the Ram 1500 for two years and drove it nearly 36,000 miles. Our quick take: We loved this truck. Scroll down the page for our detailed exploits.

The biggest highlights of the Ram were its interior, comfort and capability. The cabin was filled with the nicest quality of materials, finishes and controls of any pickup. They were durable, too. Signs of wear were minimal on Day 730 and some surfaces still looked like they did on Day 1. We sometimes found it hard to believe we were in a truck. As for comfort, the coil-spring rear suspension continues to set the bar in unladen truck ride quality. The highly supportive seats and plenty of legroom in the second row encouraged numerous long-distance drives. And don't think the creature comforts meant the truck wasn't capable. The Ram proved just as utilitarian as the other guys, with features including a trailer hitch camera that made life even easier.

There were two negatives worth mentioning. One was fuel economy. We never did manage to hit the 21 mpg EPA estimate for highway fuel economy. Our best effort was 19.8 mpg with a lifetime average of 14.7 mpg, which included some time spent towing. The second was on the topic of mechanical reliability. You see, aside from six minor recalls, our truck ran confidently throughout our test. But if you're shopping used Rams, do your homework. During our time with the truck, some customers reported more trouble than we had.

Based on our experience going into this test, the Ram 1500 was our top-rated truck. And it still is.

What's the Bottom Line?
The Ram 1500 is the best full-size truck you can buy at this time. For a competitive price, we equipped a truck that had decent payload capacity, a great V8 and excellent towing ability and was as comfortable as they come (both in ride quality and seat support). And the cabin is far and away the nicest-appointed truck interior available. With fuel efficiency and the aforementioned mechanical concerns in mind, we still recommend the Ram several times over.

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.

2019 Ram 1500: Real-World Fuel Economy

We've put over 35,000 miles on the Ram so far and we've yet to achieve the EPA estimated highway fuel economy. We've covered over 560 miles on a single tank. But we still can't hit 21 mpg.

Average lifetime mpg: 14.7
EPA mpg rating: 17 combined ( 15 City / 21 Highway )
Best fill mpg: 19.8
Best range: 567.7
Current odometer: 35,809

Logbook Highlights

"I left home this morning with a full tank of gas. After a couple of detours, I reached my final destination in Chico, California. It took roughly eight hours and covered 525 miles. The range meter still shows 34 miles to empty, onboard fuel economy reads 18.1 mpg (though in reality, it's 17.5 mpg) and I've used 30.027 of the available 33 gallons in the fuel tank. Now it's time for a sandwich." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

"Mike, don't be upset. I just crushed your range record in the Ram. I went 567 miles on one tank." — Josh Sadlier, Director, Content Strategy

2019 Ram 1500: Maintenance

We've been keeping an eye on the Edmunds Consumer Reviews for the 2019 Ram 1500, because they're not great. As of this writing, 177 owners have submitted reviews, and the average rating is an unusually low 3.4 stars out of 5. We always recommend reading those consumer reviews to get a feel for common issues. In this test, however, our Ram 1500 has been pretty solid over 30,000-plus miles. We've had a few complaints about build quality in the cabin but by and large our Ram has been a trusty companion.

Maintenance Summary

Total routine maintenance costs $644.68
Additional maintenance costs $496.13
Warranty repairs only the recalls noted below
Non-warranty repairs none
Days out of service none
Breakdowns stranding driver none

Recalls performed on our truck

• U88 - Rear differential may have been insufficiently filled
• V07 - The brake pedal may move too far and separate from the pedal assembly
• V04 - The battery ground fastener on the driver-side front fender may have been improperly secured, possibly resulting in a loss of power steering assist
• U92 - Reprogram the ABS module
• V61 - Reprogram ORC airbag/seat-belt control module
• TSB 08-125-18 - ECU reflash to correct blind-spot monitoring system
See all recalls on the 2019 Ram 1500

"'Taking the Ram to the tire place now to see if they can patch it,' began Cameron's text message. It was later followed by, 'They have to replace the tire.' At 30,000 miles these tires lived a good life, so it wasn't a surprise expense. The surprise came seven days later when I walked out and found a nail very-near the sidewall of the driver's rear tire. Same story. It was too close to the sidewall for patching. In the matter of a week we spent $496.13 replacing two damaged tires." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

"We hit 30,000 miles and on cue, the truck requested service. The timing was right because about a week prior a blind-spot monitor warning alerted us that a dealer visit was already in our future. It was fairly easy to book an appointment at Huntington Beach Ram. The service itself took most of one day, despite our making an early morning appointment midweek. It consisted of: new oil, oil filter, engine air filter, windshield wipers, a tire rotation and an ECU reflash. The reflash addressed TSB 08-125-18, the same issue causing our recurring blind-spot warning error. This appointment pulled another $297.82 from our pockets." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

Last week, the Ram requested a 20,000-mile service. A simple check-up turned out to be more trouble than it needed to be.

"Santa Monica Ram couldn't see us for more than a week. So we called the second-closest shop to our office, Nissani Bros Ram in Culver City, who saw us the next morning. Aside from an attempted $170 upsell for a brake fluid flush, the service writer ordered the work that we requested: an oil change, oil filter, engine air filter, cabin air filter, and tire rotation. It cost $250... Halfway back to the office, the brake warning light came on.

"Great, thought Reviews Editor Travis Langness, they had done the brake fluid flush that I asked them not to do, and now it was causing a problem."

The next day we returned to Nissani. The lead technician had the day off, which translated to, "We can't help you reset the warning light for the problem we caused." That's when Vehicle Testing Technician Rex Tokeshi-Torres stepped in. He has a way of picking up the phone and making things happen. True to form, the next morning we got an update from Rex: "Bravo Ram in Alhambra saw me at 8:30 this morning. Done and done. The brake module was recalibrated and no errors found." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres, vehicle testing technician

"The Ram requested routine service at just about 8,500 miles. It was a straightforward affair, including 6 quarts of fresh oil, a new oil filter, a tire rotation and various safety inspections. It was an uneventful experience. The total cost was $96.86." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

2019 Ram 1500: Performance

Not surprisingly, our staffers quickly warmed to the 5.7-liter Hemi V8's relaxed power delivery and mellifluous soundtrack. The eight-speed automatic occasionally clunks when you least expect it, but in general, this is a remarkably refined powertrain that burnishes the Ram 1500 Laramie's luxury-truck credentials.

Logbook Highlights

"Overnight the storm dropped 6 inches of snow. In four-wheel drive, the Ram was sure-footed and even inspired confidence when driving up steep driveways and across the unmaintained sections of road." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

This front chin spoiler hangs down more than I'd like. It became a bit of an issue on a remote desert pipeline road I was using to get to a hiking spot. The road is graded, but it follows the terrain in a way that's not unlike a roller coaster. The suspension compression that comes in the dips is what does it. Roads like this tend to have a little debris in the middle between the tire tracks. And in such cases, the Ram's airdam is more of a plow than I'd like. I have to drive slower than is strictly necessary to prevent the suspension compression that leads to contact because of it. — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

"I've only used our Ram 1500's adaptive cruise control for a few hours. But in that limited time, it seemed to work quite well in both open highway and congested highway traffic situations. The level of sensitivity of detecting vehicles ahead is just right, and the Ram slows and accelerates smoothly and appropriately." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content

2019 Ram 1500: Comfort

Comfort is arguably what this truck is all about. Featuring a class-exclusive coil-spring rear suspension, the Ram 1500 has been setting the standard for years in terms of big-truck ride quality. Our Laramie test truck is also exceptionally quiet on the highway. It's every bit the luxury truck it purports to be. Color us impressed.

Logbook Highlights

"After three hours in the saddle, my butt started going numb. I'm not sure how much to blame the truck for this and how much to blame my phenomenal bladder control. Between the third and fifth hours, I could alleviate much of my discomfort just by shifting around. At that point, nature persuaded me to take a break. I climbed back into the truck afterward and drove another three hours without complaint." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

"Our Ram 1500 is impressively comfortable for long-distance travel. I did a family road trip in it with my wife and two kids for Easter. It was only about four to five hours driving each way, which isn't terribly long. But I felt like we could have gone double that without issue.

A few reasons why: The front seats are supportive; the rear seats are widely set (providing an ample 'neutral zone' between my kids) with ample legroom; wind and road noise at highway speeds is low; and for a truck, it rides smoothly over bumps and broken pavement." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content

"I had all sorts of truck stuff planned for my weekend. I had car parts to haul, a car to tow and big packages to put in the back seat. So I signed out the Ram 1500. Pretty much all of my big truck stuff fell through, and I ended up using the Ram for totally average tasks that our CR-V or Bolt could've handled. Sure, I used the tailgate for a tool bench at one point, but nothing I really needed the truck for. And it handled it all perfectly. This vehicle is seriously drivable, with no issues navigating the bumpy and busy streets of Los Angeles. It has excellent in-town manners, and I'd be happy to have it as a daily driver." — Travis Langness, staff writer

2019 Ram 1500: Technology

There's so much cutting-edge technology in this Ram. We dig the supersize touchscreen and a lot of the peripheral tech features, too. This is the Silicon Valley of the full-size truck world.

Logbook Highlights

"I was dubious of the 12-inch touchscreen option when I first saw it. Pretty, for sure, but is it really all that? I mean, the 8.4-inch Uconnect display is sweet. Why spend the extra money? Now that I'm 1,000 miles into this trip, I'm a believer. Mostly.

"The graphics are amazing when you look at the navigation maps. And things such as the XM tuner screen have so much space to work with that you can see album art, presets, other function buttons and more in an uncluttered way. Each screen has enough real estate so that related virtual buttons can occupy the same page, and they can be large and quite easy to see and use at a glance.

"Apple CarPlay, though, displays in the top half in the same size and aspect ratio as you'd get on the 8.4-inch screen, with the bottom half of the screen given over to a few of the lesser-used buttons. If you use Apple CarPlay and Apple Maps to the exclusion of all else, the 8.4-inch screen might be just fine.

"That was me, at first, but then I started to play with listening to Apple music and podcasts via CarPlay and then switching to the big nav screen for navigation. I did the reverse and listened to XM and then called up Apple Maps. The system didn't care. Whatever I wanted in terms of straddling the line between the two worlds, it was fine with it." — Dan Edmunds, director, vehicle testing

"After watching our three-truck comparison, I couldn't help but want to try towing with the Ram 1500 myself. I got such an opportunity when a buddy needed help getting his single-axle trailer weighed and balanced, so I brought the Ram over for 'evaluation' purposes. His trailer weighs in at 3,500 pounds, a far cry from what the Ram can actually tow, so acceleration and braking were only minimally affected. But it was great to see how the blind-spot system automatically recognized the trailer length after the first turn or two. And the wide rear camera view helped with single-handed trailer hookups." — Calvin Kim, road test engineer

"Did we ever mention that this truck has a hands-free parking system? That it'll do parallel and perpendicular parking for you after it measures and chooses a spot? Yes, you must work the brake and shift gears, but it put the truck in a spot I might not have picked myself. Really excellent, and the 360-degree cameras are an integral part that helps you brake accurately in tight quarters." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

"As much as I love the rest of the Ram 1500, its navigation system is pretty bad. It takes forever to boot up, and when it finally does, it can take minutes to find a signal. On more than one occasion last weekend, the system replied to a search request with something to the equivalent of 'searching offline.' And then, instead of navigating me to my intended destination of San Pedro, California, it tried to route me to San Pedro, Coahuila, Mexico. 'San Pedro, CA,' didn't even appear in the search results." — Cameron Rogers, reviews editor

"The 12-inch screen in our Ram 1500 is awesome. The screen is crisp and responsive, and once you have Apple CarPlay on, the bottom half is available to control other features in the car. In other vehicles, with much smaller screens, you'd have to exit CarPlay in order to access features through the infotainment system. My preferred setup is to leave the map on the top screen and my album artwork on the bottom screen." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor

2019 Ram 1500: Utility

We've carried all sorts of junk in this truck. But how does the Ram 1500 compare to its rivals on this score? Check out our real-world experiences below.

Logbook Highlights

"One cubic yard of compost fits perfectly into the 5-foot-7-inch short bed on this Ram. No more. In this instance, you can only fit 5-pounds in a 5-pound bag. Not surprisingly, the weight is very near the payload max for our truck." — Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations

"This was a month of lumber runs. Travis picked up planks for his fence the other week. Today I grabbed some 8-foot lengths of redwood for a planter box. My drive was really short, so I didn't bother dropping the tailgate. It was really easy thanks in part to the plastic trim edge atop the tailgate. The plastic provided a far slicker surface than a painted finish would have." — Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations

"Even though it's got the short bed, the Ram can still easily carry 25 fence planks in the back. Just load em' up diagonally, close the bed and you're on your way. Hell, it could've hauled a few hundred of these things, but luckily, my fence isn't that broken. The only reason I'd consider a long-bed version of the Ram would be to accommodate my motorcycle. Every hardware-store trip I've made was no match for the Ram's short bed. For the everyday non-construction guy, this truck's configuration is perfect." — Travis Langness, reviews editor

"A big missing item we left off the Ram's option list is the "Bed Utility Group" package. It costs $845 and adds four adjustable cargo tie-down hooks, a deployable bed step, extra box lighting, a spray in bedliner and a cargo bed divider. The extra tie-down hooks would be a great help since the standard ones are super low-down in the bed and difficult to reach when you're strapping down several large items. The other items in that package would be valuable extras too, but I'd do it just to get those extra hooks and make sure all this boxed-up furniture in the bed of the truck doesn't move around as much." — Travis Langness, reviews editor

"I made a quick run to the Salvation Army to donate some odds and ends from around the house. On my way back to the truck, a man approached and asked, 'Is that your truck? I just bought a refrigerator and don't have a way to get it home. I was going to come back with a friend and use his truck, but you are here so I thought I'd ask. I live just two blocks up the street.'

"I figured, 'Heck, why not?' So we slid it in the back, which was, of course, a perfect fit. Not only was this perfect stranger friendly, but he lived right around the corner from me, so it wasn't far out of my way to help him out. Ram to the rescue." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

I like the Ram's low and larger D-rings in the bed. They're useful for tie-downs, but they're pretty hard to reach. Loading a motorcycle in the bed of the Ram means several tie-downs and a big obstacle in the bed that you need to maneuver around, so I'd prefer some D-rings located higher up for this sort of task. The Chevrolet Silverado does it better in this regard. — Travis Langness, reviews editor

I wish our Ram had a bed step. I was loading stuff in and out this weekend, and while I can hop up into the bed with acceptable litheness, my knees started to protest about repeatedly hopping out. — Will Kaufman, content strategist and news editor

We took the Ram up to the wildlife sanctuary to do some volunteer work. We cleared out trash, removed invasive plants and hauled it all to the dump. We loaded up a large metal frame into the bed of Ram with ease, though it would have been nice to have a bed liner to protect it (we improvised with lumber and blankets). The large tie-down points allowed us to secure the load. — Scott Jacobs, senior manager, photo operations

"I bought some oversize closet doors (81 inches by 49 inches) over the weekend and had zero issues fitting them between the wheel wells in the Ram's cargo bed. This was critical for transporting these doors as they have glass inserts throughout, so laying them flat is safest. This would've been much more difficult with anything other than a full-size truck. Yet the Ram is so easy and comfortable to drive around that I didn't feel like I was stuck with an unwieldy truck for the rest of the weekend. Very impressed." — Jonathan Elfalan, road test manager

2019 Ram 1500: Photo Gallery

We take a lot of photos to record our time with the Ram. Sometimes they don't fit into the story narrative but are still worth sharing. Enjoy.

2019 Ram 1500: Videos

Sometimes the best way to tell a good story is with video.

Today, Edmunds expert Carlos Lago shares his review of Edmunds' long-term Ram 1500 after 35,000 miles. Let's see how the short-bed 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 held up in our long-term vehicle test.

We flew to Cheyenne, Wyoming to purchase a new 2019 Ram 1500. Then we meandered back home to California. This was our first road trip in the Ram, and to-date, maybe one of the most fun.