It’s gonna be a good year in the truck industry, and things are already starting to get interesting. At least three major players have new full-size models coming out: Chevy has a new Silverado, GMC has a new Sierra and Ram just launched its 2019 1500 pickup.
Yep, truck wars are heating up again, and that’s great news for truck buyers; you can expect lots of new and innovative features on all the new pickups this year.
Sierra gets a clever new tailgate design and a Ram gets a new mild hybrid system that boosts torque while improving fuel economy.
We’ve seen but haven’t yet had a chance to drive the new Silverado or the Sierra, but Ram is first out with the all-new 2019 Ram 1500. The company recently invited auto journalists to the desert outside of Phoenix for a first look and daylong test drive.
Ram engineers managed to lighten the truck by 225 pounds, a significant weight loss that helps the truck earn better fuel economy numbers. It’s a pretty neat feat, considering the truck is still 98 percent high-strength steel, with aluminum used just in the hood and tailgate.
And Ram says the truck is its strongest 1500 ever, with a payload of 2,300 pounds and a towing capacity of 12,700 pounds. And with a new camera system that zooms in on the receiver hitch, it’s easier than ever to back up and connect to your trailer.
“You don’t need a degree in ‘hookupology’,” laughed Jim Morrison, head of the Ram brand in the United States. A Ram engineer had the unenviable assignment of backing a truck up to a trailer using only the camera in front of 30 auto journalists from around the country. No pressure, right?
Well, the guy nailed it, using just the camera to back the ball directly under the hitch and using the air suspension system to raise the truck until the ball went into the hitch.
“This is a no-compromise truck,” Morrison said during the demonstration. Ram customers are among the most loyal in the industry, he said, adding, “That’s really important to us. It means we’re delivering dependability.”
Probably the biggest news for the Ram is a new eTorque system that basically takes the place of the truck’s alternator, using a belt drive motor generator to enable start/stop functions as well as boosting short-duration torque. The system can add up to 90 lb.-ft. of torque to the base 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and up to 130 lb.-ft. of torque to the 5.7-liter HEMI V8.
An upgraded version of the Pentastar V6 is the standard engine in most trim levels of the 2019 Ram, kicking out 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque. The brawny 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 combines the muscle of 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque with performance-enhancing and fuel-saving technologies that include variable-valve timing and cylinder deactivation.
Both engines are mated to a new TorqueFlite 8-speed transmission governed by Ram’s rotary dial shifter. Fuel economy figures released right at press time show the V8 will get you 15 miles per gallon in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg combined.
The truck will be offered in six trims: Tradesman, Big Horn, Rebel, Laramie, Longhorn and Limited. Prices for the base Tradesman start at $31,690 and move up to $53,890 for the top end Limited.
The 2019 Ram 1500 has several segment-leading features including 14.9-inch front brakes, a slippery .357 coefficient of drag and an air suspension system that enhances fuel economy and makes for a terrific ride.
The Ram also gets a new 4x4 Off-road Package that includes a one-inch lift, electric lockers, tuned shocks and hill-descent control. I had the opportunity to drive the truck in sandy, dry creek bottoms out in Arizona, and the truck never spun out or even thought of getting bogged down. It’s not the toughest off-road driving situation, but I got the feeling the truck wouldn’t have trouble with most off-road conditions.
If you know anything about Ram trucks, you won’t be surprised to hear that the new cabin is luxurious and loaded with technology. Real woods and leathers are used in the upper trims, and the Fourth Generation Uconnect system delivers intuitive connectivity. There’s a dynamite new configurable 12-inch touchscreen with split-screen capability. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, and there is an optional Harman Kardon sound system with 19 speakers and 900 watts of dynamite sound.
Stay tuned, truck fans. You’ll soon be seeing a lot more on these dynamite new trucks.
2019 1500 Crew Cab Limited 4x4
5.7-liter HEMI V8
EPA mileage estimates:
15 mpg city/22 mpg highway/17 mpg combined
Estimated highway range:
726 miles (with optional 33-gallon tank)