A First in the Pickup Truck Segment
Trucks, trucks, trucks best describes the North American International Auto Show that opened last week in Detroit. First, Ford rolled out a 3.0-liter diesel-powered F-150 followed by the return of its mid-size Ranger; then Chevrolet introduced a completely redesigned Silverado featuring a new diesel engine. Completing the all-American new pickup reveals, FiatChrysler debuted its 2019 Ram 1500 pickup sporting a fresh new look that covers a new frame, enhanced drivetrains, bold new cabin tech and a 48-volt “mild hybrid” system.
Three new, longer frame lengths are offered: a 144.5-inch wheelbase on Crew Cab short beds and a 153.5-inch wheelbase on Crew Cab long beds–both four inches longer than their predecessors. The Quad Cab long bed has a wheelbase of 140.5 inches. Along the way, Ram engineers found a way to trim 225 pounds off the new pickup, while at the same time offering a maximum payload of 2,300 pounds with a max tow rating of 12,750 pounds.
Mild Hybrid System Establishes A Benchmark
The 2019 Ram will be the only pickup truck to use a 48-volt hybrid system, standard on updated versions of its revised 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and optional on the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engines.
Called eTorque, the mild-hybrid system should give a decent fuel economy boost, but Ram hasn’t released fuel-economy details. Also scheduled for the new Jeep Wrangler, the eTorque system replaces the traditional alternator on the engine with a belt-driven motor generator unit that performs several functions.
With the engine running, eTorque’s motor generator unit feeds 48-volt current to a 300-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) graphite battery mounted behind the rear seats inside the Ram 1500’s cabin. In addition to spinning the engine for restarts, the eTorque unit also recaptures energy during deceleration and braking to feed electric charge to the battery pack.
The V6 is rated at 305 horsepower and 269 pounds-feet of torque, but the hybrid power boost can add 90 pounds-feet of torque. The Hemi V8’s power numbers of 395 horsepower and 410 pounds-feet of torque receive a boost of 130 pounds-feet.
In addition to the hybrid system, Ram also pioneers an industry-first thermal rear axle on two-wheel drive models. This system circulates engine coolant through the rear differential cover to bring differential oil up to operating temperature more quickly in cold weather, and keep the differential from overheating in hot-weather towing and hauling.
Looks Like a Ram Pickup, But Different
The most obvious exterior change is the retirement of the crosshair grille, an identifying signature dating back to 1994 when the trucks were sold under the Dodge name. Now, for the 2019 model,
there will be six different grille designs depending on model: Tradesman, Big Horn, Rebel, Laramie, Longhorn, and Limited. There are also two different headlight designs, depending on the trim and options. The top-tier LED units are wide and slim, while the standard lighting looks similar to current trucks.
Sheetmetal changes include a new power-bulge hood, hood badging and taller bedsides on a truck that is slightly wider and about four inches taller than the outgoing model in both quad and crew cab configurations. Like the headlights, the taillights are an evolution of the current shape. Both halogen and LED units are available. The full-width steel rear bumper can be had in either chrome or body color.
Additionally, the new Ram will have an optional power tailgate, meaning you can open or close it with the push of a button.
Inside: From Work Truck to Luxury
Across all trim levels, including the bare bones Tradesman work truck, the 2019 Ram 1500 features push-button start, an electronic parking brake and a redesigned rotary shift knob. The shifter area also groups new feature buttons, including engine stop-start, hill-decent control, axle lock and transfer case controls, when equipped.
The wow factor of the new cabin is the available new 12-inch touchscreen with split-screen capabilities. The massive display is oriented portrait-style, like a Tesla, and can run two applications at the same time. FiatChrysler’s fourth-generation Uconnect system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, while navigation with 3D map graphics, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system are available as options. As with FCA’s other touchscreen infotainment systems, the display is surrounded by an array of redundant physical buttons for controlling key infotainment and climate functions.
Ram is claiming class-leading interior storage space that is double the competition with a center console that’s configurable in 12 ways. Convenience and comfort come courtesy of up to five USB ports, two 115-volt power outlets, optional wireless charging pad and available heated and cooled rear seats with seat backs that recline up to eight degrees.
Other noteworthy details include a tilting and telescoping steering wheel and luxury items such as hand-stitched leather and real wood trim in higher-end models. For those who want to splurge, a new 33.3-inch by 43.4-inch panoramic sunroof also is available, giving passengers a spectacular 10 square feet of sky view and additional natural light.
On the safety front, the new Ram can be equipped with a 360-degree camera, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, forward collision warning, lane keep assist and blind-spot monitoring.
The 2019 Ram 1500 pickups will be in dealerships by the end of March. Pricing was not announced, but expect prices to be close to current models which start at around $28,000.
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