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.
The Ram becomes the first pickup with a hybrid powertrain
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.
The Ram’s bigger battery is behind the rear seat
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,
Ram looks to pull away from the pickup pack
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.
And the interior gets some more goodies
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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Road Test: 2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
Road Test: 2016 Nissan Titan XD
The Leader of the Pickup MPG Pack
The year 2016 has quite a few surprises, but none bigger in the automotive world than in September when Ram pickups took second place in the sales race behind the perennial leader Ford. We’re not saying that’s as amazing as what happened the following month in national elections, but it was similarly unprecedented. After spending a week in a 2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, we have some theories about how this upstart can legitimately claim a place atop the pickup hierarchy.
First, we averaged close to 25 mpg in a crew cab 4×4 pickup! That’s hauling around almost three tons of sheet metal and capability and having fuel economy closer to what might be seen in an average midsize sedan a few years ago. Something’s happening here—and it’s a good thing. What’s clear from those numbers is that 30+ mpg for this pickup is within easy reach.
Then there’s the functionality and luxury that abounds in the cabin (it’s not just a cab anymore) of this pickup. But more on that later. Let’s start with the powertrain.
An International Effort
The compact 3.0-liter engine lends power and economy to the Ram
The Ram’s success in the market place shouldn’t be surprising. It’s been running strong for several years on the strength of its Hemi V8s and Pentastar V6s and the stump-pulling Cummins diesel that’s the engine of choice in its 2500 and 3500 models. The new-comer that has sparked a boost in the Ram is the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 from VM Motori, another part of the Fiat Chrysler automotive world.
The efficient diesel (EPA numbers for our test rig were 19 mpg city/27 highway/22 combined, but some models bump up to 29 mpg highway) is mated to an eight-speed automotive transmission, a sophisticated rarity in the truck world. In motion, the 2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel gave you a little of the chug-a-lug found in older diesels, but generally was responsive and, when the turbocharger kicked in, it could haul.
The combo puts out 240 horsepower and a very impressive 420 lb-ft of torque. You can put that torque to work towing up to 9,210 pounds.
The end result is a fine American pickup, assembled in Warren, MI, with 27 percent of its content from Mexico, an engine from Italy and a transmission from Germany.
The Big Deal
There were plenty of market specifics that led to the September surprise, but Ram sales are up 11.2 percent for the first 11 months of 2016, something neither Ford or Chevy pickups can match.
This is a truck that can run with the big boys
Another factor playing into the Ram hand is value. A Vincentric report found the 2016 Ram 1500 HFE EcoDiesel offered the highest cost-of-ownership savings among pickup trucks, at $3,323. A different variant of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel—the four-wheel drive Tradesman in the Quad Cab configuration took the prize in fuel savings, with a calculated $4,438 advantage compared to its gasoline counterpart.
However, with diesels those savings only come over time. At the outset you pay a premium for the fuel-sipping engine. In the case of the EcoDiesel, it’s $4,270 including all of the fixings like an SCR system, a beefed up cooling system. The base price for the Laramie Quad Cab 4×4 we drove was $45,090. With the EcoDiesel and other options, it’s as tested price was $53,855, including $1,195 destination charge.
Ram models start at the $26,145 Tradesman 4×2, and the EcoDiesel option can be added to most trim levels.
Inside, it’s easy to forget you’re in a truck
The standard equipment list was lengthy, including a shift-on-demand transfer case, Class IV receiver hitch, 26-gallon tank, locking tailgate, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, ParkView rear back-up camera, dual-zone temperature control, Uconnect 8.4 (access with a six-month trial), integrated voice command with Bluetooth, SiruusXM radio (one-year subscription), nine-speaker Alpine audio system with a subwoofer, media hub (SD, USB, Aux), leather-wrapped/heated steering wheel with audio controls, tilt steering wheel, power adjustable pedals with memory, seven-inch multi-view cluster, overhead console with garage door opener, rear power sliding window, power 10-way driver seat with memory and power six-way passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, power lumbar adjust, second row in-floor storage bins, fold-flat load floor storage, 20-inch aluminum chrome clad wheels, P275/60R20 all-season tires, bi-function Halogen projector headlamps, fog lamps, premium tail lamps, power chrome multi-function mirrors with power fold-away with turn signals and a bright grille, front and rear bumpers.
The $7,000+ bump from options included leather-trimmed bucket seats in front, full-length upgraded floor console, heated second-row seats ($500), Laramie Package 28H (which included tow hooks, transfer case skid plate, front suspension skid plate for $150), the Ecodiesel engine package (with 800-amp battery, maximum-duty engine cooling, SCR, dual rear exhausts with bright tips and 3.55 rear axle ratio for $4270), eight-speed transmission ($500), LED bed lighting ($100), Uconnect 8.4 (which includes GPS navigation, SiriusXM traffic for five years and SiriusXM travel link for five years for $600), tires ($225), ParkSense front/rear park assist system ($395), trailer brake control ($280) and spray-in bedliner ($475).
What Do You Get?
The Ram 1500 Quad Cab 4×4 is a big vehicle in every way except its bed, which is shorter (six-foot-four inches to be exact) than the standard eight-footer. The wheelbase of this unit is 229 inches is
The Ram came with a ready-for-work spray-in bedliner
the same as a regular cab pickup with an eight-foot box, but the overall truck is two inches shorter. That ends up giving you a good turning radius, especially for such a big vehicle.
Steering—well, it’s truck steering–is responsive, but not super-sensitive. With all of the electronic gadgetry, the truck functions like an oversized version of many of the smaller vehicles on the road; it’s capable of taking over many of the driving chores and still is ready to work all day.
Inside, there’s more of the functionality that trucks are known for. The center console can serve as an on-the-job desk for your mobile office, and is big enough to swallow up your laptop so it’s not left out and vulnerable.
I loved the dash—it featured plenty of gauges, knobs and everything needed for a fully functioning truck. Inside the cab you are isolated from the sounds of the diesel engine; it’s as dead silent as a sedan.
Did we mention that we averaged almost 25 mpg in a mix of freeway and stop-and-go driving.
Safety & Warranties
The 2016 Ram 1500 Quad Cab 4×4 received a 4-star overall safety rating from government testing and also in the frontal crash test; 5-star in the side crash and 3-star for rollover. The Insurance
This truck is big, but handles like it was smaller
Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) had this to say about this large truck. Moderate overlap front crash—good; side—good; head restraint and seats—good; small overlap front and roof strength—marginal.
The warranty on the EcoDiesel is stronger than some of the other Ram powertrains.
Basic – Three years/36,000 miles
Powertrain – Five years/100,000 miles
King of the MPG hill
The 2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is easy to appreciate. The power of the diesel engine and its fuel economy are a tough combination to beat in a pickup. It’s no longer surprising to find luxury or advanced technology in a pickup, particularly at the prices these trucks now command. When those attributes are layered on top of the diesel V6, an eight-speed transmission, a shift-on-demand transfer case and leather seating for five, the Ram’s sales success in 2016 is completely understandable. As GM and Nissan add diesels to their pickups and Ford considers a hybrid, it’s clear the options for truck buyers will continue to be broad and present an upside that will offer fuel efficiency to go along with functionality.
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Road Test: 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at email@example.com.
Big On the Inside, Bigger On the Outside
To set some expectations, let’s start with the fact that the 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box, aka Ram 3500, is a true purpose-built vehicle for hauling heavy loads or, as Ram calls it: The Best Tool Box. The Best Tool. Sure you could buy the ever-popular Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan or one of Chevrolet Silverado or Colorado (or the GMC versions, Sierra and Canyon), but these are mere play things compared to the Ram 3500. Even the Ram 1500 equipped with its own diesel engine seems puny next to its big brother.
Clean Fleet Report’s 2015 Ram 3500 was powered by a 6.7-liter inline-six cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled Cummins diesel engine, mated to an Aisin, six-speed automatic transmission,
The badges say it all & why you’d buy
putting out 385 hp and 865 lb-ft of torque. (Also available are 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter Hemi V-8s.) The Ram 3500, as with all heavy-duty (GVWR [gross vehicle weight rating] over 8,500 pounds) vehicles, is not ranked by the EPA for fuel economy. However, in 407 miles of 80-percent highway/20-percent city driving we averaged 15.1 mpg, which, if the 32-gallon tank of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel was run dry, would have taken us about 480 miles down the road. The beauty of diesel engines is their efficiency, whether in a car or truck. In our case, we were running unladen with a curb weight of 8,319 lbs., so our fuel economy numbers were better than if we had been pulling a trailer or the bed was loaded.
Another factor for diesels is their ability to accommodate the use of biofuels. The Ram is certified for the use of up to B20 (20 percent biodiesel/80 percent petrodiesel) in commercial fleet applications. Renewable diesel doesn’t face as many restrictions since it meets the same specifications as petroleum diesel, though it is derived from plant or animal waste or residue.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Back to the Ram 3500 being a purpose built vehicle. The purpose, especially with the Cummins diesel and all that torque, is to pull stuff. And boy can it pull stuff, such as towing up to 29,010 lbs. or loading 5,680 lbs. in the bed. For our nicely optioned test truck, its purpose probably is focused on towing a horse or travel trailer, either with a hitch or in a fifth wheel configuration. It is easy to envision cruising the highway to an equestrian event in the comfort and ease of a Ram 3500.
The long and curvy side
Ram is upfront by saying “Heavy duty trucks generally have suspensions equipped for constant, heavy payloads. This can result in a harsher ride when unloaded.” It was true our Ram 3500 could have had a smoother ride, especially at 70 mph in the fast lane, but it wasn’t harsh or punishing, and we did not experience any surprises such as the rear end bouncing uncontrollably. The Ram 3500 utilizes a rear Hotchkiss leaf spring system and a supplemental air suspension system on both the single and dual rear-wheel applications. By adding supplemental air bags to the rear suspension, Ram engineers were able to soften the leaf springs, allowing for more unladed suspension movement. When a high-load capacity condition exists, the air suspension automatically fills the rear air bags to level the truck to improve stability and ride quality – even when pulling a best-in-class 29,000-pound load.
Body on ladder frames can squeak and rattle, but none of those were evident with the Ram 3500, which was impressive considering the weight, length, horsepower and torque we were hauling around. No one would confuse a truck of this size with being sporty, and Ram does not present it that way. We found the hydraulic assist power steering was programmed to allow for proper road feel. Entering corners was not a series of over or under steering to find the proper turn-in point, which on right hand turns is the key to not running the outside dually tire onto the curb and sidewalk. Having a feel for the road, whether in a sports car or heavy-duty truck, results in maintaining control of the vehicle, especially in emergency situations, which is crucial when driving a truck of this weight, width and length.
One more thing about driving a dually is that there are only inches to spare on either side before hitting the lane markers. The learning curve to keep the Ram 3500 centered mid-lane was not too steep, but paying attention at all times was important.
The 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel has a low, but satisfying, rumble upon start-up, but was quiet on the highway. The six-speed automatic has a low first gear that quickly shifts into second and, going
Capable of hauling, loaded or unloaded
through the gears, the torque kicks-in rapidly with smooth and quick 35 – 65 mph acceleration with near-seamless gear shifts. We experienced about an 8.9-seconds 0-to-60, which, for a substantial heavy-duty truck, was impressive. I did not get the chance to test the 4X4 or towing capabilities, but did experience the Hill-descent Control feature. This system uses the antilock braking system (ABS) to control the truck’s downhill motion, providing a smooth and controlled downhill ride, in any terrain, without the driver needing to touch the brake pedal. If the vehicle accelerates without the driver input; the system will automatically apply the brakes to slow down to the desired vehicle speed. It was an eye-opener when at 10 mph on a steep downhill grade the Ram 3500 progressively slowed to about 6 mph without stepping on the brake pedal. I could only imagine how reassuring this safety feature would be when towing a horse trailer down an incline.
Control is paramount on a truck of this weight, width and length, making the brakes as important as any other system on the vehicle. Stopping was straight, from the Hydro-boost power-assisted, twin piston front and rear disc brakes. Aiding also was the Diesel Exhaust Brake, brake assist, rainy day and ready alert braking, Hill Start Assist, trailer brake control, anti-spin rear differential, with a four-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS) and stability and traction control. Even with all this braking technology, it is best not to tailgate, as stopping this beast is nothing at all like your daily driver.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The business begins under the hood with Cummins diesel torque
One quick look is all it takes to see the 2015 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box was all business, or as Ram says, the design “upholds a bold presence.” The front end, dominated by the Ram signature grill and the very recognizable Ram’s Head badge logo, is all done in bright work, including very stylish chrome mesh work. The rounded sculpting of the hood blends into the slightly swept-back quad, Halogen projector headlamps, giving the Ram 3500 an aggressive, but non-threatening look. The cab, topped by five clearance lamps, leads to the eight-foot box that comes with a spray-in liner.
The box also comes with the fifth wheel/Gooseneck towing package that includes a seven-pin wiring harness and a four-pin wiring connector. The side view
A handy step up
reveals chrome, cab-length running boards and outside power and heated folding mirrors that rotate horizontally and vertically to accommodate trailer towing and the large rear fenders enclosing the dual 17-inch chrome wheels and the 235/80/R17 All-season tires. At the rear once again is the Ram’s head badge logo on the locking liftgate, a Class V receiver hitch and a very handy footstep that retracts under the left corner of the chrome bumper.
Driving Experience: Interior
How many strapping cowboys did you want to haul around? The crew cab on our Ram 3500 easily could accommodate three in the rear and a front passenger, all of whom would be riding in fine comfort. The Laramie Longhorn Package rear heated seat is leather all-the-way, with First Class airline legroom, and storage space under the flip-up seat bottom. Continuing the cowboy theme, the front seatbacks have saddlebag-type flaps and buckles so you will never be far away from the ranching lifestyle.
All the leather a cowboy could want
Up front the leather continues on the heated and ventilated seats that are wide and cushy. The driver seat is 10-way power adjustable (with memory) and the passenger is a six-way power adjustable seat. Finding a comfortable driving position was important to control this large truck. Along with the power adjustable seat, the pedals and outside mirrors are also power adjustable and have memory, the steering column tilts and the thick-rimmed steering wheel is heated.
The Ram 3500 is built for the mobile executive and includes ample storage space for computers, laptops, smartphones and writing surfaces to get all their work
Storage and buttons and everything down on the range
done while on the road.
The gauges, including one showing the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) level, are within quick-glance viewing, and the knobs and switches are easy for the driver to reach and operate. The 8.4-inch color touchscreen display, includes GPS navigation and the Uconnect system. The infotainment system, with steering wheel-mounted controls, is among the most convenient and easy to use of all I have tested with an Apple iPad-like simplicity. The premium sound system’s nine amplified speakers, with surround sound, powered the AM/FM/CD/MP3 and HD Radio, with SiriusXM (one-year subscription included), voice command with Bluetooth, audio input jacks with iPod control, SD card slot and USB port. Also, the infotainment system is controlled by volume and channel selection knobs – a must to get Clean Fleet Report’s top rating for convenience and driver safety.
Because a cowboy’s got things to store
The Ram 3500 had convenience features such as a power sliding rear window, power front windows with one-touch down, power rear windows, power door locks, power and heated (with memory) foldaway exterior mirrors, A/C with automatic climate control and rear vents, floor mats, remote start, keyless entry, 12V and USB power outlets, tilt steering column, multiple cup holders, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera and cruise control.
Overall, the Ram had a very well laid-out interior with nice touches of real wood trim, top stitching, fine leather, the best outside mirrors I have tested and a high-quality sound system. All this delivers a pleasant environment where spending hours behind the wheel is a welcome experience.
Safety and Convenience
The 2015 Ram 3500 has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for Side and Frontal Crash, Rollover and Overall ratings. Safety features include six airbags, traction control, ParkSense rear park assist, ParkView rear back-up camera, Puddle Lights under the exterior rear view mirrors, Cargo View camera, remote start, engine immobilizer, security alarm and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS.)
Pricing and Warranties
Clean Fleet Report’s 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box had a base MSRP of $54,980. As tested, ours came in at $69,915, including the $1,195 Destination Charge.
The 2015 Ram 3500 comes with these warranties:
- Basic: Three-year/36,000-mile
- Powertrain: Five-year/100,000-mile
- Roadside assistance: Five-year/100,000-mile
- Rust-through perforation: Three-year/Unlimited-mile
Observations: 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box
If you have read this far, then you must have a need for, or at least an interest in, a heavy-duty truck for towing or carrying heavy loads. If so, then the Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie
An easy rolling big rig
Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box should exceed all your needs, including getting your passengers and you where you are going in style.
The fact that this truck might be driven much of the time empty of cargo or a trailer should not be a factor in not owning one. For its size, weight and length, the Ram 3500 reviewed here is very manageable around town and on the highway. For the business owner or company executive, the mobile office attributes will make it a good return on your capital equipment budget for years to come.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Pickups Pick Up MPG
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at firstname.lastname@example.org.