2019 RAM 1500
2019 RAM 1500
Redesigned for the 2019 model year, the Ram 1500 is the company’s basic half-ton, full-size pickup truck. Marketed under the Dodge brand until 2011, this lighter-duty Ram can appeal to families as well as performing commercial duties – especially in roomy four-door Crew Cab form.
Like competitive big pickups, Ram 1500s come in a bewildering selection of possibilities: cab type, bed length, engine, drive configuration, trim level – plus a dizzying array of options to choose from.
In their latest form, Ram pickups have been lightened, dropping an average of 225 pounds. Rear legroom in Crew Cabs has grown. Additional safety features are available as options. New eTorque mild-hybrid technology, standard with the V-6 engine, can be added to the V-8 at extra cost.
Peak payload has increased to 2,300 pounds, while maximum towing capacity now reaches 12,750 pounds. A newly optional 4×4 Off-road package includes a raised (one-inch) suspension and electronic locking rear axle.
Trim-level choices start with the Tradesman work truck, and run through Big Horn, similar Lone Star (sold only in Texas), off-roading Rebel, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and top-rung Limited. A budget-priced Express Special also is available.
Two cab types are offered: extended (Quad Cab) and Crew Cab. Cargo beds come in two lengths: 5-feet 7-inch or 6-feet 4-inch. Extended-cab models come only with the longer bed. Ram Trucks also offers a regular-cab, two-door model – a Classic continuation of the previous-generation design.
The standard 3.6-liter V-6 engine is rated at 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The V-6 incorporates an eTorque 48-volt mild-hybrid system. Although that system supplies 90 pound-feet of supplemental torque, its primary goal is to improve fuel economy.
Optional is FiatChrysler’s familiar 5.7-liter V-8, producing 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet. Like the V-6, it can be fitted with the mild-hybrid eTorque system. The V-8 can run on half of its cylinders as a fuel-saving measure. A vibration cancellation system reduces shudder when those cylinders shut down.
Each engine works with an 8-speed automatic transmission and either rear-drive or four-wheel drive. Two 4WD systems are available: part-time, or full-time, each with a two-speed transfer case.
Advanced safety technology is available, but at extra cost. Blind-spot monitors are standard on Limited trim, but optional for others (except base-level models). An Advanced Safety Group for upper trim levels includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and automatic emergency braking. On Rams with 8.4- and 12.0-inch infotainment screens, the rearview camera includes a zoom function.
The IIHS gave Quad Cab and Crew Cab models “Good” ratings in each crash-test. Headlights were rated only “Marginal” on lower trim levels, but LED units on top trims were deemed “Good.” With those LED headlights, the 2019 Crew Cab earned a Top Safety Pick+ award.
Crash-testing of the Crew Cab by the NHTSA resulted in five-star ratings overall and for side-impact, but only four stars for frontal impact. (The Quad Cab earned only four stars overall.) Rollover prevention (a calculated figure) warranted four stars, which is typical for taller vehicles.
An off-road variant, the Ram Rebel, fits between conventional four-wheel-drive operation and the antics of a desert racer. Its coil-spring suspension sits an inch taller than on other Rams.
Pickup buyers who anticipate heavy loads might consider the heavier-duty Ram 3500 series.
Prices are for standard V-6 engine and do not include $1,695 destination charge. A V-8 engine adds $1,345 to price ($2,645 with the eTorque mild-hybrid system).
Tradesman with 6’4″ Bed ($31,795 with rear-drive, $35,295 with four-wheel drive) comes with a three-place front bench, vinyl upholstery, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power locks/windows, 5.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth, rearview camera, and 18-inch steel wheels.
Big Horn/Lone Star with 6’4″ Bed ($35,895 with RWD, $39,395 with 4WD) includes cloth-upholstered front bucket seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, foglights, and 18-inch alloy wheels
Laramie with 6’4″ Bed ($39,795 with RWD, $43,295 with 4WD) adds semi-aniline leather upholstery, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 7.0-inch instrument cluster, dual-zone automatic climate control, LED headlights, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Rebel 4WD with 6’4″ Bed ($44,795) comes with Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires and an electronic locking rear differential, as well as tow hooks, a power sliding rear window, and power driver’s seat with power lumbar support.
Tradesman with 5’7″ Bed ($34,595 with RWD, $38,095 with 4WD) is equipped similar to Quad Cab Tradesman,
Tradesman with 6’4″ Bed ($34,895 with RWD, $38,395 with 4WD)
Big Horn/Lone Star with 5’7″ Bed ($38,595 with RWD, $42,095 with 4WD) is equipped similar to Quad Cab models.
Big Horn/Lone Star with 6’4″ Bed ($38,895 with RWD, $42,395 with 4WD)
Laramie with 5’7″ Bed ($42,495 with RWD, $45,995 with 4WD) is equipped similar to Quad Cab Laramie.
Laramie with 6’4″ Bed ($42,795 with RWD, $46,295 with 4WD)
Rebel with 5’7″ Bed ($44,095 with RWD, $47,595 with 4WD) is equipped similar to Quad Cab Rebel
Laramie Longhorn with 5’7″ Bed ($50,495 with RWD, $53,995 with 4WD) features a western theme, including semi-aniline leather upholstery, wood trim, 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation, LED headlights, and 20-inch wheels.
Laramie Longhorn with 6”4″ Bed ($50,795 with RWD, $54,295 with 4WD)
Limited with 5’7″ Bed ($53,095 with RWD, $56,595 with 4WD) includes air suspension, power running boards, wireless charging, blind-spot monitors, polished aluminum 20-inch wheels, and a 12.0-inch infotainment screen.
Limited with 6’4″ Bed ($53,395 with RWD, $56,895 with 4WD)
Ram Trucks also offers a regular-cab model with either bed length, but it’s a continuation of the prior-generation design.
Even though the redesigned Ram 1500 retains the familiar “big-rig” styling theme, it doesn’t stand out as much as before. Kinship to mighty semi trailer-trucks is less evident. More conservative as well as aerodynamic in appearance, the body has a smoother-looking overall shape. Though the look is clean and cohesive, it’s also rather anonymous.
Quad and Crew Cab models get four front-hinged doors. Crew Cab trucks with the 6-foot 4-inch bed have a 153.5-inch wheelbase; 5-foot 7-inch beds ride on a 144.6-inch wheelbase.
Each trim level has a specific look. Work-focused Tradesman trucks get steel wheels and unpainted bumpers. Mid-level Big Horn and Lone Star trim levels add some chrome and a few flourishes. Top Laramie Longhorn and Limited editions serve as flagships, featuring urban and western themes, respectively. The crosshair-style grille seen on previous Rams has faded away.
High-tech in tone, the Ram 1500 pickup’s cabin ranks with the best, even though it’s less distinctive than in the past. Even the workhorse Tradesman edition shows off some luxury undertones.
Most popular of the Ram 1500s has been the Big Horn – a step above Tradesman. (Texans can gravitate to the similar Lone Star edition). Spacious and comfortable, with soft-touch surfaces and supportive front seats, even the Big Horn interior might be deemed sublime.
The mid-level Laramie trim is as classy as top models from some competitors. Stepping up another notch, the Laramie Longhorn approaches decadent status, highlighted by gorgeous leather and bountiful wood trim. A “branded-in” badge intensifies the western appeal.
In each trim level, quality is high, with hard plastic trim evident mainly in the Tradesman.
Front passengers can expect comfortable seating, whether on a three-place bench or twin buckets. A massive, configurable center console comes with the latter.
Crew-cab configurations have gained four inches of legroom for 2019, mainly in the back seat, which promises plenty of stretch-out space. Rear backrests can recline, while the back bench base slide fore/aft.
Dashboards are convenient and attractive, rising to luxurious in top trim levels. Controls are easy to locate and reach. Most accessories are controlled by toggle switches below the climate adjustors. Storage cubbies and pockets are plentiful.
A 5.0-inch infotainment screen is standard, but an 8.4-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is available. Laramie and higher Rams can be fitted with a vertically-mounted 12.0-inch screen that integrates most functions. Infotainment software excels.
Although the new eTorque mild-hybrid engines are intriguing, they don’t affect fuel economy all that much. Ram’s strong and smooth V-8 performs its task well, giving these hefty pickups good acceleration. The slick-shifting 8-speed automatic helps.
Both versions (V-6 and V-8) of the eTorque mild-hybrid system function smoothly and transparently, with no shuddering evident as the vehicle halts at a stoplight. The engine restarts almost invisibly, too, with only the tiniest lag before the Ram is rolling again. The battery setup is beneath the back seat. Optional with the V-8, eTorque adds 130 pound-feet of torque with the V-8.
Four-wheel drive is standard on the Rebel and optional for every other Ram. The base transfer case is a part-time unit, not meant for dry pavement. The optional system can be left in automatic mode without attention needed.
For a big pickup, the Ram 1500 handles well. With its coil-spring suspension, each Ram rides comfortably. Smoothing bumps effectively on smooth pavement, the standard Ram also copes well with harsh dirt roads. On lumpy terrain, though, a Ram can seem to float, while isolating passengers from the commotion below.
The optional height-adjustable air suspension is noticeably firm, but not troubling. Touching a toggle switch raises the suspension a couple of inches. At higher speeds, it drops down just a bit.
Helped by its mild-hybrid system, the rear-drive V-6 Ram is EPA-rated at 20/25 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg. Four-wheel drive lowers the estimate to 19/24/21 mpg. The eTorque system cannot propel the truck on its own.
With V-8 power, the rear-drive Ram is EPA-rated at 15/22 mpg City/Highway, or 17 mpg Combined. Four-wheel drive lowers the highway figure to 21 mpg. If equipped with eTorque, the V-8 Ram is thriftier, EPA-rated at 17/23/19 mpg with RWD or 17/22/19 mpg with 4WD. Rams use mid-grade gasoline.
Roomy, refined, and well-equipped, with a useful choice of engines, the 2019 Ram 1500 is the most livable full-size pickup available, setting a high bar in its category. Luxury touches rival those in pickups that cost way more, though options are costly. Most buyers lean toward Big Horn level, while Laramie Longhorn and Limited editions approach luxury vehicles in content and execution.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.