Eight years ago the pickups formerly known as Dodge Rams were separated from Dodge cars to become a brand unto themselves, Ram Trucks. Both brands are now stablemates within Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the corporation created by a merger in 2014 and commonly known as FCA.
The pickup truck market is huge, matching and sometimes exceeding car sales. Detroit’s Big Three automakers account for more than 90 percent of truck sales in the U.S., and competition among them is understandably aggressive.
Ram Trucks has raised the stakes with the introduction of the 2019 Ram 1500 pickup. Longer, wider and 225 pounds lighter than the previous model, the 2019 Ram is bristling with new features, improvements and upgrades in engineering, capability, ride and handling, comfort, safety, styling and technology.
The outgoing Ram’s front with its crosshair grille has been retired in favor of a more sophisticated and contemporary design that includes grille shutters, an air dam, full LED lighting and the company’s stylized logo, RAM, in bold letters centered in the grille. The truck’s body was crafted for better aerodynamics as well as visual appeal. Its previous drag coefficient of .360 has been pared down to a segment-leading .357 for the 2019 model.
To reduce weight and increase durability and rigidity, the Ram 1500’s new frame is 98-percent high-strength steel, and its payload has been boosted to 2,300 pounds with a maximum tow rate that is now 12,700 pounds.
Beyond simply providing more room, a four-inch increase in cab length also made space for the rear seatbacks to recline up to 8 degrees. The sliding, foldable rear seats and a fully flat floor make the rear cab area highly useful for stowage. Storage areas beneath the rear seats and integrated RamBins with tie-down rings under the floor further boost practicality in the Ram 1500 cab.
The customizable center console can be configured in 12 different ways to accommodate whatever assorted items are being toted at any given time. The number 12 comes into play again with FCA’s first use of a configurable 12-inch vertical touchscreen with graphics specific to each of Ram’s various models. A fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Wi-Fi hotspot capability.
Available in Crew Cab and Quad Cab configurations, the 2019 Ram 1500 has six trim levels: Tradesman, Big Horn, Rebel, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Limited. Rebel is the offroad-specific model.
Engine choice is between a 395-horsepower Hemi V8 and a 305-horsepower Pentastar V6. Both can be equipped with an eTorque mild hybrid system that adds up to 90 pound-feet of torque to the V6 and 130 pound-feet to the V8. An updated, more fuel-efficient eight-speed automatic transmission is paired with both engines.
Pricing: The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 starts at $31,695 plus a $1,995 destination charge. V8-equipped models are arriving at dealerships this month, with V6 versions available later in the year.
The 2019 Ram 1500 is built at FCA’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
This preview of the 2019 Ram 1500 is based on an introductory event held by the manufacturer. Although the vehicle was driven during the event, automotive reviews that include driving impressions and other opinions appear only after a vehicle has been given the standard weeklong test-drive.
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association.