2019 RAM 1500 - RADICALLY NEW ENGINE TECH
While Ford and Chevrolet were mute on many features of their 2019 trucks, Ram was absolutely gushing with information. Many new design features of the Ram can be found in the Ranger and/or Silverado, including reduced weight, fully boxed frames, aluminum tailgates, off-road packages with electronic locking rear differentials, larger volume truck beds, more interior cab room, improved connectivity, LED lights in upper trims, improved aerodynamics, and smarter transmissions to improve power and efficiency.
However, among the list of homogenous features Ram wants to tell you about, there are some significant features worth discussing. Standout features that are often exclusive to Ram in the halfton market at the time we write this.
The biggest news in powertrain engineering is the segment exclusive eTorque mild hybrid system on the second generation 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engines. This system uses a belt-drive motor generator unit with a 48-volt battery pack to power the start/stop function, and adds up to 90 lb.-ft. of torque to the 3.6L Pentastar V-6 and up to 130 lb.-ft. to the 5.7L Hemi V-8.
But before you get too excited (as I did), it doesn’t add the extra torque to the top end, but instead augments the torque on start up, and smooths out shifts between gears and during cylinder activation (moving from four to eight cylinders). All of this is integrated with the new TorqueFlight eight-speed transmission, which has 40 different shift schedules - as it recognizes requirements for
payload, towing, downhill braking and acceleration.
Many auto start/stop systems use a specialized starter motor to achieve the feature but Ram says this system is faster and more reliable. As in other hybrid systems, the energy during braking is captured to recharge the battery, and when that isn’t enough, with the engine running, the motor generator feeds 48volt current to a 300-watt lithium-ion nickel manganese cobalt (NMC)-graphite battery. There is still a traditional starter motor for conditions that require it (cold temps, icing on the belts).
Naturally, my mind drifted to the uses of a dual battery system built into the truck - lights, winches, refrigerators, power tools, compressors - which is when the engineer turned pale are strongly recommended against any of those uses.
Another class exclusive is in the heat exchanger system, which now warms the rear axle gear oil, maximizing axle performance with a quicker warm-up. When you start your truck, coolant is circulated to the cabin to warm that first (depending on your temperature setting), and then it circulates to the cavity in the two-layer rear axle housing warming the gear oil. Not only does it warm the oil on start-up but it also helps cool the axle when it is carrying a payload or towing a trailer. Sounds great, but it’s only available in 4x2 models.
The key numbers that many of us use to choose our pick-up are as follows; 3.6L Pentastar V6 is rated at 305 hp and 269 lbft of torque, the 5.7L Hemi at 395 hp and 410 lb ft of torque.
These numbers combined with other features, like reducing the weight of the truck by 102 kg (225 lb), have improved the payload and towing numbers to staggering 12,750 lbs of towing capability and 2,300 lb of load. Keep in mind that the towing number is not for every configuration, you have to choose certain models and options to get there. For instance you’ll need the Max Tow Package with a 3.92 final drive ratio, 2WD, and the 5.7L Hemi. Transfer cases and axles have also been upgraded to handle the extra load.
The 4x4 off-road package is now available on virtually every trim. You get an extra one-inch lift in the suspension (with or without the four corner air suspension system), rear e-locker, 32-in tires, skid plate protection (transfer case, steering, engine and gas tank) and tow hooks. But to get the most ‘off ’ in your off-road you need to get the Rebel. The Rebel gives you everything in the off-road package but now you’re upgraded to 33” tires. The air-suspension is no longer standard as it was last year, but instead you get remote-reservoir Bilstein coil spring shocks and a rear suspension biased towards off-road performance.
Fans of the RamBox, the storage integrated in to the bed rails, can rejoice. Not only is it still available, but it now comes with improved overhead LED task lighting and a 115V outlet.
Finishing off the performance highlights are new brakes. The front brake rotors are the largest in the segment at 37.8 cm (14.9in) and the pads have been increased by 18 percent.
Ram engineers say they have improved the ride by reducing roll by 20% using a number of innovations including, reduced frame vibration with active tuned mass modules (ATMM), frequency response dampening (FRD) shocks, and the front stay bar has moved rearward 180° now behind the front tire. The lower control arm remains aluminum but the upper control arm is a steel nylon composite - the short version is that Ram has built a stronger front end.
How much better will it ride? We’ll have to see after we get a test drive.
The air suspension has also been improved, most notably by including a load levelling feature, which raises the bed when you have a heavy payload or tongue weight, and a key fob button to manually lower the truck 2” to ease loading and unloading of the bed and passengers.
The interior has a couple of striking features. The optional 84.5 x 110.2 cm (33.3 by 43.4 in) panoramic sunroof feels close to having a convertible - good for the folks in the front seats and a real treat for anyone in the rear. In fact, the rear is a lot more comfortable as you can select optional cooling for the rear seats, and a rear reclining feature, which is slight but noticeably comfortable. Ram extended the crew cab by four inches and put two of those in the rear of the cab.
The fully configurable 12-in U-connect touchscreen (optional in the Laramie and Longhorn and standard in the Limited) stands out from Ram’s competitors. You can use the whole screen for one app - let’s say navigation, or split it in half between two apps, for instance music and navigation. Aside from the practical applications it gives the truck a truly 21st century feel, reminiscent of my first drive in a Tesla.
At time of writing Ram hadn’t provided anyone with pricing or fuel economy numbers but I suspect you may be able to get this soon as you should be able to put one in your driveway by the end of March 2018. Check out our YouTube video at https://youtu.be/YEl8M-JIb7s
12" display Ram 1500