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

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