2019 RAM 1500

We see and drive Ram’s new­est 1 ⁄ 2 -ton

Four Wheeler - - Contents - By Ken Brubaker ken.brubaker@fourwheeler.com Pho­tos: Ken Brubaker & Ram Trucks

We see and drive Ram’s new­est 1⁄2-ton

WHEN THE SEC­OND-GEN ’94 RAM 1500 WAS UN­VEILED there was a col­lec­tive gasp from the truck com­mu­nity. The ex­te­rior styling of the new Ram 1500 was a rad­i­cal de­par­ture from its pre­de­ces­sor, and from all other 1⁄2-ton pickup trucks pro­duced at the time—and in that area alone, it set the truck world on fire. Many of those gasps turned into pur­chases, and the new truck helped Ram 1500 sales sky­rocket from 1993-model-year lev­els.

It ap­pears that his­tory may be re­peat­ing it­self. When the ’19 Ram 1500 was of­fi­cially un­veiled at the 2018 North Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Auto Show in Detroit, Michi­gan, the truck world went nuts. So­cial me­dia lit up and peo­ple started talk­ing.

What’s New

Ram Trucks says the all-new fifth-gen­er­a­tion Ram has shed 225 pounds of over­all weight com­pared to its pre­de­ces­sor, and 100 of those are due to the truck’s new frame (which Ram says is the long­est, light­est, most ad­vanced frame in the 1⁄2-ton truck seg­ment). The frame uses ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als and en­gi­neer­ing in­clud­ing 98 per­cent high-strength steel, the side rails are taller and fully boxed, and the rear cross­mem­bers are dou­ble shear-welded to the in­side and out­side of the frame for im­proved dura­bil­ity and roll stiff­ness. The frame also fea­tures noise-, vi­bra­tion- and harsh­ness-re­duc­tion mea­sures. One of the most fas­ci­nat­ing is the Nvhim­prov­ing, new elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled, side-framem­o­unted ac­tive tuned-mass mod­ules (ATMM) that work in har­mony with an in­te­rior ac­tive noise can­cel­la­tion (ANC) sys­tem on 5.7L Hemi V-8-equipped mod­els to re­duce am­bi­ent sounds down to a low 66.6 db, which Ram says con­trib­utes to the qui­etest Ram 1500 ever. But that’s not all. Three new longer frame lengths are of­fered. There’s a 144.5-inch wheel­base on Crew Cab short­beds and a 153.5-inch wheel­base on Crew Cab longbeds, both of which are 4 inches longer than their pre­de­ces­sors. The Quad Cab longbed has a wheel­base of 140.5 inches. Two im­por­tant things: even though the frames are longer, Ram says that turn­ing ra­dius is im­proved over the pre­vi­ous model; and th­ese frames help cre­ate the most spa­cious cab in the seg­ment.

Ram says the new ’19 1500 is the seg­ment’s most aero­dy­namic pickup at 0.357 co­ef­fi­cient of drag (Quad Cab 4x2), which is a 9 per­cent score im­prove­ment over its pre­de­ces­sor. Sev­eral ma­te­ri­als are used in the body pan­els and core struc­ture of the new Ram 1500, and th­ese help drop body weight by more than 100 pounds while im­prov­ing dura­bil­ity. The tail­gate is alu­minum and it fea­tures damp­ing and lift-as­sist. The as­sist re­lies on a ni­tro­gen- and oil-charged strut to pro­vide con­sis­tent op­er­a­tion in cold or warm cli­mates through the en­tire tail­gate swing. Ad­di­tion­ally, the tail­gate can be dropped with the in­te­rior switch; it can be op­er­ated re­motely by the key fob or un­lock/open with pas­sive en­try. Fur­ther, there’s a new class-ex­clu­sive “tail­gatea­jar” no­ti­fi­ca­tion in the gauge clus­ter.

There are three en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tions avail­able in the Ram 1500 and two fea­ture Ram’s new etorque sys­tem. etorque is a mild hy­brid sys­tem that com­bines a belt-driven mo­tor gen­er­a­tor unit with a 48V bat­tery pack to en­able start/stop func­tion, short-du­ra­tion torque ad­di­tion to the en­gine crankshaft in cer­tain driv­ing sit­u­a­tions, and brake en­ergy re­gen­er­a­tion, which

im­proves re­spon­sive­ness and ef­fi­ciency. Ram says the etorque sys­tem al­lows the Ram 1500 to de­liver sig­nif­i­cant fuel mileage gains. Ad­di­tion­ally, etorque 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. The 5.7L Hemi V-8 is also avail­able with­out etorque, and among other things it has a new 850-watt elec­tric cool­ing fan to help elim­i­nate par­a­sitic loss and noise com­pared to a stan­dard me­chan­i­cal fan. Trucks equipped with the 3.6L Pen­tas­tar V-6 use an Fca-pro­duced Torque­flite 850RE trans­mis­sion, while 5.7L V-8 trucks use an up­graded Torque­flite 8HP75 trans­mis­sion. Both of th­ese eight-speed trans­mis­sions use the same gear ra­tios. Also of note is a re­worked rear axle and the tran­si­tion to six-lug wheel hubs.

There are also changes to the Ram 1500’s sus­pen­sion. The front has light­weight up­per con­trol arms, alu­minum lower con­trol arms, and re­tuned ge­om­e­try. The front and rear sta­bi­lizer bars are hol­low to save weight and the front sta­bi­lizer bar is re­lo­cated be­hind the front tires, which is said to help im­prove roll stiff­ness by 20 per­cent. A new front coilover shock de­sign is stan­dard equip­ment on all Ram 1500s, re­gard­less of con­fig­u­ra­tion. Out back is Ram’s ex­clu­sive multi-link, coil spring rear sus­pen­sion that was in­tro­duced in 2009, but it has newly de­signed pro­gres­sive rate coil springs and more ro­bust link bush­ings. The rear sus­pen­sion helps con­trib­ute to the ’19 Ram’s max­i­mum pay­load ca­pac­ity of 2,300 pounds and tow­ing ca­pac­ity of 12,750 pounds. Af­fixed to all four cor­ners of the truck are Fre­quency Re­sponse Damp­ing (FRD) shocks. Th­ese dual-valve shocks au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just for the type of ver­ti­cal wheel in­put and ba­si­cally al­low the Ram 1500 to have what Ram calls a “sports-car-like” sus­pen­sion for han­dling and a sup­ple sus­pen­sion on rough ter­rain. The four-cor­ner air sus­pen­sion is also avail­able and it of­fers five modes in­clud­ing Nor­mal Ride Height (NRH), Aero Mode (low­ers 0.6 inch from NRH), Off Road 1 (up 1.2 inches from NRH), Off Road 2 (up 2 inches from NRH), and Park Mode (low­ers 2 inches for pas­sen­ger and cargo load­ing).

And speak­ing of off-road, there’s a new 4x4 Off-road Pack­age avail­able on nearly ev­ery trim of the Ram 1500. The pack­age in­cludes a 1-inch sus­pen­sion lift with or with­out the avail­able four-cor­ner air sus­pen­sion; 32-inch tires on 18-inch or avail­able 20-inch wheels; hill de­scent con­trol; an off-road–bi­ased rear sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try; unique off-road–cal­i­brated shocks; ad­di­tional skid­plates (trans­fer case, steer­ing, en­gine and gas tank); towhooks; spe­cial 4x4 Off-road Pack­age iden­ti­fi­ca­tion; and off-road– cal­i­brated dual-valve shocks for 4x4 Off-road Pack­age trucks fit­ted with the stan­dard coil spring sus­pen­sion. And for the first time ever in a pro­duc­tion Ram 1500, an elec­tronic lock­ing rear dif­fer­en­tial is avail­able. It gives the driver the abil­ity to lock or un­lock the dif­fer­en­tial on de­mand while trav­el­ing up to 10 mph. It’s stan­dard on the Off-road Pack­age and Rebel and is avail­able on other con­fig­u­ra­tions as well. It’s also worth not­ing that the out­stand­ing trac­tion en­hanc­ing Anti-spin limited-slip dif­fer­en­tial is still avail­able on most mod­els.

For those who want the ul­ti­mate in Ram 1500 off-road ca­pa­bil­ity with a col­lec­tion of func­tional fea­tures com­bined with off-road-cen­tric ex­te­rior mods, there’s the Rebel. The wildly suc­cess­ful name­plate has a list of ac­co­lades, in­clud­ing be­ing crowned Four Wheel­erõs 2016 Pickup Truck of the Year af­ter a gru­el­ing series of tests. For the 2019 model year the Rebel is even more ca­pa­ble. The Rebel, now avail­able in Quad Cab or Crew Cab con­fig­u­ra­tions, comes with a stan­dard coil spring sus­pen­sion and a 1-inch fac­tory lift. And for the first time ever in a pro­duc­tion Ram 1500, Rebels equipped with the coil spring sus­pen­sion fea­ture re­mote-reser­voir Bil­stein shocks. The re­mote reser­voirs keep the shocks cool and work with the Rebel’s unique rear sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try to keep the tires in con­tact with the ground and mak­ing trac­tion. The Rebel is also avail­able with Ram’s Ac­tive-level Four-cor­ner Air Sus­pen­sion, which can be raised an ad­di­tional inch to help cre­ate a re­spectable ap­proach an­gle of 26.7 de­grees, a de­par­ture an­gle of 23.8 de­grees, and a breakover an­gle of 21.8 de­grees in Crew Cab con­fig­u­ra­tion. The im­pres­sive ap­proach an­gle is also due to the Rebel-spe­cific front bumper with in­te­grated skid­plate that in­creases bumperto-ground clear­ance. Other func­tional Rebel fea­tures in­clude hill de­scent con­trol; black fender flares to keep dirt off the side of the truck; new 18-inch wheels; meaty and ag­gres­sive 33-inch Goodyear Wran­gler Du­ra­trac tires; large towhooks with wide bumper open­ings to ease use; and skid­plates on the trans­fer case, steer­ing sys­tem, oil pan, and gas tank. The afore­men­tioned 2.64:1 trans­fer case low-range ra­tio com­bines with the Rebel’s stan­dard 3.92:1 axle gear­ing to cre­ate a no­table 48.7:1 crawl ra­tio.

The heart of the Ram 1500’s four-wheel-drive sys­tem is one of two elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled Borg­warner trans­fer cases. The Borg­warner 48-12 of­fers part-time 4WD op­er­a­tion with 2-Hi, 4-Hi, and 4-Lo set­tings, and the Borg­warner 48-11 of­fers on-de­mand 4WD op­er­a­tion with 4Auto, 2-Hi, 4-Hi, and 4-Lo set­tings. The 4Auto set-it-and-for­get-it set­ting pro­vides full-time 4WD, which func­tions au­to­mat­i­cally to pro­vide max­i­mum trac­tion in all road con­di­tions. New for 2019, both trans­fer cases have a larger-di­am­e­ter main­shaft and the chain and sprocket have

been re­lo­cated for im­proved bear­ing sup­port and im­proved lu­bri­ca­tion. Also, the 48-11’s 4Auto onde­mand sys­tem is en­hanced for quicker re­sponse and higher front out­put torque ca­pac­ity. Each trans­fer case is en­gaged via easy-to-use push­but­ton con­trols, and each has a low-range ra­tio of 2.64:1, which helps cre­ate in­creased low-speed torque ca­pa­bil­ity off-road.

Be­hind the Wheel

We re­cently had the op­por­tu­nity to spend a day in Texas driv­ing two com­pletely dif­fer­ent Ram 1500s. Both were fit­ted with the 5.7L Hemi non-etorque V-8 and air sus­pen­sion. The first was a Ram 1500 4x4 in Limited trim. As we wound our way through San An­to­nio, and its as­so­ci­ated city noise, we were im­pressed at the in­cred­i­bly quiet cabin, which came in handy be­cause we had the man him­self, Chief In­te­rior De­signer Ryan Nagode of Ram Truck, in the cab with us. The in­te­rior was so quiet we could play “Twenty Ques­tions” in hushed tones. The dash, door pan­els, and arm­rests were wrapped in seg­ment-ex­clu­sive 100 per­cent full-grain leather, and the cabin also had real alu­minum and wood ac­cents. The tex­tures and col­ors of the Limited trim truck were gor­geous and akin to a lux­ury SUV. And that goes for the over­all driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence too; less pickup truck and more like a lux­ury SUV. On curvy back­coun­try roads the Ram 1500 ex­hib­ited out­stand­ing han­dling, the 5.7L V-8 pulled smooth and strong through the curves, and the eight-speed trans­mis­sion seemed to read our minds when it came to gear se­lec­tion. On the flat ’n’ straight the truck had a fan­tas­tic on-cen­ter feel and it was vir­tu­ally ef­fort­less to drive. Vis­i­bil­ity was great from the cab in all di­rec­tions. We can’t help but gush about the new 12-inch touch­screen dis­play. Ram calls it a “seg­ment dis­rup­tor,” and it raises the bar. It has amaz­ing func­tion­al­ity, ease of use, and stun­ning res­o­lu­tion.

Our des­ti­na­tion was a ranch, where a col­lec­tion of all-new Ram Rebels were wait­ing to be thrashed in the dirt. We just spent over a year with a ’17 Rebel and couldn’t wait to get be­hind the wheel of the new truck, and this is the model Ram 1500 we ended up spend­ing the most time with in Texas. All of the Rebels at the ranch were fit­ted with the op­tional four-cor­ner air sus­pen­sion and non-etorque Hemi V-8. In­side, the truck had the fa­mil­iar, hand­some Dark Ruby Red ac­cents. The high-dura­bil­ity Black/dark Ruby Red pre­mium vinyl/cloth seats are new and they fea­ture Goodyear tire tread mesh in­serts. As we pi­loted the truck both slow and fast, we found it to be very fa­mil­iar in over­all feel and driv­abil­ity. It gob­bled up the trail ef­fort­lessly. We ap­pre­ci­ated the 1.4-de­gree im­prove­ment in ap­proach an­gle com­pared to the pre­vi­ous air sus­pen­sion–equipped Rebel (at raised height), and the new rear elec­tronic lock­ing dif­fer­en­tial op­er­ated flaw­lessly, even as we made it a point to lock and un­lock it quite of­ten on the trail (our ver­sion of dura­bil­ity test­ing). The Rebel was

im­pres­sive. It con­tin­ues to be a truck that doesn’t need to be han­dled with kid gloves, thanks in part to its ad­di­tional skid­plat­ing, rear locker, and Rebel-spe­cific front bumper/skid­plate.

Bot­tom Line

In the end, it was clear to us that Ram ap­pears to have hit their goal of vastly im­prov­ing the Ram 1500. The truck is chock-full of the lat­est tech­nol­ogy, its off-road skills have been in­creased, and its work pro­fi­ciency has been en­hanced. Over­all we are im­pressed. We’re count­ing the min­utes un­til we can get more seat time in the new Ram 1500. We’re anx­ious to ex­pe­ri­ence etorque, see what kind of real-world mileage the truck gets, log more hours in the dirt, and tow and haul with the truck. We’re also ea­ger to ex­pe­ri­ence the coil spring sus­pen­sion–equipped Rebel with the new Bil­stein re­mote-reser­voir shocks. Stay tuned.


The Rebel in­te­rior car­ries on the tra­di­tion of the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion with hand­some red ac­cents.

|> We love that the con­trols for the trans­mis­sion, trans­fer case, rear dif­fer­en­tial locker, and hill de­scent con­trol are all con­ve­niently grouped to­gether for ease of use.

<| The new avail­able 12-inch touch­screen dis­play is amaz­ing and puts con­trols and dis­plays right at your fin­ger­tips. We found that if you have ex­pe­ri­ence with a tablet there will be vir­tu­ally no learn­ing curve.

<- Three en­gine op­tions are avail­able for the ’19 Ram 1500. There’s an etorque-equipped 3.6L Pen­tas­tar V-6, etorque-equipped 5.7L Hemi V-8 (shown), and non-etorque 5.7L Hemi V-8.

<| The Rebel-spe­cific front bumper in­creases ap­proach an­gle and in­cludes an in­te­grated skid­plate and large towhooks set in wide bumper open­ings.

|> Out back, the Rebel’s rear bumper is pow­der­coated black like the front bumper and the ex­haust tips are re­cessed, which helps to pro­tect them while trav­el­ing off-road.

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