FIRST DRIVE 2019 Ram 1500
The 2019 Ram 1500 represents the biggest change to this truck since the drop-fender Dodge made its debut in 1994. Ram has pretty much dropped the Peterbuilt-inspired styling, replacing it with a more aerodynamic nose. The crosshair grille is gone, replaced by a giant “R,” “A” and “M.”
Ram is building on a theme that started with the previous-gen Rebel and Power Wagon by giving each trim level—tradesman, Laramie, Big Horn, Rebel, Long Horn, Limited—its own front-end treatment. Top-of-the-line Limited models feature a chrome-coated nose that gives the truck a more than passing resemblance to the Durango. Your author prefers the black grille on lesser trim levels, not to mention the Rebel, which looks like a bull about to charge.
There are plenty of changes under the Ram’s new skin. High-strength steel now accounts for 98% of the beefed-up frame as well as about
50% of the box. As a result, capacities are up:
The Ram 1500 can now be equipped to haul up to 2,300 pounds in the bed and tow as much as 12,750 pounds. The brakes are bigger, and the wheels have gone from five to six lugs. Meanwhile, an aluminum hood and tailgate help keep the new Ram 1500’s weight down.
The new truck is larger as well. Both wheelbase and overall length increase 4 inches, with most of that space going to the cab; we noticed (gratefully) the additional backseat legroom in both extended and crew cabs. The walls of the bed are now 35mm higher, which helps to improve the truck’s aerodynamics, and a two-step bumper makes it easier to get into the bed. The tailgate is dampened, and the Rambox lockable storage bins in the side-walls are still on offer.
The Ram 1500’s best attribute may well be its cabin, which is a far cry from the cheap-o plastic interiors for which
Ram trucks were once known. Interior differs greatly by trim level; even the font on the video-screen speedometer for trucks so equipped is unique to each model. An optional 12-inch portrait-style screen, reminiscent of the one found in Teslas and Volvos, may well be the killer app, though most Ram 1500s will likely be equipped with the smaller 8.4-inch Uconnect system we’ve come to know and love in the current-gen Ram.
So how is the new 1500 out on the road? Very good—in fact, we’d argue that it’s the best ½-ton daily driver on the market (though we’ve yet to try the new 2019 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra). Ram remains the only truck manufacturer to offer a full air suspension, which does wonders for both ride and handling. Should you be so inclined, you can fling the air-sprung 1500 around corners as if it were a car. Steering is responsive and direct, and the ride, while offering just enough sharp up-and-down movement to remind you that you’re in a truck, is smooth and composed. Unfortunately, it’s offset by the front seats, which felt hard and flat.
Overall, we came away impressed by the new Ram 1500. The ride is not quite as smooth as the outgoing Chevrolet (and remember, we haven’t driven the new one), but the handling is better, especially when equipped with the air-ride suspension.
The Ford F-150 remains this author’s favorite work truck, but the Ram 1500 is a better daily driver. Ford and Chevrolet had better stop watching each other and start watching Ram because the 1500 is a great new truck.