FIRST DRIVE 2019 Ram 1500

Street Trucks - - CONTENTS - TEXT BY AARON GOLD PHO­TOS BY AARON GOLD AND FCA

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.

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