Ram Trucks flew me out to Scottsdale, Arizona to learn more about how it completely re-thought, re-designed, re-engineered, and re-powered its 1500 light-duty truck for the 2019 model year.
The 2019 Ram 1500, codenamed DT, is available in Tradesman, Big Horn/Lone Star (the Lone Star model is only available in Texas), Rebel, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited trim lines. Right now, available cab options are Quad Cab and Crew Cab. Two bed lengths are available: 5’7″ and 6’4″.
The new truck exclusively uses the “RAM” grille that the truckmaker introduced on certain models of the outgoing DS 1500, although colors, patterns, and finishes vary depending on trim choice. Three new headlight packages are available, ranging from the base halogen units to LEDs to LEDs with an Adaptive Front-lighting System.
Behind that new grille, the 2019 Ram 1500 is longer and wider than before. According to Ram, “The 2019 Ram 1500’s cab length has increased a total of four inches inside. B- and C-pillars moved an inch rearward, and the rear of the cab is pushed an additional two inches. Thus, front and rear doors are now one inch larger on Crew Cab configurations, while the rear door is one inch shorter on Quad Cab models compared to the previous model.” Despite that extra space, Ram claims a net DS-to-DT weight loss of nearly 225 pounds. You can thank aluminum for a lot of that decrease.
Underneath all of that is a 98-percent high-strength steel frame that’s 100 pounds lighter than its predecessor. Frequency Response Damping shocks use bypass valves to vary damping force based on the shocks’ responses to road surfaces and deliver a smooth ride in conjunction with the base steel springs or the optional four-corner air suspension. Ram’s stylists have come up with 16 new wheel designs that use six-lug hubs; wheel diameters vary from 18 to 22 inches.
No all-new truck would be complete without equally new engine options. The Ram 1500 will be available with four power plants. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 comes standard with the eTorque mild hybrid assist system which replaces the alternator with a belt-driven generator and adds a 48-volt battery pack. A more powerful version of eTorque can be added to the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, which is also available by itself. An upgraded 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 is coming in 2019. Engineers have paired all engines with lighter and more efficient versions of the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission.
The inside of the 2019 Ram 1500 is a visually evolutionary take on the outgoing model’s interior with several key improvements. The base infotainment setup is a five-inch display running Uconnect 3. The next level up is an 8.4-inch screen bundled with Uconnect 4; navigation is optional. The top-of-the-line system is a massive 12-inch display with navigation, split-screen capability, and the new SiriusXM with 360L setup which provides what FCA calls “a personalized listening experience with more variety, smart content recommendations and thousands of hours of on-demand streaming audio.” An available 33.3- by 43.4-inch panoramic sunroof adds a huge amount of luxury while Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Go, and Hold adds safety and convenience.
At the time of the media launch, Ram only had trucks with the regular 5.7-liter Hemi in its test fleet. I was lucky enough to get the keys to a Laramie and a Rebel.
2019 Ram 1500 Exterior
I saddled up a black Laramie model for the suburban and highway driving portion of the media launch. Laramie trucks feature a chrome billet grille and grille header, mirrors, and door handles. LED lighting and fog lamps come standard. The same goes for the body-colored fender flares. My test vehicle was equipped with the optional 20-inch wheels; 18-inchers are the default rolling hardware.
For driving through the sands of the Fort McDowell Adventures park, I jumped into a Rebel. The off-road-focused 1500 features a lot of black – on the unique grille and grille header, powder-coated steel bumpers, and fender flares. The aggressive Sport hood doesn’t just look cool — it’s actually functional! A one-inch factory lift and skid plates help the Rebel avoid damaging its front suspension, transfer case, electronic power steering, and fuel tank. Steel springs are now standard, but the Rebel is available with Ram’s Active-Level air suspension. The Rebel’s polished and painted 18-inch wheels are wrapped in grippy 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac rubber.
2019 Ram 1500 Interior
Ram 1500 Laramie models are designed to offer a more upscale feel with leather seats (heated and ventilated up front, heated and – as an option – ventilated and reclining in the back), faux wood accents, ambient lighting, and the availability of the slick new 12-inch touchscreen. Color schemes include Mountain Brown/Light Frost or black leather seats with suede-like inserts.
Rebel interiors are fitted with highly durable new Black/Dark Ruby Red vinyl and cloth seats with Goodyear tire tread mesh inserts. Special laser-engraved machine-finish Dark Ruby Red accents give the cabin a solid, rugged look. To make the Rebel’s interior stand out even more, designers gave the graphics on the 8.4-inch center touchscreen and gauge cluster a smoked appearance.
Ram offers the Laramie with a monochromatic package that eliminates the woodtone accents, but the model I drove through the suburbs and down the highways of southern Arizona had them and the all-black motif. Fit and finish was impressive. All of the controls were easy to reach and felt as if they were made with care and quality. At highway speeds, the loudest sound I heard was the dull roar from the Hemi. Other than that, the Laramie was nearly silent. It was more like a high-end European sedan to my ears than anything I expected from a pickup manufacturer. Backseat room was jaw-droppingly abundant. The back row’s recline function made the 1500 feel even more like a luxury car.
2019 Ram 1500 Performance
The non-eTorque version of the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 continues to produce a stout 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. The transmission was quick to downshift when my right foot demanded more power.
As I write this, the fuel economy figures on the FCA media site are 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.** Regular Hemi payload and tow ratings peak at 1,980 and 11,690 pounds, respectively, in the two-wheel-drive 1500 Quad Cab with the 6’4” box and 3.92 axle ratio.
Ram offers the new 1500 with two transfer cases: a two-speed part-time unit or a two-speed on-demand unit. The part-time case has 2WD High; 4WD High, Locked; Neutral; and 4WD Low, Locked settings while the on-demand case adds a 4WD Auto setting. According to the company, the Rebel’s “newly designed Bilstein shocks feature remote reservoirs to keep the shocks cool and work with unique rear suspension geometry … to keep the tires in traction.”
With its tires aired down and its four-level air suspension at its maximum height, the Rebel had no problem charging through miles of deep, loosely packed sand. I went slowly in 4LO as I was instructed to, but one of my fellow journalists decided to blow through the off-road course at a much higher rate of speed. Thank goodness for his Rebel Crew Cab’s max approach angle of 23.3 degrees and max departure angle of 27.2 degrees (with air suspension at Off Road 2 height).
2019 Ram 1500 Safety
The 2019 Ram 1500 is available with more than 100 safety and security features. Some of those include the core body structure that’s 54-percent high-strength steel and the largest-in-the-segment 14.9-inch brake rotors. Then there’s blind spot monitoring with trailer coverage, Forward Collision Warning-Plus with automatic emergency braking, and LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus with active steering correction. In addition, there’s ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, a 360-degree Surround View Camera system, and six airbags – plus much more.
2019 Ram 1500 Overall
Prices for the 2019 Ram 1500 start at $31,695.* The Crew Cab Laramie 4X4 I drove had a starting price of $46,890.* Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited models come standard with the regular Hemi V8. Whichever 1500 you decide to buy, make sure you get it at an AutoNation Ram dealership.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.