When we attended the press launch of the all-new 2019 RAM 1500 earlier this year, we learned about how RAM completely reinvented its popular light-duty pickup. They gave it all-new underpinnings, wheel designs, bodywork, interior styling, and safety and infotainment tech. Perhaps the most important change RAM made to the 1500 was under the hood. At the time, RAM only had trucks with the carryover 5.7-liter Hemi V8 available for testing, but hybrid versions of that and the Pentastar V6, and a more powerful version of the EcoDiesel, were in the works.
We recently got a chance to experience RAM’s new mild hybrid technology (aka eTorque) out in Driftwood, Texas, home of picturesque winding country roads and tasty BBQ. Standard on the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and available on the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 for an additional $1,450, eTorque replaces the alternator with a belt-driven motor generator unit. That’s connected to a 48-volt, 430-watt-hour battery pack that charges the 1500’s 12-volt conventional battery and powers the truck’s accessories.
The primary benefits of eTorque are speed, power, and efficiency. Engineers paired it with each engine’s start/stop system and managed to cut engine restart times in half. Output for the eTorque V6 is 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque; the eTorque Hemi generates 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic. eTorque uses the power of regenerative braking to charge its battery pack. Although the hybrid tech doesn’t change final torque figures, it does provide a temporary boost, giving the Pentastar V6 up to 90 additional lb-ft and the Hemi V8 as much as 130 extra lb-ft. Depending on configuration, a 1500 with the eTorque V6 can tow up to 7,730 pounds. A properly configured and equipped 1500 with an eTorque Hemi under its hood is capable of towing as much as 12,750 pounds – 1,140 pounds more than the regular Hemi can pull.
As you would expect from a hybrid, the eTorque system improves the 1500’s fuel economy. A V6-powered 2018 RAM 1500 with two-wheel drive was able to travel 17 city and 25 highway mpg.** Its 2019 sibling with the eTorque V6 and two-wheel drive can get 20 city, 25 highway, and 22 combined mpg; adding four-wheel drive results in EPA ratings of 19 city, 24 highway, and 21 combined mpg.**
Opting for a 2019 RAM 1500 with the regular Hemi and two-wheel drive gets you ratings of 15/22/17.** The eTorque system increases those to 17/23/19.** When it comes to the four-wheel-drive versions of the same trucks, the results are similar: eTorque raises the fuel economy figures from 15/21/17 to 17/22/19.**
We’ll have to wait to give you our driving impressions of a 1500 with the eTorque V6. When we arrived at Thurman’s Mansion, we saw a pair of eTorque Hemi trucks with the 5’7” cargo box and four-wheel drive waiting for us: a Lone Star (Big Horn for you folks outside of Texas) and a Laramie Longhorn.
The base price for a new 1500 Lone Star Crew Cab 4X4 with the 5’7” box is $42,095.* That buys standard equipment that includes halogen headlamps, fog lights, a unique grille, chrome bumpers, and 18-inch wheels. Our test truck was equipped with assist steps and eye-catching 20-inch chrome wheels wrapped in 275/55 tires. On the inside, expect a leather-wrapped wheel, a 40/20/40 front bench seat with a four-way manual driver’s seat, a folding 60/40 rear seat, the Uconnect 3 infotainment system with a five-inch touchscreen display, and a six-speaker audio system. RAM upgraded our review special by decking it out with the Uconnect 4/8.4-inch touchscreen combo.
We enjoyed our time in the 1500 Lone Star. The seating fabric brought an upscale denim and suiting fabric to mind. Wind noise had a hard time penetrating the cabin. We started off by riding in the back seat, which offered an enormous, limo-like amount of legroom. After a pleasant ride through some of the twists and turns of the Texas Hill Country, we got behind the wheel. The transition from the engine being off to the engine being on was gentle and smooth. When it was time to pick up the pace, the eTorque system’s temporary burst of torque hit hard, momentarily making the 1500 into a hot rod with nearly as much torque as the Nissan Titan XD with the 5.0-liter Cummins turbo-diesel V8. eTorque made its contribution silently; all we heard was the Hemi’s signature roar behind us.
The 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 with the short box comes off of the factory line with active grille shutters, a unique grille, automatic LED headlights, LED fog lamps and taillights, full-length side steps, 20-inch wheels with 275/55 all-season tires, and a soft-drop tailgate. Its interior features heated, power bucket front seats, a reclining 60/40 rear bench seat, a nine-speaker audio system, and the Uconnect 4C infotainment system with navigation and an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
RAM must have remembered that everything’s bigger in Texas because the 1500 Laramie Longhorn they brought to the event had its headline-grabbing 12-inch display with split-screen capability and the new SiriusXM with 360L service, which offers thousands of hours of on-demand streaming audio content. That’s just one part of the optional Level 1 Equipment Group, which also comes with power running boards, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, and ventilated rear seats.
The base price of the 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 is $54,990.* After seeing the bright work, ornate leather, real barn-wood trim, seat back compartments with belt-buckle-style hardware, and floor mats with a barbed wire pattern and high-end fabric inserts inside our test truck, we thought that that – and more – would be money well spent. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to drive the Laramie Longhorn, but based on our experience with the eTorque Hemi in the 1500 Lone Star, we have no doubt it would have been just as refined and powerful as its less expensive sibling.
If you’re in the market for an all-new truck that offers plenty of power, ample towing capacity, and increased fuel economy, go to an an AutoNation RAM dealership and experience the eTorque engine lineup in the 2019 RAM 1500.
*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.