Now that it’s here, it’s obvious that this is a serious makeover that positions the brand to continue raking in new customers, something it’s been doing steadily since its Big Rig styling was first introduced in 1994.
Now in its second incarnation since the brand went standalone in 2009, this Ram has plainly stuck with its key design elements, but with enough changes to the metal to move the design forward and differentiate it from the previous generation. Its new face has an updated ram’s head logo and a new grille, previously seen on last year’s Rebel. That design is now the standard; the crosshair bars are gone. Lights are thinner and elongated, with three illumination packages on offer. The beltline and overall body shape can only be described as “slippery,” and to my mind quite visually pleasing.
Happily, this truck features much more than sheet metal changes: It has addressed a laundry list of issues and wants that customers have spent the last nine years compiling.
To start with, the new aluminum tailgate finally gets a damping feature as well as an internal lift assist, and can be lowered using the key fob or an internal switch. This, along with the aluminum hood (a fixture since ’09) and several new aluminum components, has reduced the chassis weight by 100 kg. Though it’s lighter, it’s actually bigger, with the overall length stretched by four inches and the bed height raised by an inch and a half.
In the “biggest and best” category, Ram wades in with new claims to the largest front brakes, most aerodynamic shape, exclusive next-gen air suspension, most spacious cab, and increased load limits. Payload capacity on the new truck is 2,300 pounds (1,043 kilos) with a maximum tow limit of 12,700 pounds (5,761 kilos).
Powertrain choices remain virtually the same, with the 3.6L V6 Pentastar (making 305hp and 269 lb-ft of torque) as the base engine, and the big power delivered by the 5.7L Hemi V8 (with 395hp and 410 lb-ft of torque). Both are coupled to an automatic eight-speed transmission, as in the current truck. There are some fuel-efficiency gains realized by the use of a mild hybrid system that adds the torque of an electric motor to acceleration. In the case of the V6, the belt-driven generator adds 90 lb-ft of launch torque, while the V8 Hemi gets a 130 lb-ft jolt off the line.
Inside, a new 12-inch touch screen dominates the centre stack, driven by the fourth-generation Uconnect system that incorporates NAV, cameras, HVAC, and infotainment, and now also offers Wi-Fi. An available option is a Harman Kardon 900-watt audio system powering 19 speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer.
The Ram Box continues to be offered, and gains an internal 115V plug and in-box lighting. The 2019 Ram 1500 will get four new paint colours, including its first tri-coat paint option: Billet Metallic, Ivory White Tri-coat, Patriot Blue Pearl, and Diamond Black Crystal Pearl. There will also be sixteen new wheel designs to choose from, starting at 18 inches and increasing to 22.
Also driven onto the show stage was a Ram Rebel with a new 4×4 off-road package. This truck features 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, an electronic locking rear differential, one-inch factory lift, Bilstein shocks, and unique air suspension. The underbody features several skid plates, tow hooks, and hill-descent control. It’s nice to see that this package isn’t just about the stickers anymore.
Much more information about the Ram trucks will be revealed in the weeks to come.