Both of its core competitors, GM and Ford, launched new trucks in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Despite this, the Ram has remained extremely competitive, receiving the right updates at just the right times to keep it relevant. It got the first eight-speed automatic in the segment, the first light-duty diesel option, not to mention a style that aged extremely well.
That’s why I’ve been so excited for the launch of this allnew model; the old truck was always excellent and so competitive with its peers, but always felt like it just needed that final push to really outdo the rest of the segment. The time is finally here to with the all new Ram to determine if the long wait has been worth it, and to find out for myself if the team at FCA have pushed their truck far enough to be deserving of the crown in this competitive market.
Before I get into the newest truck, I have to share the fact that I actually have a 2014 Ram in my possession. It’s a simple mid-range Big Horn, Quad Cab with the 5.7L, and over the last two-years I’ve modified it, off-roaded it, road tripped it, and hauled countless things. It has never demanded anything more than a few oil changes and fuel. As fond as I am of this truck, it has also made me very aware of the outgoing Ram’s largest shortcomings; questionable fuel economy and subpar interior fit and finish.
Enter the 2019 Ram 1500 Limited 4×4, and the first thing I can’t help but notice is the styling. Ram trucks have, in many ways, led the trend on pickup truck style since the 1994 model year when Ram shed the traditional box shape in favor of semi-truck inspired curves that made big waves in the market and changed the course of modern truck styling forever. Since then, its redesigns have been evolutionary and this latest iteration is no different.
The front end retains the large signature “RAM” grille flanked by angry-looking LED headlamps, the power-bulge hood and lots of chrome. The side profile is dominated by a hard crease carried back from the headlamps the full length of the truck. Out back, there are amber turn signals built into the LED tail lamps, of course a massive Ram’s head. It’s a bit more curvy and fluid overall compared to the previous generation, hinting that this truck might be a little more refined than you might expect.
Regardless of whether you like it or not, the outside of the truck is forgotten almost immediately upon opening the door and stepping into the top-line Limited interior. It’s pretty incredible to put it mildly; this interior actually blew me away. The Limited interior is finished to luxury car levels of quality and materials; soft stitched leather everywhere, on the dash, door panels, and on the heated and cooled seats. The black leather in our tester is complimented by bright aluminum and piano black accents as well as plenty of dark wood and more perforated aluminum framing the center stack.
A 12” touchscreen dominates the dashboard running the latest UConnect infotainment system. UConnect remains my favorite infotainment system for its ease of use, speed and now on this massive screen the crisp graphics. Admittedly, there are a lot of different materials and patterns inside the Ram that can look just a bit busy, but it’s also so well-crafted and the attention to detail on items like the aluminum speaker grilles that the truck really does start to feel like a luxury machine rather than a capable half-ton pickup.
Ergonomically the interior is fantastic as well; the controls all fall to hand well and while some might gripe about the rotary dial gear selector, I’ve gotten used to it. I do appreciate that the design team retained some buttons on the centre stack for climate controls as well as traditional volume and tuning knobs.
Knowing that these trucks are expected to lead hard working lives whether as a contractor’s work truck, a family hauler, or even a commuter, the interior has been stuffed full of handy storage and gadgets. There are literally power outlets everywhere; 110V household plug, standard 12V outlets, USB, even USB-C. Storage is plenty with massive door pockets, dual glove boxes, hidden floor compartments and a centre console large enough to an entire laptop.
As an interesting Easter egg; deep inside the centre console you’ll find embossed profiles of the last four generations of Ram, and on the console lid you’ll find your grade 12 calculus cheat-sheet, complete with metric to imperial conversion chart, trigonometry ratios, protractor and more.
Of course, as a top-trim Limited truck, our tester came stuffed with a long list of luxurious features such as a massive dual pane panoramic glass sunroof, heated and cooled seats all around, heated steering wheel, 19-speaker 900W Harman-Kardon stereo, parallel park assist, adaptive cruise control, LED lighting inside and out, four-corner air suspension, birds-eye camera views, and much more. You name it; this truck has it, along with its $85,265 MSRP.
Yes, that is an MSRP in excess of $85,000, and even an entry level Trademan trim work truck will set you back $40,000. This is a significant bump over the $30,000 starting price of the 2018 model, which is still available for order. That said, as the old truck is phased out I am sure the pricing of the new model will adjust accordingly – it’s also worth noting that the new model is currently only available as a Quad or Crew cab, which makes sense since that’s where all the volume is.
Engine options thus far are the carry-over 5.7L HEMI V8, making 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque at 3,950RPM. You can also have the same 5.7L HEMI but augmented with the mild-hybrid eTorque system. This is essentially a small electric motor that provides a bump in low-end power and fuel economy. Lastly, you can also opt for the 3.6 Pentastar V6 with the same eTorque technology. All engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Overall the 5.7L and eight-speed combination makes for a very smooth and refined driving experience. Despite the same power output, the new truck is over 300 pounds lighter than the old one, and with the updated transmission programing, it does feel much quicker and responsive. That’s not the biggest change though; the ride in the new Ram is simply phenomenal. Our tester does benefit from the optional air-ride suspension, but the truck rides just like you’d expect from a luxury SUV, not a pickup truck. Complimenting the smooth ride is the vault-like quiet cabin thanks to the efforts the engineering team has put into aerodynamics and acoustics of the truck.
It’s difficult to fault anything about the way that the Ram 1500 drives. Even with our tester rolling on the optional 22” wheels and low profile tires, it made light work of the heat rippled city streets, even when loaded with over 500 pounds in the bed. Highway cruising is an absolute treat with a nice and steady on-centre feel from the leather/wood steering wheel. There is almost no discernable noise in the cabin, and with one of the cushiest interiors in the business, this hardworking truck is easily a great road-tripper.
Don’t think that the new Ram has gone soft though. Both towing capacity and payload have been increased over the previous generation thanks to the new truck’s lighter and longer platform. Towing capacity is up to 12,750 pounds and payload tops out at 2,300 pounds.
If there is one weak point uncovered during my test, it would be the fuel economy. After a week worth of rush hour commuting, and about 100kms with a heavy bulky load in the bed my average came in at 14.5L/100kms. Filling the optional 124L fuel tank brings a number right on par with the same powertrain in the older truck. Hopefully the eTorque technology can make a dent in these numbers when it starts to hit the streets.
This is the first truck that has made me think long and hard about where I’d spend my own money in the full-sized pickup market today. I have to admit, if I were shopping for myself today I would be very tempted to put my money down on the 2019 Ram 1500 Limited 4×4. It has been a long wait for an all-new model, but this one checks all the right boxes and then some.