Ram took the wraps off the all-new 1500 at the Detroit auto show a few weeks back, unveiling plenty of substantial under-the-skin updates along with the fresh looks. The completely redesigned truck now boasts a mild-hybrid system to provide extra torque when needed, along with plenty of extra towing and payload capacity.
There is a lot to see before it goes on sale at the end of March — that’s just weeks away — so we’ve rounded up the most important bits you need to know.
1. The power
The 1500’s base engine is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 paired with the eTorque mild-hybrid system producing 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, but those in need of greater performance can pick the trusty Hemi 5.7-liter V8, good for 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. Both are paired with TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmissions. Both engines feature variable valve timing, but the Hemi comes with the added fuel economy benefit of cylinder deactivation. With this Fuel Saver Technology system, as Ram calls it, the engine computer turns off spark and fuel and closes the exhaust and intake valves on four of the eight cylinders when hauling light loads. Variable camshaft timing also helps save fuel by reducing the V8’s pumping work through a delayed closing of the intake valve.
The Ram 1500 is a mild hybrid; instead of a traditional alternator, both engine versions of the new truck feature a motor/generator that restarts the engine for the automatic stop/start system, but it also provides an assist when needed. It does this with the help of a battery pack about the size of a suitcase located inside the rear wall of the passenger cabin. The battery pack can store up to 430 watt-hours of energy (at a cost of adding about 100 pounds of weight to the truck), giving the V6 engine a boost of 90 lb-ft of torque, or 130 lb-ft of torque to the Hemi V8.
The extra help does not figure into the 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque of the V6, or the 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of the V8; the eTorque system kicks in during low engine speeds, broadening the torque band rather than adding to peak torque on tap. This means that drivers can get more torque early on, when the truck is at a crawl and is towing something heavy, without the need to rush the engine, and it helps take the strain off the engine when moving heavy loads.
The Ram 1500 will go on sale at the end of March 2017.
3. The wheelbases
Three frame lengths will be on the menu when the 2019 Ram 1500 goes on sale: a 144.6-inch wheelbase for Crew Cab short bed versions, a 153.5-inch wheelbase on Crew Cab long beds, and a 140.5-inch wheelbase for Quad Cab long beds.
“The 2019 Ram 1500’s cab length has increased a total of 4 inches inside,” the company says. “B- and C-pillars moved an inch rearward, and the rear of the cab is pushed an additional 2 inches. Thus, front and rear doors are now 1 inch larger on Crew Cab configurations, while the rear door is 1 inch shorter on Quad Cab models compared to the previous model.”
4. The interior
A larger interior demands a larger screen, and it’s getting one: A 12-inch Uconnect touchscreen that can display one application at a time, displaying a big map, for example, or two different applications simultaneously on a split screen. The center stack had to be raised and brought closer to the driver to accommodate the new screen, but don’t worry — there will still be plenty of buttons even though the Ram is getting a screen this big: The all-new toggle switches will be located just underneath it.
“The reimagined center console is a usable, complex piece of art with more than 12 different storage combinations,” the automaker says. “Center stage, a wider docking area with optional wireless charging can hold a small tablet or smartphone. A three-position sliding cup holder tray can be stowed under the center armrest to reveal a deep storage tub designed to hold a 15-inch laptop. Lifting the lid of the center armrest also reveals an additional lined storage compartment sized to fit a tablet and/or hang a full-size file. At the rear of the console, there are two additional cup holders, which include a tablet holder for rear passengers.”
The interior now features a 12-inch infotainment touchscreen.
5. Payload and weight savings
The maximum payload weight is 2,300 pounds, a gain of more than 400 pounds over the outgoing model, and towing capacity is now 12,700 pounds, up from 10,650.
Another type of weight has dropped: The overall weight is down by 225 pounds, thanks to extensive use of aluminum, high-strength steel and composites. The frame is now 98 percent high-strength steel and the body is 54 percent high-strength steel. The frame itself shed pounds over the outgoing model thanks to the use of high-strength steel, while the chassis lost 120 pounds. The other weight savings came from the body and various systems: the tailgate, engine mounts, front axle suspension crossmember, transmission crossmember and steering system gear are now made from aluminum. The upper front suspension arms as well as the air dam structure are made from composites.
The eTorque mild-hybrid system adds about 100 pounds, but overall the trucks actually loses weight over the outgoing model.
The 4×4 Off-road package, available with almost every trim level, includes an electronic-locking rear differential, 32-inch on/off-road tires on 18- or 20-inch wheels, and a 1-inch suspension lift. This setup also includes off-road-calibrated shocks, and an off-road-biased rear suspension geometry, along with hill-descent control. Add to that skid plates for the steering, engine, gas tank and transfer case, as well as some tow hooks, and you’re ready to tame the great outdoors.
The Rebel is back as well for even more serious off-roading, wearing 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires mounted on 18-inch wheels, new Bilstein shocks, unique rear suspension geometry and a 1-inch lift. The Rebel gets more off-road goodies in the form of tow hooks mounted in wide bumper openings, and skid plates for the steering system, transfer case, gas tank and oil pan.
The Ram 1500 now has the eTorque system to help it with low-end torque.
7. Class-leading aerodynamics
It may seem a little strange to talk about aerodynamics in an age when most pickups strive to look like midcentury locomotives, but the 2019 Ram 1500 has a drag coefficient of 0.357, which puts it into the same category as a 2004 Chevy Aveo or a 2006 Honda Fit. That’s a 9 percent improvement over the outgoing model.
How did Ram accomplish this? The engineering team spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel, and in addition to wind-cheating sheetmetal, the truck features an active air dam that automatically extends downward by 2.5 inches as the truck approaches 35 mph. The Ram 1500 also has active grille shutters, which close up to prevent additional drag at speed. Models equipped with the optional air suspension can also lower the truck by 0.6 inch for greater aerodynamic efficiency.
“Significant time was dedicated to designing the truck bed itself to increase usability and aerodynamics,” Ram says. “Bed rails are raised by 1.5 inches to reduce drag as does a new spoiler on the new aluminum tailgate. The bed-to-cab execution is sub-flush to reduce disturbance alongside the body. A wheel-to-wheel tubular side-step design offers aerodynamic improvements by allowing air to pass around the truck more smoothly.”