Forget what you thought you knew about the RAM 1500 or the truck market for that matter. Because the all-new Ram 1500 is about to shake things up. Ram Trucks recently flew me out to Scottsdale, Arizona for its 2019 Ram 1500 Media Drive, to get a first-hand experience of just what the next-generation pickup is all about. And yes, it lived up to all the hype. Sure. It was already a great truck. But we’ve never seen a Ram 1500 like this.
2019 Ram 1500 First Drive
Honestly, there is so much new about the new, 225-pounds lighter, longer and wider Ram 1500, it can make your head spin. You’ll need to have been born with a decisive gene to sort through all the various trims, 2 cab/2 bed length choices and 16 new wheel designs in a timely manner (come on RAM really, 16!?). So here’s what I’ll deem the “cliff notes” version of what I learned about the 2019 Ram 1500 during my day in the Arizona desert. I spent most of my time behind the wheel of pre-production Laramie Crew Cab and Big Horn Crew Cab models. They came equipped with 5.7-liter V8 HEMIs - the engine launching first. It's good for 395-horsepower and 410 lb-ft. of torque, comes with start/stop and is mated to an 8-speed automatic. I know a lot of folks are itching to know about the V6 and V8 eTorque versions, but those weren't available and don't launch until later in the year. (eTorque is a mild hybrid system that uses a 48-volt battery pack and a motor generator to add more torque in specific driving situations.) Ram also confirmed a diesel will be available later. My test vehicles were both four-wheel drive but two-wheel drive is standard.
Designed and Engineered for Comfort
I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about my Ram 1500 First Drive experience, well, except for those 25-mile hour speed limits within the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation our route took us through (with tribal officers lying in wait.) I did not expect the ride to be so smooth and flat-out comfortable. But it was. I did not expect the interiors to have the excellent fit and finish they had, but they did. The Ram's ride is excellent, and in a word, car-like. Ram's exclusive rear-coil suspension is a huge reason for that - and for 2019 Ram added all-new 2-valve Frequency Response Damping shocks to make the ride even smoother and more controlled. Lighter next-gen electric power steering is also tuned for lighter and quicker steering. Air suspension is optional. Another big story is the redesigned, quality interiors. I was struck by the great fit and finish of each trim. Seats were uber comfortable. I was a fan of my Laramie's optional black leather-trimmed, heated and cooled, bucket seats with suede inserts. The cabin layout is user-friendly and comes with nearly 100% more storage space. I’d compare the raised and closer to the driver center console to a dark abyss, it’s so deep. Other interior design tweaks in front include new toggle switches and a redesigned easy-to-use e-shifter dial. In the upper trims, you find luxurious, rich leather and wood-trimmed accents. But you don't have to go high-end to be comfortable. The optional Deluxe Cloth bucket seats in the Big Horn made a great impression, too. In back, the Crew Cab is jaw-droppingly roomy and there's a reason for that. The 2019 Ram 1500’s cab length has increased a total of four inches inside, giving it the best in class legroom in the second-row. The reclining seats are also a treat. The new fold-flat floor design makes the back more comfortable, too. I also noticed how quiet the cabin was thanks to acoustic glass and an active noise cancellation system.
Can't-Miss It 12-Inch Touchscreen
Technology is another area Ram really stepped up its game. Be it the more than 100 available safety and security features or connectivity in the cabin. One of the most-talked-about features is the massive UConnect 12-inch touchscreen available on higher trim levels. (Other sizes are 5.0-inches and 8.4-inches.) The touchscreen is customizable and extremely responsive with wonderful UConnect graphics. An available 360-degree camera view looks amazing in it as well.
Harman Kardon and SiriusXM 360L
Music lover that I am, another highlight was a class-exclusive available Harman Kardon audio system with 19 speakers and 10-inch subwoofer for higher trims. The Ram also debuts SiriusXM 360L. The available next-generation system gives you over 200 channels and 5000+ hours On Demand streaming audio.
Weight and Increased Towing
The new Ram drops 225-pounds, 100 pounds alone from the frame thanks to the use of 98-percent high-strength steel. A new electric parking brake saves another 20 lbs. A huge benefit is a more capable truck with a 2,300-pound payload and 12,750-pound towing capacity. Official EPA fuel economy numbers are still TBD. [Update 3/23: You can find fuel economy numbers now posted on the government's Fuel Economy website.]
The new, more aerodynamic, 1500 looks sharp in my opinion and I like the new “face” of RAM. You can tell the six trims apart by their different grilles. You start with the Tradesman, work up to the Big Horn, Laramie, Rebel, Laramie Longhorn and top out at the Limited. Pricing starts in the low $30s and heads north of $70K. To see all the trims and pricing check out RAM’s build configurator.
The western-themed Laramie Longhorn comes with an impressive, luxury interior. The Media Drive model featured a Black/New Saddle Interior with a pretty spectacular, 33.3-inch by 43.4-inch panoramic sunroof. The Longhorn features full-leather seats and a 100 percent full-grain leather dashboard along with wood accents and steel trim. An embossed alligator skin patterned-leather covers some surfaces. Other details include satin chrome accents, a brushed-nickel metal badge flush-mounted on the console lid. A “Longhorn” branding mark is also burned on the wood-trimmed upper glove box door, something that Brad Pinter, Head of Ram 1500, tells me is done by hand.
To continue to gain ground in the incredibly competitive pickup market, the Ram Trucks team knew they had to hit more than just a home run with the new 1500. They knew they had to hit it out of the ballpark. And I think they did.