The Ram line of trucks has never worried about fitting in; rather, it has made its way with bold styling exercises and powerful drivetrain packages. And for 2019, the company is sticking to this tried and true strategy.
The 2019 Ram 1500 is new inside and out, with a fresh chassis, fresh sheet metal, and a sharp new interior. The chassis design has resulted in a stiffer-yet-lighter package, thanks in part to the use of aluminum and composite components. While its coil-spring rear suspension might run afoul of some pickup purist, it helps improve ride quality over traditional leaf-spring rear suspension yet can still do the heavy lifting thanks to the 4-Corner Air Suspension. With five ride height options available at the flick of a switch, you can trim for fuel economy on the freeway, ground clearance on the trail, and ease of loading by bringing the Ram closer to the ground. The air suspension system also keeps the truck level when you hitch up the trailer, helping preserve handling and ride comfort.
Exterior styling is more of an evolution than departure; that unmistakable Ram look is certainly present. Perhaps the most unique thing about the 2019 Ram line is all the styling choices — there’s a massive array of wheel options, grills, and even bed and tailgate configurations.
Our Limited Crew Cab 4×4 tester was finished in the Ivory paint, and was fitted with a beautiful set of polished 22-inch wheels, which are better suited for the road than the trail.
At first blush, the size of the bed on our tester was a little disappointing, as the bed appeared small due to the RamBox Cargo Management System taking up much of the room around the edges of the fender where we would traditionally jam extra tools during race weekends. In exchange, however, the RamBox does offer a great deal of storage space in and of itself, and that space is easier to access than the far reaches of a truck bed. Surprisingly, the RamBox was not limited to small items, either; a floor jack, jack stands, and even moderate-sized tools all nicely tuck away in these secure, lockable compartments. We also couldn’t help but notice a removable drain plug, leading us to wonder if the bedside might not make for a handy cooler.
Inside the cabin, we were treated to the Indigo and Frost premium leather package, and a ridiculous amount of technology. Between the 12-inch infotainment center, 115v power outlet, wireless charging pad, and eight-way power ventilated seats up front, we were left struggling to imagine what more you could ask for. Heck, even the rear seats were heated. This was perhaps the first time we have seen a domestic truck interior that rivals that of the Toyota Tundra, which has always been our go-to half-ton gasser, but the 2019 Ram has served notice.
While much of the drivetrain is a carryover from the previous generation (why fix it if it isn’t broken?), there are updates in the name of fuel economy. The base engine is a 305 hp 3.6L V6, and it comes fitted with the eTorque mild hybrid system as standard equipment. Our tester, meanwhile, sported the trusty 395 hp 5.7L Hemi V8 mated to the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, and the eTorque system is optional.
On the road, the unconventional gear select mechanism initially left us a little befuddled, wondering how we could possibly manipulate gear choices for climbing and descents via a knob. Fortunately, someone at Ram thought of that — a switch on the steering wheel allows a gear to be held should the need arise.
For our test, we headed to Buttonwillow Raceway Park for the SCCA Hoosier Super Tour with our SportsCar magazine project Spec Miata in tow. That weekend we were hauling less than 5,000 lbs of cargo, which included the race car and trailer. During the weekend, we discovered that with a stated tow rating of roughly double that our haul, we barely taxed the powerful Hemi, even traversing California’s infamous Grapevine on Interstate 5. In fact, the powertrain made quick work of the climb, and the truck returned a round trip average of 16 mpg, which is quite reasonable when towing.
And the 2019 Ram had great road manners, too. It’s all of the comforts of a luxury car, with the ability to do real work.
With an as-tested price of $69,085, this level of half-ton truck glory does come at a premium price, but overall, we were very impressed with every aspect of the 2019 Ram. And if it’s missing anything, it’s certainly not something we noticed.