Emma Jayne Williams

Best Ram 1500 ever arrives for 2019; prices range from $31,795-$53,440

The 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Quad Cab comes with four full doors and seating for up to six, or just five with the optional front bucket seats.
The 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Quad Cab comes with four full doors and seating for up to six, or just five with the optional front bucket seats. © 2018 FCA US LLC

The Ram 1500 is all new for 2019, with lots of additions and revisions for the lightest, strongest, quietest, most-spacious Ram ever.

This benchmark for durability, technology, efficiency, and convenience offers features never offered in a pickup.

Base weight is down nearly 225 pounds, with the new frame featuring 98 percent high-strength steel accounting for 100 pounds of that. The weight reduction improves fuel economy and raises the payload (2,300 pounds) and towing capacity (12,750 pounds), while balancing out added content.

Lightweight aluminum is used where possible and practical – hood, tailgate, engine mounts, transmission crossmember, and more. In some cases, composites are substituted for metal, offering high-tensile strength and durability at low weight.

Ram 1500 is also longer and wider, including an increase of four inches in cab length for a more-spacious interior with added features and increased passenger comfort.

The new face of Ram includes a chiseled Ram’s head logo and different “RAM” grilles for each model. Designers created an “interlocking” aesthetic, with elements that influence each other’s shape – the larger, more-aggressive, forward-leaning front grille, raised hood and flared fenders share pieces, as do the instrument panel, cluster, and center console – for a more-cohesive and durable-looking truck.

Ram is available in six distinct models, with base prices from $31,795 to $53,440, with dramatic differentiation across the line: Tradesman, Big Horn/Lone Star, Laramie (my tester, $39,495), Rebel, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited.

Rear-wheel drive is standard, but all models are offered with all-wheel drive, which adds $3,500. Crew and Quad cabs are available, with 5-foot-7 or 6-foot-4 cargo beds, depending on the model chosen.

Three engines are available: the standard 3.6-liter V-6 eTorque; 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi MDS, $1,395; and 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi MDS eTorque, $2,645. The eTorque is a mild hybrid system, new for 2019, using a belt-drive Motor Generator Unit in place of a traditional alternator, working with a 48-volt battery pack for quick, seamless start/stop function, short-term torque assist, and brake energy regeneration to improve performance, fuel economy, payload and towing capability, and drivability.

The MGU charges the 12-volt system, sends torque to the engine, and receives power from the drivetrain (regenerative braking). It uses that power to charge the 48-volt battery. A small, suitcase-sized, air-cooled battery pack is mounted to the rear wall of the cabin.

My 5.7-liter engine package include active noise control, dual rear exhaust with bright tips, heavy-duty engine cooling, and large silver and black “1500/Hemi” badges on the side hood pockets. A 33-gallon fuel tank ($445) extended driving range.

A new generation of fully electronic TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmissions improves efficiency with more-powerful control computers that process data faster and coordinate operation with the eTorque system, for the right gear at the right time.

The new Ram is the segment’s most-aerodynamic pickup, with exclusive active aerodynamics: grille shutters, air dam, and air suspension. The active front air dam extends down 2.5-inches as the Ram 1500 approaches 35 mph.

Additions and changes include all-new Frequency Response Damping shocks for the best combination of ride, handling (tires on the ground on rough surfaces), and comfort, and next-generation, class-exclusive air suspension for enhanced fuel efficiency, improved ride, better off-road capability, load-leveling and entry/exit.

At 14.9 inches, the front brake rotors are the largest in the segment. The new electric parking brake eliminates 20 pounds from the previous system.

My Ram Laramie had the brawny 395-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, with performance-enhancing and fuel-saving technologies including variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation (turns off fuel, closes intake and exhaust valves on four cylinders under light load operation).

Behind the grille, a new forward-facing air intake, with a lifetime hydrocarbon absorption filter for reducing evaporation emissions, feeds cooler air to the intake to improve engine performance.

A production-first thermal management system uses heated engine coolant to warm automatic transmission fluid, engine oil, and rear axle lubricant of two-wheel-drive trucks (mine). Warmed oil is less viscous and reaches peak efficiency quicker.

The exhaust system is nine pounds lighter, with extensive tuning to maintain its trademark throaty roar from dual exhaust tips.

Ram 1500 for 2019 is available in 11 colors, including four new colors: Billet Silver, Tri-coat White, Patriot Blue, and Diamond Black Crystal. Flame Red is standard, six colors add $100 (my Delmonico Red Pearl), three add $200, and one adds $500 (Ivory Tri-coat). The same colors are available with gray cladding around the fender flares and the lower body.

The exterior shape has been honed for class-leading aerodynamics, aided by the elevated hood, which directs air away from the wiper area, and the new roof treatment, which directs air to the rear roof spoiler. A new shark fin antenna makes the 2019 Ram 1500 the first full-size truck without a mast antenna.

Bed rails have been raised 1.5-inches, aligned with the beltline for a strong horizontal profile with aerodynamic benefits, and drag is further reduced by a new spoiler on the new aluminum tailgate.

Lift assist and damping during opening made the tailgate easy to use, along with opening with an interior switch, remotely with the key or with passive entry. A segment-exclusive optional lockable tri-fold tonneau cover ($550) also helps improve fuel economy, while adding security and weather protection.

My Ram had the Bed Utility Group ($845) with four adjustable cargo tie-down hooks, LED bed lighting, and spray-in bedliner. Wheel-to-wheel tubular side-steps helped improve aerodynamics by allowing air to pass around the body more smoothly, while providing easy entry to front and rear seats.

A class IV receiver-hitch and seven-pin wiring harness were standard.

Several new wheel designs are available (depending on model, some for an additional charge), aligned with an increased lug pattern – from five to six – from standard 18-inch aluminum silver-painted (my tester, six wide flat spokes) to rugged 22-inch painted/polished. Rear Wheelhouse Liners ($195) protected the wheelwells from debris.

The interior offers unique colors and premium materials (depending on trim level), allowing more personalization. My Ram had Mountain Brown/Light Frost Beige leather bucket seats ($795, includes floor console), and wood and pewter metallic-flake plastic trim on the dash and console.

Small-item storage was more than adequate, with the reimagined center console featuring 12 storage configurations, and under-seat storage in the rear. Two cupholders on a sliding tray could be moved under the armrest to open a deep storage tub, large enough for a 15-inch laptop.

Under the armrest was a bin to fit a tablet or hang a full-size file folder. The tray under the armrest has coin holders. The lid of the bin has useful measurements – wrench sizes, angles, linear measurement guide, and for fun, the pythagorean theorem and trigonometric ratios. The redesigned upper glove box has a flat shelf for smaller items or fast food.

The rear of the console had two cupholders, a tablet holder, heated seat controls, air vents, USB ports, and a 115-volt outlet. Five USB ports are available, three in the front and two in the back. Three are fully functioning, the other two are charge only. Four are new type C/A to charge up to four times faster. A 115-volt outlet was also located in the front console.

A wider docking area under the center stack had wireless charging for a small tablet or multiple smartphones. The dock had a soft-gripping lip to hold mobile devices vertically in place.

Wireless charging was included in a Level 2 Equipment Group ($3,595) along with automatic high beam control, blind-spot with cross-path detection, heated rear seats, ParkSense front and rear park-assist with stop, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, remote tailgate release, single-disc remote CD player, tailgate ajar warning light, foam bottle inserts (door pocket), and rear 60/40 fold-up seats.

My Ram had the first application of Uconnect 4C NAV (voice controlled, 3-D graphics) on a configurable 12-inch touch screen, tailor-made per model.

The system ($1,095) included Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto, GPS antenna input and navigation, HD radio, SiriusXM with 360L, SiriusXM Guardian Services with 4G Wi-Fi hotspot/Traffic Plus/Travel Link, and USB host flip.

SiriusXM with 360L offers exclusive on-demand programming not previously available in the Ram. The raised center stack is closer for improved reachability, with all-new toggle switches below the touch screen.

An Advanced Safety Group ($1,595) brought adaptive cruise control with stop and go, advanced brake assist, full-speed forward collision warning plus, lane-departure warning plus, parallel and perpendicular park assist with stop, and a surround-view camera.

Frame-mounted high-strength steel tire blockers placed at the front of the cab help keep the wheels from intruding into the cabin in case of a frontal collision.

A brake-throttle override system allows the driver to stop the vehicle in cases where the throttle and brake are applied simultaneously, reducing engine power until the vehicle stops.

Mirror-mounted buttons allow the driver (or passenger) to contact emergency services, roadside assistance, Uconnect Customer Care, and non-collision related emergency services.

Front chrome tow hooks, daylight opening moldings and wheel-to-wheel side steps were included in a Chrome Appearance Group ($995).

Active noise cancellation and acoustic glass make the 2019 Ram 1500 the quietest ever. The interior is luxurious and very well equipped.

Options totaling $13,290 and destination charges of $1,695 brought the delivered price of my rugged Ram Laramie 2WD to $54,480.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.

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