The redesigned 2019 Ram sheds the last vestiges of its blunt Mack-truck, early-1990’s reboot. The newest version, available in base Tradesman, Big Horn, off-road Rebel, luxury-oriented Laramie, premium Laramie Longhorn, and lux Limited model, allows you to step into whatever style pickup you need – or want.
I had the opportunity to test several versions of Ram on and off the road. I also tested one for a week-long drive.
Of the trucks I tested, I preferred the Ram 1500 Crew Cab Big Horn Sport 4×4.
The 2019 Ram’s front end is slick, and higher trim versions have chrome accents around the headlights that look like sunglass frames that blend into the front fenders. Those front fenders are still prominent, but not as blunt as prior models. Where the previous generation was big and bold, the new version is more refined. Ram’s overall look is no longer “big and bad” (Rebel excluded), and when viewed alongside the F-150 and Silverado, it looks handsome and distinguished.
My Big Horn Sport crew cab came with a traffic-friendly 5.7-foot bed, but a 6.4-foot length bed is also available, both constructed out of steel. I like the optional Ram Box storage bins (cooler w/drain) in the bed walls, along with optional lighting and cargo tie-downs.
Beyond styling, comfort, and capability, the slug-fest is fuel economy. Ford took a big risk with its EcoBoost line of smaller displacement turbo engines and it paid off. The Ram starts with the tried-and-true 3.6-liter V6 engine. The 5.7-L V8 is an upgrade featuring cylinder deactivation and it is the Ram towing champ at 12,750 pounds. Later this summer, Ram will offer a V6 mated to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system called “eTorque” supplying 90 lb-ft of torque to help boost fuel economy. The 5.7-L also gets the eTorque mild-hybrid assist treatment with 130 lb-ft of additional torque.
All engines are backed with the 8-speed “dial-on-dash” automatic transmission. This drive-by-wire unit is not as fluid as you would expect, as it hunts for shifts, and if you do quick drive/reverse/drive changes you can befuddle it.
Inside, the interior design and build quality impressed me. I liked the metal, wood and soft-touch pieces on the premium trimmed models. Notable is the modern and appealing dash design, as it looks like a “cyborg dash” part exposed machine, part traditional dash.
The controls are easy to find/use and they should work well even if you’re wearing gloves. The test vehicles I drove came with the upgrade 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment screen. There is also a large 12.0-inch version that looks like a command center.
Color combinations have expanded in trucks, and my tester came with a rich black and light mountain brown, soft touch two-tone interior. The seats are very supportive and are the best pickup perches I’ve tested this year. Front seat choices include a bench with a flip-forward center portion, and buckets with a versatile, deep center console.
The Ram 1500 does not drive or ride like a truck, and for a big vehicle, it handles pavement well riding nicer than some mid-size sedans. Steering could use more road feel, but the brakes are stout. There is a little bit of float/isolation over bumps, but I’ll take it versus the overly bouncy ride.
Ram 4×4 versions mean business off road and my declaration comes from having driven them through some harsh environs in the Arizona desert.
Four-wheel drive is available on every Ram. An optional air spring suspension package is offered on all models and can add up to 2 inches of extra ground clearance. On the highway, air suspension lowers the vehicle half an inch to improve airflow.
The 2019 Ram 1500 advances the half-ton pickup segment, as it significantly reduces the barriers people often site for not making a purchase.