2019 Ram 1500 first look: big rig turns the page

The 2019 Ram 1500 broke cover Monday and revealed a new face for the full-size pickup that pushed the hauler further into family detail.

The new truck is longer—about four inches, added entirely to the cab—lower by about an inch, and wider by a half-inch. All three dimensions were stretched to better hold people, not necessarily cargo. It lacks the trademark crosshairs grille that Rams have worn since the 1960s, but adds more comforts than any of those past trucks may have dreamed.

Its cabin is plush with an available 12-inch tablet-style touchscreen, more interior storage than its gas tank (nearly 38 gallons of storage inside), up to five USB ports, leather seating and real wood trim, and a mild-hybrid system for better fuel economy on most powertrains.

The 2019 Ram 1500 is a better family vehicle than ever before—and it’s typical of the truck trend that may write the epitaph for the family sedan someday soon.

2019 Ram 1500

2019 Ram 1500

Its march toward civility was largely telegraphed; pickups have gotten more comfortable, more spacious, more luxurious, and larger in subsequent versions of the current-generation Ram 1500. Its now-gone crosshair grille was a likely victim to the Ram’s new worldview—but it was already deleted from Ram 1500 Limited and Ram 1500 Rebel versions when they went on sale last year.

The big-rig look also has been tamed. Broad shoulders have given way to slightly dropped front fenders that wrap around optional 22-inch wheels. The hood boasts a power dome, but a crease draws down from the middle of the hood, through the grille and toward the ground to help ground the big hauler’s profile.

The bed rails have been lifted by 1.5 inches to offer deeper storage within the bed, but also to improve aerodynamic efficiency. It’s tall and square, but not necessarily intimidating anymore.

2019 Ram 1500

2019 Ram 1500

Beneath the new Ram is a pair of familiar powertrains, with a twist. Ram’s 48-volt hybrid system—adapted from the new Wrangler—will be offered to add low-end torque and better fuel economy. Two powertrains will be offered when the truck goes on sale early this year. A 3.6-liter V-6 and 5.7-liter V-8 make a return in the 2019 Ram 1500, both paired to the hybrid system. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel will be offered for early 2019 models, according to Ram officials.

In the 3.6-liter V-6, the 48-volt system will add 90 pound-feet of low-end torque, but doesn’t raise the overall output past 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft. The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is the same story: 395 hp and 410 lb-ft as the outgoing model, despite the 48-volt system offering 130 lb-ft of twist. While the V-6 comes equipped with the mild-hybrid system on every version, fleet buyers and flat-earthers can opt for the hybrid system to be left off the V-8 versions. The Ram 1500 tops out in towing and payload capacity at 12,700 and 2,300 pounds, respectively. The towing figure represents a nearly 20 percent increase over the outgoing model.

Ram won’t talk fuel-economy numbers, but the mild-hybrid system should almost certainly improve upon the current Ram’s 19-mpg combined rating in four-wheel-drive form.

Credit the mild-hybrid system, but also credit the Ram’s diet.

Engineers cut 225 pounds from the Ram’s overall weight, including 120 pounds in the frame alone. More high strength steel was used in the Ram’s ladder frame, and pass-through welds for the frame’s crossmembers should make the truck stiffer and stronger.

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