2019 Ram 1500 Limited and Rebel Photo: Ram Truck
2019 Ram 1500 Limited (foreground) and Rebel

Ram's larger, lighter, more aero 1500 makes wide use of hybrid system for 2019

Noting how competitive a segment the "half-ton"/full-size pickup has become, Ram Truck on Monday unveiled its new 2019 1500, predicting it will earn "a few more 'best,' a few more 'most,' and a few more 'capable' titles" even among this field of increasingly versatile trucks available in the U.S. One of those titles might well be for the most hybrid systems on a full-size pickup.

The 2019 1500's eTorque mild hybrid system improves the fuel efficiency and cranking power of both the available 3.6L Pentastar V6 and 5.7L HEMI V8 engines. Ram explained that the system combines a belt-driven motor generator with a 48V battery pack and — tapping brake energy regeneration and then applying it during acceleration — can add up to 90 lbs.-ft. and 130 lbs.-ft. of short-term torque to the engines, respectively.

Otherwise, the V6 delivers 305 hp./269 lbs.-ft. of torque for 2019, while the HEMI V8 is rated at 395 hp./410 lbs.-ft.; both will be paired with a new TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic. Max payload for the pickup bumps up to 2,300 lbs. and max towing capacity to 12,750 lbs.

It's a longer (4 in.) and slightly wider (0.5 in.) 1500, which allows for things like better rear-seat leg room in the cab, and higher bed walls at the rear provide about 10% more cargo bed capacity. "Although completely modernized, it's clear that it still speaks to our big rig heritage," said Mike Manley, head of Ram Brand.

Though now a bigger Ram in form factor, it's also some 225 lbs. lighter thanks to the use of high-strength, lighter materials. High-strength steel makes up more than half the bed and cab (54%) and nearly all — 98% — of the frame, according to the OEM.

Capable peers

Speaking at a launch event for the 1500 at the North American International Auto Show, Manley underscored the aggressive competition in what's become one of the nation's highest-selling vehicle types. "What is clear is that unless you build a capable product, you're going to lose," he contended.

But he also poked fun at manufacturers' often-lofty claims applied to their pickup offerings. "In this business, we've become so good at making up accolades, I'm just waiting for 'the best, the most capable' black paint ever sprayed on a truck," Manley quipped.

He nonetheless claimed bragging rights for Ram in two coveted pickup measures: highest percentage of trucks sold that are still on the road, and highest owner loyalty in the form of repeat ownership. Manley also set a high bar in alluding to a diesel option coming next year for the 1500.

Photo: Ram Truck

Mike Manley, head of Ram brand, introduced the 2019 Ram 1500 Limited (right) and Laramie Black editions at the North American International Auto Show.

"I've heard a couple of manufacturers making diesel claims," he said. "All I can tell you is, when our diesel arrives in 2019, we've going to reclaim all the claims that we have" with the current 1500's EcoDiesel, which the truck maker once touted as offering the highest fuel efficiency in the full-size light-truck segment.

In the meantime, advancements like the truck's eTorque hybrid system — as well as a smoothed-out new body with .357 drag coefficient and three active aero functions — help move the 2019 Ram 1500's efficiency a notch upward.

"We don't have the official EPA figures yet, but we're looking at at least 10% improvement in mpg ratings," Manley said.

Per Ram, here are some specs and highlights for the 2019 Ram 1500:

  • Overall weight reductions totaling nearly 225 lbs. net compared with previous model
  • New frame has 98% high-strength steel and is 100 lbs. lighter
  • Maximum payload increases to 2,300 lbs. and max towing capability is 12,750 lbs.
  • Pickup has .357 drag coefficient and three active aerodynamics systems: grille shutters, air dam and air suspension
  • "Frequency Response Damping" (FRD) shocks designed to deliver better handling and comfort
  • Air suspension enhances fuel efficiency, improves ride, and gives greater off-road capability, load-leveling and makes for more convenient entry/exit
  • Large 14.9-in. front brakes provide more stopping power
  • New electronic parking brake
  • New 4x4 Off-road Package includes suspension with 1-in. lift, electronic locking rear axle, tuned shocks and hill-descent control function

Powertrain

  • eTorque mild hybrid system on 3.6L Pentastar V6 and 5.7L HEMI V8 engines combines belt-drive motor generator with 48V battery pack to enable start/stop function, short-term torque assist and brake energy regeneration; system adds up to 90 lbs.-ft. of torque to the 3.6L and up to 130 lbs.-ft. to the 5.7L
  • Frame-mounted active-tuned mass modules and active noise cancellation in cabin expand use of fuel-saving cylinder cutoff on 5.7L and enable quieter cabin at 67.1 db
  • Next-generation TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmissions improve efficiency with more powerful control computers
  • Electronic locking rear differential is included in 4x4 Off-Road Package, standard on Rebel and available on all models
  • Heat exchanger system includes thermal axle to quickly warm rear axle gear oil, maximizing axle during warm-up

Uconnect/media

  • New 12-in. touchscreen media display on certain models and fourth-generation Uconnect system SiriusXM Guardian Connected Services deliver advanced in-vehicle connected services including 4G Wi-Fi hotspot capability
  • Available Harman Kardon audio system with 19 speakers, 900-watt amplifier, 10-in. subwoofer and active noise cancelation
  • 360-degree Surround View Camera offers bird's-eye perspective of vehicle
  • Multifunction USB ports and available wireless charging pad
  • Available navigation system with voice operation
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay enable link with Uconnect 8.4-in. and 12-in. touchscreens 

Appearance

  • New Ram's head logo and "RAM" grilles
  • Available Full LED Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) includes twin projector headlamps, fog lamps and tail lamps
  • Overall cab length increase of four in. creates a more spacious interior
  • 151.1 liters storage capacity
  • Second row features slide reclining for seats, flat-load floor with integrated RamBins and tie-down rings, and expandable under-seat storage

Safety/Advanced

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Forward Collision Warning-Plus system warns the driver if impact appears imminent and can deploy brakes
  • Trailer-sway damping control
  • Lane Departure Warning-Plus system alerts of drifting and can assist with corrective action
  • Parallel parking, side-by-side (perpendicular) parking and hill-start assist functions

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