With the new Ram 1500 unveiled in January and several editions shown off since, Ram Trucks appropriately took the wraps off "the hardest-working version" of the pickup at the Work Truck Show: the 2019 Ram 1500 Tradesman.
"This truck is impressive in all the right ways," said Dave Sowers, head of Ram Commercial Trucks. "We've added new content to this truck to make sure the work truck customer can get the job done in the best way possible."
Some feature highlights of the 2019 Ram 1500 Tradesman include:
• Quad halogen headlamps and incandescent taillamps;
• 18-in. steel wheels;
• Class III hitch;
• Keyless entry/ go, which lets users get in and start the truck without touching the key fob;
• Electronic parking brake;
• Bluetooth connectivity;
• Back-up camera;
• Manual four-way driver/passenger adjustable front bench seat; and
• Tilt/ telescoping steering wheel.
"We started with the basics that are very important to the work truck customer," Sowers said. He also mentioned the 2019 1500's frame, which is now made of 98% high-strength steel, and the truck's body made of 53% high-strength steel. The max payload for the '19 1500 is 2,300 lbs., up 22% vs. the 2018 model, while towing capability is up 20% to a maximum of 12,750 lbs.
Ram has added a 4x4 off-road package for 2019 that's available across all 1500 trims and includes a suspension lift, electronic locking rear axle, protective underbody skid plates, tow hooks, and 18-in. or 20-in. wheels with 33-in. tires. The off-road-themed Ram 1500 Rebel takes that further with increased ride height, Bilstein shocks, and standard 18-in. wheels with 33-in. Goodyear Duratrac tires.
The optional RamBox Cargo Management System offers weatherproof, lockable, and lighted storage in the truck bed. New for 2019, the system includes a 115-volt outlet that allows users to do things like charge power tools on the way to a job or at the jobsite.
In terms of efficiency, the 2019 Ram 1500 is a net 225 lbs. lighter than the current model, even with some weight reductions reinvested in stronger hardware for the truck. The new 1500 boasts a 9% improvement in aerodynamics with a drag coefficient of 0.357.
"Probably the biggest improvement we've had in terms of efficiency is our eTorque mild hybrid system," Sowers added. "It captures energy during braking and repurposes it for acceleration. The new system improves fuel economy via an excellent start-stop system, regenerative braking, and assistive torque."
The available eTorque system adds a substantial 90 lbs.-ft. of supplemental torque to the 3.6L Pentastar V6 gasoline engine during launch and acceleration, and it's another 130 lbs.-ft. of short-term torque for the 5.7L HEMI V8. "For customers with large payloads or heavy trailers, you can't think of a better, more efficient system to get that done," Sowers contended.
The efficiency and aero improvements for the 2019 1500 amount to more than a 10% gain in fuel economy vs. the 2018 model. The pickup's gasoline engines also offer 10,000-mi. oil change intervals.
Some highlights of the new 1500's safety features — of which there are more than 100 listed — include splayed front frame rails that improve crash performance. There's also a 360-degree surround-view camera; blind-spot monitoring for the truck and trailer with automatic trailer detection; forward collision warning and braking assistance when necessary; and lane departure warning with corrective steering assistance.
Ram Telematics powered by Verizon Connect
In addition, Ram will be offering its Ram Telematics system powered by the newly launched Verizon Connect telematics/ fleet management platform. "We chose them as a partner because they're proven in the marketplace and they have many established relationships," Sowers told the audience at the Work Truck Show.
The Ram Telematics system is installed at the factory. "That's important," he contended, "because it saves time during upfitting, adheres to all of our vehicle cybersecurity standards, and allows for the system to be covered under the warranty of the vehicle."
Sowers explained that the Ram Telematics system, among other features, allows for:
• Tracking a vehicle and monitoring functions such as airbag deployments and other events;
• Monitoring driving behavior for things like hard acceleration or braking; and
• Monitoring vehicle diagnostics, alerting the driver or fleet to problems and helping coordinate repairs.
In short, "it allows them [e.g., fleets] to improve safety, efficiency and productivity," Sowers said. The system will be retrofittable for some Ram commercial vehicles going back to 2015, but all 2019 models will be able to add the system at dealerships if it wasn't included when the vehicle was purchased.
Starting in May, Ram Telematics will be orderable on Ram 1500, Heavy Duty, and Chassis Cab trucks. Availability will follow in September for Ram ProMaster and ProMaster City vans, and the system will be offered on the 2019 Ram 1500 as of July next year.
Ram Telematics will be offered at a 1-year subscription of $800 for trucks and $895 for vans and 3-year subscriptions of $1,760 and $1,855, respectively. A 5-year subscription will cost $2,720 for Ram trucks and $2,815 for vans.
Sowers noted that since Ram Trucks' launch as a standalone brand in 2009, Ram product sales have increased from 195,000 units to 570,000 last year. "That's huge growth, and what that means is we've grown with the market and grown our market share," he said.