When Ram first debuted its new 1500 pickup, the most important detail we saw was that it offered an optional 12-inch reconfigurable touchscreen. That feature, to us, was the model’s most striking update, and we wanted to test it out. So when FCA invited us to Arizona to drive the new 2019 Ram 1500, we came prepared to tap and swipe to our heart’s content.
Upon arriving and seeing the truck up close, it became apparent that the 12-inch touchscreen is certainly an important aspect of the vehicle, but that it was just one of the details of the new machine that we needed to pay attention to. There’s so much to this new Ram 1500 that’s new and improved, and we found ourselves so interested in the rest of the truck that the large touchscreen was pushed more or less to the side.
This was, no doubt, on purpose. FCA brought only a few trucks with the big screens, and we think this was done so that people wouldn’t focus on it as much and would instead pay more attention to the truck’s driving dynamics, exterior and interior styling, comfort levels, and smart engineering. Here’s the impression we got after spending an entire day with the machine.
It’s Built Stronger, Safer, and Better
Ram upped the ante with higher quality materials just about everywhere. The model is lighter, longer, and wider. It has an all-new frame made of 98 percent high-strength steel, which improves durability and rigidity for better handling. It also reduces weight. Overall, the 2019 Ram 1500's weight reduction totals about 225 lbs, which is significant.
The frame was specifically designed to make the truck safer, too. One of its features is extra supports behind the front wheels. This keeps the wheel from being shoved into the cab in the event of a small front overlap accident. Speaking of safety, the truck comes with over 100 safety and security features, including driver aids like adaptive cruise control with stop, go and hold, an optional 360-degree camera, and blind spot monitoring.
The vehicle has the most aerodynamic exterior in the segment with a .357 coefficient of drag and has active grille shutters, air dam, and air suspension that allow for the best fuel economy possible. The exterior is sleek and attractive without losing any of the masculinity that we’ve come to expect from the Ram brand.
It’s Smoother and More Composed Than We Expected
The Ram 1500 is a big truck. It’s larger than it was before, and we’d be surprised if it fit in most garages. Our experience with large trucks is that they have a rather harsh ride. The new Ram 1500 is an exception. Its ride is almost car-like, and that makes it a pleasure to drive on any road.
Ram provides the truck with new frequency response damping shocks and offers up factory air suspension to make the truck ride so smoothly. While it had a similar setup before, the new suspension is better than ever. The truck takes bumps without issue and corners well, too. That said, this 5,000-pound-plus machine is no canyon carver. We’d be willing to say it’s the smoothest truck we’ve ever driven. Fortunately, we had some beautifully smooth Arizona pavement to drive on most of the day.
The engines have been revised, too. The company updated the venerable 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with
Ram only had trucks with the 5.7-liter V8 for us to drive. The engine makes 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. It’s plenty to move the truck along with gusto. It launches well off the line and pulls well for passing at high speeds. We wouldn’t be mad if Ram added a little more to the top end, though.
The Cabin is Fantastically Laid Out, Full of Tech, and Roomy
Ram has nailed it with the interior of this truck. It’s probably the best looking truck cabin out there. Even in lower trim levels the materials look and feel high quality, and the infotainment system is easy to use. Ram updated its standard Uconnect systems with new features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can get either a 5-inch or an 8.4-inch screen, and Ram, of course, added the new optional 12-inch touchscreen, which is only available at higher trim levels.
This 12-inch system is a revelation for pickups. Its multi-touch gesture functionality works well, and you can split it in half to see different functions at the same time. We didn’t have ample time to play with it, but it worked wonderfully in the short time we got to use it. The system takes Uconnect’s already stellar interface and gives you more room to play.
Even without the optional 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system, the cabin is probably the best in the business. The center console and armrest configuration is one of the best out there and provides a massive amount of storage space. There’s also ample storage under the rear seat. Ram boasts roughly 100 percent more interior storage capacity than its closest competitor.
The seats are just as good as the rest of the interior. They offer solid levels of support and plenty of room to stretch out and get situated. The cloth upholstery in the lower trim levels feels sturdy and soft, and the leather in the upper trim levels is smooth and thick. There’s plenty of adjustment for the front seats and the rear seats even slide and recline. Speaking of the rear seats (shown above), the added 4-inches in overall length go almost all to the back seats. There’s tons of leg room and a flat floor. Fitting three people across the back seat is no problem.
It’s More Capable and Easier to Drive Than Ever
Despite the smoothness of the ride, the soft and comfy interior, and the weight reduction, the Ram 1500 is more capable than ever. Its maximum payload and towing capacity actually increased. Max payload is at 2,300 lbs and max towing at 12,700 lbs. That’s an increase of 20 percent over the previous year pickup truck. The
There’s plenty of options for off-roading as well. Ram has a new 4x4 Off-Road Package, including a one-inch lift, electronic locking rear axle, tuned shocks, and hill-descent control. There’s also the Ram Rebel, which we drove on a desert off-road course Ram put together. The Rebel gets a one-inch lift, locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks at each wheel, 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, and skid plates as standard equipment. Air suspension is optional for the Rebel.
The truck performed flawlessly, and we didn’t even feel like we strained it one bit over the course of several runs. We powered through deep sand, down dusty trails and up steep inclines with no issues. If you’re after a Ram that can do just about anything, the Rebel is it.
Ford and General Motors Better Watch Out
Ram has reworked its 1500 in a big way, doubling down on comfort and technology while not letting performance slip. The pickup is smoother on the road than the competition and offers the best infotainment system out there. Chevrolet and Ford may actually have some catching up to do.
Ram has six trim levels starting with the base Tradesman and going all the way up to the luxurious Limited. Cab offerings currently consist of a Quad Cab or Crew Cab. Truck beds range from five feet seven inches to six feet four inches. Two or four-wheel drive is available on all trims. No matter the configuration you choose we’re pretty sure you’ll love this pickup like we did. Base MSRP is $31,695, which seems a little high considering Ford and Chevrolet’s trucks start under $30,000, but they both offer regular cab pickups as a base model, whereas Ram offers only Quad or Crew.