Longer, lighter, safer, smarter, and stronger…and a little bit more expensive. That is how I am describing the new 2019 Ram 1500 pickup. We spent a very short time with the newest Rebel model recently and came away with some surprises.
The first surprise was that we would not get to keep this vehicle for the entire week as first promised. Apparently, Ram had an event out west they forgot to tell everyone about, and the truck was taken before we really got comfortable with it. First impressions, however, left us with a very good feeling for the new Ram despite many folks having no problem telling us they did not really care for the new styling. And these are truck people saying this so Ram may want to take a listen. This is all new styling for 2019 and gone is the traditional if outdated crosshair grille design, and the traditional fender badging has been moved to the sides of the power dome hood.
The next surprise was when we began driving the truck as this may be the best riding, best handling light-duty pickup on the market to date. The 2019 model gets a new frame underneath that is lighter yet stronger and it makes quite a difference going down the road. My shortened week consisted of only driving on paved surfaces as I was going to reserve the weekend for the off-road testing portion. Nope, not gonna happen. This 2019 Ram 1500, even in Rebel off-road trim, seems oh so happy in town and on the highway. It rides very smooth and dead quiet allowing for whisper conversations inside at speed. Roll the windows down and you can still hear a pretty good exhaust note the Hemi engine produces at the tailpipes but with everything buttoned up, this is a fortress of solitude inside.
The new truck is a bit longer in wheelbase over the outgoing Ram by about four inches. This aids the overall balance and stability. New lighter materials help cut down weight and therefore enhance fuel economy figures as well. Payload has increased to 2,300 pounds for 2019 and the new truck can tow up to 12,750 pounds. This truck is also more aerodynamic thanks to active grille shutters, new air dam, and air suspension system for a best-in-segment coefficient of dray of .357. Ram gives the new 1500 the largest front brake rotors on its class at 14.9 inches, and the all-new Frequency Response Damping shocks provide the best combination of ride, handling, and comfort in a truck. I’m telling you folks, the ride quality is truly impressive.
There is some new technology coming underneath the hood this year for light-duty Ram pickups but our tester did not feature it. Ram calls it eTorque and it is basically mild electrification that boosts power when needed. eTorque combines a belt-driven motor generator unit with a 48-volt battery pack to enable not only start/stop function but short-term torque assist and brake energy regeneration. eTorque will be available on the Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 as well as 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engines. Our tester arrived with the gasoline-only 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 mated to new-generation TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission with dash-mounted rotary shift knob. This powertrain produces 395hp and 410 lb. ft. torque. The new eTorque system will add some 130 lb. ft. of torque for short periods. This Rebel tester, of course, came rolling in on a 4WD chassis and featured the electric shift-on-the-fly two-speed transfer case and new electronic locking rear differential.
New smart safety technology includes adaptive cruise control with stop, go, and hold, forward collision warning plus with automatic braking, adaptive front lighting, ready alert braking and trailer-sway damping control, LaneSense lane departure warning to alert the driver and offer corrective action, ParkSense parallel and perpendicular park assist, surround view camera, hill start assist and hill descent control, and blind spot/rear cross path detection.
Let’s get to the interior of this new truck and check out the center stack that looks like a large electronic tablet stuck in the middle of the dash. You can control nearly every creature comfort and even operational functions from this screen. Ram uses the latest Uconnect 4C NAV infotainment technology here and the center stack itself has even been raised a bit for better access to all functions. And the new touchscreen can be set for one application over the entire screen, such as a navigation map, or split in two for dual applications. Engineers have made the cabin quieter for 2019 and redesigned the center console. Cab lengths have increased with the new models and there is now a true flat load floor in the rear.
Looking specifically at our Ram Rebel tester, the factory now offers Rebel in the shorter Quad Cab configuration. It still has four traditional style doors but the rear seating area loses a bit of legroom. This shortens the overall length of the truck making it more capable in the off-road environment. And while our Rebel tester did not feature the new 12-inch screen it did arrive with the familiar 8.4-inch model as well as a rocking Alpine premium audio system.
Pricing for the 2019 Ram 1500 begins at $31,695 in Tradesman Quad Cab 4×2 configuration. Our Rebel Quad Cab 4×4 tester arrived with a final window sticker of $69,510 fully loaded. That’s a good chunk more than the last Ram Rebel 1500 we tested, and that truck had the Crew Cab. Fuel economy is rated at 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
We really enjoyed our short time with the new 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel. We were surprised how well this drove and how quiet and smooth it was. We were equally surprised at the window sticker. All in all, this is a great truck. I miss the fender badging and the crosshair grille, but those are minor points. If you want the best on-road experience in a new pickup, look no further than the 2019 Ram 1500.