2019 Ram 1500 Loses 225 Pounds, Gains Hybrid Tech

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

While other automakers would certainly disagree, the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 is probably the most significant reveal at this year’s North American International Auto Show.

This pickup’s been completely overhauled from grille to tailgate. Its refinement, capability, and efficiency have all been substantially improved, and it even gains enough new electronic amenities to make Google engineers jealous.

Rugged as a Bridge

Starting at ground zero, this tough truck’s foundation is a brand-new backbone that’s comprised of 98 percent high-strength steel. It’s the strongest Ram 1500 frame ever and the smartest, too, being 100 pounds lighter than the one underneath today’s version of the pickup.

Adding greatly to safety, the frame’s front rails are splayed outward at an angle. This patent-pending innovation helps it more effectively absorb energy in a wide array of crashes, allowing the Ram 1500 to better protect passengers.

Providing greater strength, the side rails are fully boxed and taller than before, a design that supposedly makes it the most efficient frame in the full-size pickup segment.

Smart Weight Reduction

Rather than going all aluminum like Ford did with its F-150 several years ago, Ram engineers took a more balanced approach with their new truck. The smart application of advanced materials netted an overall weight reduction of nearly 225 pounds.

The 2019 Ram 1500’s body is comprised of about 54 percent high-strength steel, but aluminum does play an important role as well. The truck’s tailgate, engine mounts, front axle center section, forward crossmember, transmission support, and steering gear arrangement are all made from this lightweight metal. Additionally, the front suspension’s upper control arms are fabricated from a composite material, which further reduces unwanted mass.

Hybrid Technology

Two familiar powerplants will once again be offered in this truck, including a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 5.7-liter Hemi. But each of these “old dogs” have been taught some impressive new tricks.

Improving performance and efficiency, engineers fitted both with a 48-volt electrical system that provides mild-hybrid functionality. Ram’s new eTorque system enables fuel-saving stop-start capability, torque assist during acceleration and even fuel-saving regenerative braking.

The heart of this system is a belt-driven motor-generator that replaces a traditional alternator. There’s also a suitcase-sized lithium-ion nickel manganese cobalt-graphite battery. This 300-Watt-hour pack mounts to the truck cab’s rear wall where it doesn’t intrude on interior space.

Ram’s eTorque system bolsters the 3.6-liter engine with up to 90 foot-pounds of twist. Opt for the available Hemi V8 and this arrangement brings a whopping 130 foot-pounds to the table.

As for output figures, the updated Pentastar six-shooter, which features additional refinements including two-step variable valve lift, should deliver 305 horsepower and 269 foot-pounds of torque. As for the burly V8, it’s rated at an impressive 395 horses and 410 foot-pounds.

Curiously, Ram’s pioneering EcoDiesel engine will not be offered in this new truck at launch. Expect it to arrive at a later date, probably in calendar year 2019.

A TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission is standard in all versions of the 2019 Ram 1500. With a new generation of computer controls, this next-generation gearbox should shift faster and more intelligently than before.

efficiency, Efficiency, EFFICIENCY!

Fuel economy is probably the No. 1 thing on the minds of full-size truck buyers and this newest Ram shouldn’t disappoint in that area. QuadCab 4×2 models slice through the air with a coefficient of drag measuring just .375, supposedly the segment’s best.

Aside from exhaustive tuning, active grille shutters and a standard movable front air dam that drops down 2.5 inches while driving help reduce wind resistance. Trucks with the optional air suspension lower by more than half an inch to achieve essentially the same thing.

Hemi-equipped models also gain an 850-Watt electric cooling fan with pulse-width modulation technology for more efficient engine cooling.

Helping improve the fuel economy of two-wheel-drive trucks is an industry-first heat exchanger for the rear differential. This system helps warm the axle lubricant in wintry conditions so there are fewer parasitic drivetrain losses; it also keep temperatures in check while towing or hauling heavy loads. This sounds like a frivolous addition, but they wouldn’t have included it if it didn’t significantly reduce consumption.

Despite all these changes, official fuel economy figures are not available. Look for them to be released closer to the on-sale date.

Retuned Suspension

As you’d expect, this truck’s suspension has been completely overhauled. The independent front arrangement has new geometry and components, including coil-over shock absorbers. The stabilizer bar has been repositioned behind the front tires for 20 percent greater roll stiffness.

Coil springs and a live axle once again support the Ram 1500’s rear end and likely maintain its best-in-class ride quality. This five-link design features progressively wound springs for both more refinement and hauling confidence when the bed is loaded.

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Further improving the chassis’ versatility are new Frequency Response Damping shock absorbers. When slower inputs are applied to these units, such as when cornering or braking, their bypass valves remain closed, providing more damping force. If quick inputs are applied, like when driving over rough roads, the valves open to provide a smoother ride.

Bringing everything to a safe, stable stop time after time, the 2019 Ram 1500 has the largest front brakes in its segment.

Capability with a Capital “C”

All these changes result in more capability. The new Ram’s maximum payload is now 2,300 pounds; when properly equipped, its tow-rating has ballooned to 12,700 pounds.

To drag that much weight the new Ram needs to be equipped with a special options group, which includes a Dana 60 axle center-section, an open differential plus a 256-millimeter gearset and 35-spline axle shafts. The Max Tow Package is offered on two-wheel-drive trucks with the 5.7-liter engine.

Creature Comforts Abound

Keeping passengers comfy is a more spacious cabin that can be loaded with technology. One of the Ram’s signature features is an available version of FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system, one with a monstrous 12-inch portrait-oriented display. All this digital real estate enables split-screen functionality so two applications can run at once, such as audio and navigation.

The 2019 Ram 1500 can also be had with a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, a 360-degree surround-view camera for easier parking, smart cruise control with stop, go and hold functionality as well as full LED adaptive headlamps. Is this a pickup or a luxury car? Yes, it is.

This truck should also offer the most interior space in its class for greater comfort and more storage options. For easier loading, extended-cab models have a flat rear floor; reclining second-row seats are also offered.

Active noise cancellation helps keep unwanted ruckus at bay. Hemi-equipped models also benefit from active tuned-mass modules that work in harmony with this system to further quell noise and vibration.

Odds and Ends

The new 2019 Ram 1500 will be offered in six different price classes. For maximum choice, 12 different exterior colors will be offered along with a whopping 16 wheel designs spanning between 18 and 22 inches.

This truck is expected to go on sale in the first quarter of the year. It will be sold concurrently with the outgoing model as production ramps up to meet customer demand.

Per usual, pricing and fuel-economy information has not been released, but it should be made available sooner than later since this truck is expected to launch in the next couple months.

Discuss this story on our Ram Truck Forum

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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3 of 5 comments
  • Chris Chris on Jan 15, 2018

    Aluminum tailgate? How long before holes are a common occurrence like Ford? Or will there be a steel plate protection aftermarket option? The less impact resistant aluminum in the bed is why I didnt buy the newer F-150. I was looking toward Dodge....now looking toward Silverado. Hopefully not forced to buy an import truck?!?!?

    • Z51111 Z51111 on Jan 15, 2018

      Chevy uses aluminum in its doors hood and tailgate too in their new truck plus it is built in Mexico. After what they did to people with the ignition recall that came 8 years late to save people's lives and then get the gov to limit family lawsuits to $1 million, me and my family will never buy another GM!

  • Charles Johnson Charles Johnson on Jan 15, 2018

    This just might get me out of my 2007 RAM. I have had zero issues with the truck and will buy another RAM when I am ready for a new one,