NAIAS 2018: Ram Unveils 2019 Ram 1500, Boasts Class Exclusive 12-inch Infotainment System

The pickup truck wars are entering a new battlefield with more automakers pushing to add green technology to vehicles that are already tasked with hauling big loads and offering optimum levels of passenger comfort. With the Chevrolet Silverado and the Ford F-150 either being completely overhauled or updated, The 2018 Ram and its aging hardware were on the outside looking in. RAM aims to completely reverse this with the 2019 Ram 1500 and it appears that it has a fighting chance at completely shifting the sales race on its head.

The exterior styling is not as revolutionary as many predicted, but the more evolutionary position it embraces is still a good thing. For starters, the headlights are a welcome evolution of the current generation’s units with the big rig-esque motif still visually intact. The 2019 Ram 1500 will have two different headlight designs for buyers to choose from with lower trims getting standard halogen units that largely look similar to what we have now. Top tier Rams get all new LED lighting elements that are noticeably slimmer, but without losing the wideness that buyers love. The taillights are a tasteful evolution of the current units, and they certainly look great at least to our eyes.

The biggest change that many buyers will notice is the lack of a crosshair style front grille. The crosshair motif has been around in one shape or form since the middle half of the 1990’s with the look being the last remaining remnant of its past association with Dodge (who still uses the crosshair grille.) The new grille is emblazoned with the RAM nameplate, and while the look will certainly be popular with some buyers, we suspect Mopar and the aftermarket will have T-shaped grilles available for those that prefer to live in nostalgia. Another minor change is the elimination of the drop fender, which has been lifted upwards for this new iteration of Ram in an attempt to add more refinement to the truck.

In addition to these key changes, RAM engineers also put the truck on a major crash diet removing 225 lbs of flab from the Ram’s flanks. Strategic uses of aluminium also help contribute to the weight loss with the tailgate alone cutting 15 lbs, and the lighter frame cutting an additional 98 lbs. Despite the insertions of aluminium at select points, the 2019 Ram is not taking the plunge and following the F-150 into all aluminium bodywork for the immediate future. Look for this to please commercial buyers that want to save money in the event that their truck gets banged up on the job especially since aluminum requires specialized tools and training to service properly.

The interior of the 2019 Ram also sees its fair share of updates with engineers building upon the relatively upscale layout that was left by the previous generation 1500. The buttons and switch gear (a persistent weakness in many Chrysler offerings) have been replaced with more stylish units, while material quality overall has seen an enormous jump especially in higher grade RAM models. For instance in the Limited model we spent time in, designers added more metal trim, as well as better looking leather and wood accents. Storage solutions are also plentiful in the 2019 Ram 1500, with the typical assortment of nooks and crannies being augmented by new rear mounted Ram bins that can swallow up small items, and are hidden from view by special mats.

The trump card here though is the infotainment system. While lower grade models make do with 5 and 8.4 inch infotainment units, higher tier Rams utilize a massive 12 inch infotainment system, with inspiration clearly borrowed from Tesla. This monstrous screen is the biggest in the segment, and FCA claims that it also boasts higher resolution and sharper clarity than even the 8.4 which is an impressive piece of hardware in its own right. All three infotainment systems are complimented by bulky physical controls that were designed to be operated easily when occupants are wearing thick gloves. All three  also run FCA’s latest iteration of Uconnect which promises to be sharper and more precise with inputs.

Performance for the 2019 Ram 1500 will initially come from two very familiar engines with base models being powered by the venerable 3.6 liter V6. Output here remains identical to the outgoing model with 305 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Meanwhile the 5.7 liter Hemi V8 brings 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque to the festivities. While both of these engines may seem like shameless retreads of the same old story, RAM engineers uses both of them to introduce all new mild hybrid technology that adds a distinctive touch to them for 2019. Dubbed “e-Torque,” the system uses a 48 amp generator to help provide extra torque to the engine during acceleration. RAM claims that the system can send 90 extra lb-ft to the V6, while V8’s benefit from a 130 lb-ft boost. While RAM did not reveal any specifics regarding fuel economy, we suspect that there will be a small increase especially in city driving with the V6.

All of this power is rooted to either the rear or all four wheels through an eight speed automatic gearbox that has more than 40 shift maps pre-programmed into it, this allows the truck to be highly adaptable to its surroundings, however in a segment where 10-speed automatics have become the norm, having two less cogs in its transmission could place the ram at a slight disadvantage when compared to its peers.

That might not matter as much to the two off-road variants that will be available for buyers. While RAM is offering a separate 4×4 package that adds the essentials like skid plates and tow hooks, the bulk of the attention will be focused on the revamped Rebel variant. While we still prefer the look of the older Rebel versus its new successor, RAM engineers made it more capable with 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires and a potent electronic locking differential. The Rebel also comes with standard coil spring suspension and a 1-inch lift from the factory. This is a notable change from the old Rebel which only offered the lift and standard Active Level air suspension when it was in production. Buyers that prefer the old setup can take solace knowing that it is still available as an optional extra on the current Rebel.

Pricing information has not been announced, but look for the 2019 Ram 1500 to not deviate too much from the old model with base models starting in the mid $20,000 range, with prices shooting all the way past $60,000 for a range topping Ram Limited. The first units are expected to arrive in dealerships later this year, with more information including final fuel economy and pricing information gradually being revealed closer to its official launch to dealerships