The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 pickup took home the Cars.com “Best in Show” award from the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in wintry Detroit. The engineering and design teams at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles significantly reduced the Ram’s weight, improved its aerodynamics, and made the engines more efficient, while also managing to increase the maximum payload and towing capacities. New electronic driver assist aids and electronic convenience features will keep Ram drivers safe and comfortable. Serious off-roaders will also like the new 4×4 Off-Road Package that’s available on nearly every Ram trim level.
Less weight, less drag
The Ram design team took advantage of a classic way of making a vehicle more efficient – reducing the overall weight while maintaining the structural integrity, and at the same time, reducing the aerodynamic resistance of the vehicle. Weight reduction started with the new Ram frame, which features 98 percent high-strength steel. This results in a frame that’s 100 pounds lighter than previous Ram frames, yet offers improved durability and increased rigidity for better handling. By using lightweight aluminum for selective components such as the tailgate, engine mounts, and front suspension crossmembers, as well as composite materials, the new Ram is 225 pounds lighter than previous models.
For 2019, the Ram is the market segment’s most aerodynamic pickup truck, with a drag coefficient of 0.357. This remarkable result is achieved by configuring the cab and truck bed to be the most aerodynamically “clean,” with details like the cab-to-bed execution and raised bed rails which, in conjunction with a new spoiler in the tailgate, reduces disturbances of the air as it flows over the body. Another major factor in reducing drag is the use of active aerodynamic aids such as grille shutters, movable air dams, and air suspensions. At a predetermined speed, the front air dam automatically lowers, or on trucks with air suspension, the suspension system lowers the entire truck to improve aerodynamic efficiency. Also, active grille shutters will automatically close to restrict the airflow through the huge grille when cooling is least needed.
Improved drivetrain fuel efficiency
Two gas engines are offered in the 2019 Ram, a second-generation 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 and the legendary 5.7 liter Hemi V8, both of which include eTorque, a mild hybrid system to give them a boost in fuel efficiency. The eTorque system replaces the traditional alternator with a belt-driven motor generator unit connected with a 48-volt battery pack to enable the engines’ start/stop function and short-term torque assist, and provide brake energy regeneration. FCA says that eTorque adds up to 90 lb.-ft. of torque to the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and up to 130 lb.-ft. to the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8.
The Hemi V8 combines the muscle of 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque with modern fuel-saving technologies, such as cylinder deactivation and variable valve timing, in which the engine-control computer shuts off the fuel and spark, and closes the intake and exhaust valves on selected cylinders to save fuel during light-load operations when full power isn’t needed. A new generation of TorqueFlight eight-speed transmissions with more powerful computers works with both engines to improve power transmission efficiency. The Ram’s heat exchanger system now includes an industry-first thermal axle to quickly warm the rear axle gear oil.
New air suspension and off-road package
The new Ram 1500 is the only full-size pickup available with a four-corner air suspension system for optimal ride and aerodynamic performance. Another benefit of the new air suspension is its load-leveling capability, which automatically detects the load on the suspension from a trailer or payload. The gas pressure increases until the vehicle reaches normal ride height, leveling the truck and improving the loaded ride. Additionally, a separate button on the key fob gives the operator the ability to lower the truck, allowing for ease of passenger entry and bed loading.
Also new for 2019 is an Off-Road Package available on just about every Ram trim level. The Off-Road Package includes: a one-inch suspension lift, with or without the available four-corner air suspension; an electronic-locking rear differential; 32-inch on/off-road tires on 18- or available 20-inch wheels; hill-descent control; and an off-road-biased rear suspension geometry (Rebel and 4×4 Off-road Package) with unique off-road-calibrated shocks. A skid plate protects the transfer case, steering mechanism, engine, and gas tank from damage during off-road activities. Tow hooks are provided to assist those who have more exuberant off-roading tendencies.
Is there a Hellcat engine in the Ram’s future?
Unless you’ve been living on the moon for the last couple of years, you know about Fiat Chrysler’s kick-butt, take-no-prisoners supercharged V8 engine, the Hellcat, offered in Dodge’s Charger, Challenger, and Demon. In various forms, the engine produces about 707 horsepower. Will this engine be offered in the Ram 1500 Rebel? Our friends at Allpar, experts in everything Mopar (hence their name) believe they’ve found a clue in the Ram media photographs that a Ram 1500 Hellcat will be forthcoming. Hold the horsepower rating in your mind while you read on.
A few years back, Fiat Chrysler introduced a Hellcat-powered Ram Rebel TRX concept truck specifically designed for high-speed off-roading. Many of the TRX’s aggressive styling cues can now be found on the new Rebel, such as the Rebel’s sport hood, grille design, front skid plate, and the design of the rear doors. Now any Mopar fan can hope that the similarity of design features between the TRX and the new Rebel indicates use of the Hellcat engine, but without further clues, this could be dismissed as just wishful thinking. However, in the past, FCA media has hidden hints of future features, such as the Hellcat engine, in media teaser photos for the Dodge Challenger and Demon. Allpar thinks they’ve found a clue in the photos of the Ram 1500 Rebel media that indicates the future presence of a Hellcat engine in the Ram 1500 Rebel. The press kit photos of the Ram Rebel interior, showing the Rebel’s touchscreen, clearly shows the time on the digital clock to be “7:07” – exactly the same number as the Hellcat’s horsepower! Since the Rebel is the only model in the press release with “7:07” on the clock, Allpar believes it must be a tie-in with a future Hellcat engine. We’ll just have to wait and see if their crystal ball is correct.
The Ram 1500 is “Ready to Rumble” in a competitive market
The full-size pickup truck market segment is probably the most competitive market right now. Unless manufacturers bring their A-games, they will quickly be overrun by the competition. It’s apparent that the Ram 1500 pickup intends to fully compete in this market. “The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 delivers a no-compromise approach to the full-size truck segment with strength, durability, technology and efficiency,” said Mike Manley, Head of the Ram Brand. “The Ram 1500 offers truck buyers leading-edge innovation with 225 pounds of weight reduction, 12,750 pounds of towing capability, a stunning Uconnect 12-inch touchscreen display and active systems that improve fuel efficiency and assist drivers. The Ram 1500 stands out as the benchmark in a very competitive segment.”
If you had the Hellcat engine in your arsenal and wanted to be the benchmark against the toughest competition around, wouldn’t you find a way to use it in your pickup truck? A Ram 1500 with the Hellcat would truly be “R-R-R-Ready to R-R-R-R-R-Rumble” – no matter what the competition had to offer.
PHOTOS: All photos and video credited to Fiat Chrysler
VIDEO: Credited to Fiat Chrysler