It turns out engineers at FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) have had the Ram pickup on a diet. The new 2019 models introduced at the Detroit Auto Show in January were a svelte 225 pounds lighter than the current versions. Part of that weight reduction comes from switching to aluminum for some components, such as the tailgate, engine mounts, and front axle center section as well as transmission and front suspension crossmembers.
100 of those 225 pounds shed came from the frame alone. Although the brand is quick to add that the frame is made up of 98 percent high-strength steel and is now even stronger and more durable that the heavier one it replaces.
With that extra strength, the Ram 1500 gets its maximum payload rating bumped up to 2,300 pounds (1.045 kilograms) and its trailer tow rating is now 12,750 pounds (5,795 kilograms).
The new trucks also get a bump in aerodynamic efficiency to pull up m.p.g ratings, partly due to the addition of grille shutters and front air dam. The “next generation” air suspension also contributes to increased fuel economy, according to the brand, not to mention a better ride, load levelling and better off-road performance. And a new off-road package raises the 1500 up an inch over the stock ride height.
The front brakes grow in size to 14.9 inches for 2019, and the parking brake goes electric. The new Ram switches to a steer-by-wire electric power steering system to eliminate the horsepower loss typical in conventional systems.
Under the hood, buyers can opt for a 3.6 litre Pentastar V-6 or the classic 5.7 Hemi V-8, which are integrated into a “mild hybrid” eTorque drivetrain. That combines a 48-volt battery pack with an engine start-stop function and offers short-term torque assist and brake energy regeneration. Energy is stored in a 430 watt-hour lithium-ion nickel manganese cobalt (NMC)-graphite battery. The small-suitcase-sized, air-cooled battery pack mounts to the rear wall inside the Ram 1500’s cab.
And Interactive Deceleration Fuel Shut Off (iDFSO) pauses fuel flow to the engine cylinders when the vehicle is decelerating.
The short-term power boost from the eTorque adds up to 90 pound-feet of torque to the 3.6 litre and 130 to the Hemi. The new generation TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission delivers power more efficiently and gets what marketers call a new “more powerful” computer control.
The transfer cases on four-wheel drive models get beefed up to handle the increased load ratings as well. The job is handled by a BorgWarner 48-12 with Hi and Low ranges for part-time 4WD operation and the BorgWarner 48-11 for on-demand 4WD. Both transfer cases engage via a push-button on the instrument panel.
To improve winter performance, the Ram also gets a heat exchanger system to quickly warm up the engine and transmission oil along with the rear axle gear oil in two-wheel drive models. The exchanger also provides transmission cooling under load.
The new Rams get a facelift that includes a redesigned front end along with new adaptive LED lighting. But more significantly despite losing all that weight, the new RAMs are wider and longer. Overall truck width is increased by 0.5 inches. Bed height is raised by 1.5 inches. The cab was extended by four inches to create more interior space. Rear seats take advantage of that extra cab room and now recline up eight degrees.
With the availability of a longer frame, three new, longer wheelbases are now offered: a 144.5-inch on Crew Cab short beds and a 153.5-inch wheelbase on Crew Cab long beds – both four inches longer than their predecessors. The Quad Cab long bed has a wheelbase of 140.5 inches. But the longer versions are still reasonably nimble according to the brand, it claims Ram’s newest pickup can still offer a turning radius of 46.2 feet.
In all, FCA claims the Ram now has 100 safety features that see the new models easily catch up to the competition in that department, including features like adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning that will automatically apply the brakes if it senses a collision is imminent. Then there’s LaneSense lane departure warning, ParkSense parking assist. The list goes on and on.
Of course there’s some new digital magic as well from the fourth generation Uconnect system, which uses an 8.4 or 12-inch dashboard touchscreen. There is a 360-degree camera view, 3D navigation map graphics. And a new noise cancelling system brings cab noise down to just 67.1 db.
Buyers get a five year 60,000 mile transferable warranty.