2019 Ram 1500
2019 Ram 1500

The redesigned 2019 Ram 1500 has gone on a diet, improved its fuel economy, and added more room for passengers. But can it improve on its uneven reliability history?

The trend in the constantly changing truck market these days is to drop weight but stay tough. That’s why the redesigned Ram is reportedly 225 pounds lighter than the previous model. The truck maker used high-strength steel, composites, and aluminum to shave the extra pounds.

The Ram’s exterior and interior styling also get a redo, and the truck has grown as well. Its overall cab length increases 4 inches, making an already spacious interior even roomier.

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We're happy to report that CR's favorite feature from the previous version carries over to this new truck: the coil spring rear suspension, which made the outgoing Ram ride so well.

The 2019 Ram 1500 has two powertrain options (V6 and Hemi V8), both of which employ a mild hybrid system. That system uses a 48-volt battery pack to enable stop/start functionality, provide a short-term bump in power delivery, and create regenerative braking. Chrysler estimates that this mild hybrid system can deliver about a 10 percent boost in fuel economy. The last V8-powered Ram 1500 CR tested returned 15 mpg overall.

Ram says it will continue to offer a diesel engine option down the road. The previous generation diesel-powered Ram 1500 topped our tests of all full-sized trucks with 20 mpg overall.

We sampled a midlevel Laramie version of the 2019 Ram 1500 with the standard 5.7-liter engine. We rented this model from Chrysler/FCA; we plan to buy and test our own truck soon.  

What we borrowed: 2019 Ram 1500 crew cab Laramie 4WD

Drivetrain: 5.7-liter V8 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission

Base price: $33,340

Total cost: $47,277

How It Drives

The 2019 Ram 1500 is a very impressive truck. The real standout feature remains the Ram's ride, the best ride of any full-sized truck, even with the Laramie’s 20-inch wheels. Combine the smooth ride with the Ram’s ultra-quiet cabin and drivers might think that their truck is a luxury car.

The 5.7-liter V8 engine paired to the eight-speed automatic transmission makes for a satisfying powertrain. The engine, which delivers 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque, feels strong and seamless, and produces an intoxicating muscle car soundtrack when the throttle is pushed hard. We have praised Ford’s turbocharged 2.7- and 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engines; they pack lots of thrust and provide brisk acceleration. But there’s nothing like the sound and feel of a big V8, and the Ram’s 5.7 is one of our favorites.

The EPA estimates that a four-wheel-drive crew-cab model with the 5.7-liter engine will get around 17 mpg overall. We’ve been seeing about 15 mpg, according the truck’s trip computer.

Full-time four-wheel drive is now available on more trimlines, meaning that the transfer case can be kept in automatic 4WD. This feature used to be reserved to just the top trims.

Even in the handling department, the Ram is surprisingly responsive for a truck this size. It takes corners with restrained body lean, and its steering provides a sense of confidence and precision.

From a work-truck perspective, we liked the optional powered tailgate, operated using either an interior switch or remotely by hitting a button on the key fob. And the tailgate action when the gate is released is smooth and well-damped; it doesn’t come crashing down.

Properly equipped, the new Ram can tow up to 12,750 pounds. 

2019 Ram 1500 dash
2019 Ram 1500 dash

Inside

The Laramie’s heated and vented 12-way power-adjustable seats are very comfortable, with cushions made from leather and suede. We noted nice attention to detail, with lots of soft-touch materials and exposed contrasting stitching.

The second-row seats provide lots of legroom and can recline up to 8 degrees. They can be folded up, exposing a flat load floor that makes it easier to haul cargo. There are also integrated bins built into the floor, with tie-down rings and expandable underseat storage.

There are also several open storage bins, cup holders, and more places to put the stuff that accumulates in life. 

The Ram controls continue to be a paradigm of simplicity. Chrysler says the 2019 Ram gets a new version of the already top-notch Uconnect infotainment system; shoppers have a choice of 5-, 8.4-, or 12-inch touch screens and advanced in-vehicle connected services, including a WiFi hot spot. The system will offer up to five USB ports as well as the newer USB type-C ports, and an optional integrated wireless charging pad. The truck also has up to three household 115-volt plugs.

The 8.4- and 12-inch systems come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

One feature we really like is that when drivers start the truck remotely, the heated seats and steering wheel are automatically turned on as well.

Safety & Driver-Assist Systems

The new Ram offers forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. The previous Ram didn't offer any of these. (Read our report on advanced safety systems.)

CR's Take

Just based on our first few trips, we think the new Ram blows away the competition when it comes to driving ability. It shines in terms of ride comfort, handling, and cabin quietness. And the 5.7-liter V8 engine is a keeper, even if it probably won’t match the fuel efficiency of Ford’s turbo V6s.

If we have misgivings about the Ram, it would be because of its reliability history. Owners have told us repeatedly that Chrysler products have been uneven over the long run. We’ll know more when this new model kicks into mass production and CR’s members tell us about their own experiences.

Check back with us as we buy our own Ram this summer and put it through our testing. 

2019 Ram 1500 rear