The Ram 1500 is fully redesigned for 2019
Reduced weight and increased payload and towing capacity
More rear-seat space
New mild hybrid power system
Debuts the fifth Ram 1500 generation
Smooth-riding suspension delivers luxury sedanlike comfort
Cabin is quiet, roomy and downright plush on higher trims
Plenty of towing capability supported by new technology aids
Off-road-focused Rebel trim promises big fun in the dirt and mud
Common driver assist features are limited to higher trims
The 2019 Ram 1500 is all-new and redesigned but hasn't abandoned its successes, namely a unique coil-spring rear suspension that delivers a smooth ride without sacrificing towing or hauling capability. Perhaps the Ram 1500's greatest feat is serving as a blank canvas to build your truck needs around. From work truck to luxury truck, the Ram 1500 offers a broad skill set.
For 2019, the Ram 1500 has shed weight. Ram says the new truck is nearly 225 pounds lighter than its predecessor despite adding stronger steel construction to its frame. Maximum payload and towing capacity also increase, while the class-exclusive air suspension receives fine-tuning for improved ride comfort, off-road capability and load-leveling.
A mild hybrid engine assist technology called eTorque appears on this new Ram. Not a hybrid technology in the traditional sense of a gas-electric car, eTorque stores electricity in a lithium battery and helps the automatic engine stop-start system work more smoothly. It also provides a bit of extra power in short bursts. For now, the Ram's previously available 3.0-liter diesel V6 isn't offered, but it could show up in the 2020 model.
Inside, the Ram delivers new technology highlighted by an optional infotainment system with a massive 12-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and multiple USB ports. (Ironically, a single CD player is optional only on higher trim levels.) The new Ram's predecessor was one of the older designs among American half-ton pickups, but no more. Sharpened new design, additional technology, and increased capability vault the 2019 Ram 1500 back to its place as one of the top achievers in its class.
For more detailed information on this year's changes, check out our 2019 Ram 1500 First Look and our 2019 Ram 1500 First Drive articles.
The Hemi V8 engine and eight-speed transmission work so well together that we could recommend this truck on that basis alone. But the Ram takes things a step further with confident steering, handling and braking, too. Ram's decision to walk away from leaf springs continues to pay dividends here.
It's hard to argue with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8. It feels strong off the line, and it serves up excellent roll-on acceleration when it's time to merge or make a pass. Our measured 0-60 mph test time was 6.6 seconds with a truck with economical 3.21 axle gearing. This is a no-nonsense truck engine.
The Ram 1500 has powerful brakes that are easy to regulate smoothly thanks to a firm pedal and dependable consistency. And they're equally adept whether you're poking along in traffic or rushing into corners on a winding road. Our 60 mph panic-stop test took 132 feet, which is as expected for the class.
It feels well-connected while cruising straight, with modest steering effort that increases predictably in corners to keep the driver in the loop. The ratio is quicker than past years, so there's little need to go hand-over-hand in tight places. Still, it never feels jumpy or darty on the highway.
The Ram 1500 always feels balanced and coordinated, with nicely controlled body motions. Many pickups feel unsteady when cornering through dips (such as intersections with prominent cross-drainage), but the Ram's coil spring rear suspension and rear stabilizer bar put it in a class of its own.
It's hard to imagine it being better than this. The power of the 5.7-liter V8 is easy to manage thanks to a throttle pedal that's neither too jumpy nor too dead. It also helps that there's plenty of torque, and the smart-shifting eight-speed transmission also seems to be in the right gear at the right time.
The seats are so good that even the cheapest Tradesman with simple four-way controls feels supportive and comfortable. Rear coil springs give it a better ride than any other truck, and this new crew cab is tight and quiet. The new dash design includes nicely positioned vents and easy-to-use climate controls.
The front seats are nicely shaped to provide comfort and support over long distances, and that even applies to the Tradesman and its basic adjustments. The rear bench is nicely shaped and has an agreeable backrest angle, and in higher trims it reclines a surprising amount. Yes, it has a reclining rear seat!
It's smooth and steady on a wide range of surfaces, with body motion that's never allowed to get too buoyant or floaty. Rough road impacts are neatly absorbed with very little kick or shake. The Ram 1500 is probably the least "trucky" full-size pickup we've tested, and ours didn't even have the optional air suspension.
Noise & vibration
Admirably quiet inside, with low levels of wind and road noise — although the low-priced Tradesman isn't as hushed as pricier trims. The Hemi V8 makes some thunder when you lay into it, but it's a sound you don't mind hearing at all. When cruising at a steady speed, it fades into the background.
The Tradesman has a system with easy manual controls, and the more full-featured automatic control system further up the range is simple and effective, too. The large vents make it easy to cool the entire cabin, and even a Tradesman with a front bench seat manages to have center vents for the rear passengers.
The Ram 1500 crew cab's interior is a very pleasing place to spend time. It's attractively and intelligently designed, easy to get in and out of, and easy to see out of. More than anything, it's very spacious, especially in the back seat, which offers class-leading legroom.
Ease of use
The nicely designed center stack protrudes just enough to put all the controls close at hand without feeling imposing. Buttons and knobs feel good to the touch and operate just as you'd expect. Push-button start and an electric parking brake are standard even on the budget-level Tradesman.
Getting in/getting out
The Ram has wide door openings, and the extra rear legroom means there's tons of foot clearance as you enter the backseat area. All four doors have their own chunky and well-positioned grab handles. Easy-grab door release handles, inside and out. You'll step up to get in, but no more than in any other truck.
Every Ram 1500 has a telescoping steering wheel this year. There's a generous amount of tilt-and-telescoping adjustment range, too. The seating position gives you a commanding view of the road yet keep the pedals and controls within easy reach. Adjustable pedals are present in higher trims.
Plenty of headroom, legroom and shoulder room in all seating positions. The amount of side glass and the design of the dash help it feel spacious, too. Newly redesigned crew cab offers more rear legroom than anything else in the class by a long ways, and the back seat even reclines in many models.
It's easy to see over the hood, which steps down above the headlights to improve the view to the corners. The side glass is ample and the door mirrors are big, too. The rear view is good, but the center mirror is a bit skinny and the new Ram's tailgate is taller than before. A backup camera is standard, though.
Interior materials and the switchgear on the Laramie and Limited are quite impressive. This is the best truck interior we've ever come across. The low-cost Tradesman is more utilitarian, but that's in line with its much lower price. Panel gaps are tight and consistent no matter which version we examine.
The Ram 1500's chassis has been upgraded to permit higher payload and tow ratings than ever before, and the optional RamBox remains unique in the segment. The redesigned crew cab has abundant storage and its much-improved rear-seat folding mechanism reveals a broad, flat load floor.
The Ram offers dual gloveboxes and huge front and rear door pockets, as well as large sub-floor bins under the feet of the outside rear passengers. The center of the bench seat folds down to reveal a good-size bin, and the center console box between bucket-equipped trucks is by far the biggest and most configurable we've ever seen.
The back half of this huge crew cab is very well-suited to carrying cargo. The rear seat bottoms lift and fold straight up, revealing a floor that is completely flat and free of obstructions. The fold-up rear seat bottom is one piece in budget trims and split into 60/40 segments in more expensive ones.
Child safety seat accommodation
Huge crew cab with the most rear legroom in the truck class means that even the bulkiest rear-facing car seats fit with ease, with no need for front occupants to compromise their seating position. LATCH anchors are easy to access in the outer positions, as are the three tethers across the top.
Tow ratings for the V8 crew cab are about 11,200 pounds (4x4) and 11,500 (4x2) pounds with the 3.92 axle option. Other options include a zoomable backup camera for easy hitching, a blind-spot system that adjusts for trailer length, excellent flip-up tow mirrors and an integrated trailer brake controller.
Payloads are up and are now very competitive. Cargo lighting is standard, movable tie-down rails are optional, and Ram is the only one that offers anything like the RamBox: a pair of large power-locking outside storage bins (now with 110-volt power inside), movable cleats and a movable cargo fence.
Ram has leapt ahead of the pack, and not just because of the eye-catching 12-inch touchscreen. The 8.4-inch touchscreen is impressive and widely available across the line, with better smartphone integration than many high-end luxury vehicles. Crash avoidance tech exists but is strictly optional.