There's a new champ in town.
It isn't easy to overthrow a king - especially one as powerful as the Ford F-150. Ford has sold enough F-Series trucks to line them up across the world three times and you'd have to go back over 33 years to find a time when the F-Series wasn't the best-selling vehicle in America.
Clearly, the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 has some work to do to claw its way out of third place in the pickup truck sales race, behind the mighty F-150 and equally new Chevrolet Silverado. To find out if this new Ram 1500 has what it takes, we tested the top Limited model to see if Ford has anything to fear.
Unlike the Chevy Silverado, which moved to an aggressive new design in 2019, the Ram designers wanted their truck to look fresh without alienating fans of the previous generation's design. This new Ram, especially in Limited trim, is incredibly handsome. You can spot a Limited trim by its chrome grille, chrome strips down the sides, and various 'Limited' badges on the exterior. Limited Rams also ride on standard 20-inch wheels, which look much better in person than they do in photos, or optional 22-inch wheels, which look even better.
Under the hood of a Ram 1500 Limited, buyers have three engines to choose from. Our tester featured an optional ($1,195) carryover 5.7-liter Hemi V8 producing 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque going out to four-wheel-drive (rear-wheel-drive is also available) through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy figures for this engine are 15/21/17 mpg city/highway/combined, though I only averaged around 13-mpg during my week of testing. The towing capacity of this Limited Crew Cab model with 4X4 is 6,280 pounds.
The base engine is a more efficient 3.6-liter V6 with a 48-volt mild hybrid system producing 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque or up to 359 lb-ft in short bursts from the electric motor. If you opt for the V6, you'll see fuel economy figures of 19/24/21 mpg city/highway/combined.
There is also an optional ($2,645) 5.7-liter V8 mated to a mild hybrid system, which can provide up to 540 lb-ft of torque in short bursts. The mild hybrid system adds a smooth stop-start system, enabling better fuel economy figures of 17/22/19 mpg city/highway/combined.
A well-executed redesign and new mild hybrid powertrains may be interesting headlines, though the big story here is the all-new interior. While lesser Ram models make do with FCA's classic 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system, this Limited trim comes standard with a new, class-leading 12-inch display. Only Tesla can lay claim to offering a larger touchscreen in a production vehicle.
My assessment for infotainment systems is the non-scientific "could my mother figure it out with no instructions test," which the Ram passes with flying colors. The touchscreen is easy to understand and Ram has included plenty of physical buttons around the display for easy access to controls such as fan speed, temperature, and volume. Just like a smartphone, various apps can be dragged down to the bottom ribbon for quick access - I often used the truck's 360-degree camera, so it was convenient to have it locked on the screen at all times.
Even moving away from the massive touchscreen, Ram has done an excellent job designing this interior. All of the materials feel premium, including real wood on the dash with a lovely streaked design. Ram calls this interior Indigo/Frost, a combination of light leather seats with deep blue leather mixed around the cabin.
While the seats are heated and ventilated (in the first and second rows) and provide tremendous amounts of comfort on long journeys, lumbar support could have been better and a massage function as found on higher trim Ford F-150 models would have been a nice addition. Ram makes up for this with impressively comfortable rear seats, which feature ventilation (an option missing on many high dollar luxury sedans) and built-in reclining.
Overall, the cabin layout is incredibly spacious, thanks to loads of freed up space from the rotary-style shifter. This opens up a ton of space in the armrest, which can be slid to different positions. Within the armrest, Ram managed to include a cleverly-designed wireless charger and phone holder, which are styled to allow for wired charging and easy access to the driver and passenger. If your phone doesn't have wireless charging, the Ram boasts four USB ports in the front and back (two standard and two USB-C) as well as a 115-volt outlet in the back seat.
There are also various storage areas in the doors, on the sides of the center console, above the glove box, on top of the dashboard, and under the rear seats just to name a few. Around back, this Crew Cab model features a five-foot-seven-inch bed, which came with an optional tonneau cover. Like other modern trucks, the lightweight tailgate can be lowered from the key fob or a button in the cabin, though it doesn't automatically raise like GM's higher trim trucks.
All of the Ram's luxury is maintained as soon as you twist the gear selector into the drive position. Modern trucks have become remarkably car-like but this borders on a new level of drivability. The steering is light and vague, like most trucks, though it is calibrated well and makes the Ram feel smaller than it actually is. With modern full-size pickups being about the same size as the average New York City apartment, feeling smaller behind the wheel is a huge benefit.
Even when the roads get bumpy, the Ram's air suspension soaks up imperfections in the pavement like a pillow. Sure, the cab still shakes back and forth when you go over big bumps, as all trucks do, though the Ram sits a class above its competitors in terms of ride comfort.
As you'd expect, the Ram is no slouch when you want to get a move on. The 5.7-liter V8 accelerates with gusto, rarely needing to open up to a deafening roar for simple passing maneuvers while the eight-speed transmission shifts smoothly and quietly in the background, never alerting you to its presence. 0-60 mph, if you care, is around 6.1 seconds.
The 2019 Ram is still fairly new, so there aren't any major mechanical issues to report. During my week with the truck, I only noticed minor issues like a squeaky trim piece on the steering wheel and a keyless entry system which refused to unlock the car with the key in my pocket on a few occasions. Other than these tiny faults, I can only speculate that the Ram should hold up to abuse, though there are many electrical and mechanical features to go wrong here.
I can just imagine this truck sitting in a junkyard in 20 years with a collapsed air suspension, malfunctioning power running boards, and any number of broken components. If you're the type of person who only sees new car features as another thing that can go wrong, this Ram Limited is the wrong truck for you.
Pricing for a 2019 Ram Limited starts off at $56,195 for a Crew Cab Model with 4WD. My tester included the optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with cylinder deactivation ($1,195), an off-road package ($795), and the Level 1 Equipment Package ($2,695). This last option may be the most expensive, but you get a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon premium audio, adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, self-parking, ventilated rear seats, and a surround-view camera.
Toss in a beautiful shade of Maximum Steel Metalic Paint ($200), a tonneau cover ($550), 3.92 rear axle ratio ($95), a 33-gallon fuel tank ($445), and a few other options, and the as-tested price came in at $64,800. Though this is not cheap by any stretch, just remember an (admittedly more powerful) F-150 Limited 4X4 with the twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 starts off at over $70,000 before options.
The idea of a luxury truck may seem foreign to diehard truck enthusiasts but it is a growing segment and many people are even trading in their luxury sedans to buy trucks. Think of it this way, how much would you have to spend on an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes to have self-parking, every safety feature, and heated/ventilated seats in the front and rear? The answer would be a heck of a lot more than $65,000 in most cases and it makes me wonder if this Ram 1500 Limited is truly the future of the American luxury car.
This isn't just a rival for other trucks, I believe it offers a useful alternative to a luxury car and I would have no hesitation in recommending it for a large family or the boss of a construction company. For that reason, the 2019 Ram 1500 Limited earns a rating of Must Buy.