by Paul Zangari, WPRO News*
Ram 1500 – the “standard” size pickup from Chrysler – has been redesigned this year, and the one John and I just drove shows why the market for passenger cars isn’t what it used to be. Americans used to drive big, luxurious cars but downsizing hit sedans and wagons in the late 1970s. And while a few large new cars still roam the highways, trucks are bigger. Add in the luxury packed into Ram 1500 Limited and it’s not hard to understand why we’d be surprised if Chrysler were to announce a revival of its Imperial luxury brand.
One luxury Ram offers that’s hard for other trucks to match is its coil-spring rear suspension; among pickups Rams rule the roost in ride. And the Limited goes a step further in the ride department, replacing the coils in all four corners with air-bladder springs. Like buttah!
Another unusual Ram feature (forgive me; I almost wrote “Dodge!”) is the Ram Boxes. They’re optional, take away the spaces above the fenders from the inside of the pickup bed and put them under lockable hatches. Contractors can carry tools but anything that fits you don’t want rolling around underfoot is fair game.
Chrysler’s 8.4-inch “Uconnect” touchscreen has been our favorite of the genre for some time. Not any more. It’s still excellent but the 12-inch version in this Ram tops it. For one thing, it makes the strongest case ever against using hand-held navigation, since you can drag and pinch-zoom on a screen that’s big enough to let you actually see down the road ahead. Also handy: The bottom-row taskbar can be reconfigured. Right now we have shortcuts on it to driver-seat and steering-wheel heat, as well as to nav, audio and a camera that shows the view from an imaginary drone camera overhead – immensely helpful when taking an immense vehicle into a tight space. In the spring those heat icons can be replaced easily with tushie-cooler controls. In this loaded Ram Limited, front and rear seats are heated and ventilated!
Underhood, the traditional alternator is replaced with a motor/generator called eTorque. Its motor capability both restarts the engine if it has auto-stopped (say, at a red light.) When used with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 we had it can also add 130 pound-feet of torque to help acceleration. That power is essentially free; it’s generated during braking. (During ordinary braking your brake pads change your vehicle’s energy of motion into waste heat. “Regenerative” braking slows the vehicle by forcing it to rotate a generator… providing, in this case, charging to a battery pack behind the back seat. Power from the pack provides that startup torque, saving a bit of gasoline. Yup! It’s a hybrid!)
Also of note: For once, a truck with retractable running boards quick enough that neither of us jumped over them or smacked a shin!
We genuinely enjoyed our time with the new Ram 1500; not every test drive is this much of a love fest. We wish the shift-up and -down switches were better-placed and that we had averaged more than 16.2 mpg. Maybe we’re leadfooted! The EPA lists 17 city, 22 highway, 19 combined. Our mileage did vary!
2019 Ram 1500 prices start at $31,795 plus delivery for a Quad Cab Tradesman. The Limited Crew Cab starts at $56,195. As equipped, including destination, ours listed at $68,390.
This vehicle was reviewed on Drive-Thru Radio on AM790 on 2/9/2019.
* WPRO anchor/reporter Paul Zangari is a former Certified Automotive Technician who joined the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1985. He is also an automotive technical writer. He and his brother John, a longtime Certified Master Automotive Technician and automotive technology instructor, host Drive-Thru Radio on Saturday mornings at 8:00 on WPRV-AM790. The first “modern” talk show to have aired on WPRO, it is now in its 31st year