- What’s Best: Great looks inside and out and lavishly equipped for a pickup.
- What’s Worst: Options hike the price dramatically.
- What’s Interesting: The Ram Sport is exclusive to Canada.
WINDSOR, ON: Uniquely styled and trimmed, Ram is again adding the for-Canada-only Sport to its 2019 lineup of light-duty, full-size pickups.
Ram accounts for about 40 per cent of all Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)) sales in Canada, with the Ram Sport being its most popular truck model.
According to Mike Szymkiewicz, senior manager product planning, FCA Canada, buyers like the monochromatic look and the in-truck content, especially city dwellers in places such as urban Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal where a surprising number of Sports are sold.
The Sport is one of seven models for 2019 many of which I sampled early this year with Szymkiewicz and Jim Morrison, the Canadian-born and newly installed head of the Ram truck division.
Available in Quad Cab and Crew Cab configurations, Sport’s monochromatic exterior comes in nine colours, offset by a black billet bar grille with R-A-M lettering with blacked out hood badging and side window surrounds.
A standout is the optional Sport hood with raised power dome and functional venting to extract heat from the engine bay.
And speaking of standouts, Sport comes with standard 20-inch aluminum wheels, but optional are 22-inch “Black Noise” alloys available for the first time on 4X4 models.
Standard engine is a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 with 395 hp and 410 lb/ft of torque, while the same engine with Ram eTorque mild hybrid technology adds an extra 130 lb/ft of torque for added grunt at launch.
The Sport uses an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission to optimize fuel economy, performance and drivability.
Offered in 4×2 or 4×4 versions, there is an on-demand transfer case with four operating ranges – Auto, 2HI, 4HI, and 4LO – with Auto optimizing the distribution of torque based on vehicle driving conditions.
It comes standard with power adjustable pedals, CD player, heated steering wheel and the newest generation 8.4-in UConnect touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The standard seven-inch reconfigurable in-cluster display not only features a unique start-up screen with the “Sport” logo, but also deep-dive information, including fuel economy, trailer braking and status on the available air suspension.
A dual-pane sunroof is available on Crew Cab models which also offers a reclining rear seat with flat rear floor plus 12.7 cm larger in-floor Ram bins that can accommodate a four-in drop hitch.
As part of the introduction to Canadian media, Ram took us on a tour of Essex County that included Point Pelee National Park, which is the southern most part of Canada.
Windsor happens to be my hometown, so I had a fine time touring the county and stopping off at places I hadn’t seen in more than 50 years.
But it was also work, as Ram sent us to a huge quarry where we tested the Sport’s up to 5,783 kg (12,750 lb) towing and 1,043 kg (2,300 lb) payload capabilities.
Bed cargo volume in the Crew Cab is up to 1,521 litres while interior storage bin volume is up to 151.1 litres.
One of the places I wanted to visit was the hamlet of Colchester on Lake Erie, with a tiny beach I used to play on 60 years ago.
The Uconnect touchscreen uses big icons for features such as music, climate and optional navigation, the latter of which came in handy for seeking out Colchester, which I could see from the map on the screen.
Rolling along the southern shore of Lake Erie and its countless produce stands boasting Beefeater tomatoes the size of softballs, the interior of the Sport was a pretty nice place to be.
First Drive: 2018 Ford F-150 Diesel
The optional leather seating and trim was up to luxury car standards and the centre stack had large rotary knobs for most controls, such ad heating and cooling, which is always appreciated in the winter with gloved hands.
Same thing goes for the even bigger knob on the instrument panel used for gear selection. It is grouped with the buttons for drive mode selection. Other Sport standards include power adjustable pedal and heated steering wheel.
Ram’s front and rear suspension has frequency response damping, but my mount had the optional four-corner air suspension that adapts automatically (or manually by driver) to varying road conditions.
There are five selectable ride height modes – Normal, Aero, Off-Road 1, Off-Road 2 and Entry/Exit.
The interior features power heated sport cloth/premium vinyl seats with a special ‘hex’ insert mesh fabric. Optional leather heated and ventilated seats also feature a unique technical embossed texture reserved only for Canada.
Among the many options are a dual pane power panoramic sunroof, spray-in bed liner and power running boards, which came in pretty handy getting up into the cab as my tester also had the 22-inch wheels.
I came away thinking you could go from the work site straight to the gala and not look out of place.
The 2019 Ram Sport truly is a pickup for all reasons and all Canadian seasons.
2019 Ram Sport 1500 light duty pickup
BODY STYLE: Full-size, body-on-frame light-duty pickup truck
DRIVE METHOD: Rear/four-wheel-drive; eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission
ENGINE: 5.7-litre Hemi V8 (395 hp, 410 lb/ft); 5.7-litre eTorque mild-hybrid Hemi V8 (395 hp, 410 lb/ft, 130 lb/ft extra with eTorque)
TOW RATING: 5,783 kg (12,750 lb)
PAYLOAD: 1,043 kg (2,300 lb)
CARGO BED VOLUME: Up to 1,521 litres
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) 5.7-litre (non hybrid) 4X2, 16.2/10.5/13.6L/100 km city/highway/combined; 4X4, 16.1/11.0/13.8
PRICE: Base Quad Cab 4X2, $52,595; as tested Crew Cab 4X4 with air suspension and numerous options, $74,195
WEB SITE: Ramtruck.ca
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