THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Big, brawny and beautiful — especially in the cabin.
- What’s Worst: Pricing could be an issue.
- What’s Interesting: After 30 years, 80 per cent of Ram pickups are still on the road.
SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Longer, wider, more powerful and its most capable pickups ever describes the next generation 2019 Ram.
Ram itself says the new breed of light pickups offer a “no compromise” approach when it comes to getting the job done.
While its competitors have been upping their pickup game steadily, Ram, albeit with upgrades two years ago, has been soldiering on with essentially the same Ram that debuted in 2009.
That is about to change.
The new Rams will be initially offered in Quad Cab and Crew Cab models, with a Regular Cab to follow. The reason is Crew Cabs currently account for 75 per cent of total sales in Canada, followed by the Quad Cab at 20 per cent and the Regular at five per cent.
The Crew Cab and Quad Cab come in a choice of six-foot, four-inch or five-feet, seven-inch beds with a payload of up to 1,043 kg (2,300 lb) and towing up to 5,783 kg (12,750 lb).
But perhaps the biggest change is in the cabs that have been extended four inches on the Crew Cab, leading to a claimed 100 per cent more storage volume at 151 litres.
In addition, there are two storage bins under the second row floor. And because the floor is flat, it creates huge capacity when the rear seats are folded up. Plus the rear seats have an eight-degree recline for a luxury touch.
One of changes Ram is proudest of is the redesigned centre console with 12 different storage configurations. At 40 litres in volume, it can house 12-inch filing cabinet folders.
But pride of place must go to the available 12-inch centre console Uconnect infotainment touchscreen that is an industry first. To complement the screen there is the optional harmon/kardon 19-speaker plus 10-inch woofer surround-sound auto system with 100-watt amplifier.
Initially there will be three engines, two of them sporting a 48-volt mild hybrid system, another first in the category.
The well-known 3.6-litre V6 now comes with this eTorque punch. Normally producing 305 hp and 269 lb/ft of torque, eTorque adds 90 lb/ft of extra launch grunt. Tied to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the engine also features start/stop technology to save on gasoline.
Next up is the legendary 5.7-litre Hemi V8 producing 395 hp and 410 lb/ft of torque with the same eight-speed automatic.
The third engine is the same 5.7-litre Hemi, but it gets the eTorque touch for an extra 130 lb/ft at launch, as well as the added start/stop capability with the eight-speed automatic.
Although Canadian fuel ratings have yet to be announced, Ram estimates eTorque will save (US gallons) 3.0/2.0 city/highway mpg on the 3.6-litre and 2.0/1.0 mpg on the Hemi.
What is going to arouse interest among those who go off-road will be the segment exclusive four-corner air suspension system that adapts to conditions automatically, or manually by the driver.
There are five modes available – Normal, Aero, Off-Road 1, Off-Road 2 and Entry/Exit.
Because there are so many different reasons why people buy a pickup, Ram will initially offer seven separate models (Tradesman, Bighorn, Sport, Rebel, Longhorn, Laramie, and Limited) ranging in price from the Quad Cab Tradesman 4X2 at $42,095 to the all optioned Limited Crew Cab 4X4 with 12-inch Uconnect at $74,195.
Arguably the most interesting is the Sport coming later this year. It is a model just for Canada; with all-black, sport-themed interior, dual black exhaust tips and available 22-inch black accent alloy wheels and sport performance hood.
It’s a big step up into the cab, but once there, the driver is presented with a commanding view of the road which led me into the desert north of Scottsdale, AZ, on a mixture of freeway and sand track.
A large rotary knob on the mid-centre stack closest to the driver lets him/her select a gear. Grouped with it are five drive mode buttons for Neutral, 2WD, 4WD Auto, 4WD High, 4WD Low.
I drove both a Bighorn and a Laramie with the regular Hemi and the first thing I noticed, despite how tall and wide the Ram is, it’s very quiet on the road.
That’s because in addition to active noise cancellation in the cab, a lot of wind tunnel work went into the design to make it the most aerodynamic truck in the segment, thanks to things such as active grille shutters and a class exclusive lower active air dam that deploys at 50 km/h (30 mph)
The other thing I noticed was the lack of side-to-side body bounce you get in a lot of pickups, because they sit so high on long steel springs.
And it also felt bank vault solid, no doubt due to the frame, which uses 98 per cent high-strength steel and a 54 per cent stronger cab, again, thanks to high-strength steel.
My time with the Ram was too brief to form any long-lasting driving impressions, but Ram has said they’ll put me behind on the wheel for a week and I’ll put it through its paces on Canadian soil.
Follow Wheels.ca on