- What’s good: Sumptuous cabin, looks about as good as a half-ton can, powerful.
- What’s bad: It’s $85,000, as seen here.
More half-ton pickup trucks are bought in Canada (and the US) year after year than any other type of vehicle sold. Not just a tiny amount more, a lot more. Enough that the rest of the field, made up of sedans and white-hot crossovers, and a few wagons, will have a hard time catching up.
Largely controlled by the domestic brands the full-size pickup truck wars rage on, fueled by pure desire to claim that top spot. A spot that the Ford F-150 has had for quite some time now and one that the Ram 1500 has had in its crosshairs for a while, especially when it came to the redesign for the 2019 model year.
Funny enough, the crosshair grille is no more; a move that can be perceived by some as stripping the Ram of its identity, one that had been built over that last 3 decades synonymous not just with Ram but with the Dodge brand. Yes, not long ago it was known as the Dodge Ram, but don’t let Chrysler hear you say it as they’ve done everything they possibly can to rebrand the Ram into its own entity. Separate from the rest of the lineup.
And now that famous mug is gone.
But fear not, as you’ll see in the pictures accompanying this review that the massive new grille with its rough-and-tough chain link design proudly bearing the giant “RAM” logo in the middle is unmistakably Ram, just more modern. Higher-spec trims like the Limited tester I drove for the purpose of this review come with slim LED headlights with rectangular lighting elements that do a great job, along with that grille, of maintaining that semi-truck look the Ram has become so famous for. It’s a look that screams “get outta my way,” more than any other car I’ve driven to date.
Like when Moses parted the Red Sea, smaller cars (which is basically everything when your in one of these) dawdling in the left lane darted out the way before I could even get close. Making me feel like I had just discovered some sort of new superpower to cleanse the world of left lane hogs. And a perfect reason to go down to your local RAM dealer right now and just buy one already. There’s no point in reading any further.
If you’re still here, well, ok. There are a few more reasons why this truck impressed me and just about everyone else I let clamber inside.
It would be prudent of me to re-iterate that the Ram 1500 Limited is the full banana RAM, the top dog. This is the one to get if you’ve got some cash to spend and maybe you don’t need to haul stuff around all the time; you have a beater truck that does the hard work and this one’s for the family.
The Limited comes with an almost endless list of options as standard including a segment first 4-corner air suspension system that was much appreciated to help meet the clearance I needed to enter the underground parking garage of my condo.
Yes, just like in some high-end Range Rovers, you can now lower or raise the RAM, from the comfort of the luxuriously appointed cabin, with the flick of toggle switch located just below what is probably the largest screen you can find in any vehicle today.
The high entry height is made easier by power running boards that extend when you open the door and then disappear shortly after closing them. Inside the cabin is enormous and not what you’d expect. From the detailed watch-faced gauges to the real wood that’s been given a pin-striping effect, to the soft leather surfaces and stitching flourishes like on the doors and centre armrest, the feel is more private jetliner than agricultural workhorse.
Rear seat passengers get an extra 3 inches of legroom allowing them to stretch out in ways you didn’t think possible in a truck. With multiple USB ports, a 115-volt plug point, heated and (optionally) ventilated seats, numerous cupholders, and boundless storage options, you might just need a chauffeur to drive you around.
And just so you didn’t forget that you put up the extra cash for the “Limited”, you’ll get a reminder just about everywhere you look. There’s a large Limited plaque on the centre armrest; there’s one on the glove box lid, and it’s on the front doors as well. The tailgate? Yup, there’s a limited badge there too. You get a Limited animation on the screen in between the gauges, that the rest of the folks buying lesser Rams don’t get the privilege of seeing and they’ve even put it on the key fob. So even when you’re at home, you’re not going to mistake the Limited keys for anything else in your car collection.
How much extra cash does it take to get into one of these high-zoot Rams? About $75,000. And the one I was in had a bunch of extras bringing the total to an astronomical 85 grand before taxes. And that would buy you a lot of car even today. But before you go saying it’s way too much for a ladder-framed truck, consider the competition like the F-150 Platinum and the GMC Sierra Denali, that can easily command the same premium if you start checking off additional boxes on their respective order forms.
Stats show that consumers are willing to pay the big bucks to get their trucks outfitted with just about every modern creature comfort and auto tech gadget available today, so while some may balk at the price there are a whole group of people that don’t. And unlike some high-end, high luxury metal that also command large price tags, and whose depreciation graphs look worse than a stock market crash, pickups generally enjoy much better resale values on the used market. Likely, ‘cause underneath all those layers of leather and electronics, they remain eminently practical and usable in everyday situations.
Fiat-Chrysler says this new generation half-ton truck is built upon their newest and strongest-ever chassis using over 98 percent high-strength steel in its construction. And it’s bigger in just about every dimension, including the cab which has grown by 4-inches in length. Just about the only thing that hasn’t grown is the weight, which is actually down by a significant 102 kg (225 lbs) overall.
The payload has increased to 1043 kg (2300 lbs) and specced correctly—which means a two-wheel drive quad cab equipped with the 5.7 L V8 with eTorque and the 3.92 axle ratio—the max towing capacity is 5783 kg (12,750 lbs). My tester, equipped with four-wheel drive and the standard axle ratio had a tow rating of 3697 kg (8150 lbs).
This is also the most aerodynamic Ram ever, best-in-class according to Chrysler, with active noise cancellation and acoustic glass; items that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mercedes S-Class. It has to be one the quietest cabins I’ve experienced in a truck. A truck that lowers itself when driving at highway speeds in order to cheat the wind a bit more in an effort to deliver the most it can from a tank of gas.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a fuel-sipper by any means, averaging around 14.5 L/100 km during my time with it spent largely on the highway. Around town and with a payload of any kind, expect those numbers to be quite a bit higher.
The 5.7 L V8 Hemi is a great engine that doles out mountains of smooth torque with a subdued but powerful grumble that I only wished was a bit more audible. There’s 410 lb-ft of twist at 3900 rpm and just under 400 hp at your command and it’s more than enough to get this big boy up and atom at the prod of your right foot. The 8-speed automatic provides seamless shifts and under light throttle applications, the V8 will run on 4 cylinders.
Once you get used to driving and parking something this big, the RAM grows on you. The steering is light and easy to modulate, and spirited driving doesn’t make it feel like you’ve just signed up for the world’s scariest roller-coaster ride. The giant 12-inch Uconnect enabled screen is easily one the best infotainment systems on the market with crisp high definition graphics and about a million different way to configure everything including being able to drag and drop your favourite apps to a permanent menu bar at the bottom of the screen.
Hard buttons for HVAC control and a dedicated volume and tuning knob remain, thankfully. And just about the only ergonomic faux pas in here is the proximity of the rotary gear shift to that volume knob and the fact that it’s basically the same type of knob just larger. I found myself reaching for it a couple times when wanting to turn the volume down. Not necessarily a good thing.
Limited trims also come packed with safety and assist features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and automatic high beams, a tailgate that can be opened remotely, as well as keyless entry and remote starting.
If you want more, an optional package brings adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with full emergency braking, lane departure warning with assist, parking assist, and a great 19-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo system.
The new Ram has been winning awards left, right, and centre and it’s pretty easy to see why even when paying what can seem like a crazy amount of money for a pickup.
Blurring the lines between real utility and a true luxury experience has never been so fully realized in a vehicle before. Trucks like this 2019 Ram offer more things to more people now than they ever did and they’ll continue to dominate the sales charts based on that alone.
Review: 2019 GMC Sierra At4