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Pickup Review: 2019 Ram 1500

Nate4x4

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Ram's latest half-ton pickup ticks all the right boxes, but a couple of bits need to be rethought
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Nate4x4

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I remember a television sitcom, many years ago, where a character complained that everything was advertised as new-and-improved. “What were we getting before?” he grumbled. “Old and lousy?” Not always, of course, and that’s where Ram has made the right decision. It’s advertising the 2019 Ram 1500 as “all-new,” but not everything is. It carries over its engines — with some available new technology, and more on that later — and that’s a great thing, because the V6 and V8 powerplants in this truck are among the better engines in any truck.
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My tester carried the 5.7-litre Hemi V8, rated at 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque, now cradled in a truck with a stiffer but lighter frame, evolutionary styling, and a whisper-quiet cabin. It’s still way too big, as are all half-tons these days, but it looks like I’m blowing into the wind if I suggest to truck companies that you can give drivers a vehicle that doesn’t require them to climb up or fall out, where they can actually reach stuff in the box and still have it look brawny and presentable.

This new Ram starts at $43,195, which gets you a Quad Cab. That and a Crew Cab are currently the only choices, as a two-door regular cab isn’t yet in production. I drove a 4×4 Crew Cab in Sport trim — a monochromatic appearance package popular enough with Canadians on the previous-generation truck that it’s back exclusively for us this year. It started at $60,795, and with several options, climbed to $75,670 before freight and taxes. It isn’t just trucks’ dimensions that have grown over the years.

While my tester’s V8 was unchanged from before, it’s also available — in the top two Laramie Longhorn and Limited trims — with a new mild hybrid system called eTorque, which is standard equipment on the 3.6L V6. Rather than giving you electric-only operation, as hybrid systems on cars and SUVs do, the eTorque’s electric motor and battery kick in to smooth out the momentary lag that gasoline engines have when they’re revving up to speed, or when the transmission shifts. I’ve driven one and it does feel smooth, but on the V8, it’s an additional $795 and I’m impressed enough with the non-electrified 5.7L as it is.
 

Nate4x4

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Like all trucks these days, the Ram drives more like a luxury car than work machine, albeit one with a fairly wide turning circle and it uses rear coils rather than leaf springs. My tester was optioned with the brand’s exclusive, $1,895 four-corner air suspension. It automatically levels out the truck when it’s loaded, and drops down to help with aerodynamics at higher speeds. It can also be raised and lowered via a button on the dash: Down for easier access, or up for more off-road clearance. Be careful if you’re buying with capability in mind, though, as the system’s weight cuts into the payload.

Styling is always subjective, but the Ram is a good-looking beast, sleeker and slicker than the outgoing model it replaces. I was really hoping the company would finally do something about bed access, but alas, it let me down again. Ford gives you a fold-out rung and GM has its brilliantly simple bumper steps, but Ram gives you nothing. There’s only the bumper to stand on — with a plastic cover that’s slippery when it’s wet.

Things are much better inside the enormous cabin, with its busy but handsome design. Most functions are controlled with simple dials and buttons, including the heated seats and steering wheel, and the Uconnect infotainment system is still one of the more intuitive ones out there.

There’s also a ton of storage space: Two glove boxes, a dash-mounted cubby with a USB port, and a massive centre console with a sliding top for instant reconfiguration.
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A variety of active safety technologies are available, and my truck included lane-keep assist, self-parking and adaptive cruise control that keeps its distance from the vehicle in front — but with the option of using the regular, pay-attention type of cruise control as well, if you prefer.

It also has emergency braking front and rear, although it scared the crap out of me a couple of times when it jammed on the brakes well before I was close to a curb.

Everybody’s making decent trucks these days, and the Ram is no exception. It might not truly be “all” new, but FCA did it right and kept the parts that needed keeping.
 

Nate4x4

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what? There's a bed step option ..
Sadly I guess not so for the Sport. Bed steps likely fall under the terms of 'special order options' not original stock.
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Electrical

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A good dose of Canadian pragmatism in that review. Give her a "like" on Youtube.
 

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