A few days ago Ram Trucks invited 5thGenRams and many other media outlets to Lexington, Kentucky to drive the new eTorque V6 and V8 engines in the all new 2019 Ram 1500. This will be an
unbiased comprehensive review of why I loved it. I mean, let’s be honest. I’m not writing this for KBB or New York Times, this is a website dedicated to 5th generation Ram enthusiast, and to throw any more non biased credibility out the window, I went out and bought one of these trucks. With that being said, in the weeks leading up to me purchasing my Ram, I was still actively looking at Ford’s and GM’s (sorry Toyota), so I still can very much appreciate what every manufacturer has to offer and the pros and cons that we as buyers have to weigh out.
Now first things first, this event was for driving impressions, there was no new technical data shared that hadn’t already been released and covered in detail (most notably, here and although we finally got to drive the V6 eTorque, at the time of writing this the EPA had still not released the official mpg rating so Ram wasn’t able to comment on that (there was chatter that the EPA was planning on releasing them in the next 24-48 hours).
These are my impressions coming from someone who owns a non eTorque Ram 1500. My truck is a 2019 5.7 Hemi Crew Cab 4X4 with a 3.21 rear end, and in a little under 3 months I’ve put roughly 4000 miles on it.
5.7 Hemi eTorque impressions
The test truck I was given was a Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4, 3.21 rear end, 5.7 Hemi V8 with the eTorque system. As we slowly made our way out of the city and into the winding roads of horse country, I noticed….nothing. The horse farms were pretty, the exhaust note was always perfect, the truck put you back into the seat when you asked it to…and about 40 miles in I was thinking to myself…is something wrong? I’m not noticing anything different from my truck. Sure, when you stop the truck you can SEE the rpms drop from idle to zero, but you certainly don’t feel it or hear it. About an hour later we stopped at Windstar Farm to switch drivers and to meet the Triple Crown winner Justify (google how this horse lives his life these days, and the staggering numbers that go with it… I’ll leave it at that). As I rode passenger in the same truck, on the same windy roads I again thought to myself…I don’t notice anything.
The next stop was lunch at Saxony Farm, and to make sure I wasn’t missing something I stopped Nick Cappa (Ram Product Communication Manager) trying not to come off as insulting about my honest opinion that I wasn’t noticing any difference between the eTorque and non eTorque v8’s. He lit up smiling and said “are you kidding me?? That’s EXACTLY what the engineers designed this system to do!”. It kind of clicked for me then….this isn’t supposed to be some mini Tesla packed torque monster, this is carefully designed to take away NOTHING from the engines that Ram already offers. The motto is a “no compromise truck”…well, with eTorque you don’t have to give up anything compared to the traditional engine choices, but if you want a few extra miles per gallon, it can be added. Simple as that!
It’s hard to paint a picture on how seamlessly the stop/start technology works. I think I was half expecting going into the event the part where I lift my foot off the brake and the truck instantly has power. (This is made possible by the up to 130lb ft of launch torque that the eTorque system provides on the Hemi V8.) It’s more impressive in person but I was prepared to be impressed with that. What I wasn’t expecting was the fact that the eTorque system also makes the engine “stop” unnoticeable. It is able to slow down the process of an engine suddenly shutting off by using the electric motor to gradually provide resistance to the serpentine belt, all done in milliseconds so the only thing the driver notices (if you’re looking) is the rpm drop from idle to zero, but with none of the abruptness of a normal auto stop/start system. Regenerative braking is noticeable if you’re really paying attention, but not by much and not something that one wouldn’t get used to within a few hundred miles.
The 48-volt system itself is in reality, not a huge amount of energy. But talking to Mike Raymond, Chief Engineer for the Ram 1500, the reason behind that is largely inspired by legal restrictions of staying under 50 volts – anything over 50 volts becomes “high voltage” and causes issues with first responders and I’m assuming a laundry list of other hoops to jump through. He did say predictably that FCA does see this as the first step in implementing this type of technology into future powertrains. If all goes to plan, the groundwork will be laid to expand the system.
3.6 Pentastar V6 eTorque first impressions
I was only able to drive the V6 eTorque for about 10 minutes around a loop on the farm, so these are just my quick take impressions.
The V6 eTorque feels like a fine engine for the truck, I’m sure it would be very intriguing for fleet vehicles who really need to keep fuel expenses down, or for the driver that wants or needs a truck but doesn’t do any heavy towing. The best engine and driving experience I can compare it to would be the Ford F150’s base engine, the 3.3L V6. I was given a 2018 F150 XLT with the 3.3 liter in it for a few weeks as a rental and when flooring the two trucks, they behave similarly. Fords 3.3 liter V6 produces 290 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft of torque and is mated to a 6 speed automatic. Comparatively the Rams base offering of the 3.6 liter V6 eTorque, produces 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic. Fords 3.3 V6 would shake the whole cab every time it ran through its auto stop/start cycle, and like clockwork, that would serve as a reminder to reach over and turn the stop/start off. On the flip side just like my V8 tester, the auto stop/start on the Pentastar is just non existent when not looking for it. The V6 in the Ram also feels like it is able to move the truck around a little easier than Fords V6.
Comparing the Pentastar to the Hemi
I would say from 0-50% throttle, minus the rumble of the Hemi V8, the two trucks are similarly agile and peppy. 50-100% throttle is where you start to notice the V6 is doing a good amount of work to get the truck moving, a lot of noise for not a lot of go, but with 90 less horsepower and 141 less lb.-ft of torque of torque than its bigger brother, that seems very appropriate. Additionally, if you’re thinking an eTorque V6 will give you the same feeling of a non eTorque V8…or anything close to it, it wont. But not everyone places their love for children, spouses and cold starts in the same order I do.
My opinion rests with this – FCA doesn’t have much of a choice but to implement this type of technology. The government regulations have been put in place and manufacturers are doing what they have to. Pickup truck buyers are generally resistant to drastic changes and the eTorque system does an excellent job accomplishing what engineers set out to do, provide fuel economy gains while giving buyers the experience they are used to. There is only one reason I don’t have eTorque in my truck right now; it wasn’t available when I purchased in June. All traditional grumblings of auto start/stop are a non issue while driving it. Outside of that, I see ZERO downsides with owning an eTorque equipped Ram right now, except possibly the cost/benefit situation. As I said earlier in the article the EPA has not yet released fuel economy numbers for the V6, but the Hemi eTorque bests the standard Hemi by 2MPG city, 1MPG highway and 2MPG combined according to the EPA.
The eTorque system is standard on the Pentastar V6 but an additional $1,450 over the standard Hemi. This is where you need to decide whether the fuel savings is worth the cost of the system, based on your driving habits. If you live in a congested area with lots of traffic lights and idle times the eTorque would most likely pay off a lot faster than if you live in a more rural setting.
Stay tuned to 5thGenRams for all the latest news and information as it becomes available.