Every time FCA (RAM’s parent company) sends out a press release, it is to tell me that the truck has won another award. This time, the RAM was crowned North America’s Truck of the Year.
The truck I drove was a 1500 RAM in Laredo trim, plus a few extras. This year there are several trim levels including the North and the Rebel, as well as the mainstream trims.
Starting with the unlocking of a door, the power-operated running boards unfold from their storage area under the lower sill. This is common for a few other models, but not on any RAM I’ve seen. These running boards come out far enough to be useful and are at the right height to be a good step. On top of that, I know that three people over 200 pounds can stand on one board and it doesn’t bend, buckle or stop working.
Once inside, the power bucket driver’s seat can be adjusted within seconds to be a comfortable command post. All instruments, including the HVAV and centre console, are easy to see. Switches are large and easy to use. The gear selector is the now-common RAM rotary dial. There is one for the gears and one for the electronically controlled 4X4 system. Within limits you can go from 4Hi to 2Hi while driving, but 4Lo still requires that you be stopped.
Transmission gearing and the eight-speed automatic, along with various engine upgrades such as e-Torque™ (e-Torque is sort of a hybrid system and could fill this space all by itself) and variable valve timing brought about fuel economy improvements. I would like to tell you that they were significant, but that will depend on your driving style. On the Prairies on a calm day and at the speed limit, my instant fuel economy was a bit under 11 litres/100 km.
Since I have better things to do that take two days to get somewhere in our province, I kinda, sorta pushed the envelope a bit. Fuel economy dropped to between 14 and 16 litres/100 km. I suspect that headwinds and heavy loads would have the same effect. In any case, fuel economy will never be close to a Prius, but is certainly better than past RAMs that I have driven.
As a four-door truck, the RAM does things a bit differently and, to my mind, a bit better than competitors. If you remember the “mega cab” option of the past and you sit in the back, the largesse of backseat space and thus comfort does bring back memories. Somehow calling it a mini-mega cab just doesn’t sound right.
Ride quality has taken a big leap forward, as well. The secret lies in the air suspension. Yes, the RAM 1500 for 2019 can be ordered with air suspension. A multi-link coil spring suspension is standard complete with recalibrated springs to significantly improve empty ride quality. Suspension packages go all the way up to providing a towing capacity of over 12,000 lbs.
When it comes to looks, the RAM has significantly changed its (what I called) Kenworth front and grille setup. The new grille and front fascia still tell you it is a RAM, but now it looks more impressive than aggressive. I suspect the new treatment is in part to keep air flow up so that the new electric cooling fan doesn’t inhale the grille. That fan is large and powerful.
Back inside, the RAM boasts the largest touch screen in class and, as I said earlier, the controls are easy to use. That does not mean perfect. I never have my test vehicles inside. They are all outside, summer or winter. Seat heater controls have become near and dear to my tush. The RAM switches are in the touch screen. When it’s really cold out, it was slow going to get the seat heater switches to start. That’s being a bit petty.
If I was in the market for a truck, this is the one I would most likely purchase.