The battle of the half-tons – is this the new King of the Hill?
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2019 Ram 1500
Base price (Limited Crew Cab 4×4 trim): $74,195
Options: $275 Diamond Black Crystal Pearl paint; $100 bed utility group; $3,895 Limited Level 1 Equipment Group; $650 tri-fold tonneau cover; $525 anti-spin rear differential; $1,595 panoramic sunroof; $445 124L fuel tank; $750 22-inch polished wheels; $495 hitch receiver; $375 trailer brake controller
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $85,295
The ever-evolving and hyper-competitive half-ton truck market got a big shot in the arm for 2019. GM is releasing the new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra this fall. The Ford F-150 is better than ever. And then there’s this new RAM 1500. It’s a good time to be shopping for a truck.
From the moment you lay your eyes on it, the 2019 RAM 1500 Limited looks expensive – which it is. Mine had a spectacular and sparkly Diamond Black Crystal Pearl paint job.
The chrome details are thoughtful and beautiful rather than gaudy, with the side window frames being particularly eye-catching. Yes, it’s blingy. And it looks fantastic.
It’s LEDs everywhere – LED headlights, foglights and LED tail lights and bed lighting out back.
Completing the package are a set of optional 22-inch rims with huge 285/45s on them. They are worth the upgrade. I mean, look at them!
Open the door and the powered side rail lowers to make ingress easy.
The handsomeness of the 2019 RAM continues inside. It is nicely styled and the choice of materials is equivalent to that of many cars that would be considered near-luxury automobiles. Soft-touch materials can be found nearly everywhere your hand falls. The leather and that pinstriped open-pore wood? Yes, they’re real. This is a really, really nice truck cabin. In an interesting twist, my kids and I tried counting how many different colour and textures there are throughout the RAM’s interior – I think we just lost count. But it all works well and looks fantastic. The detail stitching attached to this Limited trim is stunning as well.
The heated steering wheel sits in front of a nice set of gauges and a large configurable driver information screen. Our Light Frost Beige leather bucket seats were heated and ventilated and we found them to be very comfortable, even on a short-ish road trip.
The big news here (and I mean big) is the 12(!)-inch touchscreen. You can’t miss it. Even from the outside of the truck. At night, people would strain their necks to look into the truck at a red light once they spotted that giant glowing screen front and centre in the dash.
The screen has a bit of a learning curve but quickly starts making sense. You can divide the screen into “cards”, choosing between a number of options (music, climate, navigation, vehicle settings) as to what you want to see at the top of the screen and the bottom of the screen. Thankfully, RAM included some hard buttons for the climate control, as well as knobs for volume and tuning. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and the top-of-the-line 19-speaker harman/kardon audio system rivals those of the best high-end car systems I’ve heard.
Opt for this top-trim and you’ll find every possibility of driver assistance technology included – blind-spot monitoring, cross path detection, roll mitigation, 360-degree surround-view camera with parking sensors all the way around, adaptive cruise control, brake assist, auto high beams, forward collision warning and braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist and park assist.
The three rear seats are very wide, easily accommodating three adults. The two outboard seats are heated and ventilated. And then there’s the best-in-class leg room (45.1 inches!). I’m 5’10” and sitting behind my own driving position, I had nearly a foot of room for my knees. The rear seats even recline, which is a function of their ability to slide fore and aft. A completely flat floor, a panoramic roof overhead and huge windows all make for a nearly perfect rear passenger seating area. The middle seat back folds down to become an armrest with a couple of cup holders and some storage.
Rear passengers also get a ton of charging/power possibilities. They get to choose from a 110V household plug, two USB plugs and two USB-C plugs.
There are so many places to put your stuff. RAM has definitely made this beautiful cabin a place to get work done as well.
There’s a little drop-in bin at the top of the dash, which would fit a phone – along with a 12V charging plug.
The centre console is a whole world of storage. There are two levels under the armrest lid – an organizer tray with a USB plug and then access to the massive picnic-cooler sized bin underneath. Hilariously, there’s a math cheat sheet on the underside of the armrest lid. I’m talking a full protractor, the entire trigonometry unit (complete with sin, cos and tan functions!), conversion charts and on and on. I couldn’t figure out if this was a bit of an Easter egg or if they were serious. It is difficult to read and would be even more difficult to use, but it’s there and we had a good chuckle about it.
Nestled into the large console space is a deep sliding tray with cup holders and a coin organizer. In the bottom of the giant console bin is a 115V household plug. And at the front of the bin is a wireless charging zone with rubber phone “clamps” – you stand up your phone and they keep it in place. Very smart. There are also two USB and two USB-C plugs. Now that’s forward thinking. Each side of the console gets additional storage slots, and there are two glove compartments – an upper and a lower one.
Flip up the rear seat cushions (in a 60/40 split) and you’ll find under-seat storage bins.
The truck box has a remote tail-gate release with a dampened tailgate for soft openings.
Under the Hood
Tried and true, the mighty 5.7L Hemi V8 soldiers on in fine form. It puts out 395HP and 410 lb.ft of torque these days and is paired with an 8-speed automatic and of course a 4×4 drivertrain.
RAM rates this combination at 16.1/11 L/100 km (city/highway). I averaged 15.6 L/100 km over the course of a week of relatively gentle city driving with the added bonus of 250 km of highway driving. Even that couldn’t bring the average below 15 L/100 km.
Let’s just get this out of the way. Yes, the Hemi sounds great. Yes, it’s old-school. Yes, it’s a nearly perfect V8.
It sounds delicious when you fire it up. It sounds incredible when you step on it at any speed. It has a ton of power off the line, and plenty of it when you’re on the move too.
Gears are selected using a rotary dial. I’m still in the gear selector lever camp, but this solution is slowly growing on me. You can’t manually shift gears per se, but you can set the maximum gear, which will limit the transmission to a top gear of your choice. The transmission was mostly a good thing, shifting imperceptibly and mostly being in the right gear. I found some occasional lurching when it felt like the autobox had shifted up a few gears too many and needed to respond to my throttle input by shifting down a few gears.
The ride is commendable and was very comfortable, soaking up whatever Edmonton streets challenged it with. Handling is impressive for a half-ton truck. I enjoyed the four corner air suspension that can lower the truck for easier entry and automatically lowers the truck half an inch at highway speeds for aerodynamic efficiency. This feature also allows you to raise the truck slightly for additional ground clearance.
The 4×4 is, of course, a shift-on-demand electronic transfer case, allowing you to choose between rear-wheel drive, automatic 4×4 and full-time 4×4 high or low range.
Braking was fine, and visibility out of the truck is excellent. Unfortunately I did not get to tow with the truck during my time with it. Towing capacity is up to 12,750 pounds.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was surprisingly high. She’s not a truck girl. She said if she didn’t have to park this one, she’d want it and would be a truck girl now.
Sure, it’s incredibly pricey, but this RAM 1500 Limited is the most sophisticated, most luxurious and best-looking truck I have ever reviewed. If I was in the truck market, this one would be at the top of my list.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by FCA Canada.
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