Comfortable and luxurious, the Ram 1500 Limited is the pickup for luxury car buyers.
The American full-size pickup truck is in the midst of a renaissance, and the 2019 Ram 1500 joins the aluminum-bodied Ford F-150, as well as the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, in appending fuel efficiency to the segment’s characteristic towing and hauling talents.
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Like its domestic competition, the Ram 1500 takes a page from the Lotus playbook and adds “lightness” into its production equation (or as much as Chapman’s philosophy can be applied to a bruising, V8-powered truck). Greater use of light-weight materials, such as high-strength steel and aluminum, mean the new Ram is an average of 225 pounds lighter relative to its predecessor.
The Ram 1500 Limited I tested was a delight in almost every way imaginable. Credit the cushy air-suspension system, impressive infotainment setup, and glut of modern safety and convenience features; all of which came together to form a truck that is as comfortable as it is capable.
The 2019 Ram 1500 Limited is not for the cost conscious. While the entry-level Ram 1500 Tradesman starts at a reasonable $31,795, the top-of-the-line Limited trim requires a check for $52,995 – about $1,500 less than the similarly opulent Ford F-150 Platinum.
The Limited’s considerable cost-of-entry isn’t without its perks, though, and the high-end model nets buyers standard niceties such as a proximity key with push-button start, power-operated running boards, a leather-lined interior, and segment-exclusive features such as a mammoth 12.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a four-corner air suspension. My Ram 1500 Limited tester included a number of optional extras (outlined in the sections below), which brought its as-tested price to an eye-watering $64,800.
No matter the trim, the Ram 1500 is a handsome truck. Although the low-level Tradesman and off-road-ready Rebel wear more utilitarian exterior kit, less workaday Ram models (Big Horn, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited) employ additional chrome and body-color trim pieces that give the truck an added sense of sophistication.
And the Ram 1500 Limited is a truly elegant-looking thing thanks to its trim-specific textured grille, six-spoke 20-inch wheels, and LED headlights and taillights. Exclusively offered with the larger crew cab body style and a five-foot, seven-inch bed, the Limited’s conservative use of chrome on the door handles, mirror caps, and side-window surrounds gracefully calls attention to the truck’s larger cab and taller bedsides.
The additions of a $200 coat of Maximum Steel metallic gray paint and $195 worth of body-color front and rear bumpers (in place of the standard chrome units) provided my test truck with an extra splash of panache and curb appeal. That said, I wish Ram kept the crosshair grille of the prior 1500, as the new “belt buckle” design is a tad plain for my tastes.
Spacious, earnest, and luxurious, the cabin of the Ram 1500 Limited is a fine place to while away miles. Well-bolstered, leather-lined bucket seats offer 12-way power adjustment (including four-way lumbar), as well as standard heating and cooling functions, while swaths of leather and copious amounts of real wood-trim cover the dashboard, door panels, and center console. No doubt, many of the materials found in the cabin of the Ram 1500 Limited are steps above the stuff found in lesser Ram 1500 models, and items shared between trims – such as the door handles and turn-signal stalk – feel somewhat chintzy relative to the rest of the Limited’s interior ritz.
Regardless of trim, every Ram 1500 features a rotary shift knob, plentiful interior storage, and clear gauges. Models with front bucket seats (a three-across front-bench is standard on Tradesman, Big Horn, and Laramie models) feature a center console with 1.4 cubic feet of storage space, or 0.6 cubic foot more room than the previous Ram 1500’s. Keen eyes will notice a couple of Easter eggs in this space, which include outlines of the first four generations of Ram pickups at the bottom of the bin and a mathematic crib sheet on the underside of the console lid.
Thanks to a cab that’s four inches longer than before, the Ram 1500 crew cab serves up a Bentley Mulsanne-beating 45.1 inches of rear legroom. (The Bentley offers a mere 42.9 inches.) A manual-recline function allows rear-seat riders to make the most of the available room, while folding up the rear seat-bottom proffers additional space for cargo storage.
Ram offers two bed lengths throughout the model line: a five-foot, seven-inch box or a six-foot, four-inch unit. My test truck featured the former. It also included the $445 Bed Utility group (adjustable cargo hooks, LED bed lights, and a cargo divider), as well as a $550 tonneau cover, which kept items in the bed out of view from prying eyes and assisted in improving fuel efficiency by a reported 0.8 percent. Ram continues to offer its innovative RamBox bed-side storage bins as a $995 option, although it’s worth noting these seem to eat into bed space. Although not included on my test truck, the drainable storage bins now boast a 115-volt outlet for additional practicality.
It’s difficult to ignore the giant, portrait-oriented 12.0-inch touchscreen dominating the center stack of the Ram 1500 Limited. Standard on the flagship trim (and optionally available on Rebel, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn models), the massive infotainment screen is a nice parlor trick that provides little additional function compared to the smaller 8.4-inch touchscreen that’s available on Big Horn, Rebel, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn models. (A smaller 5.0-inch touchscreen comes standard on the Tradesman, Big Horn, and Rebel.) In fact, the only real benefit to the 12.0-inch screen – besides wowing your passengers – is its ability to display two different infotainment functions simultaneously (such as navigation and radio settings). In that way, it’s simply a more cohesive take on the two-screen systems featured throughout the industry.
Otherwise, both the 12.0- and 8.4-inch screens run the latest Uconnect infotainment system. Dubbed Uconnect 4, the setup offers crisp graphics, quick reactions to inputs, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. (The 5.0-inch screen runs Uconnect 3 and does not include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.) USB ports dwell throughout the cabin, with three calling the front-passenger area home and another two residing in the rear-passenger space. (The latter two are standard on Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited trims.)
Although Ram includes a handful of hard buttons and knobs to control basic infotainment functions, I found the push-button controls for the HVAC system on the 12.0-inch setup less intuitive than those of the 8.4-inch unit, which employs larger and easier-to-locate knobs and buttons for functions such as fan speed and temperature control. Annoyingly, Ram forgoes physical buttons for simple functions like the seat heating and ventilation controls on 1500 models equipped with the 12.0-inch touchscreen. Instead, they’re buried in pesky on-screen menus – a practice that irked me during my time with the truck.
A 7.0-inch gauge-cluster-mounted screen comes standard on Rebel, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited trims (a 3.5-inch display greets Tradesman and Big Horn drivers). Like other FCA products, it provides an assortment of menus for the driver to toy through by way of a D-pad mounted on the left-spoke of the steering wheel. I was partial to the screen’s radio display function that kept all relevant audio info close to my line of sight, so I could devote the foot of screen real estate to my right to the navigation system.
Every variant of the 2019 Ram 1500 is available with the brand’s eTorque mild-hybrid system. Standard fare on the base 3.6-liter V6 and a $1,450 extra on top of the 5.7-liter V8’s $1,195 fee, eTorque is able to add up to 90 lb-ft of torque to the six-cylinder engine and 130 lb-ft to the big bent-eight.
This truck, however, did without eTorque and relied solely on the sheer grunt of its gas-fed V8 for momentum (look for a review of a V8/eTorque truck coming soon). Fortunately, the gas-only engine proved plenty powerful thanks to its formidable 395 horses and 410 lb-ft of torque. In conjunction with the infallible eight-speed automatic transmission, the V8 was able to move the hefty four-wheel-drive (a $3,500 option) Ram with relative ease.
Despite weighing well over 2.5 tons and casting a shadow more than 19 feet long, the Ram 1500 Limited never feels particularly unwieldy. Credit the numb but direct electric-assist rack-and-pinion steering, as well as the Limited’s air-suspension system, which replaces the standard coil springs of lesser Ram 1500 models. Paired with the $795 Off-Road group (chunky all-terrain tires, electronically locking rear axle, hill-descent control, full-size spare, one-inch lift, and skid plates for the front suspension, fuel tank, steering setup, and transfer case), the Ram 1500 Limited offers four adjustable height settings: the low-slung entry/exit position, an aerodynamic setting for fuel efficiency, the self-described normal position, and the high-riding off-road option.
While it’s exceedingly fun to adjust the truck’s ride-height on-the-fly, the air-suspension’s most impressive trait is its ability to eliminate any wallow or harshness from the Ram 1500’s ride. Body-roll is kept in check, which allows the titanic truck to tackle twisting turns more fervently than its size suggests.
The air suspension system is also a boon for towing, as the setup can automatically level the rear-end in order to offset any sagging caused by the trailer’s weight. And thanks to my test truck’s 3.92:1 final-drive ratio (a $95 option), this four-wheel-drive Ram was rated to tow 11,290 pounds: 3,100 pounds more than a V8-powered Ram 1500 with the standard 3.21:1 rear gear, but 910 pounds less than a four-wheel-drive 2019 Chevrolet Silverado. This Ram also included a $295 trailer-brake controller – a nice addition for frequent towers.
Accompanying the Ram’s redesigned frame and body are a number of available active safety features aimed at preventing, or limiting the effects of, a collision. Opting for the Limited trim nets buyers standard safety kit such as a blind-spot monitor, a rear cross-traffic alert system, and front and rear parking sensors. Opting for the $2,695 Level 1 Equipment group – an option on this truck – brings additional active safety equipment such as adaptive cruise control, automatic front braking, a lane-departure warning system, lane-keep assist, and surround-view monitor that offers a 360-degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings. The package also nets a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, ventilated rear-outboard seats, and a self-parking system that’s capable of nestling the truck into parallel or perpendicular parking spots.
This package is worth every penny, if only for the near-telepathic responses of the adaptive cruise control (I never once experienced any noticeable jerking or confusion from the system) and the convenience of the lane-departure warning system (at 82.1 inches wide, the Ram 1500 can easily find one or more of its tires invading the adjacent lane).
Full-size trucks aren’t purchased for their fuel efficiency. The 5.7-liter V8 of this tester nets just 15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined, while adding four-wheel-drive pushes the highway figure down to 21 mpg. Adding the eTorque system to the V8, though, raises the city figure to 22 mpg and the combined number to 19 mpg.
Comparatively, a four-wheel-drive Chevrolet Silverado with the 355-hp 5.3-liter V8 and earns fuel economy figures of 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined – 1 mpg better than the numbers reported on the window sticker of this Ram. Credit is likely due to the Chevy’s trick cylinder deactivation system.
Although crew cab Ram 1500 models come standard with a 26-gallon fuel tank, this truck included a 33-gallon tank (a $445 option), which allowed for a theoretical highway cruising range of 693 miles. Meanwhile, the 24-gallon tank of the Silverado means the truck’s 5.3-liter V8 will be asking for fuel well before the trip odometer hits the 600-mile mark.