Electrifying engine, Old West style.
It’s no longer enough for pickup trucks to be good at just pickup truck things. These vehicles need to be jacks of all trades, able to double as family haulers, date-night vehicles, or road-trip warriors at a moment’s notice, and all without sacrificing a hint of towing or payload capacity. Some efforts are better than others.
The 2019 Ram 1500 is arguably the best at this delicate balancing act. The updated 1500 packs luxury in spades with the best interior and the smartest, most advanced infotainment in the segment, a pair of (mildly) electrified hybrid powertrains, and more space than some full-on luxury sedans. But no vehicle is perfect, and while Ram has built a dynamite truck, especially in 1500 Longhorn trim, there are a couple of niggles in this otherwise very likable package.
With respect to Ford and its EcoBoost engines, we’ll take Ram’s eTorque mild-hybrid system and 5.7-liter Hemi V8 any day of the week. Take everything we know and love about the Ram’s Hemi – lovely sound, ample mid-range grunt, and an iron-clad partnership with a ZF eight-speed automatic – and then add electric car-like immediacy off the line. The Ram feels more eager and energetic than the Ford from a standstill, even if the F-150 and its turbocharged torque are more impressive at speed.
Thank the belt-driven motor generator, which produces up to 130 pound-feet of torque while only adding just 90 pounds of fat to the V8 powertrain. And with a price tag of just $1,450, ordering the eTorque is a no-brainer on the 5.7-liter V8. It’s standard on the V6, though, so if money is the holdup, rest easy knowing the 48-volt mild-hybrid rig is available elsewhere in the Ram lineup.
When we reviewed the Chevrolet Silverado High Country, we complained that its cabin didn’t feel special enough to warrant its mid-$60,000 price tag. The Ram 1500 is the reason for that complaint. Goodness gracious, this cabin is stunning. From the class-leading 12.0-inch touchscreen display to the interior’s sheer level of detail, the 1500 Longhorn is a stunner. Need proof? Check out the stitching on the seats and door panels, the faux engraving on the plastic trim, and the wood on the steering wheel. In short, the Longhorn’s innards are beautiful. There are full-tilt luxury cars with less impressive interiors.
Speaking of full-tilt luxury cars, the Ram 1500’s Crew Cab body has more second-row space than most of them. There’s 45.2 inches of rear-seat legroom. The biggest Ford F-150 only has 43.6, while Chevy and GMC only offer up to 43.4 inches. Hell, the 1500 Crew Cab has over five inches more legroom than the Mercedes-Maybach S650, a stretched version of the S-Class sedan. To be frank, probably the only vehicles on the planet with more second-row legroom than the Ram 1500 Crew Cab comes from Rolls-Royce or Bentley in the form of their respective long-wheelbase flagships.
So, the Ram 1500 Longhorn offers luxury car appointments and luxury car space, right? Well, it also sports a luxury car price. The Longhorn trim starts at $53,695, which is fine if all you care about is the beautiful cabin and silly amounts of space. Both come standard. But everything from the mild-hybrid V8 to the 12.0-inch display to the active safety gear is an optional extra. Get aggressive, and you’ll end up with a truck like our tester, which retails for $66,755 and is still missing popular options like the four-corner air suspension and 22-inch wheels.
Speaking of those wheels, the 20-inch alloys are the better option anyway. They save you $2,095 over the optional 22s and promise a much more comfortable ride, especially if you order the optional air suspension. But the standard alloys look puny in this truck’s wheel wells. This is a big, luxurious American pickup truck, and ordering it with 20-inch wheels is a bit like wearing a tux without a pair of cowboy boots. That might sound tacky, but in some circles, it’s the only acceptable choice.
Don’t order the eTorque V8 and expect Prius-like fuel economy. At an EPA-rated 17 miles per gallon city, 22 highway, and 19 combined, the Ram 1500’s fuel economy is merely average, and it only improves on the non-electrified V8 by two mpg in the city and combined. Its city and combined ratings tie the Ford F-150 with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and four-wheel drive. That truck is also up a point on the highway. As for our testing, we saw computer-indicatedd fuel economy figures in the middle teens/ Disappointing, although cold conditions during our late winter testing didn’t help matters.