Trucks, Jeeps

2019 Ram 1500 “DT”: Making a top-rated pickup better

The next generation of Ram 1500 pickup trucks, coded DT, is likely to have some lighter materials (without entirely forsaking steel) for higher fuel economy and higher load capacity. Some models may gain some cab space. It’s set to go into production in early January 2018, as a 2019 model, at the Sterling Heights assembly plant — which, ironically, was built by Volkswagen.

2016 Ram 1500 upgrade

The new Rams are supposed to have grilles that are not quite as tall, so they can improve their aerodynamics. The huge Rebel tailgate letters may be replaced by the Ram logo or smaller letters; but the “big rig” styling will continue. The crosshair is said to be returning in force, with Dodge giving it up instead of Ram. Automotive News wrote that the headlights will be smaller and integrated into the grille, with horizontal fog lights put into the bumper; they also projected a flatter center console to provide more space.

Under the hood:

ecodiesel engine

The Pentastar upgrade with direct injection should boost power to 310-320 hp, with higher economy and better low end torque. There have been rumors that the 5.7 liter “Apache” Hemi engines will be upgraded, but major changes may have been abandoned, and the company may even be running on stockpiled Hemis after 2018. A twin-scroll V6 is expected around 2020, but may arrive earlier.

There are also hints of the diesel moving to higher towing capacity, possibly through cooling, calibration, and engine changes; it’s currently rated at 9,200.

The supersized option

Dodge/Ram has a history of building larger-than-usual pickups, and it’s possible the company will revisit a winning formula for 2019, according to veteran spy photographer Glenn Paulina.

2018 Ram 1500 mule car

The camouflage only covers some parts of a modified Ram 1500 body, in what seems to be an attempt to hide a much larger cab than the 2016s. Riveted sections add length to the passenger compartment; a riveted seam in the roofline above the crew cab’s rear door should result in a larger door opening and more rear-seat space.

The area around the truck’s B-pillar is also camouflaged, with the vinyl camo covering a good portion of the front door, suggesting that more space has been added in front of the B-pillar, as well. Finally, the tailgate, C-pillar, and rear window are also camouflaged, suggesting a wider truck. (The tailgate may be covered up to avoid leaking new graphics or stamps, and some believe it may have a new gate.)

2018 ram tailgate

The width may apply to all the Rams, but the extra length is likely for a specialty model with added storage, perhaps even a variation on the minivans’ stow-n-go. Six-lug wheels suggests a more rugged or higher capacity 2019 Ram 1500 (shades of the Ram 2500-based MegaCab?).

2018 Ram 1500 mule dashboard

Inside, Glenn Paulina managed to shoot the truck with camouflage panels flipped back. Most of the switchgear is similar to the current trucks, using a Chrysler Pacifica steering wheel; the Ram is expected to have a similar one, to use the latest telematics.

The 2019 Ram 1500 is expected to appear in early 2018, followed a year later by the new Ram 2500 and 3500.

Body, tailgates, and interior

2018 ram tailgate?

RedRiderBob wrote, “The next generation air suspension will adjust faster than the current system. Aluminum will be used in a lot of the truck, but the entire body will not be aluminum, and the bed will be steel. A new tailgate design system will be shown off. A swing gate system, as shown below, was filed with the patent office.” This can open horizontally as well as up-and-down.

vans

We also seen a patent for a completely flat rear folding seats for Crew Cab models. Engineer Steven St. Laurent forwarded patents, for stowable seats that are rather different from the minivans. In Mr. St. Laurent’s words,

Chrysler is seeking to have rear and middle seats in new-generation trucks and SUVs fold completely into the floors — a flat surface vs a 5-10° incline...  The seat back will be the surface of the floor. [It could also be helpful for using] the rear of the quad-cab Ram truck for sleeping when driving on long trips, by folding the seat and placing a mat on top when switching drivers. 

LED lighting is likely to appear, according to RedRiderBob, courtesy of in-house parts supplier Magneti Marelli.

ram plan

Most everything in the cabin is likely to stay where it is, with the possible exception of the climate control system and stereo/telematics systems, but there should be some restyling.

With Ford expected to add a diesel and ten-speed for 2017, Ram engineers are working hard — likely focusing on many different bottlenecks, rather than a single technology. The goal is leaping over the 30 mpg rating with two powertrains.

The process changes

According to writer Larry Vellequette, to speed the launch, some engineers have been given full power of decision, rather than having to bump nearly everything up to higher-level managers. Other launches continue to use the more cumbersome, Daimler-like approach. Still, the first prototypes built at Sterling Heights will be made in early January 2019, three months after the original schedule, which could mean delays if any problems are found. The empowered-engineer approach should improve relations with suppliers, as Automotive News noted, because suppliers can get answers or needed changes much more quickly. When this approach was used in the 1990s and at the plant level in the 2000s , it also slashed costs and in some cases increased quality.



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