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2019 Ram revelations: Q&A

by David Zatz on

Though the 2019 Ram 1500 was unveiled months ago, there are still some unanswered questions. At a recent press event, Allpar was able to either get answers — or at least narrow down the questions.

Many buyers want to know when the diesel is coming, and whether it’s a refreshed version, a new generation, or even just the “same ol’” with control tweaks. Unofficial sources had told us that the V6 diesel has been revised, but the extent of any changes remains unknown. The VM powerplant has been out for a while, so updates would expected.

A Ram spokesman pointed out that, the company never said whether the diesel would arrive in calendar or model year 2019 — and is still not saying. Nor could we learn the extent of any changes. These aren’t surprising developments.

The door has not been closed on the regular cab. Full-size, two-door pickups have not sold well in recent years,  but the spokesman only said that there had not been any statements made about regular cabs, one way or the other — not that they had been definitively and permanently dropped.

That leaves the door open to future Ram single-row pickups, perhaps if sales fell, or if fuel prices rose and an “economy leader” was needed. Regular cabs may even be in the long-term plan, but not until the company ramps up production with a simpler and more lucrative product mix.

The Ram 1500s available for test drives were all powered by the Hemi V8, sans hybrid, which is the only powertrain being built now. Mild-hybrid V6 and V8 engines are coming later in the year, perhaps in mid to late summer; they boost low-end torque and power the truck as the transmission shifts, but don’t add to peak torque ratings. Ram’s Jim Morrison said the difference in responsiveness and off-the-line torque was very noticeable; those who drove the Jeep 2-liter hybrid were impressed by its low-end grunt, which bodes well for the bigger engines.

Ram may have taken a risk by making hybrid pickups, but they left the pure-Hemi V8 for traditionalists. It doesn’t even have stop-start; the “pure Hemi” uses a conventional twelve-volt electrical system, leaving the 48-volt system to the hybrids (which also use twelve volts for accessories).

Ford announced it would join the hybrid party as well, with the F-150, so while Ram may be first (as they were with a diesel and wide-range automatic), they won’t be alone — eventually.

The only fuel economy ratings out so far cover the gasoline-only Hemi V8 — and are identical to the 2018 Ram’s ratings. We asked  why the weight loss and better aerodynamics did not increase the rating; while we did not get a definite answer, we can speculate.

The 2019 Hemi pickups were almost certainly projected to have a higher mix of larger cab sizes (especially since there’s no regular cab) and higher trims. Since EPA ratings are based on a weighted average of the trim levels actually sold — for pickups, that includes cab and bed sizes and gear ratios — a different product mix would lower the overall estimate, even if real-world economy on any particular version increased. One can also speculate that it’s a matter of rounding — an increase from 21.6 to 22.4 mpg, for example, would not be noticeable in the published ratings.

2019 Ram 1500

The 2019 Ram 1500 has been unveiled, but timing for the hybrids and diesel are still up in the air.  Moving the base engine from a V6 to a V6-hybrid should be a definite improvement, making the Ram  more responsive while increasing city economy, which will help FCA’s corporate averages. The full impact of the 2019 Ram 1500, then, is still in the future — while the current Hemis are a clear improvement, with greater strength, safety, comfort, space, and stopping power, the new powertrains will make the 2019s even more of a leap forward.

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