Trucks

2019 Ram 1500 gains hybrid smarts, 12-inch screen for Detroit

The new Ram 1500 debuts at the Detroit Auto Show with less weight, a mild electric assist and a huge new infotainment display.

FCA

Continuing the wave of pickup truck reveals at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show is Ram with the debut of its 2019 1500 pickup, sporting a fresh new look that shrouds a new frame, enhanced drivetrains and bold new cabin tech.

The 1500 builds on a new frame constructed from 98-percent high-strength steel to up durability and trim weight. High-strength steel is also used in strategic areas of the body and aluminum forms the hood and tailgate. The frame and body account for roughly 225-pounds of weight savings over last year's model.

An updated powertrain lineup includes a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that both work with a new eTorque mild hybrid system. A belt-driven motor generator, 48-volt lithium-ion battery and brake energy regeneration make up the hybrid unit.

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The V6 produces 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque with the hybrid components providing up to 90 pound-feet of additional twist. For the Hemi V8, which churns out 395 horses and 410 pound-feet, the hybrid equipment provides up to an additional 130 pound-feet of grunt for a short period. Both engines are bolted to an updated eight-speed automatic transmission.

With the Hemi engine, the 1500's max payload increases to 2,300 pounds and max towing capabilities to 12,750 pounds.

For diesel fans, a Ram spokesman confirmed that one is in the plans, but won't appear until later in the 2019 calendar year. Once alone in the light-duty segment, the 1500's eventual diesel model will have to compete against new oil-burning offerings from Ford's F-150 and Chevy's just-announced new Silverado.

Further improving on the last-generation 1500's excellent ride quality with the five-link rear coil suspension are new dampers. A four-corner air suspension also continues as an option for customers looking for supreme ride and handling.

Visually, the truck debuts a new Ram font and badges, while the company's trademark crosshair grille finally gets put out to pasture. Six new grilles that differ between trim levels will be available along with no fewer than 16 fresh wheel designs. Sheetmetal consists of a new power-bulge hood, hood badging and taller bedrails on a truck that is slightly wider and about 4 inches taller than the outgoing model in both quad and crew cab configurations.

Ram 1500 Rebel models distinguish themselves from the rest of the lineup with functioning hood vents, powder coated steel bumpers, skid plates and specific 18-inch wheels wrapped with Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires.

The aforementioned longer frame also allows for a more spacious cabin, boasting a new raised center stack that is positioned closer to the driver. FCA's fourth-generation Uconnect system and a new 12-inch touchscreen with split-screen capabilities is available.  The massive display is oriented portrait-style, like a Tesla or Volvo, and it can run two applications at the same time. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, while navigation with 3D map graphics, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system are available as options.

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Ram is claiming class-leading interior storage space that is double the competition with a center console that's configurable in 12 ways. Convenience and comfort come courtesy of up to five USB ports, two 115-volt power outlets, optional wireless charging pad and available heated and cooled rear seats with seat backs that recline up to 8 degrees.

On the safety front, the new Ram can be equipped with a 360-degree camera, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, forward collision warning, lane keep assist and blind-spot monitoring.

The 2019 Ram 1500 will arrive in dealers during the first quarter of 2018. Pricing details aren't available yet, but the current 1500 starts at around $28,000.