You, an average consumer, might not go shopping for one of Ram's Chassis Cab trucks at your local dealer, but these vehicles are important to upfit companies that transform the chassis for use by utilities, tow-truck companies, shuttle buses and more. Coinciding with updates to the 2019 Ram 2500 and 3500 HD, the automaker is also releasing updated versions of the this year at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show.
Up front, the Ram's standard engine option, a 6.4-liter Hemi V8, is unchanged and still produces as much as 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque when mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is new to the Chassis Cab truck. When coupled to a six-speed automatic in the 4500 and 5500 trucks, the engine instead makes 370 hp and 429 lb-ft. The engine also has cylinder deactivation to save fuel.
The optional engine, a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-six, has been significantly upgraded and now produces 360 hp and 800 lb-ft, increases of 35 hp and 50 lb-ft over last year's truck. It mates only to a six-speed automatic transmission. Ram says changes to the engine, including a new engine block made from tougher compacted graphite iron, make it about 60 pounds lighter than the prior Cummins turbodiesel.
The 2019 Ram Chassis Cab's all-important towing and payload ratings improve too, allowing as much as 35,220 pounds of towing and 12,510 pounds of payload. Those are increases on the 2018 model's maximums of 30,600 pounds and 12,480 pounds, respectively.
There's more safety tech on offer as well. Every 2019 Ram Chassis Cab trim is available with adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, the latter of which also works with trailer brakes. Parking sensors and a 270-degree camera system are offered to help avoid low-speed bumps, while a special cargo-view camera aims to let drivers keep an eye on the truck's cargo bed.
Within the cabin, the Chassis Cab has a significantly updated look with fresher, more modern designs and materials. Both 3.5- and 7-inch color instrument clusters are available, and in terms of infotainment, the truck will offer the massive 12-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system that debuted in the. Push-button start is now offered on all trims, and models with the eight-speed automatic transmission get a rotary-style electronic shifter.
Other cabin tweaks include a climate-control system that provides 30-percent more airflow but lower noise, and larger windshield defroster vents. The new center console offers more storage space and five USB ports -- including Type C ports -- and optional wireless phone charging. Two, 115-volt power outlets are also available for charging tools, laptops or other devices. Ram has also ditched the truck's old-school whip antenna on the outside, replacing it with a subtle sharkfin-style design that the company says reduces wind noise and improves reception.
There are big changes on the outside, too, with the 2019 Ram Chassis Cab sharing sheetmetal with the aforementioned 2500 and 3500 HD trucks. Gone is the old crosshairs grille in favor of a new RAM wordmark grille treatment. The three headlight options are all said to offer twice the lumen light output of the last truck, and the available LED units come with a lifetime warranty.
A new aluminum hood helps save weight, while the grille is designed to allow even more cooling air into the engine bay. Larger openings in the front bumper help feed the Cummins engine's intercooler, which Ram says is the biggest intercooler ever fitted to a Chassis Cab truck.
Finally, Ram says it's made life easier for upfitters -- the companies that turn these Chassis Cab trucks into things like shuttle buses and more -- by ensuring all cabling, hoses and other items are routed below the top of the frame rails. There are also predrilled holes in strageic locations for routing new lines or hardware. The electrical system includes special interfaces for upfitters, and the rear of the cab can be converted into a cutaway design if necessary.
The 2019 Ram Chassis Cab goes on sale in the second quarter of this year, with pricing to be announced closer to that time.