DETROIT – The Ram 1500 is on a roll.
Sales of the full-size pickup have grown so much in recent years that it now has the second-place Chevrolet Silverado in its sights. That target is on the move, however, with an updated Silverado on the way this year.
Good thing for Ram it has a new truck too.
Ram is debuting an all-new 1500 at the Detroit Auto Show that has the kind of next-generation features that could push it to the next level. The truck is lighter, sleeker and more technologically advanced than ever.
It starts behind the grille – which is still pretty bold, but looks less like a semi truck’s this time around -- where a hybrid system is being offered with V6 and V8 engines. It’s a mild hybrid, which means that the trucks can’t run on battery power alone, but the electric motors add boost of torque off the line, enable a fuel-saving stop-start feature and improve overall efficiency.
Branded eTorque, the system is standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission on the entry level 3.6-liter V6 that’s rated at 305 hp and 269 lb-ft, and an option on the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, which has 395 hp and 410 lb-ft and delivers a maximum tow rating of 12,750 pounds. That’s over a ton more than the outgoing Ram 1500’s and just shy of the F-150’s top 13,200-pound rating. Official fuel economy for the eTorque powertrains has not yet been determined, while the conventional V8 is rated at 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
The redesigned 1500 will initially be available in Quad Cab and Crew Cab configurations in a full lineup of trim levels, while the last-generation truck soldiers on for a year to supply two-door and other models during the transition, in an effort to better supply expected demand.
The 1500 sticks with a steel body – except for the aluminum tailgate – but uses lighter high-strength steel for its frame, plus some aluminum and composite chassis components that together reduce weight by over 200 pounds. Coil springs all four corners are matched with frequency response dampers that soak up small bumps but keep the body level in curves, while Ram’s unique air suspension system remains an option and can raise and lower the truck to increase ground clearance, ease entry and reduce aerodynamic drag.
The cabin is larger than before and Ram claims it has the most storage space of any full-size pickup. Some of that can be found under a reclining rear bench seat that floats over a flat floor that has a pop-out bin to secure small items. Up front, the center console has spaces for phones, tablets and large laptops and can be equipped with a wireless charging pad. Trucks with an old-school front bench, which is still available, now have a three point seatbelt integrated into the center seat for added safety. Out back, the 1500’s signature RamBox waterproof bed side storage system is still an option, but now with better lighting and a 115-volt outlet inside.
The 1500’s dashboard has no shortage of knobs and switches, but there is also a wide array of digital displays found across the trim levels and options packages that includes a 12-inch screen I the center console equipped with the latest version of Ram’s UConnect infotainment system. You can configure the layout of the desktop, just like a tablet, and it has built-in WiFi and the new SiriusXM with 360L that delivers on-demand programming along with traditional satellite radio.
Active safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking and a self-steering parking system. A 360-degree bird’s eye view camera system is also available to help out if you prefer to park yourself.
Pricing for the new Ram 1500 was not announced, but it will be offered in six trim levels, including the Rebel with its one-inch suspension lift, off-road suspension, skid plates, and locking rear differential that was designed to roll over anything that gets in its way.