Luxury pickups are often stereotyped as the automotive equivalent of the Texas tuxedo, the ultimate expressions of Lone Star excess that marry exceptional capability and “biggest state in the lower 48” size with leather, leather, and more leather.
Completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, the Ram 1500 certainly offers more than a few trim levels embracing that carefully constructed persona. It’s the top-shelf Limited trim, however, that leaves the Wild West imagery to the nearly-as-nice-Longhorn and allows urbanites to step into the most civilized full-size truck on the market without having to maintain the open plains masquerade.
The 2019 Ram 1500 Limited benefits from the same slew of updates that have been afforded to the brand’s entire light-duty pickup portfolio. Starting at $53,890 for a two-wheel drive model, the truck rides on an entirely new frame that Ram claims is not only more rigid, but also significantly lighter than the one it replaces, helping add to the 225 pound difference between 2019 and 2018 editions of the vehicle.
That extra-strong backbone has also led to an increase in capability when it’s time to get to work, with the Ram 1500 showing a towing capacity of 12,750 lbs. to go with its 2,300 lbs. of in-box cargo carrying.
On the outside, the Limited displays evidence of Ram’s decision to back away from the enormous X, or “crosshairs” that dominated the previous truck’s front end. In its place is a more familiar RAM in block letters stretching across the grille.
Also included are a new set of adaptive headlights and a chrome “1500” plaque embedded in the side of the hood near the A-pillar that also calls out the vehicle’s engine displacement. Keen eyes will further notice that the crew-only Limited’s four-door cab has been stretched by a considerable four inches (and is available with either a 5-foot, 7-inch or 6-foot, 4-inch box).
Constant adjustments to aero (grille shutters) functionality (new integrated swing-out bumper step), and nods to the changing tastes of a general public gradually immunized against big rig design cues have led to a sleeker interpretation of the same DNA that links both past and present Ram pickups.
That being said, this is still the brash Ram that fans of the truck have embraced ever since it arrived on the scene in the mid-90s to destabilize the staid styling that was standard on pickups at the time.
With four inches of extra cab, it’s unsurprising that the 2019 Ram Limited delivers an absolutely enormous interior, regardless of which row you happen to be sitting in. There’s enough space for an adult to lie on their back lengthways across the floor in the rear of the Ram’s cabin with their knees up, which means even the tallest and widest of individuals won’t have any complaints about losing shotgun. Why anyone would want to stay supine given the heated and cooled leather-wrapped thrones found inside the pickup escapes me, but it’s always nice to have options.
Even more impressive, however, is the Limited’s borderline ridiculous level of interior storage space. There’s nearly 1.5 cubic feet available inside the Ram’s center console, a number that doesn’t sound all that impressive until you consider that that’s enough real estate to store about 89 pints of milk, lager, or whatever other liquid you feel comfortable dumping between your truck’s front seats. Another point of comparison: the center bin can hold just as much gear as the cubbies located underneath the Ram’s fold-up rear bench.
The console itself features a sliding, lockable tray that neatly divides the compartment, should you want to keep wet from dry, as well as a pair of USB and USB-C ports at the very front, with the latter a notable, and forward-looking inclusion given the inexorable march of electronic devices towards that particular standard.
Of course, the true centerpiece of the Ram’s new digs is its 12-inch Uconnect infotainment screen. Tablet-sized with a vertical alignment on the (also leather-wrapped) dashboard), the system is bordered by hard buttons for temperature control, volume, and track/radio station selection, but for the most part consolidates vehicle functions onto its grandiose display.
Ram has introduced a unique implementation of SiriusXM satellite radio to serve as the talking point for the new Uconnect, integrating a self-contained, data-reliant application that will keep the tunes flowing even if satellite signal is lost, but there’s a lot of other interesting functionality to be found here too. In particular, I was intrigued by the ability to populate the bottom row of “shortcuts” to various vehicle features simply by dragging and dropping their icons into the desired position. This is on top of “favorites” that can be programmed in to the navigation and entertainment portions of Uconnect.
What’s it like to use? More complicated than you might expect, at least at first, especially when you’ve got multiple phones plugged into the system. With time, however, it’s possible to refine how Uconnect reacts to the connection of a given mobile device and customize the system so that it behaves predictably. I’ve always been a fan of the standard 8.4-inch Uconnect – which remains available outside of the Limited trim – and I’m fairly confident that spending more than a day with the 12-inch version would have me singing the same tune.
Ram asked me to meet them in the arid desert surrounding Scottsdale, Arizona to experience what it’s like to drive the 2018 Ram 1500 Limited both on and off road. It’s here that I’ll have to insert an asterisk into my review, because while I did have the chance to pilot the Limited featuring a largely carry-over version of last year’s 5.7-liter V8 (395 horsepower, 410 lb-ft of torque), I was unable to sample the new eTorque family of motors set to debut with this generation of truck.
What makes eTorque so special? Essentially a 48-volt mild hybrid system, it grafts an electric motor onto the front of both V8 or V6 editions of the truck in order to assist with their automatic engine start/stop features as well as low-speed acceleration.
While Ram is claiming that the 5.7-liter’s eTorque system (which replaces a traditional alternator) adds 130 lb.-ft. of torque to the equation, you can’t simply add that figure to the gas engine’s output and arrive at 540 lb.-ft. Instead, think of the battery-assist as a hand-off between fossil fuels and electrons that is constantly shuttling power back and forth as you pull away from a stop, while simultaneously slicing engine restart times in half.
Ram also mentioned an improvement in fuel mileage thanks to the eTorque system, but as yet there’s no official EPA number to go with that claim.
As for the standard, gas-only Ram 1500 Limited, there’s no disputing that its Hemi-branded power is competitive with the twin-turbo best that Ford has to offer in the F-150, or even the whopping 6.2-liter V8 offered by both the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Acceleration is strong, the standard 8-speed automatic is transparent, and the throaty warble of the V8 is something you simply can’t get from a boosted alternative. Four-wheel drive is also in the cards, with Auto and Low-Range settings on offer.
From a ride perspective, The Limited comes with an adjustable air suspension system that plays a dual role in enhancing the truck’s versatility. On the road, it can lower the vehicle to improve both handling and fuel economy (and also kneel when parked for easier loading), and the non-leaf suspension design at the rear is a step above anything else on offer in Detroit. In an off-road environment, the air springs prove their worth by further lifting the already-tall Ram to the point where its undercarriage is protected against all but the most aggressive abuse from the driver.
You can also order the “4×4 Off-Road Package” if you’d like to get even taller (one additional inch of ride height) as well as a locking rear axle (electronic), hill descent control, and more aggressive shock tuning.
The 2019 Ram 1500 Limited proves why FCA has been cresting the comfort truck wave for the two last generations of full-size pickup development. While the question of whether eTorque’s electric sleight of hand will further add to the Ram’s shine by way of a less powerful thirst at the fuel pump remains an unknown, there’s no other truck on the market that offers the level of interior fit, finish, and innovation that you’ll find inside the range-topping Ram, especially when considering its enormous infotainment screen, copious storage, and well-appointed cabin.
Combine that with a suspension that’s civilized when it has to be yet still up for whatever towing or desert wash-scraping task you throw its way, along with a seriously deep-breathing V8 drivetrain, and the 1500 Limited stands tall. Even without significant engine advancements outside the as-yet untested eTorque system, Ram has managed to hold on to its place as one of the best full-size pickups on the market.
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