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2019 Ram 1500 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.6

The 2019 Ram 1500 feels like the pre-redesign models from a powertrain standpoint. It offers the same capable V6 and V8 engines, pairing each with a responsive transmission. The 1500 provides one of the smoothest rides in the class, and it moves well on- and off-road. Towing and hauling capacities are up for 2019, and the Ram now ranks among the class leaders in both areas.

  • "We drove the Ram 1500 with its most popular engine, the unchanged 5.7-liter iron-block pushrod V-8. Its 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque are more than ample to move this lighter rig with enthusiasm. … The vibrations caused by cylinder deactivation are largely quelled. … Active noise canceling furthers the cause to the extent that we noticed the switch to four-cylinder mode only when the windows were down." -- Car and Driver
  • "Take the interior, now extra-quiet thanks to active noise cancellation and frame-mounted engine vibration-cancelling active tuned mass modules (all this on a pickup truck, folks!). Add in the available air suspension, which seems to have proven itself since its introduction, and the smoothest ride in the full-size class only gets smoother, if only marginally." -- Autoweek
  • "The 1500 has always been as smooth as butter on the road, thanks to its coil suspension in the rear, and for 2019, a number of improvements make it ride even better. Retuned shocks soak up the little jounces of the Arizona pavement with ease and a better-located sway bar helps keep body roll in check. New for this year are dual-rate springs that work to keep the ride feel the same whether the truck bed is empty or loaded up to its 2,300 pound payload capacity." -- CNET

Acceleration and Power

The Ram 1500 comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that puts out 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The V6 also features a mild-hybrid eTorque system that features an engine stop-start system and regenerative braking to help improve fuel economy. An eight-speed automatic transmission comes standard.

For more power, you'll want the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine, which produces 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. You can get this engine with or without the eTorque system.

Both engines provide ample power with a smooth delivery, but the V8 is the better option if you want to tow or haul heavy stuff. The V8 also has a nice engine note, emitting the growl that many truck drivers love. The transmission pairs well with the engines and delivers smooth, timely shifts.

Fuel economy estimates are not yet available for the V6 engine, but with the V8, the Ram gets an EPA-estimated 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Those are similar to the ratings of V8-powered rivals.

  • "Pushing the start button, we were greeted by a healthy V8 rumble. Acceleration is pleasantly smooth, and we were not wanting for power. The Ram was also happy to oblige when we punched it to get past slower traffic. The transmission's shifts are well-timed and the 8-speed works very well behind the V8." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Unless you're really striving for that last extra bit of towing capacity and a touch more economy, the familiar 5.7-liter is more than sufficient. … At one point we dragged around a trailer loaded to 6,000 pounds -- barely a challenge. It would only be news if the truck did break a sweat here; suffice it to say, the rig went (and just as importantly, stopped) just fine." -- Autoweek
  • "As in previous Rams, torque delivery is managed by the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. And that's not a bad thing: The gearbox delivers precise shifts and is rarely caught off guard." -- Car and Driver

Handling and Braking

Rear-wheel drive comes standard and four-wheel drive is available. The Ram 1500 stands out for its exceptionally smooth ride; this truck sets the bar for how trucks should drive. An air suspension is available that helps further improve ride quality. In addition to its comfort, the Ram feels stable whether you're driving on the highway or a winding canyon road.

  • "During our test drive, the new 1500 was just so civilized and confidence-inspiring. True, it's not as if its competitors are agricultural, but there is nevertheless a greater sense of control, comfort and civility with the Ram." -- Autotrader
  • "One of the Ram's strongest suits has been ride quality, and it continues to be, both with and without the optional air suspension. … Our drive through the hill country around San Antonio took us over rough roads. The suspension did an excellent job of absorbing bumps and smoothing out stretches of rough track, while the new shocks, plus the redesigned, retuned front suspension made handling feel more precise than in the previous Ram. The ride felt comfortable and well-controlled in all the Rams we drove." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "I can't say I physically watched them work, but I can promise that even the lowly Tradesman trim felt remarkably smooth and comfortable no matter what RPM the engine was at or how many cylinders were in use." -- Jalopnik

Off-Roading

The Ram 1500 won't force you to shy away from an off-road adventure. This truck handles itself well when the pavement ends, and the Rebel trim is the most adept at off-roading, though it can't match the capabilities of the Ford Raptor. An electronic on-demand transfer case, a locking rear differential, and skid plates are available. The locking differential comes standard in the Rebel trim, which also features heavier duty, off-road Bilstein shocks.

  • "We didn't get the chance to really push any of the Rams off-road (more on that coming soon), but the Rebel happily picked its way down the moderately rough trail we pointed it down. The Rebel is absolutely not a Raptor-fighter, but it should have no trouble getting you into and out of camp. And, with its powder-coated front and rear bumpers, and 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTracks filling out the wheel wells, it looks cool (and let's not pretend that doesn't count for something)." -- Autoweek
  • "Similarly, the Rebel off-road variant was fun to toss through soft sand but I didn't get the impression that it was up for hours and hours of aggressive use." -- Jalopnik

Towing and Hauling

The redesigned Ram is more capable than before, with its maximum payload and towing capacities rising to 2,300 pounds and 12,750 pounds, respectively, for the 2019 model year. These totals are up from 1,880 pounds and 10,640 pounds for the 2018 model, and they put the 2019 Ram 1500 among the class leaders in both areas.

In addition to being highly capable from a max capacity standpoint, the Ram doesn't generally feel strained when weighed down. However, this is dependent on the rear axle ratio your truck is equipped with (several options are available, depending on which engine you get). Still, even with a 3-ton trailer, the Ram generally moves easily, and the brakes have plenty of stopping power.

  • "We towed a 6,000-pound trailer with the Ram, a good example of the weight many people tow, and the truck felt comfortable and confident with the trailer hooked up. And whether we were towing or driving the Ram unloaded, the brakes were firm and linear." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The V8 Hemi didn't feel very ambitious when paired up with the more efficiency-focused axle ratio, and the truck felt like it was working pretty hard to pull a 20-odd foot ski boat in a brief towing test we put it through. But in both cases, the truck's performance still seemed acceptable to me." -- Jalopnik
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