While we have driven many different 2019 Ram 1500s, this particular truck has is quite a bit different than any 2019 Ram 1500 I have yet driven. Our friend Alex Wilson got to drive the eTorque equipped trucks at the media drive last year which he wrote about, but this was my first experience with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with eTorque.
This Big Horn Crew Cab 4×4 is powered by the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 rated at 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft of torque. The Pentastar itself has had some substantial revisions for 2019 such as the addition of variable valve lift and a cooled EGR system, but the most notable change for 2019 is the addition of the eTorque system. Standard on the Pentastar and optional on the HEMI the eTorque system is a relatively simple design using a motor-generator unit to replace the alternator, a 48-volt, 430 watt-hour battery pack mounted on the back wall of the cab and a bit of wiring and intelligent programming, you get six separate benefits out of this simple system.
The first benefit is the Electronic Start Stop (ESS) system when eTorque uses the motor-generator unit which is connected to the crankshaft of the engine by a drive belt to stop the engine at stop signs and then spin the motor back up when you let your foot off the brake. This allows for a much smoother engine shut down and restart with no noise of the starter spinning the motor up as on a traditional stop/start system.
Another benefit is the motor generator units ability to provide instant launch torque to get the truck up and going. The eTorque system can provide up to 90 lb.-ft of torque on the V6 for the first half tire rotation while leaving a stop, after that the engine is up higher in its powerband and takes over.
The third benefit of the eTorque system is its ability to smooth out upshifts on acceleration. While the ZF 8-speed transmission is already highly regarded and shifts exceptionally smooth it is even better in an eTorque equipped truck. Again using the motor-generator to apply a load to the crankshaft of the engine during gear changes, in return the energy that is collected by loading the crankshaft generates engine to the battery pack, allowing the truck actually to regenerate energy while accelerating.
Alternatively, on downshifts, the motor-generator unit can raise the engines RPM by spinning the crankshaft for smoother downshifts as opposed to the traditional way of doing it where the engine’s computer adds fuel to increase the engine RPM.
Regenerative braking is another feature of eTorque, allowing the system to recapture energy while braking and return it to the battery, which plays a part in the sixth and final benefit of the eTorque system.
In a traditional vehicle with an alternator, you have that alternator creating a parasitic drag during the whole time the vehicle is running. While at cruising speeds the 48-volt battery will power all the vehicles systems as opposed to the 12-volt battery allowing the eTorque system to “freewheel” reducing parasitic drag on the engine.
All these systems work almost imperceptibly and do not affect the driving experience. I have been very impressed with the systems seamless operation during my week with it.
The V6 can also get the work done with the ability to tow up to 7,750 lbs and has a payload of up to 2,320 lbs in the right configuration. Our test truck with the 3.21 gear ratio ran our 0-60 MPH test in 8.74 seconds, respectable for the base engine. While you won’t ever convince an enthusiast that they don’t need a HEMI, the Pentastar V6 with eTorque is more than capable enough to get the job done for the majority of the population.
This truck is also my first experience with the Big Horn trim level in the 2019 1500, and has the optional 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, optional LED lighting package which includes LED Head, fog and taillamps and a tasteful use of chrome which looks nice against the Maximum Steel exterior color. Overall I think the 2019 Ram 1500 is a very good looking truck.
The interior of the truck is nicely finished in light frost beige and black, which I really like. It gives the truck an upscale look and is a bit of a departure from the typical all black. This particular truck has the Bighorn Level 2 Group which includes such features as heated front seats and steering wheel, 8.4-inch Uconnect display with android auto and apple carplay, dual-zone climate control, and much more. The ergonomics in these trucks are fantastic with everything being close to hand and very easy to operate. This truck also has the optional navigation system, denoted by the gloss black surround and flush mount screen.
Out on the road, the 1500 is incredibly quiet and rides exceptionally well on the optional four-corner air suspension. If you blindfolded someone and put them in one of these trucks, they would think they’re in a high-end luxury car based on ride characteristics it’s that good. The turning radius is tight for a vehicle of this size, making it easy to maneuver and park, visibility is also excellent out of the large windows.
The bed of this truck is also very well set up. The optional deployable bumper step makes it easy to get up and into the bed which has adjustable cargo tie-downs, a spray-in bedliner and LED bed lighting all part of the optional bed utility group.
While we did a highway MPG test and didn’t quite get the results we expected, the truck really impressed us after a week of 70% city and 30% highway driving returning a hand calculated average of 11 liters per 100km or 18.2 MPG. These results are 3.2 MPG better than the last Rebel Crew Cab 4×4 HEMI that we tested.
So what will this all set you back? A Big Horn Crew Cab 4×4 starts at $52,545 Canadian or $42,490 U.S, as equipped this truck stickers for $68,540 Canadian or $58,380 U.S.