2019 Ram 1500: All New, Improved, but Very Familiar – First Drive Review

2019 ram 1500 rebel
2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

What has Ram done to make the all-new 2019 half-ton truck more competitive? There is no question that the full-size pickup truck market is a fiercely contested segment in the automotive world. Ram has recently improved their pickup sales, but the company is still in third sales spot behind Chevrolet and Ford. The new 2019 Ram 1500 goes on sale this month and counterpunches competition with a frame up redesign.

The frame was redesigned with pervasive use of high-strength steel to make it more rigid and also lighter weight. Overall, the 2019 truck is around 225 pounds lighter than a comparable 2018 Ram truck. The chassis stiffness becomes evident immediately when you take the truck (a Ram Rebel in this case) off-road. The new crew cab is longer than before and accommodates a panoramic sunroof. You may expect squeaks and rattles coming from the sunroof or other components once the truck is flexing over rough terrain, but that is not the case. The truck remains quiet, while the suspension soaks up the washboard dirt road chatter and larger obstacles.

2019 Ram Rebel: Off-Road

There are a lot of news with the 2019 Ram Rebel. It offers more choice for off-road enthusiasts. The truck is available in quad cab 6’4’’ bed or crew cab 5’7’’ configurations. Just like all other 2019 Rams, the Rebel goes on sale with the same and very familiar 5.7L HEMI V8 that is rated at 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to an updated 8-speed automatic transmission. The V6 eTorque and V8 eTorque mild hybrid models will be available later in the year. The Rebel moves away from the Toyo Open Country off-road tires in favor of 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs that are similar to the tires used on the Power Wagon. Speaking of the Power Wagon, the 2019 Rebel looks like they took the big HD off-roader and shrunk it down a little. This is a good thing, as the design is masculine and the two-tone paint compliments it nicely.

Indeed, the cross-hair grille is all gone for 2019 and beyond. There are two camps on this subject, with a lot of people resisting the design change. The Rebel design is spot on, but the chrome grille of other Ram 1500 model are not my cup of tea. The different front-end look of the luxurious LongHorn and Limited models make these trucks appear more SUV-like.

The Rebel is available with a choice of two suspensions: steel springs all around, or the nest generation of the four-corner air suspension. Ram says they improved the air suspension to respond quicker to the road and ride height adjustments, while making it more robust.

Naturally, there is a 4×4 transfer case with lower gearing, but the new transmission and shift algorithm and throttle sensitivity are mated beautifully to allow for a more enjoyable off-road experience. Traditionally, 4×4 low mode makes throttle and speed modulation a little jerky. Not the case with the 2019 Ram. Throttle sensitivity is remapped and automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. Going between 1 MPH and 20 MPH in 4Lo is smooth and enjoyable.

Capability & Highway Ride

2019 ram 1500 price

What are truck used for? Yep, it’s hauling stuff and towing trailers. The redesigned truck has a much higher towing capacity of up to 12,750 lbs and a maximum payload of up to 2,300 lbs. Even off-road models such as the Rebel have a payload capability of around 1,500 lbs.

What if you do not want or need to go off-road? The new truck is a smooth highway cruiser. While all pickup trucks are getting better to drive on the road, the 2019 Ram improves its already good ride further with redesigned suspension components, responsive shocks, and active frame-mounted anti-vibration ATMM modules. Ram is using the ATMMs to vibrate out of phase with unwanted road and engine vibrations and smooth out the ride. On the inside, there is active noise cancelation and all-new interior designs that combine for increased comfort.

The 5.7L HEMI V8 still offers Ram’s Multi Displacement System (MDS, aka. cylinder deactivation). Transitions between four and eight cylinder modes go virtually unnoticed, and that’s the way it should be. The only indication that the system is working is a tiny green “Eco” light in the center gauge cluster that comes on while cruising at light throttle or coasting.

Ram has touted the improved aerodynamics of the truck, but it’s evident driving on a highway with a heavy cross wind. The new truck just feels more stable at higher speeds and in windy conditions.


2019 2018 ram 1500 rebel interior direct comparison
2019 Ram 1500 Rebel vs 2018 Ram 1500 Rebel

Ram spent the time to create six distinct interiors for the six distinct trim levels: Tradesman, BigHorn, Rebel, Laramie, Laramie LongHorn, and Limited. Each has its own theme and material selection. The seats feel just as comfortable as they used to be. The quality of materials, fit, finish, and design have all been stepped up. Still, the new Ram is familiar and comfortable.

The 8-speed automatic transmission is still controlled via a rotary dial on the dash, but it has been redesigned. The controller is well placed and easy to use. There are several essential buttons around the shifter to control the 4×4 system selection, rear e-locker, and hill descent control.

Since the new truck is longer, there is more than enough legroom in the back of the crew cab, even for the tallest of passengers.


2019 ram 1500 limited price 4x4 crew

The Ram will initially launch with the 5.7L HEMI V8 only, but the quad cab Tradesman 2WD base model with a V6 eTorque mild hybrid will have a starting price of $33,340. See our brake down of the pricing and a link to the 2019 Ram online configurator.


The 2019 Ram 1500 is a clear improvement over the outgoing model and a very serious contender against the best from Ford, GM, Nissan, and Toyota. I am a bit surprised that Ram did not bump up the output rating for the V8 and V6 engines for the new truck. Granted, nobody has had a chance to drive the new eTorque system in a Ram – the mild hybrid system is focused on improving efficiency and not ultimate high performance.

The new Ram is going on sale now, way before the new 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500, 2019 GMC Sierra 1500, and the 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. Ram’s aggressive pricing with the BigHorn and Rebel models, high tech features, and plentiful trim level and package options should keep competitors worried.

We will publish our full first drive video review of the 2019 Ram truck lineup this Saturday March 17th, 2018 to our TFLtruck Youtube channel. We are also doing a long road trip in the 2019 Rebel, taking it to Colorado via Moab, Utah. You will see a lot more of the new truck right here soon!

We publish a new truck video to the channel three times per week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.