Still The Best Truck in The Business?

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2019 Ram 1500

A couple of months ago, I anointed the new 2019 Ram 1500 as the best vehicle in the highly-competitive and fiercely-loyal half-ton full-sized pickup game. If you consider how sales of new-gen pickups are going, it has been confirmed through a recent jump in sales and the volume of feedback from the media and owners alike.

This year alone, I had the chance to sample a few versions of this pickup truck. Each one exhibiting a level of excellence expected from a truck that has been garnering plenty of accolades of late – including Motor Trend's Truck of the Year.

However, it appears that the new measurement of a pickup truck is how it plays at the top of the line. The most luxurious trim level is often the biggest showcase of everything that a manufacturer has poured into their highest volume vehicle. It appears to be the case for Ram Trucks and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that its brightest showcase for its new 1500 just happens to be the top shelf Limited trim.

2019 Ram 1500 Limited 4X4

This is the truck that every aspires to own. Even those who can only afford a Big Horn/Lone Star trim could only dream of having the new 12-inch Uconnect touch screen, power retractable side steps, and the brightest and most intricate grille design of the Ram 1500 lineup.

It is also a symbol of the new strategy for pickup truck customers. With GMC's Sierra 1500 Denali and Ford's F-150 Limited showcasing technology, construction, performance, and advanced capabilities, FCA had to jump into the pool and pull out all stops on their Ram 1500 Limited.

And, they did. Or, did they?

The most impressive piece of the Ram 1500 is how they created a sleeker look while maintaining a massive presence on the road. While the "big rig" front is apparent, the grille and headlamp areas were slimmed down for a sleeker look up front. The Limited's grille is intricate and very compelling – probably the best grille of the lineup. The side badge details also add to the mix of masculinity and luxury, creating a stand out look for the Ram.

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Rearward, the shape of the Ram continues to be evolutionary – right down to the Ram Box. Yes, the taillights are different and the badging bolder, but you cannot mistake this truck as a Ram – and nothing else. My Limited tester wore 22-inch wheels, which one could argue as being a bit overkill. It fits this particular truck just fine.

FCA also stepped up in their award-winning cabin. The Limited is chock full of accents, textures, and finery. The leather alone was simply luxurious. There was some stitching that brought up some questions as to why a detail from the Longhorn would appear on the Limited. I just shrugged my shoulders and chock it up for just being a Ram.

Still, the Limited offered a blue-lighted instrumentation – Chrysler, anyone? The speedometer and tachometer framed a sizeable information screen providing graphical information on vehicle status, functions, and fuel consumption. The one detail I wished they would give a bit more logic to would be the four main gauges dotted around the instrument cluster. Not only were they small, but they looked simply scattered around both dials. This is just a nitpick on my part.

The seats were very comfortable – both front and back. They are truly made for work, play, and long drives for either/or. In the Crew Cab, the rear seat is tremendous with miles of leg room. The rear cushions fold up for cargo management of larger items that need to be in the cab, instead of the box. The Ram Box system on the box offers deeper areas for tools and other items, yet they will cut into space inside the box.

2019 Ram 1500 Limited 4X4

The focal point of this Limited tester was the 12-inch UConnect Touch screen. The large touchscreen can provide functions for the infotainment and climate controls, either in a full-screen mode or split into two cards – upper and lower. It is a wonderful idea, except for a few details. If you do not use the lower "buttons" on the screen, you will not have easy access to some of these functions. For example, the heated/cooled seat and heated steering wheel controls. It is one of those "once you get used to it" functions that require a bit of a learning curve to switch between cards and/or functions.

The other concern would be the kind of power the screen uses. It can get rather slow on some functions. If patience is not a virtue of yours, see if you can get a Ram 1500 with the tried, tested, and true 8.4-inch UConnect Touch system. You do get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with plenty of native playback and infotainment features. Those audio options are filtered through a 19-speaker Harman Kardon system that provided the finest sound in any pickup truck…ever.

If you do turn off the audio system, you will also enjoy something of a superlative in pickup trucks – a quiet environment. The active noise cancelling system in the Ram 1500 Limited enables you to have a luxury car feel while towing the boat to the lake. Who wouldn't want that?

2019 Ram 1500 Limited 4X4

Powering my tester was the 5.7-liter HEMI V8. This engine has 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque – and it shows. This engine feels much smoother and more powerful than before, and it can pull quite nicely. To be exact, you can tow up to 11,340 pounds with a payload rating of 1,770 pounds with this specific tester.

The 8-speed automatic transmission offered very smooth shifts and matched well with the uprated HEMI V8. Ram moved the eShift controller to the dashboard. I'm not sure whether it is in the right place – or the right shifter to use – it is, however, effective and quick. You can control the gears by a few buttons on the steering wheel. There are also buttons for the four-wheel drive system near the eShift knob, including an automatic setting that can detect whether the front axles can be used for improved traction, when needed.

One issue brought up by my colleagues have been fuel economy. They have been reporting lower consumption figures from the HEMI V8 and felt disappointed by them. Sadly, I have to report an average of 15.4 MPG in the Ram 1500 whilst in my care. I am happy to report a high figure of 17.2 MPG after a nice highway stint.

2019 Ram 1500 Limited Crew 4X4

If fuel consumption concerns you, you may want to opt for the eTorque versions of the HEMI V8 and Pentastar V6. The light hybrid system is driven from the belt off the engine and provides more performance, capability, and ease of driving.

Ride quality was really superb. This is all thanks to the independent suspension at all four corners with the available air suspension is retained. The latter enables the Ram 1500 to lower the truck automatically at highway speeds for more efficiency. With the normal set-up, it still rides well without a lot of feedback from the road. Plus, it handles and corners quite well – near-flat through the corners at proper speeds. Braking is also great. It exhibited strong stops in normal, panic, and winter situations. The pedal feel is perfect with great response down to the wheels.

I love the ease of the steering system and its solid on-center feel. The Ram 1500 has a very good turning radius for its size, which will surprise you when maneuvering a truck in parking lots and so forth. It also helps to have a 360-degree camera system that assist you in adjusting your parking job or getting around an obstacle that you cannot see with your own eyes. Thankfully, these driver assist aids will make a novice pickup truck driver into an expert – well, one could hope. Me? Well, you know how much I love trucks. All I can say is that if you love trucks, you better drive one as you were born to do so.

Starting price for the 2019 Ram 1500 lineup is $31,795. My tester is at the top of the pricing chain with the sticker coming in at $68,785.

2019 Ram 1500 Limited 4X4

Let me address something before I conclude this review on what I consider the best full-sized pickup truck in the American marketplace. It may seem that I was a bit nitpicky about the Ram 1500. Based on some quick drives in three different trims – Big Horn, Laramie, and Rebel – there were high expectations put upon its most luxurious trim level. I already had excellent experiences with these trucks – including a spirited off-road run in the Rebel back in October. I wanted nothing but the highest level of excellence for a halo vehicle in the truck business. If it seems like I am expecting the 2019 Ram 1500 Limited to be the pickup truck version of a Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII, then I apologize if I gave off that impression.

However, I can seriously confirm that the 2019 Ram 1500 Limited is the best pickup truck you can buy or lease today. It also confirms that you cannot go wrong with any Ram 1500, regardless of trim level. B y any standard or measure, this truck deserves its accolades to only stand taller than its competitors. That was exactly my expectation from this Ram 1500 Limited.

It is safe to say that my expectations were simply met.

DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

All photos by Randy Stern

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