New truck goes light on weight, heavy on tech
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The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 has made its debut at the Detroit motor show this week, sporting a lighter body and technology upgrades, along with a new mild-hybrid powertrain.

Weighing up to 102 kilograms less than its predecessor, the new 1500 features an aluminium tailgate - but not the tray bed, which remains a decision unique to Ford and its big F-150.

Ram says the new 1500 is still as tough as ever (of course), with the company claiming the new frame's heavy reliance on high-strength steel helping to improve durability and rigidity for better road manners.

“We’ve left steel where we need to deliver the long-term durability that we believe our owners want,” says Jim Morrison, Ram brand chief.

The 2019 Ram 1500 also features a drag coefficient of 0.357, leading Ram to declare it the most aerodynamic pickup truck in the segment.

Helping to achieve that figure are the 1500's active aerodynamics features - including grille shutters, an electrically deployable aero spoiler below the front bumper, and air suspension, which automatically lowers the truck around 15mm at highway speeds.

Speaking of the air suspension, the Ram 1500 is the only truck in its class to feature the technology, which is claimed to improve fuel efficiency, ride comfort, off-road capability, load levelling, along with entry and exit convenience.

New for the 2019 model is what the company calls an 'eTorque' mild-hybrid system for both the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 and 5.7-litre Hemi V8 engine variants, combining the petrol motor with a belt-drive generator and 48V battery pack to offer idle start/stop, short-term torque assistance and regenerative braking.

The mild-hybrid setup adds up to 90lb-ft (122Nm) of torque for the V6, and 130lb-ft (176Nm) with the V8. Outputs are rated at 305hp/269lb-ft (227kW/365Nm) and 395hp/410lb-ft (295kW/556Nm) for the V6 and Hemi V8 respectively.

Both powertrains are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard, sending drive to either a part-time or on-demand four-wheel drive system depending on specification.

There's also a coasting function for both engines to further improve efficiency, helped even more by various weight saving measures to reduce the Ram 1500's overall mass.

Payload in the back has grown to 1043 kilograms, and towing capacity is a huge 5783kg.

There are now also bigger brakes, an electric park brake as standard (which saved another 10kg).

A Rebel variant will feature again, adding one-inch-taller suspension by Bilstein, 18-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch tyres, a locking rear diff, and recovery hooks.

All of this is packed under a new-look exterior and interior design, doing away with the 'crosshair' grille design for good up front, and introducing a more care-like feel to the cabin layout and materials.

"We’ve changed pretty much 99 percent of the interior," says chief interior designer, Ryan Nagode. There's more room front and rear, and a number of new storage options have been added.

Perhaps the biggest standout in the cabin, depending on the trim grade, is the 12-inch vertical infotainment display. Who would've thought Ram would be the next to take a tip from Tesla and Volvo...

The screen allows for a huge full-screen navigation display, but it can also be divided into halves - maps at top and media on bottom - or screens can be 'pinned' over the top of another, like a picture-in-picture setup.

Australia

As always, the 1500 is officially planned for left-hand drive only. With some 500,000 examples sold in the US last year, it's no surprise the company isn't losing any sleep over the incremental sales it could add in right-hand-drive markets.

Still, as private importers and new factory partnerships have shown - such as American Special Vehicles with the Ram 2500 and 3500, and HSV's plan to bring in the 2019 Silverado - there is a business case to be made here for those willing.

For now, there is no clear word on the new Ram 1500's potential for an Australian launch. Both ASV and the Australian arm of FCA have indicated interest in the 1500, but neither has announced plans - although ASV is understood to be working hard on a case for the 1500 to launch here in 2018. Last year, the company showed a 1500 Rebel at the National 4x4 Outdoor Show in Melbourne.

CarAdvice has contacted both for comment and will update this story when we have more.