Pickup truck buyers beware: There will be two vastly different versions of the 2019 Ram 1500 on dealer lots. Here’s how to tell them apart and decide which one best fits your needs.
There’s what Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is now calling the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic. It actually is the Ram pickup originally launched in 2012. Ram has made incremental improvements to the truck in the intervening years, but the basic design has been on the market for six years.
It will be sold concurrently with the model designed to replace it, the 2019 Ram 1500.
Pricing for the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic has not been announced. Those prices are expected to be announced nearer to the trucks’ official fourth-quarter launch.
The 2018 Ram 1500 Classic Tradesman crew cab has a starting price of $35,140 including a $1,645 destination charge. That compares to $36,140 including the $1,645 destination fee for the new Ram 1500 Tradesman crew cab. FCA would not comment on whether the 2018 Ram 1500 pricing is representative of pricing for the very similar 2019 Ram 1500 Classic.
Ram is selling both trucks as it switches pickup production from a factory in Warren, Mich., to a refurbished plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. The automaker is ramping up production of the new model at the rehabbed factory. While that goes on, FCA will be selling the older model from Warren, a factory that will eventually be switched to build Jeep models.
Designed to serve the budget market, the Ram 1500 Classic will be offered in four trim levels, Tradesman, Express, Big Horn/Lone Star and SSV, or Special Services Vehicle.
“It will help us with our entry-level customers and with our fleet customers to give them exactly what they’re looking for,” Jim Morrison, head of Ram Brand, FCA-North America, told Trucks.com.
Morrison said the two-truck strategy is designed to serve as many customers as possible. “We have the range covered with our Classic Tradesman all the way through to this all-new 2019 Ram 1500 Limited model with all the technology you’d expect in a luxury car,” he said.
The 2019 Ram 1500 Classic will be available in three cabs and three bed lengths. Both 4×2 and 4×4 versions will be offered. Engines are a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 or optional 5.7-liter V-8. A 3.0-liter V-6 diesel will be available later in the year.
A new “Classic” badge will distinguish the Ram 1500 Classic during its build-out and sell-down.
But if buyers want to pony up money for the new model, here’s what they get.
The 2019 Ram 1500 is lighter, longer and wider than the Classic. It’s more aerodynamic and fuel efficient. It has a maximum payload of 2,300 pounds and maximum trailer tow capacity of 12,700 pounds, both about 20 percent higher than on the Classic.
The new Ram 1500’s wheelbase and cab grow up to 4 inches longer, depending on the body style. The truck is 0.5 inches wider. At the same time, Ram has eliminated 225 pounds from its crew cab 4×4 version, the most popular configuration. Other versions have also experienced weight loss.
Engine choices include a standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 in most trims and the optional 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, both equipped for the first time with mild-hybrid technology. The V6 offers 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The V8 makes 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. Both are mated to an 8-speed transmission. A non-hybrid version of the V8 is also available.
The new Ram 1500’s interior has been significantly upgraded. It offers a new, optional 12-inch touchscreen infotainment interface. The center console has five USB ports and can hold a 15-inch laptop.
Asked if he worries about confusion between the Ram 1500 and the Ram 1500 Classic in dealerships, Morrison said he didn’t expect any. “One of the things that clearly delineates it is the new trucks all have the new body style and the R – A – M grilles,” he said. “The old trucks are the old body style with the crosshair grille, so at 50 feet you can tell them apart.”