The redesigned 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie pickup truck offers a uniquely smooth daily driving experience that can double for comfortable off-road exploring.
The Laramie is a midprice trim level that combines the correct amount of toughness with the comfort and technology truck buyers now expect from their pickups. It has a smooth ride, leather-trimmed seats and a responsive 8.4-inch touch screen. It can be used as a polished daily driver and gives parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles a competent contender as it pursues rivals Ford and Chevrolet in the pickup truck market.
Trucks.com tested a Ram 1500 Laramie 4×4 in crew-cab configuration with the short 5-foot, 7-inch bed. The truck demonstrated its worth in both urban traffic and potential outdoor adventures. Trips to a secret fishing spot or a family tour of national parks will be met with a plush and engaging driving experience. The Laramie is not as rugged as Ram’s Rebel off-road variant. It won’t conquer Baja. But it does offer comfortable access to the outdoors at a reasonable price.
Redesigned in 2018, the Ram has a stiffened chassis made from high-strength steel that allows some configurations a maximum towing capacity of more than 12,000 pounds. The Laramie 4×4 can tow up to 11,340 pounds when properly equipped, and its standard hitch-towing capacity is 6,370 pounds. Maximum payload capacity is 1,770 pounds.
The test vehicle provided by Ram came equipped with add-ons such as advanced safety technology, a tonneau cover, power running boards, a 33-gallon fuel tank and an anti-spin rear differential for improved traction in cold and slippery conditions.
Most notably, it featured a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine with an optional eTorque mild hybrid system. The motor pairs with the popular eight-speed automatic transmission built by German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen and tuned specially by Ram. The powertrain provides a crisp and nearly effortless driving experience compared with other light-duty pickups.
Inside the cabin, the Ram comes alive. The Laramie has a standard start button, heated steering wheel and the high-resolution, 8.4-inch touch screen. Throughout the interior intricate detail and material quality appear pulled from the pages of an architecture magazine.
Both USB and USB-C ports are easily accessible, as is a nifty smartphone holster that is also a charging station. The truck comes standard with innovative storage compartments for road trip essentials. There is an adjustable center console bin and space under the rear seats for tents and chairs. Optional compartments that hide under the rear floor mats can be used to tuck away hand-held items.
On Trucks.com’s 140-mile test loop through Southern California, the 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4×4 averaged 21.6 mpg. On the same route a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado RST equipped with a 5.3-liter V8 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission logged 18.9 mpg. Trucks.com has not tested a comparable F-150 on the route.
On surface streets eTorque enables smooth operation of the engine start-stop system. It activates more frequently, stays on for longer periods of time and restarts without the intrusive shudder? that causes many drivers to switch such systems off. It also saves 1.7 ounces of fuel for every 90 seconds at a stoplight, according to FCA.
On a curvy uphill climb the engine power, lightweight body and rigid chassis made the truck easy to control and even fun to drive. In highway cruising the adaptive cruise control is the best of any full-size pickup. Transitions in braking and acceleration are slightly abrupt, but the ACC does a good job of recognizing traffic and keeping a desired distance. It will bring the Ram to a full stop and starts again with a slight touch of the gas pedal. It guided the truck across busy highways in near-luxury comfort.
The Ram responds well to steering, braking and acceleration commands. In terms of handling feedback, the Ram 1500 is more accurate than the wafty Ford and slightly less immediate than the drum-tight Chevrolet. The Ram feels the best balanced of the three and requires little effort from the driver considering it weighs about 2.5 tons.
The V8 offers 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque, while the eTorque system provides supplemental torque that smooths out power delivery. The combination of traditional muscle and advanced electric assist gives the mild-hybrid powertrain a crisp feel.
The 2019 Ram 1500 V8 with eTorque is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 17 mpg in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg overall. That is an improvement of 2 mpg overall compared with the V8 without eTorque, which is standard on the Laramie.
The starting price for the Laramie 4×4 is $47,390 including the destination fee. The vehicle tested came to $63,635 thanks to loads of optional equipment.
The 5.7-liter V8 with eTorque added $2,645 over the standard non-hybrid V8. Options that make sense include the $1,595 advanced safety suite and the $845 bed utility package with four adjustable tie-downs, LED lighting and a protective bedliner. Skipping other options brings the 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4×4 near a more-manageable $50,000 range.
Our one concern is reliability. A recent study by J.D. Power of reliability for vehicles in the 2016 model year ranked Ram 27th out of 32 brands across the automotive industry.
The Ram faces tough competition. The Ford F-150 has an athletic, all-aluminum body. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 offers a wider bed with nearly double the number of tie-downs. Both have more powertrain choices and 10-speed automatic transmissions. The Toyota Tundra gets good marks for its durability and resale value.
It will take time before buyers equate Ram with dependability the way they do the Tundra or Silverado.
But FCA has pushed the envelope, and early indications are that buyers will reward the automaker for it. Sales of the Ram 1500 and heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 models increased 7.2 percent to 537,000 units in 2018 compared with 501,000 units the year prior. It was the only full-size truck out of five to gain market share during that time.
The Ram 1500 is a strong all-around package, and the Laramie trim brings refinement to midlevel pickup trucks. It is versatile enough for workplace commuting or tackling an extended trip in comfort and style. Buyers, even those previously loyal to other brands, should consider breaking from the pack with the Ram 1500 Laramie.