Driving 2019 Ram 1500 eTorque: Proof of Concept

Mild hybrid system gives 2019 Ram 1500 extra legs

2019 Ram 1500 Limited
Ride and handling benefit from variable-rate coil springs or optional air suspension.

The engineering team responsible for the all new 2019 Ram 1500 eTorque V-8 and V-6 engines have proven that with the right amount of technical tinkering, a half-ton full-sized pickup can be a high-performing, no-compromise truck with all of the style and comfort you could want — plus more than a little added efficiency.

We got a chance to get an early drive in new Ram 1500s equipped with both of FCA’s innovative eTorque engines in Lexington, Kentucky, last week, and the technology did not disappoint. The 2019 truck is lighter, more fuel efficient, more stylish and more comfortable than the previous, well-regarded version. And it performs at higher levels than any Ram product. One of the crown jewels in FCA’s lineup of automotive brands, Ram Trucks continues to over-deliver on comfort, performance, reliability and technical innovation.

The eTorque Powertrains in Action

2019 Ram 1500 offers an optional 5.7-liter V-8 with eTorque mild hybrid system.

The mild-hybrid engines that power the all new 2019 Ram represent a technical accomplishment, and they come in two flavors. The first, an adaptation of the existing 5.7 HEMI V-8 engine, adds an eTorque belt-drive electric motor-generator unit with 48-volt battery pack to enable start/stop functions, provide nearly instantaneous torque assist and activate brake-energy regeneration. The legendary engine combined with the electric motor puts out 395 horsepower and 410 foot-pounds of torque.

The second flavor combines a Pentastar 3.6 liter V6 with the same eTorque belt-drive electric motor-generator unit and 48-volt battery pack, and it offers similar benefits. The Pentastar eTorque, boasting a compression ratio of 11.3:1, puts out 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The result of using the eTorque system is nearly “free” added horsepower and torque. The eTorque system contributes up to 90 pound-feet of torque to the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and up to 130 pound-feet to the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8. The result is better drivability, smoother acceleration and increased fuel economy.

While the power in the V-6 was impressive, the V-8 really packed some punch. There are all sorts of technical tests and benchmarks used to measure vehicle performance, but I always like to rely on the old-fashioned foot-on-the-gas test. I came to a full stop to let the engine shut off, waited about two seconds and then stomped on the gas pedal. The truck responded like a cat darting after a mouse in all of its rubber-burning, gravel-spraying glory and quickly ran through the gears on its way up to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds. Whether you’re towing a boat, a trailer or just hauling air, you’ll like these engines.

Gaining Efficiency

2019 Ram 1500 Laramie
Blind-spot Monitoring senses trailer length and compensates for it.

Gaining fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance is really what this new Ram 1500 eTorque is all about. The new Ram boasts a drag coefficient of .357, which is a nine percent improvement over the previous model. As the 2019 Ram 1500 approaches 35 mph, a standard active front air dam automatically extends downward 2.5 inches on non-air suspension and Rebel trucks to improve the aero efficiency. Similarly, on trucks with the optional air suspension, the system lowers the truck a little over half an inch to aid aerodynamics. An active grille shutter system automatically closes the airflow through the gaping grille when cooling is least needed to kick up aero efficiency one more notch. The use of lighter weight steel and aluminum in the frame has shaved 100 pounds off the weight of the frame in another bid for better fuel-efficiency.

In the end, the engineers of the new Ram 1500 eTorque don’t want their customers to notice a decline in performance or feel from the eTorque models. Rather, they want them to notice the added efficiencies at the pump. In a rear-drive 2019 Ram 1500 the 5.7 liter HEMI V-8 eTorque has an EPA rating of 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway/19 mpg overall. That’s about two miles-per-gallon better than a HEMI-equipped truck without the eTorque system. In a two-wheel-drive 2019 Ram 1500, the 3.6 liter Pentastar V-6 eTorque has an EPA rating of 20 mpg city/25 mpg highway/22 mpg combined.

Better Comfort & Convenience

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel Interior
2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

To no one’s surprise, the folks at Ram spared nothing in providing best-in-class comfort and premium options for this line of Ram 1500 editions. Indeed, the Laramie Longhorn edition boasts coil-spring rear suspension, LED headlamps, fully dampened tailgate, custom cargo management system in the bed, power running boards and alligator-embossed leather interior. The leg room in the crew cab back seat is the roomiest we’ve ever seen in the class. Inside the cab virtually all vibration and noise is mitigated by noise cancellation/dampening technology, including frame-mounted active-tuned mass modules that counteract vibration. Active Noise Cancellation in cabin gives the driver the sensation of driving a luxury sedan.

Improved Safety

There are over 100 safety features in the 2019 Ram 1500 eTorque, and the headliners are lane departure warning, blindspot monitoring, and trailer sway dampening. FCA’s LaneSense lane departure warning will gently steer the car back into the lane if the sensors detect the vehicle is straying off its bearing. Blindspot monitoring will adjust to compensate for the length of the trailer in tow, and trailer sway dampening will minimize “wobbling” trailer movement while providing the driver with added braking control. To lessen the impact of a frontal crash, splayed and tapered frame rail technology creates an efficient energy-absorbing front rail structure. The core body structure is 54 percent high-strength steel, and the frame is 98 percent high-strength steel for additional impact safety.

Additional Features

My favorite new feature is the adaptive cruise control, which allows the driver to set the distance to be maintained between the pickup and the vehicle in front of it, as well as capping the speed limit should the lead vehicle speed up or turn off. Some of other improvements are the frequency response dampening shocks, new-generation of TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmissions and even a heat exchanger system that quickly warms lubricants, maximizing engine and transmission efficiency during warm-up. You can hear more about these and some of the other new features in our exclusive interview with FCA/Ram chief engineer Rob Wichman.

Editions for Most Applications

Both the V-6 and V-8 models come with an array of option combinations that include multiple infotainment systems, various cab types (crew & quad), two- and four-wheel drive and a mind-blowing selections of trims and interior adornments. A Ram Truck lover can just about build whatever type of Ram truck they want. From the work-truck Tradesman models to the Laramie, Longhorn and Limited editions, Ram Truck has a model that should match your requirements.

With the innovative eTorque system and hundreds of other improvements and weight-shavings that accompanied it, Ram Trucks has accomplished something very difficult. It has built trucks with better capabilities, while at the same time endowing them with fuel economy equal or better than their less-capable predecessors. Getting there wasn’t easy, but we like the results.

See our photo review of the 2019 Ram 1500 pickup