NAIAS 2019: FCA Debuts New Ram Heavy Duty Pickups
Ram HD crests the 1,000 lb-ft mark with more capable, luxurious and tech-laden workhorses.
FCA’s Ram truck division unveiled its new 2019 Heavy Duty (HD) pickup truck lineup at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The new HD pickups feature the slick interiors and tech from Ram’s new 1500 line, significant powertrain and chassis upgrades and all-new front and rear sheetmetal. The Ram HD lineup will face off against Chevy’s new HD pickup offerings and Ford’s established F-Series and includes 2500/3500 capacities in regular, crew and mega-cab configurations.
Since it’s a heavy-duty truck launch, Ram is of course touting new capability figures for its HD lineup, which retains its basic cab architecture, but sees nearly every other part of its chassis upgraded. A new 6.7-liter turbo-diesel producing 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque – the first HD pickup to break the four-figure torque-output barrier – combines with a redone frame that’s now 98.5% high-strength steel to provide what Ram claims are class-leading figures of 35,100-lb. (15,921-kg) towing and 7,680-lb. (3,565-kg) of payload.
With consumer conquests and transaction prices clearly in mind, a large emphasis has also been made to improve ride quality and NVH on the new Ram HD lineup. Active noise cancellation, anti-vibration devices and acoustic glass contribute to a nearly 10-db claimed reduction in interior noise, and progressive springs, Frequency Response Damping (FRD) shocks and a class-exclusive rear air suspension with a bed-lowering mode seek to improve livability.
A healthy ladling of the latest in connectivity, convenience and safety tech – combined with the truly posh interiors ported over from the Ram 1500 – open up new luxury profit margins for Ram’s HD trucks. “Ram Heavy Duty owners constantly demand the highest levels of capability to tackle the biggest jobs,” said Reid Bigland, Head of Ram Brand, FCA. “We’ve also surrounded owners in luxury and technology that until now was unavailable in a heavy-duty pickup.”
New diesel, 8-speed for the Hemi
The standard engine for the 2019 Ram 2500 and 3500 HD is the “Hemi” 6.4-L gasoline V8 producing 410 hp @ 5,600 rpm and 429 lb·ft (582 N·m) @ 4,000 rpm. An optional new 6.7-L Cummins High Output turbodiesel I-6 produces 400 hp @ 2,800 rpm and 1,000 lb·ft (1,356 N·m) @ 1,800 rpm.
Changes to the new diesel include an all-new compacted-graphite-iron cylinder block, new cast-iron cylinder head, lighter and stronger pistons, new forged connecting rods and new bearings. An all-new exhaust manifold anchors an updated variable-geometry turbo that provides up to 33 psi of boost to the 60-lb (27-kg) lighter engine. The 6.4-L gasoline V8 is now mated to the standard TorqueFlite 8HP75 8-speed automatic, which is now shift-by-wire and uses the rotary shift dial from the Ram 1500.
Ram 3500 HD models equipped with the 1,000 lb·ft high-output diesel will be paired to the Aisin AS69RC electronically controlled 6-speed automatic, which gains a transmission controller with a new dual-core processor and double the memory to improve shift precision. Standard 6.7-L diesels (370 hp; 850 lb·ft/1,152 N·m) will be paired to an upgraded 68RFE 6-speed automatic transmission that nets new variable-force solenoids and refined accumulator and hydraulic controls to smooth shifts into reverse and Park.
Fully optimized frame structure
The 2019 Ram HD pickups feature new optimized frames constructed of 98.5% high-strength steel, six crossmembers, hydroformed main rails and fullyboxed rear rails. A new two-piece front-suspension crossmember adds a longer frame-weld interface and the rear-axle structural crossmember (load point for fifth-wheel and gooseneck hitches), has been upgraded for 2019 to accommodate the increased towing capacity.
The 2019 Ram HD suspension includes the FRD shocks, new progressive springs with updated bushings and continues to provide the class-exclusive rear five-link coil design on Ram 2500. A class-exclusive Active-Level rear air-spring rear suspension is also available on both the Ram 2500 and 3500, which on the 3500’s Hotchkiss rear setup permits softer heavy-load leaf springs for improved unladen suspension articulation. Upgrades for NVH include new C-pillar hydromounts, two frame-rail mounted Active-Tuned Mass Modules (ATMM), new engine mounts and burly new exhaust-system attachments.
Functional new tech
The 2019 Ram HD trucks will benefit aesthetically from the new interiors, but real-world improvements include an HVAC system with 30% more air flow and all-new in-duct electric heating elements on diesel models to help speed cabin warmup. The tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) can monitor up to six tires on the (dually) pickup and up to 12 trailer tires. A 360-degree camera display will be available along with a rear cargo-view camera to monitor bed payloads or help connect fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailers.
On so-equipped 2019 Ram HD models, the center armrest storage tub is deep enough to hold a 15-inch laptop, and five USB ports (including type-C) and three in-cabin 115V/400W three-prong outlets should help keep gear connected and charged. The available bed-side RamBox storage bins remain weatherproof, lockable, illuminated and drainable, and get their own 115V/400W outlets for 2019. An available 12-in (305-mm) Uconnect touchscreen is large enough to display two different applications simultaneously (i.e. Apple CarPlay and HVAC controls), and the 2019 Ram HD will offer four audio systems, including a 750-watt, 17-speaker Harman Kardon setup.
No pricing information for the 2019 Ram HD pickups was revealed at NAIAS, and the Chassis Cab versions of the HD trucks were expected to debut at February’s Chicago Auto Show. The new versions of the Ram HD trucks will continue to be built at FCA’s Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant in Coahuila, Mexico, and the new trucks are expected to go on sale in April, 2019.