Imagine the poshest luxury sedan interior, then imagine it in a pickup, and not just any pickup, but a big ol’ crew cab pickup.
The 2019 RAM, made by Fiat Chrysler and formerly known as a Dodge Ram, is a luxury pickup along the lines of a Cadillac or Lexus luxury sedan. It’s the fanciest pickup I’ve ever driven, and I’ve driven quite a few.
First, the Maximum Steel Metallic (dark metallic bluish black) RAM sparkled in the sun, just before a foot of snow hit the area, followed by sub-zero temps that played havoc with its gas mileage. More on that in a bit.
Open a door and a power running board lowers to help us shorties, well, anyone shy of 6 foot, climb aboard. Close the snug fitting door and OMG, is it soundproof booth quiet in this leather-slathered interior. Quietest pickup I’ve driven, even with a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 under its hood.
Then there’s the sophisticated looking indigo and tan leather interior with perforated tan leather seats with contrasting stitching and indigo dash with black and tan striped wood trim. Even the steering wheel features striped wood for the top third, the rest being heated leather.
That wood trim also includes two console covers that hide cup holders and a storage bin. That one jammed closed though. And then there’s aluminum trim on the dash and giant speaker covers on the doors that looks like jewelry, maybe a Rolex watch.
Did I mentioned the filigrees sewn into the door panels and atop the giant storage container between the front bucket seats? Oh my, this seems like something you’d see on fancy leather saddlery. Call it cowboy classy, absolutely perfect for a pickup.
RAM’s seats are modestly contoured so they are easy to slide in and out of, plus plenty comfy for a long haul. Oh, and the seats are heated and cooled, both front and rear, with the front seats being powered and the rear seats adjustable so you can extend legroom or recline them slightly for resting on a long romp.
Overhead is a panoramic sunroof ($1,295 extra) and power shade, the stereo is a fancy 19-speaker Harman Kardon model (part of a $2,695 Level 1 equipment package), plus power-adjustable gas and brake pedals. And RAM’s infotainment touchscreen is a monster vertical number, nearly a foot tall.
After all that, if you’re doubting the truckiness of the RAM, well, forget it. This thing will haul people or stuff, and pull a trailer with a boat or a bunch of snowmobiles.
That HEMI generates 395 horsepower with a torque rating of 410. It tows a maximum of 11,240 lbs.
Power is handled smoothly by an 8-speed automatic and will jump the truck up to highway speeds easily once you crunch the accelerator. Some other pickups have more power, but the smoothness and quietness of the RAM also dampen the acceleration’s feel.
Ride is RAM’s forte, while still feeling a bit of truck bounce over rough roads. The long wheelbase and stout suspension underneath gives this an excellent, well-controlled ride, never harsh. Plus the handling feels more precise in RAM than in its competitors, and I just tested a new Chevy Silverado this past fall. It was nice, but RAM handles better.
There’s a large aluminum rotating knob on the dash to engage the transmission and four push buttons to set the 4WD system. That includes an automatic setting that was helpful in our snow, plus High and Low settings, or 2WD, which I used once the streets were clear. The giant 22-inch tires provided great grip. I never set a wheel wrong with the automatic 4WD engaged.
I tested the RAM 1500 Limited Crew Cab, which is the top trim level with a 6.33-foot bed, longer than a standard bed. It not only would comfortably hold five adults in its cab, but plenty of cargo in its 58-cubic-foot bed. The tailgate is an easy-lower model with a remote release on RAM’s massive key fob. There was a key too, it locked and unlocked the two side storage boxes (RAM Boxes that are $995 extra) on the outside bed walls. That makes it easy to store tools or other necessary work items so they are handy when you get to a work site, or garden center.
The bed also featured a tri-fold tonneau cover to keep items in the bed dry, a great benefit in our climate. The cover adds $550 to the price tag.
Other pluses on the test truck included remote start (a boon in sub-zero temps), a huge storage box in the console between the front seats, Uconnect infotainment system that’s easy to work, plus navigation and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, rain-sensing wipers and loads of skid plates underneath to protect the RAM off-road. The plates are part of a $295 Protection Group, and a wise choice if you plan to take your truck into the field.
Misses? There were a few, as with most vehicles. That giant infotainment screen is overwhelming and sometimes hard to use while driving, simply due to all the choices it offers. I’m also no fan of needing to use a screen every time I enter a vehicle to turn on the heated seats and steering wheel, or defrosters. Praise though for the remote start that automatically turns on the heat for the driver’s seat and steering wheel. Yet the screen does not respond to a gloved hand.
I also found it odd that a luxury truck like this had a manual tilt/telescope steering wheel. A power unit would better fit its image and price.
Speaking of which, the test truck started at $57,890, certainly not inexpensive. And with all its doodads and extras the tester hit $68,785. That’s well into luxury sedan pricing, but then this one will go off-road and carry a load of lumber. Try that in a Mercedes S Class.
Lastly, there’s the sad fact that big pickups, despite all of them cutting hundreds of pounds the last couple years, are not good on gas consumption.
The EPA rates the RAM at 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, similar to its competitors. But I managed just 11.3 mpg in mostly city driving. Again, roads were snowy and the temps were sub-zero for a few of the test days. I figure that cuts at least 2-3 mpg. Another journalist drove the same truck in our area a few weeks prior and got 16 mpg.
The good news, if you can consider it such, the test truck added a 33-gallon fuel tank for $445. A 25-gallon tank is standard. So the bigger tank gives this truck an extended driving range.
Also, you needn’t spend nearly $70 grand for a RAM, the entry-level 2WD Tradesman model starts at $37,335 and its price climbs from there through the five additional trim levels, Big Horn, Laramie, Rebel, Laramie Longhorn and Limited.
But if you now demand luxury in your pickup, there seems none better at filling that niche than the RAM Limited.
Hits: Luxury look inside and out, super quiet interior, power running boards, giant sunroof, heated/cooled front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, remote start, fancy stereo, lockable side bed storage boxes, power pedals, huge storage console, big infotainment screen. Plus good truck ride, and handling, plus decent power and 4WD.
Misses: Big info screen overwhelming and tough to use while driving, manual tilt/telescope wheel doesn’t fit luxury of truck and poor gas mileage.
Made in: Sterling Heights, Mich.
Engine: 5.7-liter Hemi V8, 395 horsepower
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Length: 241.9 in.
Wheelbase: 153.5 in.
Tow: 11,240 max.
MPG: 11.3 (tested)
Base Price: $57,890 (includes delivery)
Maximum Steel Metallic clear coat, $200
Package 25M (skid plates for front suspension, fuel tank, transfer case, steering gear), $295
Body-color bumpers $195
Bed utility group tie-down hooks, $545
Level 1 equipment group (19-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system, adaptive cruise control, stop-go, advanced brake assist, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, parallel & perpendicular park assist, ventilated rear seats, surround-view camera), $2,695
Tri-fold tonneau cover, $550
Anti-spin differential rear axle, $495
5.7-liter Hemi V8 package (HD oil cooler, 180-amp alternator, badges), $1,195
Panoramic sunroof, $1,295
33-gal. fuel tank, $445
22-in. polished painted wheels w/inserts and 22-inch all-season tires, $1,695
RamBox cargo management system, $995
Trailer brake control, $295
Test vehicle: $68,785
Sources: RAM, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage