Pickup Truck of the Year Winner: 2019 Ram 1500 #PTOTY19

Pickup Truck of the Year Winner

Dec 4, 2018
Photographers: Robert Guio, Amir Saidi

The State of the Art

You know that old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt”?
Luckily for the ’19 Ram 1500, the opposite held true in our 2019 Pickup Truck of the Year test. Every interaction with the truck, from the time it strutted the stage at the Detroit Auto Show to the moment it rolled out of our parking lot at the end of #PTOTY19 testing, led more and more of us to melt to its charms. Yes, we lament the loss of the crosshairs grille, and its somewhat bland styling is a mockery to the revolutionary, big rig–aping ’94 Dodge Ram 1500, but darned if the all-new Ram 1500 didn’t pursue our hearts like a gentleman suitor going after a debutante at a Savannah cotillion.
The folks at Ram sent two 1500 pickups our way, per our request. One was a loaded Laramie Longhorn crew cab, a truck festooned with Western-inspired seat embossing, authentic wood trim (hand-branded with the trim level’s logo), and plenty of cowboy glitz on the interior and exterior. The other was a Rebel Quad Cab off-road special, moderately optioned with the less-spacious cab configuration but a reasonable roster of comfort and convenience. Both played very nicely with our editors.

Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn

Ram introduced the Laramie Longhorn trim level a few years ago alongside the Laramie Limited (now simply called Limited). Both were and are top-spec variations on a theme, the Laramie Limited marketed toward black-tie truck enthusiasts, folks who were as likely to attend a charity function as a 4-H livestock auction. The Longhorn, however, is aimed totally toward folks who wear formal cowboy boots rather than dress shoes. Both offer high-luxury comfort, differentiated only by presentation.
That provenance continues into the ’19 Ram 1500, with the Laramie Longhorn coated head to tail in earth tones: Rugged Brown Pearl exterior paint, Mountain Brown and Light Mountain Brown leather trim, and that aforementioned genuine wood, stained tan and branded by hand—“If Woody from Toy Story designed a truck,” joked one editor. Color choice being a matter of personal opinion (and one easily circumvented by simply picking another truck at your local dealer), we instead focused on the Laramie Longhorn’s list of creature comforts.
Its Parallel & Perpendicular Park-Assist was a fan favorite—though some of our more Luddite testers decried it as the end of personal responsibility—as was the highly defined surround-view camera. Adaptive cruise control featured traffic-beating stop-and-go functionality, making our morning and evening commutes much more tolerable. Its huge 12-inch UConnect 4C touchscreen boasts the parlor trick of displaying either a full-screen display—helpful when navigating, for example—or two frequently used modes at once. Heated and cooled seats made an appearance at all four outboard seating positions, and the rear seat’s impressive room and reclining backrest made it feel every inch the equal of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan.
In fact, the Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn and its slightly more expensive Limited sibling make perfect sense as an alternative to modern luxury sedans. With plenty of space, just about every creature comfort imaginable, and the capability that comes along with a half-ton pickup, the Laramie Longhorn was the truck to drive when freeway comfort was a priority.

Ram 1500 Rebel

If the Laramie Longhorn is an urbane Southern gentleman, dressed to the nines and dripping in boarding-school manners, the Rebel is his hard-rocking, Skynyrd-listening little cousin, a motorcycle-riding badass who was expelled from St. Mary’s School for Refined Young Ladies for flunking home economics and smoking in the bathroom.
Our tester wore Granite Crystal Metallic exterior paint and sported the Rebel’s signature red-anodized interior trim, red and black vinyl/cloth seats, and a short Quad Cab configuration that scoffed at rear-seat comfort in favor of a comparatively large 6-foot, 4-inch box. Thanks to its blacked-out rocker panels, black plastic grille, and gleaming silver skidplates, the Rebel casts a mean glower down the road.
While our Rebel didn’t come equipped with a 12-inch touchscreen (one is now available on Rebel 12 models), it still drew raves for its 8.4-inch UConnect screen, logical control layout, comfortable front seats, and cosseting atmosphere. “Sitting in both Rams, I have a sense of being in a cocoon or cockpit, but in a good way,” wrote one of us. “And rear legroom is pretty good for not being a full crew cab.”
And like our proverbial black sheep, the Rebel came alive in less-than-polite driving. In high-velocity off-roading, the Rebel exhibited nearly flawless manners, soaking up large and small bumps with equal poise and without upsetting suspension balance. A 1-inch-lifted suspension, aggressive 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, electronic locking rear differential, and specially tuned shocks did very well at keeping the Rebel moving through our Southern California off-road loop.

Family Resemblance

Both our testers were powered by a husky 5.7L Hemi V-8 optionally equipped with Ram’s new 48V mild-hybrid eTorque technology. eTorque may not expand the powertrain’s peak horsepower or torque outputs, but by enabling more efficient up- and downshifting, more seamless engine idle stop, and mild regenerative braking, the setup adds 2 mpg to the Ram’s EPA combined fuel economy.
But what’s most impressive is how transparent the entire system is. Whether pounding down the dragstrip, cruising on the freeway, or hauling up a grade, the eTorque-optimized Hemi simply got down to business, shifting through its gearbox’s eight speeds with nary a complaint. Downshifts were prompt and passing maneuvers easy, making this powertrain a favorite among our testers (the Ford’s outrageous high-output EcoBoost and GM’s mellow 6.2L V-8 also occupied a soft spot in our hearts).
And in spite of their disparate styling and target audiences, both Ram pickups offered the same buttery-smooth on-road ride. This comfort is enabled in part by their segment-exclusive coil-sprung rear suspension and a stiffening program undertaken by the new truck’s engineers. True enough, the body structure feels incredibly tight and quiver-free, even when loaded down to a maximum payload of 1,500 pounds for the Ram 1500 Rebel and 1,100 pounds for the Laramie Longhorn.
Also shared between kin is a penchant toward value. That the Rebel was the most capable off-road and yet still the cheapest truck in this test is not lost on our testers, and the Laramie Longhorn’s steep $66,755 price is blunted somewhat by its long list of features and stunning interior quality eclipsing the more expensive GMC Sierra Denali and Ford F-150 Limited.
Finally, one of our favorite aspects of the Ram lineup is its diversity. It was difficult to tell a midgrade Silverado LT from the high-lux Sierra Denali in terms of driving attitude or interior appointments. Ram, however, offers its customers six distinctive interior environments and exterior styling themes, distinguishing the aggressive Rebel and luxurious Laramie Longhorn models very well from each other and from the other four trim levels available from the Ram dealer. Wild or mild, stately or aggressive, Ram had us covered no matter our mood.
In sum, the ’19 Ram 1500 did just about everything well in our testing, offering best-in-test off-road performance from the Rebel (without sacrificing freeway comfort), stunning luxury from the Laramie Longhorn (without sacrificing ruggedness), and impressive subjective and objective performance in every metric. While we try not to play favorites, it’s clear that the Ram lineup is what most of us wanted to take home at the end of the test, and that’s no accident. After years of steady improvement and evolution, Ram has finally built a world-class, no-compromises pickup that’s ready for anything.
WE LIKE: Best-in-test off-road performance, incredible freeway comfort, solid towing and hauling prowess, impressive stability in panic maneuvers, high-quality interior materials
WE DON’T LIKE: Anonymous new styling, and, uh…

2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn

Base Price: $53,695
Price As Tested: $66,755
EPA Fuel Econ (City/HWY/Comb): 17/22/19
Engine: 5.7L V-8 w/ eTorque
Horsepower: 395 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 410 lb-ft @ 3,950 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Accel 0-60 MPH: 7.54 seconds
Quarter-Mile: 15.71 seconds @ 92.97 mph
Braking 60-0 MPH: 129.57 feet
Accel 0-60 (Payload): 7.78 seconds
Quarter-Mile (Payload): 15.96 seconds @ 90.83 mph
Braking 60-0 MPH (Payload): 125.80 feet
Accel 0-60 (Towing): 14.48 seconds
Quarter-Mile (Towing): 20.30 seconds @ 72.95 mph
Weight: 5,652 pounds
Tested Fuel Econ (Average/Best): 15.73/19.07
*1,100 pounds of payload **7,500-pound trailer weight

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

Base Price: $44,695
Price As Tested: $55,805
EPA Fuel Econ (City/HWY/Comb): 17/22/19
Engine: 5.7L V-8 w/ eTorque
Horsepower: 395 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 410 lb-ft @ 3,950 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Accel 0-60 MPH: 7.53 seconds
Quarter-Mile: 15.93 seconds @ 91.13 mph
Braking 60-0 MPH: 137.74 feet
Accel 0-60 (Payload): 7.85 seconds
Quarter-Mile (Payload): 16.10 seconds @ 88.93 mph
Braking 60-0 MPH (Payload): 141.06 feet
Accel 0-60 (Towing): 14.28 seconds
Quarter-Mile (Towing): 20.23 seconds @ 72.57 mph
Weight: 5,534 pounds
Tested Fuel Econ (Average/Best): 14.50/17.96
*1,500 pounds of payload **7,500-pound trailer weight

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