Caraganza First Drive Review 2019 Ram 1500: Acing the test


The other night I was forced to battle my way through downtown Orlando traffic. Now for those who don’t know, Orlando is a midsized city. It isn’t small like say one of the places in Georgia you see off of I-95 with a gas station and Stuckey’s with the owner living in a singlewide mobile home out back, nor is it a burgeoning metropolis like New York. Nope it’s somewhere in between.

Normally traffic isn’t much of an issue; but there was an NBA game (don’t ask how our hometown team is doing, they haven’t been doing much in the last few years). There was also a concert at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Preforming Arts. Throw in the massive construction project some PR intern, no doubt, named the I-4 Trans4mation which we locals call “hell Incarnate” as well as all the traffic that comes with a normal Friday night and it was a bit crowded.

Okay, actually it was gridlock. It took about 30 minutes to go about a mile. During that time I was rethinking our dinner plans for the evening; and planning an escape, looking for a way out.

On top of all that rain was moving in. Heavy dark clouds threatened to open up any second. If it did rain, well, all bets were off. After all I was heading to an outdoor car show.  And even though it was at one of my favorite places on the planet, the Ace Café, I had to really seriously consider if we would make if there before the sun rose the next day.

For the uninitiated, the Ace Café is a motorsports themed palace founded in Britain and heavy into motorcycles and vintage racing cars. I make regular visits there, especially in the different theme nights they have. I took a Charger Hellcat to Modern Muscle Night, and a 4C to Euro Night recently.

Friday night was another themed night, but with the clouds looking ominous and the traffic crawling at a snail’s pace, I was considering giving up. But the traffic finally cleared, the angels sang, and my hunger overrode any though of turning back.
2019 Ram 1500 Laramie
Boy was I surprised.

This particular Friday nights theme was Truck Night, and the parking lot was full.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Because truck owners are far more numerous than most other car owners. They have their own culture and allegiance not only to their brand but to trucks in general.

Amongst this crowd Friday night, I wheeled into the Ace Café in a 2019 Ram 1500. It turned heads and soon attracted quite a crowd.

The 1500 is new for 2019; it’s bigger then the last generation, yet lighter.  That’s all part of the complete redesign of the Ram inside and out.  A redesign includes a new grill that replaces the crosshair with a Ram’s head with a simple RAM across the front.

This full-size truck is available in a long or short bed, two-wheel or four-wheel drive, long or short wheelbase.  There are crew cabs, quad cabs, and six different variants.  The MSRP ranges from $31,995 to the top of the line Limited at $57,390 (not including options and destination).

My tester for the week was the Big Horn 4X4 with a crew cab, and the shorter bed. The Big Horn had FCA’s UConnect infotainment system with a 8.4-inch touchscreen, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, full LED headlights, a 360-degree view camera system, an electronic locking rear differential, a wireless charging pad, automatic parking assist, and the RamBox in-bed storage system.

So yeah it was loaded.

The favorite part for me at least was what was under the hood. Standard is a 305-hp 3.6-liter or one of my favorite powerplants ever, and the one under my testers hood, the 395-hp 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI. FCS offers those two engines with mild hybrid systems thanks to the addition of a belt-drive motor generator backed by a 48-volt battery pack.

When I first climbed into this new 1500, I knew it was something, well, special.  The redesigned interior seems better than the last generation; the view is commanding with very few blind spots, and everything placed just right. There’s also plenty of USB ports, a standard outlet, and more storage than you’ll ever need.
2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn – Mountain Brown Interior
Inside there is more legroom in the rear passenger area (45.2 inches up from 40.3) in the crew cab.

Not that I ever had any doubt, but the HEMI was exquisite, the reengineer chassis provide a smooth stable platform and the 8-speed transmission stayed in the game no matter what I threw at it.

Clad in all-black, when I turned into the Ace Café lot Friday night, it wasn’t long before all the truck people were gathered round, looking under the hood, sitting in the cab and admiring the legroom in the back seat.

It didn’t matter if they arrived in a Ford, Chevy, Toyota, or some other truck, all those who looked at the Ram admired the new lines, the new interior and the HEMI under the hood. After a couple of hours hanging out with the truck crowd I left well fed; wheeling the new Ram 1500 along streets that had little traffic and knew that this new Ram 1500 might just be the game changer that will soon rise to be king of the hill in the world of trucks.

The 2019 Ram 1500 Big Horn 4X4

MSRP: $41,895
MSRP (as tested): $43,090
Engine (as tested): 5.7-liter V8 395 hp @5600 rpm, 410 ft-lb torque 3950 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel mileage is not available yet.

Cargo Area Dimensions
Cargo Box Length @ Floor: in 67.4
Cargo Box Width @ Top, Rear: in 66.4
Cargo Box Width @ Floor: in 66.4
Cargo Box Width @ Wheel housings: in     51
Cargo Box (Area) Height: in 21.4
Cargo Volume: ft³ 53.9
Gross Axle Weight Rating: lbs 8000.00
Curb Weight: lbs 5232.00

Dead Weight Hitch – Max Trailer Wt.: lbs     6280
Dead Weight Hitch – Max Tongue Wt.: lbs     628
Wt Distributing Hitch – Max Trailer Wt.: lbs     6280
Wt Distributing Hitch – Max Tongue Wt.: lbs     628
Maximum Trailering Capacity: lbs     6280

Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase: in 144.5
Width, Max w/o mirrors: in 82.1
Height, Overall: in 77.6
Overall Length: 232.9

Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity:     6
Front Head Room: in     40.9
Front Leg Room: in     40.9
Front Shoulder Room: in     66
Front Hip Room: in     63.4
Second Head Room: in     39.8
Second Leg Room: in     45.2
Second Shoulder Room: in     65.7
Second Hip Room: in     63.4

Basic: 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion: 5 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance: 5 Years/60,000 Miles

Greg Engle