Few categories are as hotly contested as the full-size truck segment. The passion from both automakers and loyal truck owners is fierce. See any number of Calvin window decals for example. Well, a new Ram 1500 is finally here, and it's lighter, stronger and better equipped than ever before to take on the Ford F-150 and the Chevy Silverado. In addition to new styling and a hugely versatile interior, both the V6 and V8 Ram 1500 are available with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.

Despite looking similar to the current Ram, this isn't merely an update. The truck is all new inside and out, improving on what worked and fixing what was aging. Overall weight is down 225 pounds, with 120 of those coming from the chassis and frame. And 98 percent of the frame is made from high-strength steel, with aluminum making up a small amount in parts like the transmission crossmember and engine mounts. The Ram 1500 also gets an aluminum hood and tailgate.

The weight may be down, but the 2019 Ram 1500 is longer and wider than before. The bed height, too, has increased. Visually, it's difficult to notice the increased size. The overall design is an evolution of what Ram has offered for decades. The most obvious change is the lack of a crosshair grille, a staple since 1994. The new "RAM" grille started as an option but now carries over to every single model. It's not going to be popular with everyone, but we're sure Mopar or some other parts supplier can fill your t-shaped void.

The drop fender that also debuted on the '94 Ram has been lifted, giving the front a far more upright face. There are two different headlight designs, depending on the trim and options. The top-tier LED units are wide and slim, while the standard lighting looks similar to what we have now. The front bumper can be chrome or paint, while the chrome accents carry around to parts like the new 1500 badge on the hood. Tow hooks are lower and further apart than before, while the parking sensors have been better integrated into the design.

Like the headlights, the taillights are an evolution of the current shape. Both halogen and LED units are available. The full-width steel rear bumper can be had in either chrome or body color. As for paint, there are 12 colors in total, with three two-tone variants. If that's not enough variety, there are 16 new (six-lug!) wheel designs to choose from, ranging from 18 to 22 inches.

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Inside, the 2019 Ram 1500 is more refined and practical than ever before. The center console is truly massive. Ram claims it's nearly 100 percent larger than the competitors. The optional 12-inch infotainment display is similarly massive. The screen would give Tesla a run for its money in terms of size and resolution and is essentially twice as tall as the existing screen. There are tons of little pockets and cubbies and cupholders throughout. The packaging inside is Honda levels of good.

There are five USB ports in the center console, four of which are both USB A and C. Three of the ports talk to the latest generation of FCA's UConnect infotainment system.

When it hits showrooms later this year, the Ram 1500 can be had with one of two engines, both carryovers from the current model. The base 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 now comes standard with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system FCA has branded eTorque. This system is optional on the 5.7-liter Hemi V8. On the V6, the eTorque system adds up to 90 pound-feet of torque off the line. That number jumps to 130 pound-feet on the V8. Engine output for the V6 is 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The Hemi makes 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet. Both engines use an eight-speed automatic.
The EcoDiesel will make a return sometime down the line and, while Ram won't confirm anything, a turbocharged inline-four making its way under the hood is a strong possibility.

There are two Borg Warner transfer cases available for four-wheel-drive models. They give the truck either full-time or on-demand 4WD capabilities. There are three final drive ratios available — 3.21, 3.55 and 3.92. Each one is available with a limited-slip differential. Four-wheel-drive models with a 3.21 or a 3.55 rear axle have an available electronic locking diff. A Max Tow package is available on select two-wheel-drive models with a 3.92 rear end. This uses a Dana Super 60 center section, a 256-mm gearset and 35-spline axle shafts.

The suspension has been retuned for both improved ride and handling and a focus on payload and towing. The independent front suspension gets composite upper and aluminum lower control arms. The front stabilizer rests behind the tires to improve roll stiffness. Coilover front shocks are standard across all Ram 1500s. Out back, the truck uses the third iteration of Ram's five-link coil suspension, giving the truck a payload capacity of 2,300 pounds and towing up to 12,750.

New shocks use frequency response dampening, meaning bypass valves are closed when inputs are slow. This increases the dampening during cornering or braking. When the inputs are more frequent and severe (think wheels bouncing on rough roads) the dampening is softened. Certain models can be equipped with air suspension at all four corners. This has a number of benefits including a smooth ride and self-leveling capabilities.

An Off-Road Package is available on most trims, giving the Ram 1500 a 1-inch lift. It's available with or without the air suspension. Other features include beefer tires, hill-descent control, a revised rear suspension geometry and improved skid plates. The Rebel trim carries over from the current model. It gets 18-inch wheels with 33-inch tires, coil-spring suspension, Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs and a one-inch lift. Air suspension is optional. There are a number of visual updates to the model, too.

As with any modern vehicle, the 2019 Ram 1500 is available with a wide variety of active safety equipment. The list includes adaptive cruise control, adaptive front headlights, advance brake assist, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning and lane departure warning. All in, Ram says there are 100 standard or optional safety and security features on the truck.

Pricing hasn't been announced, but don't expect things to change too much. Currently, the Ram 1500 is the least expensive way to get a new V8-powered vehicle in the U.S. Expect a base price in the high $20,000s for the bare-bones Tradesman and on up past $60,000 for a decked-out Ram 1500 Limited. Production starts soon, so expect to see the new Ram on dealer lots in the next few months.

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