While a lot of folks are talking about Ram’s newest 6.7L diesel engine, which can produce 1,000 pound-feet of torque, as well as the death of the final manual full-size truck here in the States, there’s still a lot more to see in their 2019 heavy-duty lineup. Working from the ground up, they’ve introduced new noise and vibration reduction technology integrated into the frames, bodies, and suspension systems of each updated platform, and used new materials to reduce weight while adding strength. In addition, they have also unveiled all-new transmission options and improved motors to the fleet. In truth, there is so much to talk about it’s hard to know where to start, so let’s just begin with the crowd favorite: the 2019 Power Wagon.
Starting at the front, you’ll immediately notice the updated grill and headlights, along with the flatter profile. These give the truck a more modern and aggressive look, while also improving its aerodynamics and adding visibility via LED daytime running lights. I thought those were a particularly nice touch. Beneath the bumper, you’ll find an all-new integrated 12,000-pound Warn Zeon-12 winch, along with a new EPIC style fairlead and retainer. At first glance, this winch package may not appear abundantly different, as they were already equipped with the 12,000-pound model, BUT the 2019 version comes with synthetic line. This is not only safer and easier to handle, but helps the truck shed 28 pounds on its own! The new winch package also includes Warn’s Epic hook, which matches the new fairlead. It is worth noting that there has been no improvements to winch-line access or visibility, so care must be taken during long pulls or side pulls.
Another big addition for 2019 is the 360 camera, which can give the driver an overhead view of the scene surrounding the vehicle. The forward view camera even features gridlines, which can help the driver self-spot and navigate difficult terrain. That’s an extremely useful addition for anyone who travels solo on a regular basis.
The 2019 stock curb weight drops from 7,044 pounds down to 6,907 pounds, while payload jumps a full 194 pounds to 1,660 from 1,466. Towing gets a bump as well, up from 9,910 to 10,620 pounds, despite retaining the same 6.4L Hemi producing 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. This is likely due in part to the new stronger and lighter frames, as well as the 8-speed automatic transmission that replaced the old 6-speed one. Other changes include a redesign of the shift column to a rotary knob (dang it), and an improvement in crawl ratio from 35:1 to 51:1 (score).
Of course, they still retained all of the components that made us fall in love with the Power Wagon in the first place. A specially tuned Bilstein suspension, factory lift, solid axles with 4.10 gears, disconnecting sway bars, and front and rear locking differentials all come standard, and thankfully are still available with the Tradesman trim package. After killing off America’s last full-size manual, which you can read about here, we were worried that option might have been up on the chopping block as well. We’re grateful to say it’s safe for now.
In addition to these Power Wagon-specific updates, the heavy-duty lin, in general,l received some big improvements, starting all the way down at the frame. It’s now built lighter and stronger using 98.5 percent high-strength-steel with six individual crossmembers, hydroformed main rails, and fully boxed rear rails for immense torsional rigidity. This enables it to handle the titanic loads the vehicles are now rated for without adding an unreasonable amount of weight.
Noise vibration and harshness (NVH) was clearly a major factor for the 2019 redesign, and the new heavy-duty models are going to be the quietest and most comfortable yet. They updated both the engine mounts and exhaust system attachments specifically to reduce NVH, and actually installed two active-tuned mass modules (ATMM) on the frame rails which detect unfavorable vibrations and apply a countermeasure in order to eliminate them. Yes, seriously. But that’s not all. They’ve also integrated C-pillar hydromounts as well as active noise canceling into the cab to ensure as much exterior sound is deadened as possible.
Adding to the package is an overhauled suspension system with frequency response damping (FRD) shocks, which can differentiate between various types of upward wheel travel to provide “sports car-like” handling on the road while still maintaining a smooth ride on the dirt. This is all done through bypass valving, which stays closed on slow compressions allowing the shock to stay stiff, but opens during quick or harsh impacts allowing more oil through and inducing a softer response. Progressive springs, new bushings, and an exclusive five-link coil system are now used on the 2500, which they claim provides improved load-carrying characteristics and articulation off-road. There’s also an active level rear air suspension available on non-Power Wagon models, which can operate in Normal Mode, Trailer Mode, or Bed Lowering Mode, the latter of which actually allows the truck to kneel down for easy trailer hookup.
The interiors have all been updated with new features and creature comforts to improve your journey as well. Additions like a new customizable instrument panel are available, as is a massive 12-inch configurable Uconnect touchscreen display. As mentioned previously, acoustic glass and active noise canceling have been integrated into the cab, which can reduce exterior noise by up to 10 decibels. You’ll also find wide and comfortable seats, an HVAC system capable of delivering larger quantities of air with less noise, increased legroom, and enough power ports to charge every device in your arsenal and then some. All told there are five USB-c ports in the console, and up to three 115-volt household plugs throughout the truck, all of them equipped to handle up to 400 watts in order to charge or for power tools.
In short, the 2019 RAM heavy-duty lineup is combining the hard-hitting capability we love, with the modern tech and amenities you’d expect to find in most luxury sedans. The Power Wagon looks great and promises to be more effective than ever off-road, while the 2500 and 3500 platforms are setting new standards in towing and efficiency. While RAM may have killed off our last manual full-size truck in 2019, we’re more than pleased with the rest of what they have to offer, and can’t wait to see what they can do on the trail.
To learn more, check out all the details on their website here.