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2019 Ram: eTorque is the Smoothest Start/Stop System

By Frank A. Aukofer, October 13th, 2018

Because full-size pickup trucks do essentially the same chores for their owners, marketing them entails offering new and desirable features, as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has done with the 2019 Ram 1500.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 becomes the benchmark for durability, technology, efficiency and convenience with features never before offered in a pickup truck
Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 becomes the benchmark for durability, technology, efficiency and convenience with features never before offered in a pickup truck

For 2019, Ram brings a new eTorque system to market. eTorque combines a belt-drive electric motor generator with a 48-volt battery, which provides short boosts of extra power for the gasoline engine. It also enables a sophisticated idle stop-start function that, for the time being, is the smoothest and least-intrusive system experienced by this reviewer.

Stop-start, which enhances fuel economy, is becoming more common on vehicles. In a typical stop-start function, the engine shuts down at stoplights or in other situations when the vehicle is motionless. Lift your foot off the brake or tap the accelerator pedal and the engine automatically starts, often with a noticeable shudder and hesitation before getting underway.

The Ram eTorque is a notable exception. Unless you pay close attention, you may be unaware that the engine has cranked up. Ram engineers say the engine re-starts in 400 milliseconds.

Vibration and noise are nearly nonexistent, unlike with some systems -- especially in vehicles with powerful engines -- that cause violent shaking. Stop-starts comparable in smoothness to the eTorque are in low-powered hybrid cars.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 becomes the benchmark for durability, technology, efficiency and convenience with features never before offered in a pickup truck

For 2019, eTorque is standard equipment on all Ram 1500 pickups with the 305-horsepower V-6 engine, which delivers 269 lb.-ft. of torque. For truckers who need or want more power, a step up to the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine costs $1,195. For an additional $1,450, the Hemi eTorque is available with 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque.

All Ram 1500 trucks use eight-speed automatic transmissions, which, like the eTorque, go about their business quietly and without drama. Add to that the Ram 1500's independent suspension system, with air suspension on the rear wheels and vibration damping on the steel frame, and the Ram rolls like a luxury car, even when empty. Most pickups bounce around unless they're loaded.

Many modern full-size pickup trucks, however, also are priced like luxury cars. Some Ram models -- the Limited Crew Cab with all-wheel drive, for example -- have prices that nudge $70,000 or more, depending on equipment.

Driven for this review was a more modest Ram 1500 Big Horn Sport Quad Cab 4X2 model, which had a base price of $37,340 and, with options, a bottom-line sticker of $43,960. The base price for the entry-level Tradesman Quad Cab with rear-wheel drive is $33,340, including the destination charge.

Ram 1500 pickups come with four doors. Crew Cab models are the roomiest. Quad Cab models have shorter rear doors and tighter accommodations in the back seat, where headroom is generous but knee room is in short supply. Still, the tested Big Horn Sport had 117 cubic feet of passenger space, which is nearly that of a full-size car.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 becomes the benchmark for durability, technology, efficiency and convenience with features never before offered in a pickup truck

Out back, the pickup bed measures 6-feet 4-inches and accommodates 62 cubic feet of cargo. Total payload is 1,910 pounds and the tester had a towing capability of 6,640 pounds.

Though it was among the lower-priced Ram models, the tested Big Horn Sport was a comfortable road companion that could easily be used as a daily driver.

Mechanical, road, and wind noises were minimal, there was plenty of power on tap for passing on two-lane roads, and the handling and ride were exceptional given the truck's bulk and 19-foot length. Supportive seats upholstered in cozy cloth enhanced comfort.

The test truck came with full safety equipment, including electronic stability control, roll mitigation, trailer sway damping, back-up camera, hill start assist, trailer brake control, and anti-lock brakes with rain-braking support.

Options included Uconnect infotainment system with navigation, power-adjustable pedals, powered rear sliding window, audio system with HD and SXM satellite radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, LED bed lighting, and 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels.

Specifications

Base price $37,340 (as tested: $43,960)
Curb weight 4,891 lbs.
Displacement 3.6-liter
Engine type 24-valve DOHC V6 w/SMPFI
Epa mileage rating 20 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 23 gal.
Horsepower (net) 305 at 6400 rpm
Overall length 228.9 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 269 at 4800 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 6-passenger 4x2 full-size pickup
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