- The Chevy Silverado and RAM 1500 are the No. 2 and No. 3 full-size pickup trucks in the US market, behind the Ford F-150
- The Chevy Silverado and RAM 1500 are both all-new for the 2019 model year.
- I tested them both, and while the Silverado is a great truck, the RAM 1500 is the best pickup I’ve ever driven.
The full-size pickup-truck battle in the US now has three fully redesigned combatants.
The Ford F-150 – America’s bestselling pickup for decades – was revamped a few years ago. Now Chevy and RAM have followed, with a new Silverado and a new 1500, respectively.
I haven’t driven the F-150 for a while, but I intend to refresh my impressions later in 2019. In the meantime, I have sampled both the new Silverado (it’s very good) and more recently, the new RAM 1500.
So why not pit the No. 2 pickup against the No. 3 contender, I asked myself?
This was a heavyweight bout. For General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – Chevy and RAM’s parents – this is an all-important segment, bringing in massive profits but also well-known for having some of the most demanding customers in all of autoland. They expect the best, and they’re loyal.
So does the 2019 RAM 1500 have what it takes to make the Silverado nervous? Read on to find out.
First up is the 2019 RAM 1500 Crew Cab. I tested a Western-themed Laramie “Longhorn” edition, which was $US54,000 before the addition of many extra features. As tested, the price was $US68,500.
I reviewed the previous generation of the RAM 1500 last year.
The pickup was equipped with a short bed. The “Patriot Blue Peal” paint job was stunning.
The RAM 1500 is a critically important truck for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the hyper-competitive, highly-profitable full-size pickup segment.
The RAM front end is a study in forcefulness, intended to invoke semis and deliver a singular road presence.
That’s a whole lotta chrome!
The RAM 1500 weighs about 5,400 lbs. and can tow 12,750 lbs.
There’s Longhorn-edition badging at the rear …
… Plus an indication that this is a 4×4 pickup.
But just in case you weren’t sure.
The RAM logo and another Longhorn shoutout are rendered in thick chrome.
My truck didn’t come with a cover for the bed.
I tested it out by taking my son and friend sledding. Not much of a test!
The rear step bumper made getting in and out of the bed relatively simple.
And of course you have the RAM badge, served up in chunky chrome.
So how about we examine that legendary Hemi motor?
My RAM 1500’s Hemi had an innovative feature …
… A mild-hybrid “eTorque” system coupled to the 5.7-litre V8, making a total of 395 horsepower with 410 lb-ft of torque. The 0-60 time is about six seconds. Fuel economy is OK: 17 mpg city/22 highway/19 combined.
The automatically retracting running boards make climbing in and out of the crew-cab effortless. Plus, the pickup’s air suspension can raise and lower the truck.
The interior was “Mountain Brown/Light Mountain Brown,” and it was the nicest I’ve experienced in a pickup in the past few years. Seats are heated and cooled.
The rear seat was capacious — adults would be comfortable back there.
Yet more Longhorn call-outs!
These rear-seat pouches get the rodeo treatment.
I kid you not — the RAM 1500 Crew Cab Laramie Longhorn Edition is a glorious place to spend time.
The massive moonroof puts it right over the top.
This Longhorn package is FLASH-Y! The trim on the gauges looks like tooled silver, the steering wheel has both leather wrapping and wood trim. The steering wheel is heated.
In the midst of some beautiful textured wood trim we find the stop-start button.
The RAM has no shifter. Instead, you have to use a space-saving knob, where you also control the 4WD setup. The RAM 1500 has an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The details through the interior of the Laramie Longhorn Edition are impressive.
And lots of space under the center armrest.
Didn’t expect this! Handy formulas and graphs to assist with jobsite calculations.
That grained wood is just lovely.
The RAM offers a dual glove box for document storage.
And you have an additional place to stash small items on the dashboard.
The Harman Kardon audio systems has 19 speakers. It sounds fantastic.
The 12-inch center touchscreen is stunning. The infotainment system is FCA’s Uconnect, which we’ve found to be excellent.
GPS navigation is solid, and the system offers a suite of apps to go along with USB/AUX ports for device connection. Bluetooth pairing is easy, and the RAM 1500 has wireless charging. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available.
Admittedly, the combination of buttons, knobs, and screen might seem cluttered and overly complicated. But that’s until you have to handle the RAM 1500 while wearing gloves in sub-freezing weather.
In summary, the 2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4×4 is a staggeringly good pickup truck. The secret weapon, of course, is the four-corner air suspension —competitive pickups from Ford and Chevy continue to use rear leaf-springs.
The RAM 1500 also has abundant driver-assist features, including stop-and-go cruise control, forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, and an awesome surround-view camera setup.
On to the $US57,000 2019 Silverado LTZ Crew Cab. A base Silverado is a mere $US30,000, but my test truck added a heap of options.
Our test truck came with a short bed. It was more than adequate for testing.
The Silverado tips the scales at 5,000 pounds — but that’s several hundred less than the outgoing generation, thanks to lightweight steel and aluminium. It can tow 12,000 lbs.
I’m not a huge fan of the Silverado’s front end. The LED headlights are too small, messing up the balance of the other elements: chrome grille and gold bowtie badge.
The Chevrolet nameplate stretches across the liftgate, as it has for oh-so-many Chevys for oh-so-many decades.
My test truck was equipped with a proper four-wheel-drive system.
The Silverado name is bold and rendered in shimmering chrome.
We see it again at the rear.
The LTZ trim level is also indicated.
Unlike with the RAM, my Silverado featured a foldable tonneau cover.
If you look carefully, you can see that I have a Christmas tree in the bed.
These helpful, recessed steps assist in climbing in and out of the bed. It’s a little thing, but the RAM lacks them.
Let’s have a look at the 6.2-litre V8!
After popping the hood …
… You don’t get that much of an eyeful. The V8 makes 420 horsepower with a whopping 460 lb-ft of torque. It can propel the truck to 60 mph in about six seconds, sending the power through a 10-speed automatic transmission. The MPGs are actually respectable, at 16 city, 20 highway, and 17 combined.
If you’re keeping score, the Silverado’s V8 is more powerful than the RAM 1500’s.
The running boards on my Silverado didn’t extend and retract automatically.
The “Gideon/Very Dark Atmosphere” interior is oddly named, but still quite pleasant, if a bit on the utilitarian side. This is where you can see a significant difference between the Silverado and the more expensive RAM 1500.
The back seat is roomy, yet drab. Adults won’t struggle to fit, however.
Of course, some owners might not want a lot of cowboy flash in their trucks. The front seats are heated and cooled, a nice extra. The rear seats are merely heated.
The Silverado’s instrument panel and steering wheel, for the LTZ trim level, aren’t especially snazzy. But the steering wheel is heated.
The previous-generation’s key ignition has been replaced with a push-button start-stop, but …
… That good old column shifter remains!
Storage is ample. There is a smartphone pad on the center armrest …
… Under which hides a compartment with ample space for just about anything.
I quite liked this smartphone perch.
There’s also a dual glove box.
Well, that is a rather small infotainment screen, compared with the RAM. It’s a mere eight inches.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available. The system — IntelliLink — is wonderful, a breeze to use with a response touchscreen and a few useful knobs and buttons for backup. The 4G LTE Wi-Fi offers speedy device support through GM’s OnStar connectivity technology.
To be honest, GM’s systems and Uconnect are neck-and-neck for functionality and features. In the Silverado, IntelliLink was a bit easier to use. GPS navigation was faultless, device pairing was a snap, there were USB/AUX options, and also wireless charging.
To summarize, Silverado handles well, rides smoothly, and, with a robust four-by-four system, should be able to absorb anything that an owner throws at it. The cabin is spacious, comfortable, and, in the LTZ trim, close to luxurious.
The Silverado is also crammed with driver-assist features, including parking aids, lane-change alerts, blind-spot monitoring, and a cross-traffic warning when backing up.
And the winner is … the 2019 RAM 1500!
Even without the upscale Laramie Longhorn package, this is the best full-size pickup truck I’ve ever tested. I even got to challenge the 4×4 system with about a foot of snow at our suburban New Jersey test center, and the RAM brushed it off like nothing.
OK, I’ll accept that the F-150 and Silverado loyalists out there don’t like the RAM’s suspension. Yes, it could break down under serious stress. But in my testing, this truck was bliss to drive.
“It truly is the level of refinement that the RAM 1500 brings to the segment that helps it stand out, even as Ford and Chevy/GMC sell more trucks,” I wrote in my review of the outgoing generation. “RAM has carved out far more than niche at number three and isn’t dropping the ball when it comes to what its loyalist expect.”
With the all-new 2019 pickup, RAM might have moved past that No. 3 niche and positioned the Silverado in its sights. The RAM 1500 is a no-compromise pickup, perfectly pitched for the new pickup market, which is as much about everyday driving as hardcore performance.
Don’t get me wrong – the Silverado is no slouch. And in fairness, the RAM 1500 I tested cost $US12,000 more, so it should have been impressive.
But even taking that into account, I think the RAM is a superior full-size beast, and while the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 isn’t as powerful on paper as the Silverado’s 6.2-litre V8, the RAM’s torque-boosting hybrid makes the 1500 feel as though it has more punch. And the RAM’s eight-speed transmission, in my hands, felt as though it shifted more smoothly than the Silverado’s ten-speed.
Pickup-truck buyers don’t want for choices these days. But boy! I challenge anybody seeking a new truck to sample the RAM 1500 and not be tempted by what I think is the best full-size pickup money can buy.
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