An enormous pick-up truck is about as American as apple pie, and the recipe has to be just as traditional.
While Europe has been down-sizing its pick-up trucks and their engines, in America your truck still isn’t considered the gen-u-ine article unless it’s got a sizeable V8 upfront. This, then, is the new 2019 RAM pick-up which, true to the recipe, harbours a 5.7-litre Hemi V8.
What the American consumer probably couldn’t care less about, however, is weight loss, and the RAM has undergone quite the diet. It’s shed 225lbs (102kg) thanks to changes to the chassis and body work, with 100lbs (45kg) coming from the use of high-strength steel in the ladder chassis frame alone. It does still weigh 2404kg as a crew cab, but for a pick-up as traditional as the RAM any weight saving should be considered progress.
The enormous petrol Hemi produces 390hp and 410lb ft, and is paired to a TorqueFlight eight-speed torque converter automatic with a low-range gearbox. Suspension is coil springs front and rear, or you can choose the optional air suspension.
The RAM is not short on trim levels and options either, with five different possibilities from the UK model’s range-topping Limited down through macho-sounding Longhorn, Rebel, Laramie and Bighorn editions.
Is the RAM 1500 a true performance pick-up?
It’s loud, it’s brash and it’s most definitely big. It also justifies its 'all-new' label and manages to be bigger and wider than the previous generation introduced in 2014.
From the outside, the engine creates quite a racket but is muted on the inside by a massive increase in sound deadening. Rather than the engine, you’re much more likely to hear the two huge exhausts burble and roar as you bring in the power, which arrives rapidly but steadily though to its 5600rpm peak. Gear changes are slick – the TorqueFlight is a ZF gearbox after all – but not the quickest in this application. Hit the throttle hard for a kickdown and the response is painfully slow; instead it’s best to leave the transmission to its own devises.
Gaining speed isn’t a problem, though. The RAM is ferociously quick, hitting 60mph in just over 6 seconds. It’s remarkably smooth too. We tested the RAM 1500 Laramie with optional air suspension, which allows four different height settings. An entry-exit setting drops the ride height to just an inch above the tyres, while Normal raises the body to its lofty standard position.