The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 brings significant gains in fuel efficiency through an all-new eTorque mild hybrid system in both V-6 and V-8 configurations. Overall weight for the Ram 1500 has been reduced by 225 pounds. Ram photo

Ram 1500 makes an impression

NATOY winner shows why it deserves all the accolades

Awards season may be over, but the accolades keep coming for my tester. This week I’m behind the wheel of the 2019 Ram 1500, which won the North American Truck of the Year (NATOY) during the Detroit Auto Show. The truck segment is ultra-competitive, so accolades like this are significant.

Even though it’s still early in the model year for my review vehicles, it will be tough to bump this truck off my favorite list. It will certainly be one of the most memorable vehicles of this year and one of the nicest trucks I’ve been in, in a very long time, if not ever. I’m heaping the praise, but trust me, it deserves it.

It helps that I was in the top-of-the-line Longhorn trim, but take away all the niceties of that trim and the Ram 1500 is still great. The redesigned Ram has all new looks. It’s difficult to redesign trucks without going too crazy. The 2019 version still has a lot of the similarities of the previous model year. My tester was chromed out on the bold grille and around the windows. The handsome profile looks fitting for a truck of this size. Rear styling is understated and doesn’t look much different from the previous generation 1500. Some Ram rivals have gimmicks on the tailgate; this truck just has a tailgate, without all the styling and the gimmicks. And that’s OK.

My tester came with a Hemi engine, which offers significantly more power and performance than the standard 3.6-liter V6 engine. As such, the 5.7-liter V8 cranks out 395 horsepower and 410 lbs.-ft. of torque. The redesigned Ram has increased payload and towing ability. This year, as tested, the Ram 1500 has 2,300 pounds of payload capacity and can tow as much as 12,750 pounds.

The Ram’s Etorque system is ideal for those who want to use the truck as a hauler. It will throw the torque around when and where it’s needed. The eight-speed automatic transmission is smooth and controlled. The overall ride quality is outstanding. It still feels like a truck, but this the most polished, refined Ram truck I’ve ever driven.

The interior of this Longhorn Ram is what makes it so memorable. I’m used to truck interiors being nice. But this was the single nicest interior I’ve ever seen on a truck. The Longhorn’s western theme was consistent, including the finest details. There was chrome embossed with a Western motif around the instrument panels. A snakeskin-like leather pattern was on the gigantic center storage box. A burnt wood trim was found throughout the interior. A panoramic sunroof gave it a roomier vibe. Every single detail worked and was impressive. On top of all the aesthetics, the legroom and headroom in the back seat are outstanding. The rear seats lift up and provide additional storage areas. The rear seats are even cooled, which is something that is not very common.

An 8.4-inch touchscreen comes standard, but my tester had a gigantic 12-inch screen that powered the Uconnect infotainment system, which is one of my all-time favorites. It’s intuitive and has all the technology you could want, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Base price of this top-level trim is $53,695, which is actually quite competitive for a near-luxury big truck. My tester had optional equipment including the aforementioned touchscreen as well as a trailering package, sensor-based safety features, a cargo bed tie-down system, a tonneau cover and the advanced air suspension system. As tested, this Ram 1500 had a final MSRP of $66,650.

As nice and powerful as the V8 Hemi is, it’s not overly fuel-efficient. The EPA gives it a rating of 15 mpg/city and 21 mpg/highway. There’s a 33-gallon fuel tank in the pickup. In a week’s worth of driving, I averaged only 17 mpg.

I admit that I’m not a truck guy. I find them generally impractical if you’re not towing something. Parking them in the suburbs is tricky. I didn’t care about any of that, and this Ram 1500 won me over. I drive between 60 to 70 vehicles a year and I guarantee when it’s all said and done, the 2019 Ram 1500 Longhorn will be near the top of my list, if not at the top.

I could keep the praises coming, but I’ve hit my word count.

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