Ram 1500 Rebel in California's Anza Borrego Desert.
I loved owning a tiny
little pickup truck.
Mine was a Toyota. It
didn’t have a fancy name. And when I drove the stick shift, I
listened to the gritty sound of gears changing. The vehicle was
well-worn. I bought it used and felt like it could take me anywhere
I drove down dusty
farm roads through the California heartland and I helped friends
haul stuff when they moved. That was decades ago.
Now, many of my
friends have a full-size pickup truck. Those in the city. Those in
the country. Those in the suburbs. Executives. Construction workers.
Doctors. Welders. Mommies running errands.
But never have I seen
a full-sized pickup move grown men to tears.
Tears of envy.
This is what happens
with a Ram 1500. Have a box of Kleenex handy.
One of the most
memorable moments for me during my week driving a new Ram: When a
building contractor slid into the passenger side and just had to
have a quiet moment. He caressed the supple leather seats and
leather-wrapped grab handles. He touched the enormous video screen.
said, shaking his head side to side.
He had a truck. He
owned more than one, actually.
But he didn’t have
the 2019 Ram 1500.
“This is too
beautiful. I don’t know that I could use it the way it’s built
to be used,” the contractor whispered.
The shifter is a spun
aluminum knob that felt cool to the touch.
Gone are the days of
uncomfortable, unheated vinyl or cloth spring seats. Climbing into
the Ram 1500, a pickup truck loyalist takes a deep breath and savors
the aroma. It’s like a baseball glove with beautiful stitching.
Not many pickup
trucks win awards for best interior design. The Ram 1500 does.
There’s a reason
Motor Trend just named the vehicle its truck of the year. Most
betting people have their money on Ram 1500 to win North American
Truck of the Year, too.
It has a fancy stereo
system, flawless adaptive cruise control that speeds up and slows
down with traffic, automated backup trailer assist with multiple
cameras, blind spot monitoring, an outlet to plug-in tablets. A
wireless phone charger keeps mobile devices juiced. Kids I shuttled
around in the backseat said they didn’t care about the absence of
TV screens because they preferred holding devices in their laps
The elegant design of
this vehicle might leave your average consumer with the idea that
it’s meant to haul $100,000 horses to equestrian competitions
along with rich and famous riders like Jessica Springsteen (daughter
of Bruce), Georgina Bloomberg (daughter of Michael) or Eve Jobs
(daughter of Steve).
Well, yes and no.
While the Ram 1500
would blend nicely at hunt clubs in, say, Westport, Conn., and San
Juan Capistrano, Calif. — its use isn’t limited to the valet
I took the thing over
the rocks and through the woods in the snow of Northern Michigan.
Yes, I even drove along two tracks in a remote area filled with deer
hoping to survive hunting season.
The Ram 1500 drove
like a Benz. It was smooth, baby.
Like a vintage
Macallan single malt scotch whisky.
The Ram 1500 cruised
respectfully past the Amish buggies rolling along the roads of Lake
County, Mich., just south of Cadillac.
It carries a family
of five — yes, FIVE — comfortably. Tall 11-year-old twins — a
competitive figure skater and a competitive swimmer — praised the
leg room in the backseat. They had no desire to move up front and,
if not for a new English Setter puppy in another pickup truck, may
never have gotten out.
On the highway, the
truck actually lowers itself automatically. Like when you’re going
down a hill on a bicycle and you duck to improve your aerodynamics.
Also, when you want to load groceries and not stand on your tiptoes,
the bed can be lowered with the press of a button. A mom who rode
with me said she loved that feature.
Trucks often need a
heavy load to get a decent ride. Not the Ram 1500. The coil spring
or optional air suspension feels more like an SUV. The truck stays
This is the vehicle
for someone who lives off a dirt road in Kentucky or Texas. It’s
perfect for the opera, a Kenny Chesney concert, deer hunting or
A recently retired
law enforcement officer said he remains loyal to Ram because the
ability to lower the truck made it easy to get his 80-year-old
father into the vehicle during hunting season. When not in the
woods, the former federal agent takes his pickup from his home near
Clarkston to a second-career job in downtown Detroit.
He’s the typical
Ram owner, using the truck for work and play.
When I parked the Ram
1500, a hunter who owns a Ford F-150 walked over to check things
out. He voiced envy for the Ram Box, locked storage that works like
saddlebags, which seem perfect for holding tools, guns, fishing
poles or baseball equipment.
Still, while the Ram
1500 seems to wow even the most seasoned pickup owner, Ford F-Series
has dominated the segment for decades. Andrew Frick, Ford director
of marketing, said, “The real war in pickups is not for No. 1 but
for the No. 2 position” now held by Chevrolet Silverado.
Thing is, pickup
truck owners are loyal. And opinionated. Many say they want a rugged
“Drove great, but
the (Ram 1500) exterior didn’t exude toughness/worker and had a
city slicker boy image to me. Also, the interior was a little too
Wayne Newton/Vegas for me,” wrote a critic on autospies.com.
But then that same
critic also said, “And FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HOW” could the truck
“not have massaging seats as an option?”
So there you go.
An all-new Ram 1500
runs from $33,390 to $70,000-ish.
It has a solid crash
rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
As for towing, you
feel like you could tow a three-bedroom house.
Potholes feel like
thimbles. Coffee doesn’t even splash in the cup holders.
Console space is the
stuff of female fantasies. Big purse? Bring it. I actually dropped
something down there and worried it might get lost.
Oh, by the way,
don’t call the vehicle a Dodge Ram. It’s Ram Truck. Fiat
Chrysler split Ram from Dodge years ago. A tiny but important
detail. Such a common mistake, though, that most consumers and even
police agencies use the old moniker. (If you search “Dodge Ram”
online, it’ll show that more than 258 million other searches.)
As someone who feels
perfectly comfortable in a Mini Cooper or a Fiat 500, the handling
of this full-size pickup is truly effortless.
The Ram 1500 proves
you don’t need to choose between strength and beauty.