Spied: 2019 Ram 1500, Now With Less Camo (and Tradition)

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
spied 2019 ram 1500 now with less camo and tradition

Fiat Chrysler executives have made it very clear: the next-generation Ram 1500 needs to move away from the styling cues of the past, no matter how hard the transition will be for brand traditionalists — or Ram execs.

We’ve already seen movement in this direction. Several 1500 trims — Rebel, Laramie Longhorn, Limited — have already ditched the signature crosshair grille for a new design, positioning the Ram name dead center, flanked by two U-shaped ribs. If you’re still unsure of what kind of truck you’re looking at, the 10-foot-high chromed letters adorning the tailgate provide a second subtle hint. Hashtag branding.

As seen in these spy photos, the next-generation 2019 Ram 1500, due for an unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month, has a face that’s bound to stoke controversy.

Besides the recently revealed 2018 Jeep Wrangler, no project is more important to FCA’s bottom line than the Ram 1500 update. There’s been no shortage of cash ($1.48 billion) thrown at the project. Production models should start rolling out of the retooled Sterling Heights assembly plant in January.

This pre-production model, spied tooling around Michigan, is our most uncamouflaged look yet at the next 1500. Brightwork remains cloaked by sticky film, but there’s no hiding that grille.

Now the shape of an elongated hexagon, the grille shows no vertical crossmember, preferring instead a number of thin horizontal ribs and a larger piece running across the center. No doubt we’ll see the Ram badge affixed to the distinct center section. Above it, a chrome unibrow, thicker in the middle, runs atop the headlamps and grille. Below it, the new Ram’s bumper rivals Swiss Cheese for holes. There’s openings for tow hooks, foglamps, and a wide, thin, mesh-filled opening for airflow.

It seems the full-figured front fenders remain to some degree, though they clearly aren’t as obvious as before. Overall, the truck’s flanks appear far more more slab-sided. The roofline is Pure Ram. Looking at the rear bumper and taillights, that old feeling of familiarity starts flooding back. While the taillight shape remains the same, the backup lights have split into an over/under design.

There’s a fairly thick dropcloth obscuring our view of what should be a mundane part of the body: the tailgate. Perhaps they don’t want us to see that it’s more than one piece?

Nothing’s come along, engine-wise, to sideline the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 or 5.7-liter Hemi V8 from continued full-size duty, so expect to see those familiar mills under the hood when the 2019 model arrives. There’s also talk of FCA fielding a fuel-sipping turbocharged four-cylinder model. We’ve seen no proof of it as of yet.

Viewed from the front, this is a pretty radical change to what came before. If this new truck seems like a travesty to you, something you wouldn’t set foot in if your life depended on it, something that ruins your memories of the movie Twister, fear not. The previous-generation 1500 isn’t saying goodbye anytime soon. The older full-sizer continues in production for the 2018 and 2019 model years.

[Images: ©2017 Spiedbilde/The Truth About Cars]

Join the conversation
4 of 53 comments
    • FreedMike FreedMike on Dec 06, 2017

      On paper, it makes sense, but in reality, there is a HUGE amount of overlap between the two brands in the U.S., particularly in the dealer networks. They'd have to spend a bundle to buy them out. Then there's the huge amount of overlap between Hyundai and Fiat in Europe. I could see the two companies making some kind of arrangement to platform-share (FCA gets compacts and midsizers, and Hyundai gets more CUVs and trucks). A merger with a Chinese company makes a lot more sense, if you ask me...assuming there's a Chinese company out there that wants FCA.

  • George B George B on Dec 06, 2017

    It would look better if you sectioned out 2 or 3 inches of excess height above the wheel arches from headlight to taillight. The 1994-2001 model year Ram 1500s are the nicely proportioned ones that will be restored in the future.

    • INeon INeon on Dec 06, 2017

      I wonder where anyone will get the dashboard-- they're *all* bad on those trucks.

  • Slavuta Civic EX - very competent car. I hate the fact of CVT and small turbo+DI. But it is a good car. Good rear seat. Fix the steering and keep goingBut WRX is just a different planet.
  • SPPPP This rings oh so very hollow. To me, it sounds like the powers that be at Ford don't know which end is up, and therefore had to invent a new corporate position to serve as "bad guy" for layoffs and eventual scapegoat if (when) the quality problems continue.
  • Art Vandelay Tasos eats $#!t and puffs peters
  • Kwik_Shift Imagine having trying to prove that the temporary loss of steering contributed to your plunging off a cliff or careening through a schoolyard?
  • Inside Looking Out How much costs 25 y.o. Mercedes S class with 200K miles?