In With the Old: 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Joins New Model to Energize Sales

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company replaced the original formula of its flagship soft drink and called the beverage “New Coke.” The new label was tucked into the corner, as this was to become the brand’s staple flavor. But the soda company knew better than to gamble its business on an unproven taste, so it retained the old formula and bottled it as “Coca-Cola Classic.” The end result was more sales and a safety net for those unwilling to steer their taste buds into adventure.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is doing the same thing with the Ram brand. The full-size 1500 pickup truck was replaced for the 2019 model year. However, FCA wanted to keep both the fourth and fifth generations of the half-ton hauler on the books.

Since Ram can’t call them both the 1500 and hope people recognize the difference, it’s appending the older model with the Classic nameplate. The brand will offer both the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic, known internally as the DS model, and the all-new 2019 Ram 1500, marked as the DT, at all North American dealers through the 2018 calendar year.

“As we launch the all-new 2019 Ram 1500, we didn’t want to walk away from a key part of the light-duty truck market,” said Mike Manley, head of the truck brand. “Ram will continue to produce the 1500 Classic targeted at entry and commercial buyers.”

Alright, so why is FCA really doing this? The Coke strategy could play a factor. By offering both the DS and DT, Fiat Chrysler can flood the extremely popular pickup market with two full-sized models. But that’s not the only reason FCA might have to keep the older vehicle around.

As of last week, examples of the new 1500 were limited to models equipped with the 5.7-liter Hemi. The Environmental Protection Agency has been slow to grant approval to the brand’s mild-hybrid powertrains — which include the Hemi and a 3.6-liter V6. Strangely, neither FCA or the EPA have specified why.

Keeping the older model around will buy Ram some time as those approvals go through and production has a chance to catch up. For 2019, the Ram 1500 Classic is offered in four trims: Tradesman, Express, Big Horn/Lone Star and Special Services Vehicle (SSV). The Classic also benefits from three new packages, bundled in a comprehensive way to minimize overall costs and assembly headaches.

For example, the Chrome Plus package available on the Tradesman adds all the shiny bits you can handle, along with keyless entry. The Tradesman SXT slaps dual exhaust ports on V8 models, fog lamps, 20-inch chrome wheels, and a upsized center console. An Express Black Accent Package is offered on all Express trim exterior colors but adds black wheels and badging.

The 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter V8 carry over, but a new 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel is said to become available at a later date. Bed sizes and cab configurations are enough to satisfy anyone’s needs and the price difference is enough to keep buyers interested in the older model. If you found a build you liked on the old pickup, you’ll surely be happy with the new-old truck.

Currently, the fourth-generation 1500 starts at $27,295, undercutting the new base model by $4,400 (which you can order by not own). It won’t officially become the Classic until the final quarter of 2018, by which time the EPA may have approved those mild-hybrid powertrains.

[Image: FCA]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Jun 27, 2018

    Looking at them side by side at the dealer the new truck is handsome enough other than the stupid emblem on the hood now. I would by an aftermarket hood just to get rid of it and have all the new refinements. Or, in this case maybe buy the classic because they are pretty sharp and give up the chenges. Should I need to buy a truck, which I don't.

  • Akear Akear on Jun 27, 2018

    I went to a FCA dealer the other day and could not see one appealing vehicle. Ok, the Hellcat and a few other muscles cars are interesting.

  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.
  • Kat Laneaux I get the point that Musk is making. I wouldn't want everyone to know my secrets. If they did, they could or would shout it out to the world. But then, if Musk certified certain folks and had them sign Confidentiality agreements, which would allow them to work on cars that Musk had made, that could allow others to work on his cars and not confine vehicle owners to be charged an arm and a leg for the service. It's a catch 22. People are greedy little buggers. If they can find a way to make money, they will even if it wrong. People...sad.
  • 285exp I have been assured that EVs don’t require maintenance, so this seems pointless.