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