2019 Ram 1500 eTorque

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Ram has developed a unique hybrid system for its lineup of 2019 Ram 1500 V-6 and Hemi V-8 pickups designed as a seamless way to improve gas mileage while at the same time add significant torque to both engines. It has rather appropriately been dubbed eTorque. The eTorque 48-volt mild-hybrid system will be standard equipment on all V-6 models and comes as a $1,450 option on the V-8 models.

Ram is the first to market in North America with this type hybrid system. There are reports that a couple European automakers have such systems in the works to be introduced on 2019 vehicles.

What you need to know about the mild hybrid system in a CiffNotes version:

• It is made up of a motor/generator that replaces the traditional alternator electrically assisting the engine, recovering energy during deceleration and braking.

• Recovered energy is reused to restart the truck after auto stop-start making the sometimes jerky stoplight restart virtually seamless. But even with its essentially undetectable nature, Ram has made a deactivation switch available for those hard-nosed truck owners who abhor this advanced fuel-saving technology.

• The system adds two mpg in combined city/highway driving for the 5.7-liter V-8. EPA numbers for the V-6 have not yet been finalized, but Ram officials say it should be between two and three mpg.

• eTorque adds 90 pound-feet of torque to the 3.6-liter V-6 and 130 pound-feet to the Hemi V-8. The extra torque, Ram says, is used in high-demand, low-speed events such as pulling a trailer up a hill or getting a jump at the stoplight. The extra torque also helps smooth out power delivery during shifts.

• eTorque is silent and seamless going about its work unobtrusively.

The new eTorque system is a great addition to the V-6-equipped Ram 1500 because it comes at no extra cost — if your towing and hauling needs are modest and you can live with the 305-horsepower. The V-8 eTorque models are now on sale, and the V-6 edition will come this fall.

The eTorque hybrid system is just another outstanding feature of  Ram's impressive new pickup.

The 2019 Ram boasts a 20 percent increase in both payload capacity and tow rate over the outgoing truck. Add the new mild-hybrid system for improved fuel economy; upgrades in engineering, ride and handling, comfort, safety, technology; and its fresh new looks inside and out, and you get a serious upgrade over the previous generation truck.

There’s a four-inch increase in cab length that especially shows up in rear seat legroom, which grows from 40.3 inches to 45.2 inches on crew-cab models. Those seats also slide fore and aft, recline up to eight degrees and fold upright for a fully flat floor, making the rear cab area useful for inside storage rather than or in addition to the rear cargo bed. An optional dual pane panoramic sunroof expands over both rows of seats.

Need more room? There are storage areas beneath the rear seats and the available RamBox, which is lockable and has been redone with better lids and an AC power outlet on the driver’s side box. RamBox is only available on the shorter-bed crew cab.

Safety-wise, the new Ram offers forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control.

The interior of the new Ram is no less than spectacular. Ram set out to “design the best interior of any truck on the market.” The crown jewel of that new design is the available 12-inch fully configurable touchscreen that can display the navigation map across the entire 12-inch screen, or be divided in half to operate two different applications at once.

Two additional center stack designs include the standard five-inch display or an 8.4-inch display. However, once using the 12-inch screen, it’s nearly impossible to retreat to the smaller screens. A 360-degree surround-view camera is also available, which helps when parking such a big truck or when backing to hook up a trailer.

A fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Wi-Fi hotspot capability. A 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is optional, delivering 900-watts with a 10-inch subwoofer.

The addition of the eTorque hybrid system is the icing on a very tasty pickup truck cake.

— Jim Meachen