- The RAM 1500 pickup truck takes home the big trophy for 2019.
- It bested some serious competition, including the Lamborghini Urus, Nissan Leaf SL Plus, Cadillac XT4, Mercedes-Benz A220, and Porsche Cayenne, all of which were runners-up this year.
- In all, the RAM 1500 beat out 15 other finalists.
- We concluded that the RAM 1500 is not just a great truck but the best truck in a market that’s become incredibly competitive.
- Read our full 2019 Car of the Year coverage here.
The RAM 1500 pickup is Business Insider’s 2019 Car of the Year!
It joins an illustrious lineup of past winners: the Corvette Stingray in 2014, the Volvo XC90 in 2015, the Acura NSX in 2016, the Porsche Panamera in 2017, and the Kia Stinger in 2018.
There’s no debate: 2019 was a big year for pickup trucks. The Detroit Big Three — General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — each relaunched or refreshed their flagship full-size pickups and brought them to market.
We drove them all, and we decided that while they were all great, the RAM 1500 was the best. Beyond that, we concluded that the RAM 1500 was the most impressive and important vehicle we drove all year long.
In the six years that Business Insider has been naming a Car of the Year, we’ve proclaimed several sports cars and high-performance sedans the big winner, along with a large SUV.
But a few years ago we started reviewing many more pickups. We found that these hugely popular vehicles, once relegated to work on ranches, farms, and jobsites, were offering a premium experience to rival certain luxury cars, performance on par with sports cars and cutting-edge technology. And they could still haul thousands of pounds and tow thousands more.
And from a business perspective, tricked-out trucks have filled Detroit coffers with cash, enabling GM and FCA to put their 2009 bankruptcies in the rearview and allowing Ford to invest billions in a restructuring effort.
The Ford F-150 has been America’s best-selling vehicle every year since the Reagan administration. Chevy’s Silverado and GMC’s Sierra are often neck and neck with the Ford. But the RAM 1500 is special.
It’s the most plush-driving and provocatively designed full-size pickup on sale today, making it the perfect full-size for the modern buyer. But it’s hardly a pickup for pretenders. Its specs are robust, and its signature feature — a four-wheel independent suspension — has proved itself over the years for durability and performance.
In choosing a Car of the Year, our methodology is based on a handful of simple questions.
- Is there a strong business case for the vehicle? We are a business site, after all.
- Did our reviewers agree that the vehicle should be included? We have to come to a consensus, even though we might disagree on some particulars.
- Was the vehicle objectively excellent? There has to be a wow factor of some sort.
- Did the vehicle stand out from the sea of competition, particularly when it comes to technology? A Car of the Year finalist has to be special, and we’re also a technology site.
- Can we strongly recommend buying or leasing the car? We demand to know whether we’d buy the vehicle ourselves if we had the resources.
To be eligible, all models must be new or have been substantially updated within the past year.
The RAM 1500 checks all these boxes, and brings a new factor to the party: We’d never before included a pickup as a Car of the Year finalist. And when we did, it won the big trophy on its first attempt.
The competition was stiff — heck, the RAM beat out both Lamborghini’s first-ever SUV and the revamped Porsche Cayenne, not to mention two Mercedes-Benzes — but in the end, we agreed that the RAM 1500 was simply a spectacular effort in every way. Our minds were blown. The pickup truck has been redefined in the 21st century. And the RAM 1500 is leading the way.
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The 2019 RAM 1500 Crew Cab I originally tested was a Western-themed Laramie “Longhorn” edition, which was $54,000 before the addition of many extra features. As tested, the price was $68,500. We drove the vehicle a total of three times, in Los Angeles and the New York-New Jersey metro area.
A version that visited our test center a bit later in the year was a RAM 1500 Limited Crew Cab, with a “Diamond Crystal Pearl-Coat” paint job. It’s as-tested price was $69,000.
The RAM 1500 is a critically important truck for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the hypercompetitive, highly profitable full-size-pickup segment.
And this latest iteration is a formidable competitor in the full-size-truck segment.
The RAM front end is a study in forcefulness, intended to invoke semis and deliver a singular road presence.
The RAM 1500 weighs about 5,400 pounds and can tow 12,750 pounds.
The three different trucks we drove were all four-wheel-drive, in Crew Cab trim.
The rear step bumper made getting in and out of the bed relatively simple. And of course that massive chrome RAM badge shines in the sunlight!
The tailgate is powered and can be operated remotely using the key fob.
Each of my two East Coast test trucks had short beds, though one of them had a nifty retractable tonneau cover.
The mighty Hemi powerplant in our test truck featured a mild hybrid “eTorque” system coupled to the 5.7-liter V8, making a total of 395 horsepower with 410 foot-pounds of torque. The zero-to-60 time is about 6 seconds. Fuel economy is OK: 17 mpg city/22 highway/19 combined.
The 2019 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4×4 is a staggeringly good pickup. The secret weapon, of course, is the four-corner coil or air suspension (competitive pickups from Ford and Chevy continue to use rear leaf springs)
The RAM lineup is known for plush interiors. Here we have one in all black, but crammed with subtle details and elegant textures.
The panoramic sunroof is an epic extra.
Crew Cabs are all about transporting fully grown adults. The back seat of the 1500 is comfortable and quite roomy. Tall humans won’t want for legroom.
Driving the RAM 1500 is an absolute joy. You have a commanding view of the road, and the handling is like butter.
The multifunction steering wheel is the sort of thing that never would have been seen on the work trucks of yesteryear.
Like other full-size pickups, the RAM 1500’s cabin has a lot going on. But these days pickups are often pressed into double duty, as hardworking vehicles for ranchers and contractors, but also as competitors to luxury SUVs.
The 12-inch center touchscreen is stunning. The infotainment system is FCA’s Uconnect, which we’ve found to be excellent.
GPS navigation is solid and the system offers a suite of apps to go along with USB/AUX ports for device connection. Bluetooth pairing is easy and the RAM 1500 has wireless charging. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available.
The combination of buttons, knobs, and screen might seem cluttered and overly complicated. But that’s until you have to handle the RAM 1500 while wearing gloves in subfreezing weather.
Say hello to Business Insider’s 2019 Car of the Year — a pickup truck!
The 2019 RAM 1500 is the best full-size pickup truck I’ve ever tested. I even got to challenge the 4×4 system with about a foot of snow at our suburban New Jersey test center, and the RAM brushed it off like nothing.
OK, I’ll accept that the F-150 and Silverado loyalists out there don’t like the RAM’s suspension. Yes, it could break down under serious stress. But in my testing, this truck was bliss to drive.
“It truly is the level of refinement that the RAM 1500 brings to the segment that helps it stand out, even as Ford and Chevy/GMC sell more trucks,” I wrote in my review of the outgoing generation. “RAM has carved out far more than a niche at No. 3 and isn’t dropping the ball when it comes to what its loyalist expect.”
With the all-new 2019 pickup, RAM might have moved past that No. 3 niche and positioned the Silverado in its sights. The RAM 1500 is a no-compromise pickup, perfectly pitched for the new pickup market, which is as much about everyday driving as hardcore performance.
Don’t get me wrong: The Silverado is no slouch. And in fairness, the RAM 1500 I tested cost $12,000 more, so it should have been impressive.
But even taking that into account, the RAM is a superior full-size beast, and while the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 isn’t as powerful on paper as the Silverado’s 6.2-liter V8, the RAM’s torque-boosting hybrid makes the 1500 feel as though it has more punch. And the RAM’s 8-speed transmission, in my hands, felt like it shifted more smoothly than the Silverado’s 10-speed.
I also checked back in with the F-150 during the year, and while it remains a fantastic truck, the RAM is just a little bit better right now.
Pickup-truck buyers don’t want for choices these days. But, boy, I challenge anybody seeking a new truck to sample the RAM 1500 and not be tempted by what I think is the best full-size pickup money can buy.
Congratulations to RAM and FCA for winning our sixth annual Car of the Year award and becoming our first-ever pickup to contest for the honor — and win!