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Review: Fiat Chrysler's 2019 Ram 1500 is the best pickup you can buy today

Key Points
  • The Ram 1500 is the best-riding, quietest and most luxurious full-size truck on sale.
  • It offers class-leading V-8 towing and a long list of options.
  • We’d skip the mega touch screen, but we love everything else about the Ram
2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

In the world of full-size pickup trucks, Fiat Chrysler's Ram 1500 has long been a distant third in sales behind General Motor's Chevy Silverado and Ford's F-150. We think the redesigned model is the company's best chance yet at catching up.

It offers staggering capability, serious technology and incredible on-road manners that impressed us during a weeklong test. It's not just the best Ram ever, the Ram 1500 is the best truck you can buy today.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

The Good

To anyone who doesn't understand the pickup truck craze, we prescribe a few minutes in a Ram for you to figure it out.

Scoff all you want at the $66,370 sticker price of our Ram 1500 Laramie tester, but consider the following. It offers more rear legroom than a $90,000 Mercedes S-Class executive sedan, more cargo and passenger space than the $72,530 BMW X5 luxury family SUV we tested, more power than a $74,160 BMW sports sedan and more towing capacity than a $98,230 Lincoln Navigator.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

And it's not just features and specs; the Ram feels entirely like a luxury product. There's a well-trimmed interior with a massive, Tesla-style portrait touch screen. There are massive heated and cooled seats that are comfortable for long hauls. There's effortless power around town and precious little cabin noise on the freeway.

Plus, we love the way the Ram rides. While other trucks and full-size SUVs tend to have some business in the ride at high speeds, the Ram is never unsettled. We also like the way it handles; though it makes no attempts to be sporty or otherwise exciting, it doesn't lumber about with the sloppiness of, say, a Toyota Tundra.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

Ram also sweats the small stuff with tons of thoughtful details throughout the truck. The locking boxes on the side of the bed are watertight and can be drained, in case you need some impromptu coolers. The center console is reconfigurable with sliding cup holder trays.

Peek under the lids, and you'll see helpful conversion charts and formula references useful to any contractors who happen to buy a Ram. Below, there's a cute depiction of the Ram truck lineage driving through the center console.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

Convenience wise, we counted two 110-volt power outlets, four USB-C ports, five USB-A ports and a wireless charging pad. Add in the standard 12-volt plugs, and you're set to power a small hospital should the need arise.

Finally, the 5.7-liter engine is a workhorse. It's not loud or obtrusive, but it delivers 380 horsepower and over 400 foot-pounds of torque. Spec a Ram right, and you'll be able to tow a V-8 best-in-class at 12,750 pounds.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

The Bad

While the portrait style touch screen looks cool, it's not nearly as seamless as Fiat Chrysler's smaller displays. The software isn't quite there, as certain menus are confusing and tapping on an information area doesn't always lead to where you'd expect.

Luckily, you can save money by not ordering the larger infotainment display. You might need it, as you'll be spending a lot on gas. Ram trucks with the 5.7-liter engine are rated for 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway when equipped with four-wheel drive.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

It's a decent figure for the class, but it's still a thirsty machine. If you don't plan to tow, there's a mild-hybrid V-6 "eTorque" engine that costs less and delivers 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

How We'd Option It

The beauty of these trucks is that you can get them however you like them. Regular cab, extended cab, crew cab, long bed, short bed, wide bed, with Ram boxes, V-6, V-8 without eTorque, V-8 with eTorque, four-wheel drive or two-wheel drive. That's before you get to options and trims.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

Because of this, we can't recommend one specification that will be the best all-around truck for all scenarios. Instead, we're going to option a truck as though we are a truck buyer looking to maximize luxury per dollar while using the bed for occasional hauling. If you need maximum payload or towing capacity, you can consult Ram's Towing & Payload Capacity Guide.

We'd start with a V-6, four-wheel drive Laramie Crew Cab with the shorter bed option. Add $1,695 for the Level 1 equipment group, which adds blind-spot monitoring, remote tailgate release, front and rear park sensors and a reclining rear seat with split folding.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

We'd highly recommend choosing the $1,695 Advanced Safety Group to get adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, forward collision warning and an extremely useful 360-degree camera. To make moving stuff in the bed easier, we'd spend $845 on the Bed Utility Group to get a bedliner, cargo tie points and a cargo divider. Budget $100 or $200 if you don't want a bright red truck.

Finally, add $1,495 for the beautiful panoramic sunroof. All together, our Ram sits at $48,220.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

Final Thoughts

We can't get over how much value the Ram offers buyers. As equipped, the Ram does a great impression of a luxury car. It's got adaptive cruise control, 360-degree cameras, heated and cooled seats and a gargantuan cabin. It rides exceptionally well and provides all the convenience features one would expect of a top-trim minivan, like 12 cupholders and nine total USB ports.

The luxury of the Ram alone justifies the price. But it doesn't stop there; you get up to a 6.4-foot bed, V-8 class-leading towing, never-ending list of available configurations and clever cargo solutions to make the bed more usable.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC

We aren't sure if the Ram we configured is the right truck for all readers. But if you do need a full-size truck, we're pretty confident in saying that the right truck for most readers has a Ram badge.

Rating:

Exterior: 4

Interior: 5

Driving Experience: 4.5

Value: 5

Overall: 4.6*

Price as tested: $66,370

*Rating out of 5.

2019 Ram 1500
Mack Hogan/CNBC