From the looks of the Rams running around Michigan, the next-generation half-ton models are likely to offer more variations and styles than ever before. Our spy shooters caught some Mega-Cab-looking, long-wheelbase versions that have us wondering what Ram has up its sleeves. Could there be some sort of alternative split tailgate or sliding rear doors under all that padding? Here's what they sent us:
"We recently got our first look at the initial test mules for the next-gen Ram 1500 pickup. This test truck gets an interesting camouflage setup, covering strategic portions of the modified body of a Ram 1500 to give it a type of 'Mega Cab' look.
"The camouflage seems devised to hide the dimensional changes in store for the next-gen Ram 1500. The cab design and wheelbase look significantly larger and longer than the current truck, with what looks like riveted sections adding length to increase the passenger compartment volume.
"A close look at both the black and red mules shows a riveted seam in the roofline above the crew cab's rear door as well — which will likely result in a larger door opening and more rear-seat cargo space. The area around the truck's B-pillar is also heavily camouflaged, with the vinyl camo covering a good portion of the front door. It appears that more space has been added in front of the B-pillar as well. The tailgate, C-pillar and rear window are also heavily disguised. The overlay could hide signs of increased width to go with the longer, more spacious cab design.
"Inside, this first mule has camouflage panels in place to cover the dash, but we managed to catch them flipped back. While the majority of the switchgear looks to be populated by parts from the current Ram, the test truck is outfitted with the steering wheel from the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan. This detail could further solidify this test truck as a mule, which will use the new wheel to integrate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' latest infotainment technology.
"The next-gen Ram is expected to make use of more mixed and matched lighter-weight materials, likely to provide some kind of weight savings (for better fuel efficiency) with the longer and wider pickup. The use of more exotic materials could allow Ram to better compete with the all-aluminum Ford F-150.
"In July, FCA announced it would be ending production of the Chrysler 200 sedan and embarking on a $1.48 billion overhaul of the Sterling Heights, Mich., assembly plant. The plant will become a body-on-frame manufacturing plant to build this larger next-gen Ram. The existing Ram production facility will then switch to building Jeeps once the current-generation Ram's production runs out.
"We're hearing the next-gen Ram 1500 is expected to reach the market in late 2017 as a 2018 model. The all-new Ram heavy duty, likely a 2019 model, will follow along one year later."
KGP Photography images