Newer, rather eclectic-looking versions of the next-generation 2019 Ram 1500 have been seen testing in and around the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles headquarters once again. But this time, we're noticing some odd details. Here's the latest report we received from our spy photographers; it looks like there might be a few significant changes coming for the next Ram half ton.
"Until the appearance of these latest test mules, the initial phase of testing for the next-generation Ram 1500 has consisted solely of enlarged crew-cab trucks. It has appeared that the 2019 Ram 1500 would either get a larger crew cab in its redesign or a resurrected version of the MegaCab. Now that tweaked Quad-Cab mules are running around FCA's development centers, it seems clear that the DT Ram program — the current Ram 1500s use the DS code internally — has kicked into a new gear. With the Ford F-150 recently updated and a new Chevrolet Silverado now running around in full production-bodied form, progress on the DT Ram is a necessity to stay competitive.
"Interestingly, the latest Quad-Cab mules have trim bits mixed up, with the grille from the Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited models, which don't come in Quad-Cab configurations — only as larger crew cabs. The rear bumper on one of the trucks is designed to take the dual rear-exit exhaust tips; however, the test truck is fitted with a side-exit exhaust. There clearly is lots of experimentation going on underneath the bodywork of these trucks.
"The rear side windows and the back lights are covered in the graphic camouflage, hiding some changes to the rear portion of the truck's cab or rear seating space, but what's being hidden isn't completely clear. On the MegaCab mules, the rear glass and back light are similarly disguised, but those trucks also make use of heavy vinyl camouflage to hide the riveted additions to the bodywork necessary in the upsized cab. These new Quad Cab mules don't have the same heavy outer covering.
"The Quad-Cab mules maintain the six-lug design found on the MegaCab mules. A peek inside one of those earlier mules revealed that the test truck was outfitted with the steering wheel from the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan, pointing to an overhaul to the current Ram's electrical architecture. Our marketing research sources at AutoPacific suggest that this should lead to more driver-assist features such as collision avoidance, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control to keep pace in the truck tech wars.
"Last year, FCA announced that 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 switch to body-on-frame manufacturing to build next-generation Rams. The existing Ram production facility — the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan — will then switch to building Jeeps, once the current-generation Ram's production run ends.
"It is expected that the current-gen DS Ram will continue on for at least a year or two, sold alongside the new DT Ram — serving primarily as a lower-cost fleet vehicle. With that strategy in mind, it makes sense that future investments will be shifted to the next-gen Ram architecture instead of further tweaking the current-generation model."
KGP Photography images