Electric motors have certain undeniable advantages when it comes to providing torque on demand, so it makes sense that Ram has applied that technology to the new 2019 Ram 1500 line. In fact, the surprising thing is that hybrid engines haven't been adopted by truck manufacturers across the board.
Here's how it works: the Ram 1500 uses what's called a mild hybrid system. In this case, there's an electric motor/generator that literally sits on top of the regular 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 or 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine, and it helps drive the engine using a heavy-duty belt. The electric motor looks like any other belt-driven accessory but it's adding up to 130 pound-feet of torque at low RPM to help get the truck moving, which is when you need the most power. When you're decelerating, the system works in reverse, using the truck's momentum to recharge the hybrid battery.
That's all there is to it. The battery is a small 430 Watt-hour unit behind the rear seat, so it doesn't add a lot of cost to the truck, and the whole system improves both city and highway fuel economy by about 2 MPG with the V8 engine. It also helps smooth out gearshifts from the 8-speed torque-flite automatic transmission. You don't have to plug in the Ram or do anything special. Just enjoy the extra power and the improved fuel economy. If you choose the optional large-size fuel tank, you can get up to 750 miles of range out of a new Ram with eTorque.
I drove the Ram with the conventional V8 engine a few months ago, and the eTorque models are the same except for the hybrid system. You still have a range of trims starting with the basic Tradesman with vinyl seats on up to the luxurious Longhorn and Limited editions with leather, a huge touchscreen tech interface, crew cab, and 4WD. The base price covers a 2WD extended cab Tradesman with the eTorque V6, but if you want the Tradesman with the eTorque V8, a crew cab, 6-foot 4-inch bed, and 4WD, you should expect to pay about $45,000. That's what I'd buy.
On the road, the new Ram is a state-of-the-art pickup truck, with great available features like blind spot monitoring that covers a trailer behind you as well as the sides of the truck itself. The new cabin benefits from a redesigned frame and suspension, and it's amazingly quiet and smooth inside, even in the base trim.
The bottom line is that there's no reason not to choose the eTorque hybrid. If you're shopping trucks this year, it's worth your time to stop in to the Ram dealer and check out the eTorque system. It really makes a difference.
2019 Ram 1500 eTorque
Base price: $33,390
Price as tested: $66,755
Type: Full size pickup truck
Engines: 3.6-liter V6 or 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with electric motor (395 hp, 410 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 17/22
Overall length: 229-233 inches
Curb weight: 5,372 pounds
Final assembly: Sterling Heights, Michigan
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