The 2018 Detroit auto show was the most truck-heavy show we’ve seen in years, with three major automakers debuting new pickups. GM and Fiat-Chrysler had new generations of the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 to show, and Ford brought back the midsize Ranger to our shores after an absence of nearly a decade. We don’t have all the specs yet—and yes, the Ranger is in a different class than the Silverado and Ram—but we can still compare these new trucks in a few key areas.
The new 2019 Ram 1500’s gas 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engines mostly carry over but receive new eTorque starter/generators fed by a small battery pack that provide between 12-16 hp and 90-130 lb-ft of torque, depending on application. The eTorque motors also restart the engine in 0.55 second after shutting off via the new stop/start capability. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 is set to return in 2019 without the eTorque mild hybrid system.
The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado’s full engine lineup is unknown but will again include 5.3- and 6.2-liter V-8 options, now equipped with cylinder deactivation tech that can shut off as many as seven cylinders. But the big news is an all-new Duramax 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six that GM promises will deliver better performance than the competition, possibly meaning 30 mpg on the highway. A four-cylinder hybrid could be offered in the future. Chevy says a total of six engine and transmission choices will be available on the Silverado 1500.
Meanwhile, the 2019 Ford Ranger will launch with a version of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four found in other Ford products. It’s a second-generation turbo-four and features a forged steel crankshaft and twin-scroll turbocharger. No specs were revealed, but it could make around 280 hp and 310 lb-ft like the unit available in the Explorer. Future engine options could include a turbodiesel five-cylinder that’s available in other markets, but no hard details have surfaced yet.
Given that these are next-gen trucks, high gear counts are to be expected, and all three deliver. The 2019 Ram 1500 uses a specially tuned version of FCA’s eight-speed automatic, which has been programmed with more than 40 shift maps to work in concert with the eTorque system. Meanwhile, the Silverado and Ranger both use the 10-speed automatic that was jointly developed by GM and Ford. The Hydra-Matic 10-speed can be found on Silverados with the diesel and 6.2-liter V-8, and it comes with stop/start tech.
All three trucks get their respective automaker’s latest infotainment system, but the Ram 1500 Limited steals the show with a segment-first 12.0-inch touchscreen running Uconnect 4C (the display is shown above). The screen is brighter and sharper than FCA’s others, producing 1,000 candela per square meter and matching the resolution of the iPhone 8’s Retina HD display. Lesser Ram 1500 models will continue to use the 8.4-inch touchscreen. SiriusXM Guardian offers a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot for a subscription fee.
Base Chevy Silverado 1500 work trucks will get a 7.0-inch color touchscreen, and LT models and up get an 8.0-inch unit. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection continues to be offered for a subscription fee. The Ford Ranger gets an 8.0-inch touchscreen available with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system and also offers a 4G Wi-Fi through the subscription-based FordPass. All three trucks are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (when properly equipped), but only the Ford is available with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.
Although connectivity is great, people buy trucks to do truck stuff—and the bed is a big part of that. The 2019 Ram 1500 will be available in multiple cab and bed configurations, and the bed in each features sides that have been raised 1.3 inches to increase box capacity. RamBox in-bed storage continues to be offered and adds a 115-volt power outlet and repositioned lighting in the lids.
The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado’s bed gains nearly 7 inches in width, thanks to new construction methods. The bed floor is made of roll-formed high-strength steel and is rated for 500 megapascals of force (up from 340 MPa in the previous model). An in-bed 120-volt outlet provides up to 400 watts, enough juice for most large power tools. GM’s CornerStep bumpers are now taller to accommodate work boots, but the Silverado’s big party trick is its available power tailgate that can lower and raise using the key fob.
Ford didn’t provide dimensions for the U.S.-market Ranger, but the truck will be offered as a four-door supercrew or a supercab with two rear half doors, so there will likely be different bed sizes.
Not all truck owners will take their rigs off-road, but those who do will appreciate that the Ram 1500, Silverado, and Ranger all have the capability to do so, along with special variants designed to do it better.
The Ram has an available updated air suspension and new Frequency Response Damping shocks that improve performance off-road. There’s also a new 4×4 off-road package that include a 1-inch lift, unique shocks, locking rear axle, and hill-descent control feature. Of course, the off-road-oriented Rebel trim is still offered, which gets the locking differential standard along with a host of other goodies.
The Silverado’s suspension gets a redesign, which should help its off-roading prowess. For maximum off-road looks and capability, though, there’s a new Trailboss variant that adds a 2-inch lift and the Z71 Off-Road package, which includes skidplates, Rancho shocks, a locking rear differential, and 18-inch wheels wrapped in Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires.
Ford says the Ranger is designed with off-road adventures in mind, which is why it has such a short front overhang and high ground clearance. There’s an FX4 Off-Road package available that includes all-terrain tires, off-road-tuned shocks and suspension, skidplates, and a Terrain Management System similar to the one available in the F-150 Raptor. A Trail Control feature acts like a low-speed cruise control and takes over throttle and braking to let the driver focus on steering. An electronic locking rear differential is available, and four-wheel-drive models have a selectable low range setting.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT (and LTZ)
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss
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