The 2019 Ram has been garnering early praise for several technologies unheard of in full-size pickup trucks: a Tesla-like touch screen, a coil-spring rear suspension and self-leveling air suspension. But its best tech trick is under the hood: mild hybrid power. It’s called eTorque, and it’s standard on every V-6 Ram and an option on Hemi V-8 models.
Mild hybrids can’t propel themselves on electricity alone, but they can supplement gasoline power and trim fuel consumption. On the Ram, a liquid-cooled motor/generator connects to the Pentastar V-6’s crankshaft to deliver an electric boost of 8.9 kilowatts (12 horsepower) and as many as 122 newton meters (90 pound-feet) of torque. It’s powered by a 48-volt electrical system, the new wave in automotive electricals, with a DC/DC converter and a compact, 0.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.
That 48-V system permits the use of engine stop/start tech that cycles so seamlessly that it’s nearly undetectable: The Ram rolls from stoplights under electric power before it cranks the gasoline engine to whispery life, without the shuddering or noise that make typical stop/start systems so annoying.
Throw in an incredibly creamy ride, and a back seat (in Crew Cab models) with more legroom than any full-size luxury sedan, and you realize how far we’ve come from the days when the General Motors GMT 400 was hailed for having independent front suspension with torsion bars.
Ram says the eTorque system saves 5 centiliters (1.7 ounces) of fuel for every 90-second stop. Do that just 10 times a day and you’re conserving 190 liters (50 gallons) of fuel a year. It also saves energy through regenerative hybrid brakes. The latest, 227-kW (305-hp) Pentastar V-6 adds variable intake-valve lift and cam phasing that can run the efficient Atkinson combustion cycle, familiar from hybrids like the Toyota Prius. The 295-kW (395-hp) Hemi V-8 adds its own goodies, including fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, electronic mass dampers on frame rails and active cabin-noise cancellation, the latter two techs designed to erase telltale vibrations when the Ram runs on just four cylinders.
The upshot is the kind of fuel economy once associated with family cars. The V-6 Ram has an EPA fuel economy of 12.4 liters/100 kilometers (19 miles per gallon) on local roads and 9.8 L/100 km (24 mpg) on the highway, and an unmatched driving range of 1,000 km (624 miles) on a tank of gasoline. Even the burly V-8 eTorque model manages up to 17/23 mpg, in a truck that can tow a whopping 5,783 kilograms, or approximately one African bull elephant.