The third-best-selling vehicle in the U.S. has gone hybrid. RAM’s new eTorque mild hybrid technology will come standard on all Pentastar V6-powered 2019 RAM 1500 pickups. And it’ll be an option on the Hemi V8.
A 10 percent efficiency improvement in one of America’s top-selling vehicles should make quite the positive environmental impact. But what the eTorque hybrid system on the 2019 RAM 1500 doesn’t do is improve performance in any quantifiable way.
The 2019 RAM 1500’s biggest step forward is an improved fuel economy, with the eTorque mild hybrid system. On an American vehicle with extremely high sales volume, the hybrid’s effects will be magnified.
But the car doesn’t have a better 0-60 time, won’t make passing maneuvers any easier, and won’t help you get that load of mulch to your garden faster than other trucks.
Lots of Trucks, Less Fuel Needed
RAM is in a firm third place in the American full-size truck market. It’s working hard to catch up to Chevrolet and take a bite out of Ford’s commanding lead. There were over 500,000 RAM pickups sold in the U.S. in 2017, making it not just the third-best-selling pickup, but the third-most popular vehicle in the country overall.
And in 2018, the RAM truck is the second-most sold vehicle in the U.S. to date, with more than 250,000 sold already. A 10 percent fuel efficiency improvement on those trucks is sure to have a positive impact on the environment.
RAM: What Is eTorque?
The eTorque mild hybrid system comes standard on all Pentastar V6 powered 2019 RAM 1500 trucks and is optional on the Hemi V8. The option on the V8 will set you back $1,450 at the dealership.
What is a mild hybrid system, you ask? In this application, it means that the traditional alternator on the engine has been replaced with a belt-driven motor-generator unit. The motor-generator unit is essentially an electric motor powered by a 48-volt battery pack.
The motor-generator unit is located on the front of the V6 engine, between the radiator and engine block. On the V8, the motor-generator unit sits on top of the engine. In both cases, the unit interacts with the engine through a belt drive system.
The 300-watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack for the system is stored in the center of the vehicle behind the rear seats. This keeps the battery weight low and centralized on the vehicle. The air-cooled battery pack is the size of a small suitcase.
The main uses for the eTorque system are start-stop functionality, short-duration torque addition, and brake energy regeneration. All of these functions help improve fuel efficiency and help smooth out driving functions like starting, stopping, and shifting gears. All of these driving events are slightly enhanced and more linear than on a standard gas-powered vehicle.
Driving the eTorque RAM
Getting behind the wheel of a new RAM truck with the eTorque technology is the same as driving any new RAM truck. The eTorque system is nearly unnoticeable, which I think is a good thing.
The system does its job in the background and saves you dollar bills at the pump. As noted, the EPA rates the eTorque on the V8 to be around 10 percent more fuel efficient — adding about 2 mpg in mixed-use driving. As with all hybrid systems, the fuel savings are more noticeable in stop-and-go city traffic than long highway cruises. While the numbers aren’t out yet on the V6, it is expected to produce similar efficiency improvements.
The eTorque system also provides a number of comfort improvements over the standard all-gas engine. When idling, the engine shuts down and/or turns off cylinders. This, of course, saves fuel, but it also reduces cabin vibrations and engine noise while stationary. The eTorque system keeps comfort systems, like AC and heat, running during these times. And it helps the engine provide an instant response when you want the vehicle to move again.
The eTorque system powers the first half-rotation of the wheels. This allows the engine to start back up seamlessly without delaying vehicle movement or being intrusive to passengers. Older start-stop systems are quite violent and extremely noticeable, but the eTorque system is the complete opposite.
Another area where the eTorque system helps in the driver experience is when the eight-speed transmission up- and down-shifts. The eTorque system helps rev match in both cases, allowing for seamless, extremely smooth gear changes.
Is Diesel the Answer?
RAM was first to the U.S. market with a half-ton diesel truck. We should see the new 2019 RAM 1500 EcoDiesel early next year. Will the new diesel truck give us the performance and fuel economy balance we all crave? For now, we’ll have to settle for an impressive mild-hybrid V6 or the always fun Hemi, with or without eTorque.
2019 RAM 1500
If you want to know even more about all the new 2019 RAM 1500 has to offer, check out our first drive impressions: “2019 RAM 1500 Review: ‘Bigger Everything.’”
After spending even more time in the new RAM and its competitors, I can tell you that this is an extremely competitive truck. The direct linear response to all driving inputs, steering, braking, acceleration, and more really make this truck a winner.
The eTorque system just improves it that much more — on the environment, at the pump, and driving around town.