2018 Ram 1500 Update: Are Those Changes Good Enough?

The next generation Ram 1500 is going to be released as a 2020 model, but the 2018 Ram 1500 will get a major update. In order to be more competitive, the truck is going to have numerous substantial changes regarding powertrain, appearance, technology and safety. Everything about the 2018 Ram 1500 is still very clandestine, but we have some basic outlines of the updated light-duty truck. We’re going to try to find out whether the changes they will make would be good enough.

Is it worth waiting for the 2018 Ram 1500? Probably yes. The scope of changes it’s going to suffer indicates that the updated model, half way through the process of completely redesigning the half-ton truck, will be essentially improved.

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2018 Ram 1500 Powertrain: Engine Changes & Hybrid Setup

The automaker is proud about the current model’s fuel economy. It’s always a good thing to offer a more powerful engine, but they’re also going to work on the updated model’s fuel efficiency. All the engines will be updated, providing better towing and hauling, and a brand new hybrid powertrain (called: mild hybrid) is going to be introduced for the first time. They probably don’t expect the 2018 Ram 1500 hybrid to rock the market, but this is a subtle way of introducing the technology for the future model years when they’re going to rely more on this type of powertrain, just as the other truck manufacturers.

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3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel Changes

Currently, the Ram 1500’s EPA ratings are the best in class, but they must make engine changes because of two very serious reasons.

First, the government’s strict regulations force the automakers to manufacture more efficient and less polluting engines. On the other hand, the 2018 Ram 1500 will get a fierce competitor soon enough – the 2017 Ford F-150.

The Ram 1500 diesel was the king of this type of fuel. Its 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel delivers 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, but the 2017 F-150 with the very first diesel engine option, borrowed its 3.0-liter V6 diesel mill from the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Td6. This engine generates 254 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque under the hood of the luxury Land Rover SUVs. The expectations are that the Blue Oval is going to improve it even more. This means that the updated Ram 1500 diesel must have a good response and there’s no doubt they’re going to do so.

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Currently, the Land Rover’s diesel engine reaches 22 mpg/city and 29 mpg/highway, but those figures were reached on the aforementioned Land Rover SUVs. The 2017 Ford F-150 is going to be noticeably heavier and less aerodynamic. We think that, in spite of all the improvements, they will have really hard time making the truck’s engine as efficient as the Land Rover version. More probable outcome would be around the current Ram 1500’s mpg.

The current Ram 1500 diesel returns 20 mpg/city and 28 mpg/highway (2WD), and 19 mpg/city and 27 mpg/highway (4WD). With further improvements, the 2018 model year might get slightly better EPA fuel economy, just enough to retain the leading position within the market segment.

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2018 Ram 1500 Hybrid: What’s the Plan?

It’s true that the current gas prices boost the sales of thirsty vehicles, but the struggle to gain more and more mpg is continuous and never ending. It’s just a matter of time when hybrid setups will be accepted as a common type of powertrain. While the Blue Oval prepares the F-150 hybrid with regenerative braking, FCA works on something similar. There’s no official information about it yet, except for the fact that they said this is going to be a mild hybrid.

This means that the truck is going to have an electric motor that’s going to provide the ability to turn off the engine when coasting, braking or standing still. In fact, no matter how many differences there might be, both rivals will heavily rely on their conventional, internal combustion engines, while the hybrid setups will help to get a couple of miles per gallon more.

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V6 Pentastar Update

The 2018 Ram 1500 is going to inherit the updated 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar. Before they installed it under the hood of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, they made some really radical changes: new fuel injectors, higher compression ratio (11.3:1), reduced some weight, and created an engine that delivers 295 horsepower to the Grand Cherokee’s wheels.

The same Pentastar is going to be used for the 2018 Ram 1500. It’s still questionable whether they’re going to make some amends, but if they do, as some rumors suggest, the updated Ram 1500 would get an engine that generates more than 300 horsepower and probably surprising low-end torque. The Pentastar will be mated with a second-gen ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.

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2018 Ram 1500 HEMI: 5.7-liter V8 HEMI Engine Update

It’s a rule of thumb that every pickup truck must have a powerful engine option. The infamous bad boy, the 5.7-liter V8 HEMI, is going to be updated in more than one way. Currently, it delivers 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque to the 2016 Ram 1500, but the 2018 Ram 1500 will certainly have more power and torque at its disposal. There is no official information on this topic, but there’s no doubt the updated Ram 1500 HEMI will have increased towing and hauling capacity.

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2018 Ram 1500 Body Changes

When it comes to the body design, the 2018 Ram 1500 won’t get radical changes. Of course, the truck is going to get some exterior tweaks – redesigned grille, headlights, and front bumper, revised taillights and rear bumper – but all of those changes couldn’t be called a redesign. The basic feel is going to be the same and while maintaining the general design language, the 2018 Ram 1500 will just be refreshed in order to keep the things interesting until the total redesign scheduled for 2020 model year.

There were some speculations about the possibility that the 2018 Ram 1500 could get a body made of aluminum. Having in mind that the Ford F-150 already exploits this engineering innovation, it’s highly unlikely that FCA is going to go down that road. In fact, other companies in the truck-making business insist on downsides of aluminum use. The rumors were ignited by the fact that FCA is really working hard on developing aluminum technology they’re going to use for the new Jeep Wrangler, but they certainly won’t use it for the 2018 Ram 1500.

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New Interior

The truck’s interior is going to be updated. The expectations are that they won’t significantly change the layout, but the new interior is going to provide more comfort to the passengers. Top trims will also get some better quality materials.

As for the driver’s assistance, convenience and safety, the new 2018 Ram 1500 will be superior in comparison with the current model. Since they have in mind that cluttering a truck with lots of unnecessary gadgets might be as bad as not installing any of it, they’re going to make a fine balance in order to provide necessary technology updates, but without fancy, shiny gadgets.

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2018 Ram 1500 Price

There’s no need to say that it’s too early to estimate the price of the updated half-ton truck. However, we say that they’re going to be very cautious about possible price increase. They will certainly keep an eye on the closest rival, the 2017 Ford F-150, that’s going to be released sooner than the updated Ram 1500, so it could happen that all the improvements this major update brings could be a bargain.

If they don’t make nothing but those changes we stated above, the 2018 Ram 1500 is going to be good enough. In comparison with the current model, it’s going to be significantly better and probably at a reasonable price. Our estimate is that going for the 2018 Ram 1500 might be the right move, but the market will eventually say whether the changes were good enough.

The 2018 Ram 1500 will be released sometime during 2017 as a 2018 model.

Photos: Current Ram 1500 | FCA US LLC

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