Should Ram Resurrect The Ramcharger?
Turning the Ram 1500 into a Suburban and Expedition fighterby Mark McNabb, on
The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 is a wonderful improvement over the outgoing generation. Not only is it sleeker and more luxurious, its frame is stronger, its overall weight is down, and its drivetrain has been updated with mild hybrid systems in both the V-6 and V-8 engines. The truck will undoubtedly be very successful in competition with the also-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and the recently revised Ford F-150. But Ram is missing something – a full-size SUV based on its pickup.
Both Chevy and Ford have body-on-frame SUVs based on their half-ton pickups, and both have a long and rich history. In fact, the Chevy Suburban is the oldest automotive nameplate in existence. The Expedition is newer, having debuted in 1997, but over its 20 years, has made quite a name for itself. Ram, on the other hand, hasn’t had a truck-based, full-size SUV since 1993. That vehicle was the Ramcharger. Though only offered in a two-door model, it competed strongly against GM and Ford’s two-door SUVs, the Chevy Blazer and Ford Bronco – both of which were based on their respective half-ton trucks.
So, now that Ram has its all-new, fifth-generation truck, is it time the automaker resurrected the Ramcharger name? I say yes. Here’s my reasoning.
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Ram 1500 Ramcharger
The long-wheelbase Ramcharger could ride on the Ram 1500’s current wheelbase and offer tons of room for third-row seating and boundless cargo space behind
Ram could very easily adapt its half-ton frame and body for use in an SUV. In fact, everything ahead of the B-pillars could be shared with the Ram 1500, just as the Suburban and Expedition have done in the past with their respective pickups. And like both Chevy and Ford, Ram could have two versions with different lengths. Chevy has the shorter Tahoe and longer Suburban, while Ford has the Expedition and Expedition Max.
The long-wheelbase Ramcharger could ride on the Ram 1500’s current wheelbase and offer tons of room for third-row seating and boundless cargo space behind. A Tahoe-like short wheelbase version would still offer a third row, but with less cargo room and a more compact footprint for easier in-town driving.
Making the transition even easier is the Ram 1500’s rear suspension. It’s already a multi-link coil sprung suspension with a solid axle – just like the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. (Ford spent the extra cash to develop an independent rear suspension for the second-generation and newer Expedition.) The Ram’s optional adjustable air suspension would make for an even smoother ride.
The Ram’s optional adjustable air suspension would make for an even smoother ride.
The same is true for the drivetrain. Ram’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with its new mild hybrid system would be just fine for lower trimmed, short wheelbase Ramchargers, while the updated 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and its mild hybrid system would make a perfect engine for upper trimmed models and the long wheelbase version. Naturally, the eight-speed automatic would be standard and part-time 4WD would be optional.
Making the case even stronger (and more plausible) is the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer and luxury-minded Grand Wagoneer. Both are slated to ride on the fifth-generation Ram’s chassis and compete with mid-level and high-level luxury SUVs. The Wagoneer will cater to the upper-middle-class family, while the Grand Wagoneer will compete with the Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, and other high-end SUVs.
The case for a Ramcharger is extremely strong
Ram could easily co-develop its Ramcharger alongside the Jeep Wagoneers. Not only would it save on development costs, but the would give FCA another vehicle to help pay for development costs – making both the Ram and Jeep versions less expensive to make.
Last but certainly not least is the current market for SUVs and pickups. Thanks to lower and more stable fuel prices, SUVs and trucks have experienced a resurgence in popularity. Three-row vehicles that can haul seven people and tow 8,000 pounds are hot these days. And there is no question that FCA needs more vehicles in its lineup after killing off the unpopular Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200.
The case for a Ramcharger is extremely strong. Let’s just hope Ram is actually thinking about the possibility as hard as I am.
Read our full review on the 2019 Ram 1500.
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Read more Ram news.