The Ram 1500 TRX Was Worth the Wait, and Now We Know Why
The Ram Rebel TRX was probably the most important – or at the very least most memorable – concept of the last decade. A Ram 1500 with a 500-horsepower Hellcat engine and all the off-road goods to put Jeep to shame – it was a recipe that blended desire with hope. That hope, by the way, was reinforced by the fact that the Rebel TRX Concept looked like it was ready to hit the production line. And, it really was ready, but Ram decided to hold back, and we didn’t get the production model – which we now know as the Ram 1500 TRX – for five years. Now we know why Ram waited to introduce the production model, and we’re damn glad it did.
Ram Has No Intentions of Building a Street-Tuned TRX
It’s crystal clear that Ram had off-road in mind when it built the Ram 1500 TRX. In fact, it’s a bold and director competitor to the Ford F-150 with considerably more power. At this point, one could even argue that FCA is just amused by putting ridiculous amounts of power into the hands of drivers. In recent news we learned that the TRX will be the most expensive half-ton pickup ever, and that the TRX will be sold in Europe. There’s even potential for a less-powerful “entry” model of sorts to arrive sometime after launch. There’s now officially one thing there won’t be, however - A Hellcat-powered street truck akin to that of the old-school Dodge Ram SRT10.
The Ram 1500 TRX Might Be Associated With the T-Rex Dinosaur, But That Wasn’t the Intention
As the only real alternative to the Ford F-150 Raptor, perceiving the Ram 1500 TRX’s relationship to the T-Rex dinosaur makes sense on several levels. First off, the T-Rex was an adversary of the Raptor, and two, it really kind of sticks it to the Ford Raptor. When the live unveiling for the TRX happened, it was even kicked off with a cutscene from Jurassic Park that included – you guessed it – the T-Rex. As it turns out, however, that’s not where Ram was originally going with the name and, while it makes sense now, it boils down to happenstance.
The Ram 1500 TRX Could Be Offered In More Affordable Form With Less Power
The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX has taken the world by storm. The specs are mighty impressive, and so is the feature list. Although it is meant to take on the Ford F-150 Raptor, the price suggests otherwise.
A fully-loaded Ford F-150 Raptor costs almost as much the base TRX. That doesn’t mean the product is expensive, but it sure means that the TRX is offering a lot more features than the Raptor. So, how can Ram make the TRX more affordable? Simple. Downsize its engine. The automaker hasn’t confirmed this yet, but it isn’t averse to the idea of a smaller engine either.
Ram’s New Emblem Gets Tougher for 2019
The Ram 1500 is completely new for 2019 and with it comes a revision of the Ram’s Head emblem. The new logo is more angular and sculpted than before, losing its rounded shape. Even the shield behind the Ram’s Head emblem is different, moving from a heptagon to an octagon. Emblazed at the top is the R-A-M name, completely ending any prior associations the Ram’s Head had with Dodge.
The new logo mirrors the design theme of 2019 Ram 1500 pickup. Joe Dehner, Head of Ram Design for FCA, said his team made sure the truck maintained a tough appearance despite its more luxurious interior.
“Regardless of the material it’s made of, whether its glass, plastic, metal, composite, or aluminum, it looks like if it were to take a beating it would survive,” Dehner said. “I jokingly say if you hit it with a sledgehammer, it would break the hammer. We took that to heart and put that into the design of the new Ram, and also into the logo.”
The new logo isn’t found on the 2019 truck’s front grille, however. That’s reserved for the new R-A-M logo. The crosshair grille has been completely phased out. The full Ram’s Head and octagonal shield are only seen on the tailgate. Elsewhere on the truck, the plain Ram’s Head is seen. It’s found on the steering wheel, center caps on the wheels, and several other places.
What do you think of the new Ram’s Head logo and its updated octagonal shield? Let us know in the comments.
FCA Could Be Bought by a Chinese Automaker
Formed in 2014, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) alliance has been doing very good these past three years, which is why Sergio Marchionne is on the lookout to either sell the company or make another merger with a big brand. FCA was refused by General Motors back in 2015 and Marchionne’s attempts to find a new collaboration have been unsuccessful so far. However, it seems that FCA is actually on the brink of finding a new owner. According to new reports, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has received at least one offer in August from a "well-known Chinese automaker."
That’s the word from Automotive News, which claims that the over was slightly higher than FCA’s current market value, but the Italian-American alliance rejected it for not being enough. There’s no detailed information as to what Chinese automaker made the offer, but speculation has it that FCA is negotiating with more than one company. Also, a source close to FCA said that company executives have traveled to China to meet with Great Wall Motor Co., while different sources claim talks with Dongfeng Motor Corp., Zhejiang Geely, and Guangzhou Automobile Group.
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Is FCA Killing the 5.7-liter Hemi? Rumors Say Yes
Rumor has it Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is killing off the venerable and well-respected 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 sometime after the 2018 model year. The word comes from Allpar, a news source dedicated to Mopar and FCA news with close ties and inside sources inside the automaker. Allpar says several of its sources agree the 5.7-liter Hemi is slated to leave production next year.
As a reminder, the 5.7-liter Hemi is used in everything from the Dodge Challenger and Charger, and the Chrysler 300 to larger vehicles like the Ram 1500, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Dodge Durango. The engine relies on tried-and-true technology like a cam-in-block design with overhead valves with variable timing. It even has cylinder deactivation for fuel savings.
The rumor further details FCA’s ramp in Hemi production to create a stockpile before assembly is forever closed. But why would FCA discontinue one of its most popular and widely uses engines?
The first and most obvious answer would be the introduction of a new V-8. This new engine could have far more modern technology like dual overhead cams, forced induction, a variable pressure oil pump, direct fuel injection and a smaller displacement. FCA might even include its MultiAir valvetrain technology for more control of the intake valves.
Though a turbocharger and dual overhead cams would require more room under the hood, both would help improve efficiency while giving the engine more power. The current 5.7-liter is rated at 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque in the Ram 1500 pickup. Other Hemi-powered vehicles have tunes tailored to their needs.
Currently Ford holds top honors for technological wizardry with its second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. It pumps out an impressive 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque thanks to a twin-turbocharger setup, yet still, achieves nearly 26 mpg on the highway. Ram would be smart to benchmark the EcoBoost.
The second theory, and one far less attractive to V-8 fans, would be the introduction of an EcoBoost-like turbocharged V-6. Ford has had major success with the EcoBoost and FCA might be following that lead. However, it’s hard to imagine FCA – a company devoted to displacement and horsepower – dumping the V-8 for something less iconic.
It’s worth noting the rumors also say the 6.4-liter and supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V-8 will continue production.
Either way, FCA should reveal its plans within the next year or so. The Ram pickups are scheduled for a full generational change for the 2019 model year, so it’s highly likely we’ll see any powertrain updates coordinate with a mid-2018 launch.
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Ram Doubling Up – Will Continue Selling Current 1500 After Next-Gen launch
Ram will continue to build the current
series pickup well into the 2019 model year. This, despite the next-generation Ram 1500’s launch for the 2018 model year, will allow Ram to target fleet sales with the older truck thanks to discounted pricing. The move will also help save the next-generation Rams for higher-paying retail buyers. The report comes from Automotive News who spoke to FCA’s CFO, Richard Palmer.
"Going into 2018, having more pickup capacity will allow us also to satisfy the fleet customers’ demand on pickup, which we struggle to do today because we favor retail in the U.S. and Canadian volume, which have higher margins," Palmer told AN during a conference call. "As we realign our capacity, we’re going to be able to continue to work on improving our fleet mix."
This move isn’t unusual, however. Both Ford and General Motors have executed similar strategies. Ford continued to build 10th generation F-150s well into 2004 and labeled as the F-150 Heritage, despite having an all-new F-150 in showrooms. GM did the same for the 1998 and 2007 model years, continuing production of the previous Silverado, dubbed the Classic, while rolling out the newer truck in showrooms.
FCA is even doing the same with its minivans. The Dodge Caravan is still in production despite the new and drastically better Chrysler Pacifica months past its initial launch. And just like the trucks, the Caravan is targeted at fleet sales.
AN also confirmed with its anonymous sources inside FCA that the current Ram 1500 will be produced at the Warren Truck Assembly in Detroit and in Saltillo, Mexico. Combined, the two plants will produce a planned 200,000 pickups in 2018 and another 65,000 in 2019 before being retooled to produce the next-gen Ram.
Ram will build all of its next 1500-series trucks at the soon-to-be-renovated Sterling Heights Assembly plant. Some 325,000 units are planned for the 2018 model year and more than 400,000 for 2019. Currently Sterling Heights builds the ill-fated Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 – sedans that are facing extension after tremendously slow sales.
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FCA’s U.S. Factories Will Only Make Trucks, SUVs
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is reallocating its U.S. production facilities in a move that aligns the automaker to make higher-profit, more popular trucks, SUVs, and crossovers. The news comes after FCA spelled the end of the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans when FCA failed to secure a partnership with another automaker for building the cars. With both cars soon gone and the Dodge Viper ending production after the 2017 model year, all of FCA’s U.S.-based operations will manufacture pickups and SUVs.
FCA’s other sedan models, the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, along with the Dodge Challenger coupe, are built in Canada, while the Fiat 500 is built in Mexico.
The Ram Brand will carry is full lineup of pickups, including the 1500, 2500, 3000, and commercial pickups and vans. Jeep will build its Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, Cherokee, Renegade, and an upcoming compact crossover. The Durango SUV will be the sole Dodge product still built in the U.S.
"By the time we finish with this, hopefully, all of our production assets in the United States – if you exclude Canada and Mexico from the fold – all those U.S. plants will be producing either Jeeps or Ram," FCA’s CEO Sergio Marchionne told Wall Street analysts during a conference call Wednesday, July 27, according to the Detroit Free Press.
It will be the Ram pickups that will take up residence at FCA’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, the Dart and 200’s current home. Ram’s current plant, the Warren Truck Assembly Plant 10 miles down the road in Detroit, will then be outfitted to build the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer and high-end Grand Wagoneer models. Jeep’s upcoming, still unnamed, small crossover will be built in Toluca, Mexico, however.
This unprecedented move is certainly a big bet with high stakes. Marchionne is essentially putting all FCA’s eggs in the pickup and SUV basket. Should fuel prices unexpectedly rise in dramatic fashion, the automaker might have itself a problem.
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FCA Holds Dealer Meeting, More Rams & Jeeps Coming
Fiat Chrysler’s latest dealer’s meeting, held in Las Vegas on April 1, gave FCA-branded dealerships an early look at the automaker’s future plans. Dealership brass heard from Reid Bigland, FCA’s head of North American sales, on the company’s plans to expand the Ram and Jeep lines with more vehicles.
On the Ram front, confirmation was given that Ram is planning a midsize pickup entry that slots under the Ram 1500. The plans with Jeep are more extensive, including the addition of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs, along with a
As we reported earlier, Ram’s midsize pickup could be a joint effort with Fiat, whose Toro pickup sells in markets around the globe. The appointment of Bob Hegbloom to Ram International further signals the possibility. Hegbloom previously led the Ram brand in North America. Jeep head Mike Manley was then tapped to fill Hegbloom’s position, leaving Manley to fill both roles simultaneously.
The dealer meeting wasn’t all about trucks and SUVs. FCA announced would in fact not kill off the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans – a report that contradicts previous statements. However, FCA is looking for a partner to build the two sedans. This helps answer the important concerns about federal CAFÉ standards regarding corporate fuel economy averages. While unconfirmed, it the Ram and Jeep projects likely ride on whether FCA can find a partner to build the Dart and 200. Otherwise, FCA could hinder itself from meeting the impending federal standards.
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FCA Executive Sees Case for Two Midsize Pickups
Rumblings of Ram re-entering the midsize truck category have been amplified by comments made by Ram brand chief Mike Manley to journalists at the New York Auto Show. Manley’s comments also included talks about the recently confirmed Jeep midsize pickup, though no hard details were uncovered.
“I think there’s opportunity there in the U.S. if you look at what’s happened in the midsize segment here – significant growth last year,” Manley said to The Detroit News on Wednesday at the NY Auto show. “I think that space is big enough, certainly, to have two offerings there.”
That certainly affords a glance into what FCA has planned for both Ram and Jeep in the coming years, though Manley refused to say anything official. “I wouldn’t even confirm if we’ll have two offerings, let alone confirm a time frame.” Currently FCA does not offer a midsize truck in North America. Now, thanks largely to the growing revival of the midsize truck segment, the automaker may in fact bring two all-new trucks to market. The two trucks would square off against the Chevrolet and GMC twin, the Colorado and Canyon, the Nissan Frontier, the Honda Ridgeline, and the long-time sales champion, the Toyota Tacoma.
This topic doesn’t just concern North America. FCA has recently shuffled executives around, staking the deck to make Ram a better international brand. This points to the potential of Ram offering a multi-market, internationally sold pickup.
Speaking to the matter, Manley said, “We don’t necessarily today have the right portfolio within Ram to cater to all of those markets, but we do have a strong brand. Ram brand is known very well in Africa and the Middle East, and also Latin America.” In fact, Manley mentioned Bob Hegbloom, former head of Ram North America, now head of Ram International, would be headed to Brazil after the NY Auto Show to consult with members of Fiat regarding cross-brand sharing. “There’s potential, Manley said, for Ram to use a Fiat platform for a Ram pickup.”
While Manley wouldn’t speak further on Ram’s future products, he undoubtedly gave the industry and interested consumers something to talk about.
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Ram May Build A Midsize Pickup After All
The 2016 Geneva Motor Show was a whirlwind of activity, but in the midst of bespoke hypercars and one-off concepts, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters that the automaker is currently investigating the addition of a midsize pickup truck to the Ram Trucks brand.
“We’re looking into it,” Marchionne said. “I have a keen interest in getting it done. The big question is whether it should be body on frame.”
This is big news in two ways: first and most obvious, FCA is exploring the midsize category; and second, that internal debates still rage on whether the pickup will ride on a traditional ladder frame or a more
like unibody design. Besides being of interest to gearheads and engineering types, the frame choice has much to do with how the future truck is marketed and used.
The future midsize truck market will be fairly evenly split. The Chevy Colorado, its GMC twin, the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and upcoming Ford Ranger will represent the traditional truck with their body-on-frame designs. In the other corner, the Honda Ridgeline and upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz will ride on unibody structures borrowed from their respective crossover lineups.
While FCA may still be deliberating, it seems like the Ram brand would benefit more from a traditional truck. It could even borrow the ladder frame design from the upcoming Jeep Wrangler – a vehicle that’s also slotted to receive a midsize pickup version.
Despite the consumer demand and Marchionne’s wantings, the CEO still believes a midsize truck would be a risky business case. Marchionne said he suspects Chevrolet makes less profit on each Colorado because manufacturing costs are likely similar to the full-size Silverado, but the Colorado sells for less. Whether his assumption is true remains unknown. Nevertheless, he says, “I think it’s a good place to be. Ram needs to expand its lineup.”
Those are pretty affirmative words from someone known for expanding business. Our bets rest on Ram releasing a body-on-frame midsize pickup – perhaps wearing the historied Dakota nameplate – by the decade’s end. That would put Ram in a good spot to compete against a growing field of contenders.
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The United States Postal Service is adding a new van to its fleet – the Ram ProMaster 2500 Cargo. Yep, now your daily delivery of junk mail, bills, and car magazines may have traveled in the cavernous interior of Ram’s largest van.
Ram will be supplying 9,113 new ProMasters to the USPS, adding to the government agency’s fleet of roughly 190,000 vehicles – one of the nation’s largest fleet. The ProMaster vans will be used for mail delivery in various parts of the country, with each being fitted with specialized shelving inside for packages.
“While each and every one of our fleet customers is important to us, none command our attention like USPS,” said Tim Kuniskis, Vice President of Fiat Chrysler’s North American Fleet Operations. “I can’t think of another more mission-critical service than literally delivering the goods of our nation on a daily basis, and we are honored that USPS chose the Ram ProMaster to help them meet their challenging duty.”
Beyond the interior upfits, the ProMaster vans will be regular production units. The USPS has selected the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 as its engine of choice. The venerable mill produces 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission will back up the Pentastar, providing smooth shifts and excellent cargo-hauling capabilities.
The ProMaster will replace some of the USPS’ oldest models. The agency is still using roughly 142,000 purpose-built local delivery vehicles called Long-Life Vehicles, or LLVs.
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Security holes in its Uconnect software isn’t Fiat Chrysler’s only issue these days; the automaker has agreed to orders from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to repurchase nearly 500,000 Ram pickup trucks due to major safety concerns. The buyback could cost the automaker billions on top of the $90 million fine from the NHTSA for failing to address these and other safety concerns in a timely fashion.