2019 Ram 1500
Things have seldom been easy for the Ram. You know, Detroit’s other truck brand that’s not Ford or Chevy. But things have certainly been looking up lately; as Ram’s full-size pickup sales have been steadily increasing, even outselling the Chevrolet Silverado a few months along the way. So, let’s see if an all-new 1500 is “Ram Tough” enough to muscle its way permanently up the ranks.
It was the 3rd gen Dodge Ram that really got the ball rolling for the brand when it arrived for 2002. Ushering in firsts like Mega Cab and the return of Hemi power. 2009 saw a 4th gen. debut with all-coil spring suspension and side-saddle Ram Box storage. Now, 2019 sees the most all-new Ram 1500 in decades, one that FCA hopes will usher in a whole new era of power, comfort, and utility for today’s truck buyers.
Much like Ford, the 1500 went on a weight loss plan, though not as drastic, shaving only about 225-lbs; mostly due to more high-strength steel in the frame, with aluminum for the tailgate and some suspension parts.
The frame is still stronger, however, boosting payload to 2,300-lbs., and max towing capacity to 12,750.
The exterior look is smoother, yet still has a hint of the big rig look of the 90’s. No more crosshairs, just lots of big Ram letters and a new seemingly Transformers-inspired Ram head logo.
We much prefer the Rebel’s, blacked-out malice. And spent some time doing some nastiness of our own in the Arizona desert. The Rebel’s off-road capabilities take a small step up; its 1-inch of lift now come from hardware, not simply pumping up the air spring suspension as before. You also get a locking rear differential, unique Bilstein shocks, skid plates, and updated electronics. It’s still not on the same flight plan as Ford’s Raptor, but now at least on the radar screen.
The Ram 1500 was already the best riding rig in the full-size pickup ranks due to the only 4-corner air suspension out there; new Frequency Response Damping for this year, takes it up one step further.
Front brake rotors are now 14.9-inches, the biggest in the segment.
For now, only the two gas engine options return and their output stays the same; which means 305-horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque for the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, and 395-horsepwer and 410 lb.-ft. of torque from the 5.7-liter HEMI V8.
Both get an eTorque mild hybrid system with a 48-volt battery pack that enables auto stop/start, boosts overall efficiency, and even provides a little extra torque. It’s standard with the V6, optional on the HEMI. No word yet if or when a diesel will return.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for a HEMI 4X4 are 15-City, 21-Highway, and 17-Combined. No official ratings for the 3.6-liter just yet. So the HEMI’s Energy Impact Score is slightly worse than average at 19.4-barrels of yearly oil use, with CO2 emissions of 8.6-tons.
We spent most of our Arizona-based early drive time with the HEMI, and it felt just as powerful as always, though we don’t remember the gas pedal being this sensitive, which seems a little out of place in a big truck. There’s a new 850-watt electric fan to cool it, and it’s very noticeable when it kicks in.
Transmission remains an 8-speed automatic, and everything is still put in motion with a dash-mounted rotary shifter; but operation has gotten much quicker, making 3-point turns less stressful. Otherwise, in normal driving, the transmission behaves fairly well.
Active noise cancelling seemed to keep road noise to a minimum, though we did hear some wind noise in our pre-production test vehicle.
The upgraded interior of the 1500 is otherwise most impressive. We loved the available 4th generation of FCA’s UConnect touchscreen, now 12-inches in size. It remains logical and responsive as always. Front seats are very comfortable and top-line Limited trim is simply exquisite. Both Crew and Quad cabs are available, with the most interior space in the segment.
Base pricing is $33,340 for a 2-wheel-drive Tradesman; which you probably won’t buy unless you are indeed a tradesman. Most will find a Ram 1500 that slots between there and the Limited 4X4’s $59,035.
Well, just when it looks like things are set to really take off for the 2019 Ram 1500, there’s an inconvenient truth, that an all-new Chevrolet Silverado is arriving at almost the same time. So, FCA had better make some hay while the sun’s shining. It’s still the best cruiser with a bed out there, but it will take a lot more than that to permanently take silver home.
- Engine: 3.6 liter / 5.7 liter
- Horsepower: 305 / 395
- Torque: 269 lb.-ft. / 410 lb.-ft.
- EPA: 15 mpg city / 21 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 19.4 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 8.6 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined
2023 Genesis Electrified GV70
Genesis Waves Their Magic EV Wand Yet Again
The Genesis Electrified GV70 is not only the 3rd all-electric vehicle offering from Hyundai’s luxury division, but it’s also the first Genesis model to be built here in the US. You know, the GV70 was already a big hit with both critics and buyers, so let’s find out if a big pack of batteries and American workers can take it to the next level.
For the 2023 model year, the Genesis GV70 utility has gone electric. And like the Electrified G80 sedan before it, Genesis has integrated an all-electric drivetrain into its existing platform seamlessly and effectively.
Now, it may look almost exactly like the sleek and sophisticated internal combustion powered GV70 SUV that arrived just last year. But packed underneath it all, is the GV60’s next-gen propulsion system that uses a pair of electric motors delivering standard all-wheel drive and 429-horsepower. Both the front and rear-mounted electric motors are 160-kW and produce a combined 516 lb-ft. of torque, relying on energy from a 77.4-kWh battery. Full 350-kW charging capability will get the battery to 80% in just 18-minutes. The Electrified GV70 is rated to travel 236-miles between those charging sessions.
But based on our driving loop, we’d say more is easily possible as we were on pace for over 250-miles; making it an overachiever, much like the G80.
The approach to the interior is not so much a heavy-handed blast of over-the-top luxury, rather just a soothing blend of high-quality metal and leather materials with soft tones, subtle ambient light, and an airy feel that ultimately delivers a very comforting experience.
There’s an available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, along with a 14.5-inch touchscreen that houses standard navigation, and it also has a rotary style control on the console if you prefer that, just don’t confuse it with the rotary gear selector like we did. Lexicon audio, quilted leather, and a suede headliner come with the Prestige package that also includes active noise control and white brake calipers.
Regen braking paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel allow for adjusting amounts of regen up to full 1-pedal driving; or you can let Smart Regen take control, gathering data from past driving history, navigation, and road conditions to determine the appropriate amount of braking. Drive modes include Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport +, and Custom, and Genesis has added some additional sound deadening for this EV.
Based on the incredibly quiet, smooth, and steady highway ride we experienced, we weren’t sure what to expect when we pulled this GV70 up to the line at our Mason Dixon Dragway test track.
Well, not much calmness or serenity here, as this thing absolutely blasted off the line like a rocket, hitting 60 in just 3.9-seconds. That’s almost a full 2-seconds quicker than last year’s 2.5-liter turbo-equipped GV70. It’s hard to beat performance-tuned EVs when it comes to torque delivery, and like the GV60, there’s a boost button on the steering wheel that delivers an additional 54-horsepower for a thrilling 10-seconds, helping us clear the ¼ in 12.4-seconds at 112 miles-per-hour.
The low center of gravity, an electronically controlled suspension, and a Disconnector Actuator System that allows for 2-wheel or 4-wheel-drive operation depending on circumstances, helped keep the Electrified GV70 well-planted through our handling course, and provided a livelier feel than the ICE version.
Substantial side bolstering of the front seats kept us settled in place very nicely. Great steering feel, very little body roll, and only minor amounts of understeer at its limits. Brakes were equally as sporting, with good feedback and stability, despite the noticeable nosedive that typically accompanies stopping 5,000-lbs. of utility vehicle in just 111-feet, 6-feet shorter than the standard GV70.
There are some subtle changes outside for this Electrified version of the GV70; it gets unique 20-inch wheels, and as in the G80, the signature crest grille gets an aerodynamic makeover, nicely integrating the charging port. Same 2-line lighting theme up front, and in back, where the rear bumper is reshaped now that there are no tailpipes. Cargo area is well finished with thoughtful use of space; at 28.7 cubic-ft. with a max of 56.5, capacity is down a tiny bit, but a small storage bin up front under the hood more than makes up for it.
At 37-kWh/100 miles, the Electrified GV70 rates a good efficiency score. Pricing starts at $66,975, about 20-grand over a base ICE GV70, and 3-years of free charging at Electrify America charging stations is included.
Genesis is slowly but surely electrifying their lineup, and the 2023 Electrified GV70 is not just another step in the process, but further proof that carmakers can progress to EVs without upsetting the entire apple cart of their brand. Forward thinking but staying classy, just what we’ve come to expect from Genesis.
- Motor Setup: Dual 160-kW Motors
- Horsepower: 429
- 0-60 mph: 3.9 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 111 feet (avg)
- MW Range: ~254 miles
- Battery Size: 77.4-kWh
- Torque: 516 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 12.4-seconds at 112 mph
- EPA Range: 234 miles
- Efficiency: 37 kWh/ 100 miles