First Drive – 2019 Ram 1500 Sport

First Drive – 2019 Ram 1500 Sport

Story and photos by Howard J Elmer, additional photos courtesy of FCA Canada

In Canada, the Ram truck brand holds the number two sales spot (behind Ford), whereas in the United States, it trails behind Ford and GM. In Canada, that sales spot isn’t just in the truck-only sales category – it’s in the overall total automotive sales in the country. It appears that Canada loves the Ram. So is it any wonder that these results have inspired Ram to build an available-in-Canada-only Ram trim package? Well, yes.

Called the Sport, it is now available on the 2019 Ram. Only in Canada you say? Pity. (Groan… I know. Sorry – I had to do it.)

With the exception of Texas (which all the brands give special attention to), this hasn’t happened before. Manufacturers rarely, if ever, cater to a “region.” So, as Canadians, we can proudly look on this treatment as an acknowledgement of how much our market means to parent FCA.

This announcement came recently, after the introduction of the 2019 Ram in Arizona, in time to let Canadians know that they can order this special truck as production ramps up at the Sterling Heights plant.

So what does a Sport look like?  It starts with a monochromatic exterior design that features a body-colour grille, door handles and mirrors – with all-black badging. The dual exhaust tips are also black. In essence, it’s a chrome-delete look that can also be accessorized with a sport performance hood and 22-inch black-accented wheels.

Inside, the interior theme is much the same – all black with either premium cloth/vinyl bucket seats, or the same in leather. Accents use a light black satin chrome finish, black headliner and diesel grey accent stitching. The list of standard equipment in the Sport package is:

  • 20-inch aluminum wheels with 275/55R20 OWL all-season tires
  • Body-colour front/rear bumper, grille, door handles and mirrors
  • Black badging
  • Cloth low-back front bucket seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Heated perforated steering wheel
  • Full-length floor console
  • Premium overhead console
  • Deluxe door trim panel
  • 7-inch full-colour customizable in-cluster display centre
  • Uconnect® 4 multimedia centre with 8.4-inch touchscreen
  • SiriusXM satellite radio with one-year subscription
  • Single disc remote CD player
  • Auto high-beam headlamp control
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Dampened tailgate
  • LED fog lamps
  • LED headlamps and tail lamps with black bezels
  • Power adjustable pedals
  • Rear window defroster
  • Sport badge
  • Sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors
  • Universal garage door opener
  • 115V auxiliary power outlet


In addition to the above list, Ram Sport has a further optional equipment list that lets the purchaser upgrade and/or add more even features to the truck.

So, all this begs at least one question – how did Ram decide what to put in the Sport package? This question actually has several answers, as I discovered, while driving the Sport recently.

First, a profile of each truck purchased in Canada is found in FCA’s warranty computers.  Using this data, researchers were able to find which build combinations and options were most often ordered across the country. Looking at hundreds of thousands of truck profiles, distinct Canadian preferences started to emerge.  The second answer to this question came from a nondescript building, in an industrial suburb of Windsor, ON where automotive testing is taking place.

Called the Automotive Research and Design Centre (ARDC), it does what you’d expect – work on and test future products.  A decent percentage of the engineering that went into the new Ram came out of this Windsor building – staffed by a majority of Canadians.  In fact, FCA has even deeper roots in Canada, with two major automotive plants in Ontario – plus ARDC – and, right now, the Ram brand is being led by a Canadian. I see a strong red-and-white influence here, don’t you?

Pricing for the 2019 Ram 1500 Sport – Canada only, of course.

  • 4×2 Quad Cab $52,595 –  Crew Cab $54,295
  • 4×4 Quad Cab $56,595 –  Crew Cab $58,295

The Sport is available on the 2019 Ram, which is all-new. To recap what you may have already seen/read on that truck; Ram has been given an updated look with new sheet metal that is just different enough to announce that this is the new generation. It now has LED adaptive front lighting, and a flatter swept-back hood that uses the brand badge on the grille. The iconic cross-hair grille is now retired.

This truck is slightly larger than its predecessor, yet it’s 225 lb lighter. Weight savings are thanks to the use of more high-strength steel and a wider use of aluminum.  This stronger frame, with larger brakes (14.9-in) and retuned suspension components, also offers gains in payload and max trailer towing. Payload has increased to 2,300 lb and the top tow rating is now 12,700 lb, numbers that make it competitive with any of its rivals.

Supporting that frame at all four corners is a new shock system called Frequency Response Damping (FRD shocks). This technology employs a bypass valve in the shock which opens and closes as needed to soften the ride or offer firmer control during cornering.

Other 2019 tech innovations include updated Multilink coil spring rear suspension, Active-Level four-corner air suspension, next-gen TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, auto-retracting front air dam and frame-mounted active tuned mass modules along with active noise cancellation, that makes this Ram interior the quietest ever. The new aluminum tailgate is now damped and also has an integrated lift-assist feature.

An interesting sales twist to the 2019 Ram roll-out is the fact that only the top trim levels in the Crew Cab version are being offered initially. These are the trucks that can be ordered with the  Canada-only Sport package. The reason for this is because production is being moved from Warren Truck Assembly Plant (which has built more than 12.5 million trucks since 1938) to the nearby Sterling Heights facility. So, while production ramps up at Sterling Heights, FCA has decided that Warren Truck will continue to build what is essentially the 2018 Ram indefinitely.

To differentiate the two trucks, the old truck will carry a special “Classic” badge and will cater to the build segments that the new Ram does not offer (yet). This is an interesting sales strategy. Certainly it matters that buyers can get all trims and, for the moment, Sterling Heights is not ready to do that. So, Warren Truck will build the following four missing trim levels –  Tradesman, Express, Big Horn/Lone Star, and SSV (Special Services Vehicle) on the Ram 1500 Classic. If you do have a look at a Classic, I would imagine that there will be some pricing advantages – though the numbers have not been released as of this printing. Still, Ram has come up with three new packages that can be ordered with the Ram Classic.

  • Chrome Plus is offered on the Tradesman trim that offers bundled value content which includes chrome bumpers, body-colour upper front fascia, 17-in. wheels, remote keyless entry, and carpet floor covering.
  • Tradesman SXT is offered on the Tradesman trim that includes chrome bumpers, body-colour front fascia, five-inch radio, fog lamps (new to Tradesman), dual exhaust on V8 models (new to Tradesman), and 20-in. chrome wheels (new to Tradesman).
  • Express Black Accent Package is offered on all Express trim exterior colours which includes black wheels, black headlight bezels and black badging.

The Ram 1500 Classic is available in three cabs and three bed lengths: Regular Cab with 8 ft. bed or 6 ft., 4 in. bed, Quad Cab with 6 ft., 4 in. bed, Crew Cab short bed (5 ft., 7 in.) or Crew Cab with optional 6 ft., 4 in. bed. It can be ordered as a 4×2 or 4×4, with the 3.6L Pentastar V6 or optional 5.7L V8. The optional 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel will be available at a later date.