Yes, you can finally purchase a hybrid SUV, but many critics are asking if Ram’s 1500 eTorque worth the price. With little to no performance gain and with a minor increase in fuel efficiency, should buyers fork over $34,000 for it or go with something comparable that’s considerably more affordable?
Bringing hybrid technology to light trucks isn’t a new or novel idea-a small increase in mpg is a large percentage when fuel economy is in the teens. General Motors previously offered hybrid Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras. Chrysler, way back in the Daimler days, co-developed a longitudinal hybrid transmission that was all but stillborn in the form of the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen hybrids (the same transmission was used in BMW and GM SUVs). UPS even dabbled with the idea of a series hybrid using hydraulics.
Enter eTorque: Any 2019 Ram 1500-the all-new one, not the Ram Classic that is just a continuation of the previous generation-can be equipped with a motor/generator attached to its engine’s crankshaft via a belt that is capable of adding torque, cranking the engine in a stop/start event, or making electricity with regenerative braking. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 comes standard with eTorque, and it is a stand-alone, $1450 option for the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. The same system is available on the new Jeep Wrangler, too. We tested examples of both-a rear-drive Quad Cab with the V-6 eTorque and a fully loaded Crew Cab 4×4 with the Hemi V-8.
The two engine’s eTorque systems are similar but different. For starters, the V-6’s liquid-cooled eTorque motor is supplied by Continental and reverse-mounted on the front of the engine, adding length to the DOHC mill. The 5.7-liter Hemi’s air-cooled electric helper is mounted on the top of the pushrod V-8, adding height, and it is supplied by Magneti Marelli. Output for the V-6’s eTorque unit is 12 horsepower and 39 lb-ft, although the torque is multiplied by the belt drive to create a 90 lb-ft assist. The Hemi’s eTorque motor is good for 16 horses and 49 lb-ft and, again, multiplied through a slightly different ratio for an assist of 130 lb-ft. Both systems use the same 48-volt, 0.4-kWh lithium-ion battery and DC-DC converter, which is used to charge and run the truck’s 12-volt electrical system. The air-cooled battery doesn’t impinge on interior space as it is mounted behind the rear seat.
Ram claims the hybrid system adds just 90 pounds of mass in the V-8 applications and 105 pounds with the V-6. As we sort of expected, the Hemi with eTorque provides little if any assistance in the zero-to-60-mph department. We’ve tested three 2019 Hemi Rams, and the 6102-pound Limited eTorque was a tenth of a second slower to 60 mph and through the quarter-mile sprint-with times of 6.2 and 14.8 seconds-than the 5541-pound Laramie we’d previously tested without the hybrid setup. (A non-eTorque Ram 1500 Rebel was slower still.) The comparably featherweight Quad Cab V-6 accelerates to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and covers a standing quarter-mile in 15.6 seconds.