There’s been a lot of confusion about what eTorque is and how the system works. Much of that falls on FCA’s shoulders. The automaker didn’t do a great job of explaining the whole thing, leaving us to work out much of it for ourselves. This isn’t meant to boost performance, towing or payload. The Ram eTorque can’t run on battery power, so don’t expect a Toyota Prius with a bed and wood trim. It’s here to make the truck just a little bit more efficient by improving areas where conventional internal-combustion engine’s fall short.
The eTorque system replaces the engine’s alternator with a small, belt-driven electric motor. On the V6, the is part of the water pump assembly and driven by that belt; the V8 uses a dedicated belt that’s separate from the other accessories. A small battery pack is mounted upright behind the rear seats inside the truck’s cabin. There’s also a DC-to-DC converter to charge the battery and convert 48 volts down to 12 to power the truck’s normal systems.
Visually, the only difference between an eTorque equipped model and a standard one is a small metal box at the top of the engine. There’s no badging and the battery pack can’t be seen, even with the rear seats folded up. The system is designed to be as seamless and innocuous as possible.
The auto start/stop system spins up the engine a little quicker. Shifts from the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission are a little smoother as the eTorque system smooths out and fills in the gaps. It does so for a fraction of a second, but it works its magic often. Big gains in fuel economy have already been made. It’s going to take things like Ram’s eTorque system to improve internal combustion engines from here on out.
Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I’d like to say I noticed a huge difference between the Ram eTorque and the regular Ram, but I didn’t. That’s how it’s supposed to work. The eTorque model works seamlessly as a torque-fill, and the clever light hybridization technique simply expands Ram’s growing powertrain portfolio. Otherwise it’s the Ram, and I enjoyed my time in it. The recent redesign made the truck even stronger and more competitive. It has the best interior and most distinctive styling in the class. Ours was done up in Longhorn trim, which I’m starting to like. It’s a good look for cabin, and the materials and colors give the truck a rather cool ranch vibe.
Managing Editor Greg Rasa: There’s only one measure by which you’ll notice the Ram’s E-Torque system: fuel economy. The 48-volt system boosts this Ram’s EPA ratings by 2 mpg city and combined, and 1 mpg on the highway, compared with the previous year’s version of the 5.7-liter V8 without E-Torque. (The 2019 numbers are 17 city, 22 highway, 19 combined.) That’s a not-insignificant improvement for a big ol’ truck. Those ratings seem to be borne out in the real world: Everybody in our office took a crack at wringing out this Ram, and the dashboard readout was in the 17s.
Speaking of the dashboard, the glam gauge cluster makes my eyeballs bleed. However, the rest of the interior is a big improvement over last year’s crass cacophony of cowboy cues. The new barn-siding faux-wood trim is even kind of appealing.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: I’ve been interested in Ram’s e-Torque system, and have been excited to try it out. It’s a bit heady for mild-hybrid technology, especially considering it doesn’t provide electric power to the wheels, except in fleeting, unnoticeable moments. But what it does do, it does fantastically.
Restarts of the engine after a stop are instantaneous. Shifts of the transmission are seamlessly
smooth. Even when you know it’s there, you won’t notice. It’s more about what you don’t
notice that makes this interesting, add it gives a feeling of refinement to this mighty Ram. I only
Associate Editor Reese Counts: The Ram 1500 was already my favorite full size truck. Everything about it looks and feels just a little bit better than the competition. It’s quiet, comfortable and has the best interior in the class. The potent engine and impressive payload and towing figures are just a bonus. I’ve driven a few variants now, from a base Tradesman up to this optioned up Laramie Longhorn. The experience is always the same. The Ram’s damn good.
I’ve been itching to get behind the wheel of an eTorque-equipped model since the truck debuted earlier this year. While the experience wasn’t transformative, it was pleasurable. As John noted, everything — from shifts to acceleration to sitting at stoplights — is just a little more refined. The fact that the Ram can sit idle with the engine off for minutes at a time is a really cool feature. I was showing my wife the truck’s interior and realized the engine had been off for more than five minutes, even though the truck was still on.
Little things like that help improve efficiency. Think about how long a truck sits idle at a job site. It’s the small things that matter from here on out.
— Reese Counts (@rmcounts) October 15, 2018
Associate Writer Zac Palmer: When a truck costs nearly $68,000, it better be damn good. This Ram 1500 meets that criteria and then some. The 48-volt E-Torque system is a fun piece of tech to have on board, but what really shocks is the interior. This thing has got four USB Type-C ports in it — two in the front and two for the rear. I’m an Android guy with all USB Type-C devices, (it’s our future, better get used to it) so this was awesome. Ram did right by the massive 12-inch touchscreen too. It responded instantly to my inputs and was surprisingly easy to navigate through the various menus and sections. Including physical buttons for a bunch of the controls next to the touchscreen was pleasant to see as well. I still don’t like the weird graphics in the instrument cluster that Ram includes, but it’s a trivial complaint next to how nice everything else appears.
This Ram still rides better than the Silverado and F-150 due to the coil-spring rear suspension too. I like that nobody will know it’s the E-Torque version until they pop the hood. The system is nearly as inconspicuous in action too. You might sense the slightest of vibrations every now and then as the engine starts and stops, but it’s largely seamless in traffic. Circling back to the almost $70,000 sticker though, everybody is getting away with astronomical luxury truck prices these days. There must be a ceiling somewhere; we just haven’t found it yet.