5 Performance Upgrades For Your 2019 Ram 1500 Classic

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For most truck guys, performance upgrades are a given. Here are five performance upgrades for your 2019 Ram 1500 Classic to get the most out of your pickup.

There are lots of things that a person can do to get more power out of their truck. From increasing torque to improving mpg to maximizing intake airflow, it is easy to get a few extra performance boosts from your Dodge Ram 1500. But what should you do? There are so many things owners are doing to try and push their trucks to the max that it can be confusing to figure out what to do.

The top five performance upgrades for your 2019 Ram 1500 Classic are -

  • Cold Air Intake to the Engine
  • Plug in a New Tuner for Your Ram
  • Upgrade The Exhaust With New Pipes
  • Add A Lift Kit to Stiffen the Suspension
  • Put an InterCooler into Your Diesel

Let’s face it, RAM makes a quality truck, but sometimes you just need more. For truck guys who make it science to get every last bit of power and performance out of a pickup, an upgrade is just a natural part of the process of owning a truck. The real question is whether to hire somebody to do the work or whether you feel it is something you can do yourself. Believe it or not, most of the primary upgrades are pretty easy to perform for anyone who has a lift and can turn a wrench. If you change the stock settings on your pickup, it is best to have as much information as possible. The last thing you want to do is spend big bucks on an upgrade, only find it an exercise in frustration, or find out that it didn’t make any significant difference in the performance. If you are the kind of person who wants to work on his rig, then read on for our favorite performance-enhancing upgrades.

We realize that not every performance upgrade is for everyone. We have tried to provide some details about some of the more popular enhancements, but what you do to your truck is ultimately up to you. After all, you’re the one driving it every day, right?

Table of Contents


What are the Basic Specs of Engines on the 2019 Dodge Ram?

First, let’s review some basics about the engine choices in the 2019 Dodge Ram 1500. They are three engine choices for the 2019 Dodge Ram.

The standard gasoline engine is the 3.6L V6 or the optional 5.7 V8 Hemi, both gasoline engines with the capability of burning E85. (Although we don’t recommend it because it seriously affects mpg). There is also a 3.0L V6 Turbo Eco-Diesel. The engines aren’t bad per se, and the V6 produces 305 horsepower with 269 lb/ft torque. The 5.7 V8 is very peppy, producing 395 horsepower and 410 lb/ft of torque. The specs for the Diesel are 240 horsepower with 410 lb/ft of torque.

Engine Horsepower Torque
3.0 L V6 Turbo Diesel 240 Horsepower 410 lb/ft
3.6 L V6 305 Horsepower 269 lb/ft
5.7 L V8 395 Horsepower 410 lb/ft

Because the upgrades we are about to suggest can affect torque, and that affects towing - the standard spec for towing is -

  • 3.0 V6 Diesel         - 12,360 lbs max
  • 3.6 L V6 (Gas) - 7,730 lbs max
  • 5.7 L V8 (Gas) - 11,610 lbs max

What are the Five Performance Upgrades for Your 2019 Ram 1500 Classic?

As we mentioned, people do many different things to their trucks. Here are a few we might recommend for the 2019 Dodge Ram.

Replace the Air Box with the Engine

Th amount of air that an engine sifts into the chambers of the cylinders can be adjusted with a replacement air box. The standard air unit that the 2019 Ram comes with is designed to limit airflow into the engine, and frankly, it’s a bit restrictive. By replacing the cold air intake, you improve your engine's air mixture in each chamber. This additional airflow results in a leaner mix, which means that there is less fuel to burn, and the result is better gas mileage, more horsepower, and improved torque.

The estimated mpg rating according to fuel.gov is as follows. It is easy to see how a truck owner might want to save a few trips to the gas station.

Engine (2wd) City - Hwy Total Range
3.0 L V6 Turbo Diesel 20 mpg - 27 mpg (23 com) 529 -759 miles
3.6 L V6 20 mpg - 26 mpg (23 com) 529 -598 miles
5.7 L V8 17 mpg - 23 mpg (19 com) 437 - 497 miles
Engine (4wd) City - Hwy Total Range
3.0 L V6 Turbo Diesel 19 mpg - 27 mpg (22 com) 504 - 784 miles
3.6 L V6 19 mpg - 24 mpg 437 - 494 miles
5.7 L V8 17mpg - 22 mpg (19 com) 437 - 494 miles

Trucks have never gotten excellent mileage. When they are loaded down with a heavy payload or are pulling a trailer, the mileage drops even further. Many people using their trucks to pull trailers or haul equipment to job sites are prime candidates for an increased air intake box.

There are plenty of air intakes for the gas-powered 2019 Dodge Rams. Our recommendation is the Volant Maxflow Closed Box Air Intake with Powercore Filter. The filter has added strength to handle the additional air load without breaking down, and the unit is easy to install. It sits in the same space as the stock air box. There is an instruction sheet that can be found on the Volant website, complete with pictures for step-by-step installation. No special tools are needed besides a screwdriver and a couple of ratchet sizes. Just take your time, follow the steps, and your truck will be sucking more air than you thought possible. Most of all, you will be saving fuel in no time.

Please note that if you are driving a 3.0 V6 Turbo Diesel, you will need to use an intercooler to work in conjunction with the Turbo. Please see the section about installing an AFE Bladerunner GT later in this article.  

Plug in a New Tuner for Your Ram

When you plug a tuner into the OBD II port under your dash, the unit reprograms your truck's ECU (Engine Control Unit), also known as an ECM (Engine Control Module). The tuner modifies your vehicle's ability to control the acceleration, fuel economy, and overall power. Some tuners can perform engine diagnostics or even clear DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes), so you can buy tuners as fancy as you please. Even the most spartan tuners can significantly impact your truck’s performance.

Many tuners on the market range in price from a couple of hundred dollars to upward of a thousand. Once you have purchased and plugged one in, you will be asked to choose the “tune” you wish to put on your truck, from one that is a more general mix to one that is custom-designed for your situation. Knowing how complicated you want to make this adjustment before you get into the job is best.

Our recommendation for a tuner would be the 5.7 Diablo T2 w/ PCM Exchange. The unit has lots of information on the touch screen, including a diagnostic trouble code reader. The cost is higher, but the results are pretty effective - about 30 - 35 horsepower per engine and about 100 lb/ft of torque. As every guy with a truck knows, sometimes a little extra horsepower is all that is needed.

Upgrade The Exhaust With New Pipes

The exhaust system is crucial to the truck's performance. The piping under your truck allows burnt gases to exit the engine and be discharged through the muffler and exhaust. The stock exhaust system when your RAM comes off the assembly line is limited in how quickly it can discharge the carbon-monoxide gases. (Mostly, because of government regulations). It is possible to increase the flow rate out of the system, so your engine produces more power. Increased exhaust flow can also boost the torque and horsepower, and putting new exhaust on the truck makes it sound much more aggressive.

One of the best choices for a new exhaust is from Borla S Type Cat-back exhaust with some wicked 5-inch polished tips. The whole process is an easy install if you have a lift or can put the unit up in the back to give yourself room to get the stock exhaust removed. The unit adapts to the existing flanges and brackets and is bolt-on, making it much more straightforward. The exhaust system is expensive at just under a thousand dollars, but you will love the sound it makes when installed.

Add A Lift Kit to Stiffen the Suspension

Many truck guys insist on putting lifted suspension on their trucks. There is just something about seeing a truck with a lift that makes it seem more like a truck.

There are many advantages to raising the level of the truck higher off the ground, mainly because the increased ground clearance works well in off-road situations. The modified suspension allows the truck to be driven in areas that might be less than ideal and tougher to navigate. Other benefits include putting larger tires on (which can also help in boggy environments), and the elevated height provides better visibility. (Should we mention the feeling of superiority most lifted truck owners feel when they look down at the puny little cars driving near them). Many lifted truck, guys, like that they gain more access to the underbelly of the truck, which helps with cleaning and maintenance if needed.

As you probably already know, there are many ways to lift a truck. You can choose an option that best works for you and create the impression you want to make. If you want more of a monster truck look, go bigger. If you just want a bit of a lift to go off-roading every now and then, choose a few fewer inches. Either way, you will likely be glad you did.

Put an InterCooler into Your Diesel

Since RAM offered the diesel engine, truck owners have been seeking a way to get more out of the system. Installing an air-to-air intercooler makes the air colder as it enters the engine. The Intercooler condenses the incoming air as it travels into the intake manifold and onto the cylinders. The basic principle is that it is a heat exchanger, trading lukewarm air for much colder air. It is estimated that for every ten degrees of colder air, the result is about one additional horsepower and a few lb/ft of more torque. While this might seem like much, air-to-air intercoolers (and their counterparts - water to air) can make a sizeable difference to an engine's performance. The easiest intercoolers to install are mounted toward the front of the engine near the radiator in most cases.

The truth is that installing an intercooler will cause you to open up your wallet a bit because they are not cheap. This is one of the most expensive upgrades a truck owner can make to their truck, costing anywhere from $500 - $2000. Our recommendation for an excellent essential air-to-air intercooler is the AFE BLADERUNNER INTERCOOLER GT which is priced at a hefty $1785. The unit is relatively easy to install and produces a 15% better airflow into the engine.

Various upgrades can be made, like aftermarket brakes, light bars, and even horns playing a tune. (A friend of mine installed a horn that blasted like a freight train. He had lots of fun pulling up behind cars and scaring drivers to death). The point is that not all upgrades are performance related. Some of the best things you can do to a truck are cosmetic. Others are just plain fun.