All-new Dodge Ram sets standards

Published 10:56 am Friday, February 13, 2009

It might be a tough time for Dodge to be introducing an all-new full-size pickup, but they are making the best of it with the new generation Ram truck that sets new standards for the segment.

I am not a truck person, but this new Ram seems like a dramatic step forward for pickups and after spending a day in it, all I can say is “Go Ram!”

The in-your-face Ram styling is refined for 2009 with a new “grille forward” design that actually has the grill sloping in at the bottom. What is interesting to me is that this looks non-aerodynamic, but the coefficient of drag is actually lower than on the previous model and the best in class (0.419 Cd).

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The front fascia is finished off with large wrap-around headlights and bumper. The other surfaces have a clean skintight appearance and the rear end is finished with an attractive dual exhaust system with chrome tipped pipes that are incorporated into the rear bumper.

At home, I’m always buying organizing containers to improve my organization, so seeing all the storage areas in the new Ram was exciting. One of the best features is the new Rambox cargo management system, which includes lockable, weatherproof storage bins built into the bed rails of the Crew Cab version. Combined the two boxes hold 7.4 cubic feet. To put that in perspective, that is more than a 55-gallon drum holds. The compartments can hold up to 10 cases of 12-ounce beverages, golf clubs, helmets, paddles, fishing rods, etc. The boxes are illuminated and have drains in the bottom in case you want to ice those beverages. The package includes a bed divider and bed extender to create more cargo capacity. It also has a rail system with adjustable cleats for tying down a load.

The all new crew-cab model has in-floor storage, like in the Dodge mini vans, and compartments everywhere including a double glove box. You have to see it to believe it.

The feature-laden interior has a new level of sophistication that reminds me more of an entry-luxury sedan than a truck. Options include heated and cooled seats, live Sirius Backseat TV and MyGIG Multimedia Infotainment system with 30-gigabyte hard drive and navigation system. There is also a backup camera and ParkSense® Rear Park Assist and ParkView® Rear Back-up Camera. The list of available features is overwhelming.

From a mechanical standpoint, the new independent rear suspension sets the Ram apart from the competitors. Riding on smooth coil springs, instead of the traditional leaf springs I can attest to a much smoother ride and better handling.

Engine choices include an all-new 5.7-liter HEMI with fuel-saving Multiple Displacement System and class leading 390 hp. The base V-8 is a flex-fuel 4.7-liter V-8 rated at 310 hp. The smallest engine is a 3.7-liter, 215-hp V-6. For the big jobs, the heavy-duty models are available with a 50-state legal 6.7-liter turbodiesel engine. After 2009, Dodge will add another Cummins turbodiesel engine for the light-duty pickups that will provide more torque and up to 25-percent better fuel economy. A 4-speed automatic transmission is standard with the V-6 engine, while the V-8s come with a five-speed automatic. Two- or four-wheel drive is available on all models.

The Hemi version is fast. Zero to 60 mph acceleration runs take less than 6 seconds, making it the fastest truck in the segment. Cargo capacity is up to 1,850 pounds and it will tow up to 9,100 pounds.

Three basic body configurations include the regular cab, Quad Cab and new Ram Crew. Five trim packages range in price from $22,170, including destination charge, for the regular cab 2-wheel drive ST up to $44,140 for the Laramie Ram Crew 4×4.

Dodge has gone the extra mile on Ram accessories, too, by offering a full line of parts and accessories that allow owners to customize their Ram truck to the max.

For people who still want or need a truck, Dodge has taken it to a new level for 2009.