While pickup sales are on the slide, the off-road market will always want trucks. Whether for personal use, light business, 4x4 trails, or heavy construction, the fullsize 1/2-ton American pickup will never go away. While there may be a shift in marketing demographics, you can count on Americans buying trucks. Fortunately Dodge has improved its chances of selling trucks by introducing a revolutionary truck with high-tech engine controls and a revamped rear suspension.
The all-new Dodge Ram 1500 pickup comes at a time when trucks are selling slowly and fuel economy is the top concern. Luckily the Dodge boys have been craftily working on the Multiple Displacement System (MDS), where the engine goes into four-cylinder mode more efficiently; Variable Valve Timing; and an active intake manifold, which helps in giving a big economy boost to the 5.7L Hemi-powered 1/2-ton. And besides that, the new sheetmetal styling has a super-low drag coefficient, allowing considerable gains to be made in the mileage department as well. But more important to us 4x4 guys is the new suspension slung under the rear-a four-link wonder that rides well and even stands up to heavy loads and towing.
The old Ram was getting a bit long in the tooth, and the interior had been panned by many critics as cheap and simplistic. But while we personally liked the old interior, the new style is admittedly better, save the three-spoke steering wheel which gets in the way of driving comfort. However, the rear suspension makes up for this flaw as the ride is incredibly supple yet precise, with no skate-around when corners and bumps combine to disturb most standard pickups. And while many would think the coil-sprung rear would not be good for towing, the urban and country route we tried dispelled that myth, and a heavily loaded test truck showed its good colors as well. A cool feature is the new Ram-Box storage option, a nifty storage area within the bedsides, and even under the passenger floorboard for those special packages.
While we only had the chance to drive the new Ram in a mild off-road excursion, we feel confident that it will rank well during our 4x4 of the Year test coming in the Feb. '09 issue. Stay tuned for the complete rundown on this stylin' new ride, as well as our Web site (www.4wheeloffroad.com) for even more photos.
2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4x4 TRX4
Base Price: N/A
Engine: 5.7L Hemi V-8
Torque (lb-ft): 407
Transfer case: NVG 246, 2.72:1
EPA Mileage (city/hwy mpg): 13/18
Curb Weight (lb): 6,800
Wheelbase (in): 140
Length (in): 227.5
Width (in): 79.4
Height (in): 74.8
Seating Capacity: 6
Head Room (in, front/rear): 41/39.9
Leg Room (in, front/rear): 41./39.4
Max. Cargo Volume (cu. ft.): 45.9
Approach Angle (deg): 19.2
Breakover Angle (deg): 15.2
Departure Angle (deg): 21.9
Ground Clearance (in): 7.7