The last time I drove the full-size Dodge Ram, I had a hard time climbing into the cab because it was so far off the ground. Since the Dodge Ram 1500 was completely re-designed for the 2009 model year I thought I’d give the newer model a shot. Would getting in and out be any easier this time around?
I’ve always liked the look of Dodge pickup trucks. I think the only time I wasn’t terribly crazy about them was sometime in the early 1980’s. The all-new 2009/2010 model is without a doubt the best looking Dodge truck yet… and I might even have to say the best-looking pickup truck – period.
Having recently driven the 2010 Ford F150 and F150 Raptor, they were outstanding and still fresh in my mind, so inevitably some comparisons between them will come up.
If you’ve read any of my previous Road Tests over the years you’ll know how much I HATE silver and gold-coloured vehicles. So imagine my distain when I was told my truck for the week was going to be tan/gold. Ugh. I don’t know if it’s the two-toned paint scheme or the particular shades of “Tan” or if it’s the beauty of the Dodge design, but I actually like the look of the truck in this colour!
Opening the door to the Ram, the first thing I notice is a big grab handle on the truck’s A-pillar. It’s not unusual to have grab handles on the passenger side but not too often does the driver get the privilege. “This doesn’t bode well for me..” I start to think, and sure enough, I need the handle in order to get up into the cab. Without step bars you have no option but to use the grab handle. Personally, I wouldn’t even contemplate any of the bigger, bolder pickup trucks available today unless they had step bars – it’s just crazy trying to live with these trucks without them!
Once behind the wheel, I was thoroughly impressed by the fit and finish as well as the quality plastics used throughout the cabin. It’s a very inviting place to spend some time. From the classy gauge cluster in front of the driver, to the nice and simple centre console, to the comfortable leather seats (heated and cooled) – the cabin of the new Dodge Ram is a good as it gets!
The steering tilts, but doesn’t adjust for reach; however, the power-adjustable pedals make it quick and painless to get into a comfortable driving position. Leather seating comes standard in the Laramie edition. One thing I liked (and which really annoyed me with the Ford trucks) is that the driver’s seat doesn’t automatically move back when you switch the ignition off. That means you can use the rear cargo area to its full without having the seat move back and crush things.
The test vehicle had an additional package that adds bucket seats instead of a bench. There’s a driver’s power memory lumbar and 10-way drivers/6-way passengers seats – heated and ventilated/cooled (Memory includes the front seat, pedals radio & mirrors), Heated steering wheel, Heated rear seats, Floor shifter and a 115 volt power outlet.
With a large screen high on the dashboard, I was expecting the truck to have a Sat-Nav system but not so. This did however make it easier to navigate through the audio controls using its touch screen capabilities. Although it’s a single-disc unit, it offers the added bonus of a 15 gig hard drive to store a lot of music. The drive reads CD’s as well as DVD’s and can play MP3, WMA and jpeg images. The Alpine system is nothing short of spectacular! I cranked the tunes up until just short of my ears bleeding and the system had way more to give. With crystal-clear highs, mid-range and just the right amount of deep bass, this has to be one of the best systems I’ve heard in a long time – right up with the Lexus and BMW systems.
The 5.7 litre Hemi V-8 engine with multi-displacement is a treat to drive. Off the line there is no hesitation – just instantaneous power – so much so it caught me off-guard the first time I took off from a set of traffic lights. I was expecting the gas pedal to move a good centimeter or so before the accelerator communicated to the engine that it was time to go – but it was instant – like driving a sports car! The steering is light but offers just enough feedback so that you actually do have a connection with the road. It’s been a couple years since I last drove a Dodge Ram, but I felt instantly at home behind the wheel of this one. Within just a minute or two it felt completely natural to be driving this big truck around parking lots and streets – almost like a much smaller vehicle. I loved the Ford F-150, but it always felt like a very big heavy truck – too big for my liking. This Dodge Ram is every bit as big, but it feels much smaller and easier to drive. For me that’s what would make me buy the Dodge over the Ford.
All of the newer pickups are focusing on passenger comfort over the function of what a truck was originally designed for: hauling stuff. The Dodge Ram certainly excels at creature-comforts for humans. The Crew Cab version has more legroom in the back than the front. With the two large rear doors that open 90 degrees, it’s easy to get people and cargo in and out. The 5’7” ( 1.7 metre) cargo box on the test vehicle is good for most projects a 6’5” ( 1.9 metre box is optional), but we had to move a long carpet one day and it highlighted just how short the box was and how limiting it could be. Personally, I like the look of the truck with the shorter box, but I prefer the shorter regular cab as well. Actually to be honest I’d much rather have an extra-cab truck with the much smaller rear doors that hinge backward.. like the Ford…than the bigger doors that Dodge prefers to offer … but I’m not a man that needs a truck for what a truck is supposed to do … so take that simply as my personal preference.
The Ram Box is unique to Dodge (at the moment) and offers a nice addition for storage in the side of the box that has traditionally been wasted space. (I couldn’t figure out why there’s an emergency pull inside each box – it’s so small that even if a child did get themselves wedged into it they certainly wouldn’t be able to move enough to grab the handle and get themselves out!!!) The storage compartments are weatherproof, lockable, illuminated, drainable and integrated into both cargo-box sides for easy access and convenience. Each box is capable of holding ten dozen 355ml cans.
Totally impressed with the Dodge’s cool storage trick I showed it to a contractor friend of mine and he loved the concept until he measured the width of the box. The Ram Box squares off the inside of the truck bed and actually takes a whopping 305 mm (12″) from the total inside dimensions of the bed. For some that may be immaterial because there is still 1,320 mm (52”) of available width, but for him it meant he couldn’t transport 2 dirt bikes in the back – he needed all of the width of his Chevy truck bed to store them upright – something to be aware of if that’s what you might be needing a truck for.
Storage compartments inside the cabin are everywhere. With large pockets in each of the doors, there are not one, but two good-sized glove boxes. If that isn’t enough there’s a storage box beneath the rear bench seat (however, the subwoofer takes up all of the space under the passenger side – so beware of that in the Laramie where the subwoofer is a standard feature). The centre console that divides the front passengers is huge and has a lot of very usable. The rear bench seats also lift up for carrying additional cargo inside the truck that you wouldn’t want sitting outside in the truck bed.
I loved the Dodge Ram. It’s very easy to drive even though the huge turning radius takes a bit of getting used to. For luxury – it’s right up there with anything from Europe. The power from the Hemi V-8 is addictive and instantaneous. If you need to tow anything of substance, this is the truck for the job.
Quality fit finish and materials used throughout
Best looking pickup on the road today
Ram Box is going to be the Next Big Thing copied by others
Two glove boxes
Tube/Step bars are not standard, but are a reasonable $665 option
Turning radius on-par with the Queen Mary…
Fuel mileage will put you in the poor house! Chuga-lug Chuga-lug
Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, Toyota Tundra
By The Numbers…
For more information visit: www.Dodge.ca
Please visit your local dealer for the latest prices and incentives.
Powertrain: 5.7 L V-8 Hemi MDS VVT engine; 5-speed automatic transmission with ERS; 4×4
Horsepower (kW): 390 (291) @ 5,600 rpm
Torque (N.m.): 407 (548) @ 4,000 rpm
Cargo Capacity: Behind Front Seats: 1,7 M3 (61.1 cu.ft)
Towing capacity: 10,450 lbs [4,750 kg] (All models include a four-way/ seven-pin trailer hitch wiring harness and connector with a convenient plug-in connection integrated into the rear bumper)
Fuel Consumption: [Mid-Grade – 89 Octane]
City: 13 L/100 kms // Highway: 18 L/100 kms
I averaged 19.4 L/100 kms during combined driving. The Ford F-150 (without MDS) got 17.1 L/100km
Pricing for the 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie 4×4 Crew Cab
As tested: $48,290 Cdn
Base price: $46,690 Cdn
Destination & Delivery: $1,400 Cdn
Copyright © 2010 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland
Also Published at: Flagworld.com/roadtests & Automobilsports.com