2010 Automobile All-Stars

Dodge Ram 1500 | From meathead to egghead.
By Joe Lorio

The pickup market is among the most stagnant and resistant to change of any segment in the automotive arena. So when a new pickup has the fortitude to question established practices, it deserves to be recognized. The new half-ton Dodge Ram is that truck.

Cutting against the unquestioned trend of ever-more-ludicrous towing figures, towering "in-your-face" grilles, and absurdly jacked-up ride heights, Dodge engineers stepped back from the mindless braggadocio to create a vehicle that actually works smarter. Throwing out years of accepted wisdom, they scrapped the antediluvian leaf springs in favor of a well-located coil-sprung rear axle, dramatically improving the pickup's ride quality. They retreated from the cartoonish styling and instead shaped their truck in the wind tunnel, and consequently it uses less fuel. They also at long last addressed the issue of covered, secure cargo storage - which other makers of full-size trucks had consigned their buyers to add themselves or do without - and created the hugely innovative RamBox in-bedside storage compartments. Apparently also questioning the notion that a noisy truck is somehow acceptable where a noisy car is not, Dodge created a Ram that is astonishingly quiet to drive (although we are glad to still hear the Hemi V-8's distinct burble at start-up). In the suddenly competitive domain of interiors, the Ram sets the standard by living up to the radical idea that the cabin of a $40,000 truck should be as nice as that of a $40,000 car.

In all these changes, the Ram often had to go not just against its competitors, but also its own history. It surely was not easy. The Dodge Ram has gone from meathead to egghead, adding brains to its brawn. As a result, it surges to the front of the pack as the most livable yet still highly capable big pickup in the land.

Base Price Range: $21,510-$43,550
Engines: 3.7L V-6, 215 hp, 235 lb-ft; 4.7L V-8, 310 hp, 330 lb-ft; 5.7L V-8, 390 hp, 407 lb-ft

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