The Ram 1500 scored its second All-Star award in two years by combining a tough-truck soul with the creature comforts of a large family sedan. Just don't call it a Dodge. For 2011, the Ram sheds nearly a century of brand baggage to butt heads with competing half-ton haulers on its own.
The 1500's not-so-secret weapon is the pickup world's only coil-spring rear suspension. In contrast to traditional semi-elliptic leaf springs forced to provide both resilience and a means of attachment, coils are single-purpose devices. They supply friction-free give over bumps while five suspension links keep the rear wheels pointing in the preferred direction. This results in a supple ride and predictable handling with no loss of hauling or towing capability.
Like most pickup-truck owners, we've spent the majority of our miles in Rams without cargo in the bed or a trailer in tow. The beauty of this beast is its ability to fly over tattered pavement without the wonky humping and jumping that plagues leaf-spring trucks. Add the 390-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, and the Ram performs a superhero routine. The Hemi furloughs four cylinders on the highway to squeeze up to twenty miles out of every gallon.
The Ram's cabin excels in attention to detail. Instruments are clearly marked, and the cupholders and storage locations are bountiful. Crew cabs have in-floor bins, and the handy RamBox option converts normally wasted bed-sidewall space into secure storage lockers.
Playing to the two-thirds of the customer base that hunts, fishes, or camps, there's a new Outdoorsman model for 2011 fitted with cloth upholstery and rugged towing and off-road gear. A new holster accessory cradles two long guns or six fishing rods inside each RamBox.
No mere beast of burden, the Ram 1500 has the guts and the goodness to take its second bow as an All-Star in fine standing.
- Don Sherman, Technical Editor
Base Price: $21,510-$43,550
ENGINES: 3.7L V-6, 210 hp, 235 lb-ft; 4.7L V-8, 302 hp, 329 lb-ft; 5.7L V-8, 390 hp, 407 lb-ft