According to Mike Accavitti, Dodge's marketing and communications director, trucks aren't dead yet. Why? Because, Accavitti says, people need trucks.
Dodge is hoping that those buyers continue to purchase the Ram, which will be launched this fall against Ford's equally new F-150. The redesigned truck seeks to improve on efficiency and packaging, while keeping the iconic Ram look.
The 2009 Ram will still be available with a 3.7-liter V-6 as well as two V-8s displacing either 4.7 or 5.7 liters. The 5.7-liter engine will continue to be called a Hemi, and has been given an overhaul to produce more power. Horsepower is up 35 for a total of 380 hp, while torque climbs to 404 lb-ft (up from 375 lb-ft). Improvements include the addition of variable valve timing and an active short/long runner intake. The Hemi's cylinder deactivation system has been reworked to provide more torque in four-cylinder mode, allowing the engine to run in that manner more often. A telltale light has been added on the instrument panel to inform drivers when the system is active. Despite the increased output, Dodge projects a fuel economy increase of 10 to 20 percent over current models.
The other part of the efficiency story lies in the truck's exterior design. The overall shape of the pickup has been tweaked to lower the coefficient of drag from 0.46 to 0.41 on 4x4 models, while 4x2 trucks will have a coefficient below 0.4. This was achieved through such aerodynamic tricks as filling the gap between front bumper and fascia, tapering the cab so that it narrows from front to back, and lowering the sill to below the level of the truck's frame.
Also of note is Dodge's claim that the Ram will finally enter the crew cab market for the 2009 model year. Though the current-generation truck offers two four-door cab configurations, the Ram Crew Cab will be "right-sized" and not require the heavy-duty underpinnings of the Mega Cab that it replaces. Dodge will continue to offer regular cab and Quad Cab models as well.
Time and fuel prices will tell if the 2009 Ram is the hit that Dodge is hoping for. In order to complement the range of gas-engined Ram models, Dodge will launch diesel and two-mode hybrid versions in early 2010.