Though we haven't yet been able to test the 2009 Dodge Ram, we have some new information on the available engines. Dodge's signature Hemi V-8 gets a boost to 390 hp and 407 lb-ft of torque, and should also boast a 4-percent increase in fuel economy. That's nowhere near the speculated 20 percent increase that some media outlets reported earlier this year, but every little bit helps.
How can the Ram pack more power and give better fuel economy? Tons of technology helps the large-displacement engine achieve both goals. The 5.7-liter Hemi now packs variable valve timing, an adjustment to the multiple displacement programming that should allow it to kick in more frequently, a higher compression ratio, an intake manifold that can use long runners to make torque or short runners for maximum horsepower, and less restrictive intake and exhaust systems. For reference, the 2008 Dodge Ram only made 345 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque with the same displacement. The improved aerodynamics of the truck also help improve fuel economy; Dodge claims the Ram's coefficient of drag is .419 for crew cab 4x4 models, which is as good as it gets for full-size pickups.
Fans of E85 will be happy to hear that the 4.7-liter V-8 will run on E85 or regular gasoline. Horsepower and torque figures aren't as impressive as the Hemi's, but 310 hp and 330 lb-ft are still respectable numbers. Dodge has made some modifications to this engine as well, but it does not pack variable valve timing, multiple displacement technology, or the active intake manifold. There is a bump in compression ratio, as well as better intake and exhaust flow, two spark plugs per cylinder, and a new combustion system that is supposed to boost power and fuel economy at the same time. No real details were given for the new combustion system.
Truck buyers may not want a V-8 engine with today's soaring fuel prices, so Dodge is also offering a 3.7-liter V-6 engine in the Ram. The 3.7-liter engine produces 215 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque. No other full size trucks currently offer a V-6 engine, and this should be the best bet for fuel economy if frequent towing isn't on your radar.