New Car Reviews

2009 Dodge Ram 1500 – Four Seasons Update – June 2009

Long-Term 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Update: Spring 2009 Array Miles to date: 0

Mileage to Date: 10,539
Months in Fleet: Two

You’ll have to excuse us for not providing any previous updates on our 2009 Dodge Ram during the two months it’s been in the Automobile Magazine Four Seasons fleet, but that’s because the Ram has been hard to find. According to road test coordinator Mike Ofiara, the truck is booked well into the future: “I’d say the Ram is the most sought-after vehicle in our fleet.”

Just a few days after the Dodge arrived, copy editor Rusty Blackwell snagged the keys and headed to Washington, D.C., with some friends to attend the NCAA college hockey tournament. Blackwell pulled a similar maneuver last year when our Chrysler Town & Country arrived, but his destination then was Denver. Four Seasons Chrysler vehicles apparently need to be broken in with a road trip. Blackwell particularly enjoyed the Ram’s cruising range on its inaugural adventure: “The optional 32-gallon fuel tank ($75) can easily yield a 400-plus-mile range.”

The Ram hardly had a chance to cool down before associate editor Eric Tingwall used it to haul nineteen bicycles and enough gear for the twenty-one Michigan State University triathletes competing at the nationals in Lubbock, Texas. Along the way, the Ram wasn’t able to dodge a storm and suffered several dozen dents on the hood and roof during a hail storm. More troubling is the fact that the truck stalled twice, and the navigation system stopped giving directions to the driver on two separate occasions. Despite these problems, Tingwall was impressed: “We were using all of its capabilities–five passengers, a trailer and some gear and bikes in the bed of the truck–and it performed in every area. Passenger comfort was top-notch, towing was easy, and the RamBox is very functional.”

Web producer Evan McCausland is enamored with the coil springs in the rear suspension and predicts the staff will “proclaim them as lifesavers.” He says the Ram’s engine is another strong point: “The 5.7-liter (yes, it’s a Hemi) pulls strong. Better yet, it seems to stay in four-cylinder mode longer than either of GM’s V-8 engines equipped with active fuel management.”

Senior editor Joe Lorio spent a night with the Ram and heaped on the praise for its interior, which can no longer be described as Spartan: “The interior vaults from worst to first; the design and execution are very impressive. It’s frankly incredible for a Chrysler product.” However, Lorio’s love for the interior is a bit dampened by the sheer size of the truck, “The overall scale is so absurd, you’d think it were built by Toll Brothers.” Sorry, Joe, that’s been the general direction of the truck market for quite some time.

Our Ram stickers at $52,230, but it isn’t equipped with a back-up camera. To remedy this, we installed an aftermarket unit, but unfortunately it has failed to meet our expectations. Ofiara summed up the experience best: “To everyone’s dismay, (the camera) doesn’t work that well. The picture is crappy, and it uses the only power outlet in the center console. On top of that, the contact for the company who makes the thing doesn’t like to return phone calls, so we’re left to figure out how to make it better on our own.”

Aside from the complaints about the lack of rear-view camera (and our less-than-adequate solution), the major complaint about the Ram seems to be the lack of available bed liners. You see, we opted for the RamBox, a pair of locking storage bins that occupy a good amount of space outside the bed. Because of the RamBox, a regular drop-in liner won’t fit in the truck. Since the RamBox is a new feature, there aren’t any liners currently available. Dodge representatives have assured us one will be available soon, but we’re adding scratches to the bed on a regular basis until then.

It’s not surprising that our 2009 Dodge Ram has already been to the dealership for an oil change. At just over 7400 miles, the oil service light illuminated, so we dutifully brough it in for service. With seven quarts of fresh 5W20 and a new oil filter, the bill came to $45.73. Here’s hoping that the next visit to the dealer will be to install a bed liner.

Laramie Crew 4×4

Base price (with destination): $44,390
Price as tested: $52,230

Body Style: 4-door pickup truck
Accommodation: 5 passenger
Construction: Fully-boxed hydroformed steel frame

Engine: Hemi Pushrod 16-valve V-8
Displacement: 5.7 liters
Power: 390 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 407 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed auto
Drive: Rear-wheel/four-wheel
Fuel economy: 13/18/15 mpg (city/hwy/combined)

Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock: 3.3
Turning Circle: 45.5 ft
Suspension, Front: Double wishbone-type
Suspension, Rear: Multi-link, coil springs
Brakes F/R: Vented disc/solid disc; ABS
Wheels: 20 x 9-in chrome clad aluminum
Tires: Goodyear Wrangler HP
Tire Size: 275/60SR-20

Headroom F/R: 41.0/39.9 in
Legroom F/R: 41.0/42.0 in
Shoulder Room F/R: 66.0/65.7 in
Wheelbase: 140.5 in
Track F/R: 68.0/67.5 in
L x W x H: 229.0 x 79.4 x 75.7 in
Cargo Capacity: 38.7/7.4/46.1 cu ft (bed/RamBox/total)
Weight: 5809 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: 56.1/43.9%
Fuel Capacity: 32 gallons (opt. tank size)
Est. Range: 480 miles
Fuel Grade: 89 octane recommended, 87 octane acceptable

Standard Equipment:
Front and side curtain airbags
Alpine surround sound with subwoofer
Two-zone automatic climate control
Power windows, locks, and remote start
Power adjustable pedals and steering wheel
Trip computer

Inferno Red Crystal Coat $225
Leather-Trimmed Bucket Seats $500
Customer Preferred Package 25H $795
Protection Group $150
3.92 axle ratio $375
Power sunroof $850
32-gallon fuel tank $75
uconnect GPS $945
RamBox Cargo Management System $1895
Class IV Receiver hitch $335
uconnect Video Entertainment System $1695

Test Results:
0-60 MPH: 7.4 sec
0-100 MPH: 20.8 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.7 sec @ 89 mph
30-70 Passing: 7.7 sec
Speed in Gears: 1) 45; 2) 82; 3) 108; 4) 100; 5) 100 mph
Cornering L/R: 0.74/0.79 g
70-0 Braking: 181 ft
Peak Braking: 0.97