2009 Dodge Ram 1500

All Rams will use automatic transmissions; V-6 models get four-speed gearboxes, while the 4.7- and 5.7-liter V-8 models are equipped with a five-speed. A Cummins turbo-diesel will become an option in 2010 or 2011, and a two-mode hybrid Ram will join the lineup in 2010. Both of these powerplants should be about 25 percent more fuel efficient than the regular 5.7-liter Hemi.

Step inside the Ram and you'll be greeted with the nicest interior of any Chrysler product. Ralph Gilles - Chrysler's newly appointed senior vice president of design - told us that the Ram's interior is the "beginning of a new era at Chrysler." Gilles didn't just upgrade the materials used inside the Ram - he also added more usable space. Crew cab models have storage cubbies with removable liners that hold ten beverage cans and ice. Dodge's uconnect technology is also available; it includes everything from Bluetooth connectivity to in-car TV and Internet access.

Dodge officials realize that the truck market is shrinking, but they're still anticipating hundreds of thousands of annual sales in the segment. Mike Cairns, the Ram's chief engineer, went so far as to say, "We're confident we are going to pick up market share with this vehicle." Bold words in the current climate, but everything we experienced during our drive of the Ram gives credence to Cairns's claim.

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