2009 Dodge Ram

Kathy Renwald
By Kathy Renwald
Posted on March 13th, 2009
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The Dodge Ram is the Prada of pickups, perfect for stylish girls, manly enough for Brooks Brothers cowboys and, with its high-end condo cool interior, it’s unlikely anyone will step in the cab with cow pie on his shoes.

It’s no wonder why guys love their pickups. The all new 2009 Ram has that screw-you front grille, as big as a sub-zero fridge. The hood bulges and stretches over a V8, liquid-cooled, 5.7-litre Hemi, capable of getting you to the stud farm with time to spare.

The Ram casts a big shadow. On one strut through Hamilton I gently rounded a corner and a woman scurried in a panic to the far side of the sidewalk.

At $48,910, this Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie edition with crew cab has all the upgrades, the Hemi producing 390 hp and 407 lb.-ft. of torque, Austin Tan pearl coat paint, heated steering wheel, heated second row seats, rear park assist and cargo box management system. There are more embellishments too, enough to make the Ram suitable to go from the outhouse to the opera.

Parked at the front of the house, the Ram drew the attention of a renovator working next door. His sensible beat-up beast fits right in at the waste transfer station.

“I’d never have a crew cab,” he said, sniffing at the Ram’s big back seat and smallish cargo box. “This must be a truck for executives.”

He’s right. Leather seats, two-toned dashboard, wood accents, heated this and that, fine stereo, blingy trim – it’s a turnkey operation. Well-designed controls are smartly deployed throughout the safari club interior. The climate and radio knobs are big and chunky – fit for man hands, ditto the supersized door handles.

There is storage everywhere. I counted six places for drinks in the front. In the spacious back row, there is clever storage underneath the seat bottom, and underneath the floor mats are deep storage compartments on each side – usable for drinks and ice. In total, there are 42 bins in the Ram, up 16 over the previous model.

The company is pretty proud of its new RamBox, a $1,500 option which runs along the outside of the 5-foot-7 box. It’s a lockable locker at an easy access height that’s weatherproof, has a light and a drain, and will hold a set of golf clubs or perhaps, a posthole digger.

This year has been good to the Dodge Ram: it won truck of the year honours from Automotive Journalists of Canada, and the same award at the Detroit auto show.

 

No doubt, judges liked the ride. The Ram is the first to use coil spring rear suspension, which makes for a tender trip, instead of a head-banging rodeo escapade, on rugged roads. I kept the Hemi reined in, and drove the five-speed automatic as if there were buckets of water in the truck bed. I didn’t feel like such a fraud in the countryside, and it was truly enjoyable on the open road.

Visibility is excellent, the driver’s seat is comfy, controls are easily within reach, it’s quiet, and the ride is shockingly smooth. Thirty-five active and passive safety features helped earn the Dodge Ram a five-star rating in a frontal crash from the U.S. government’s safety crash test program. I sure wouldn’t want to get hit by one though.

However, the high step in (without running boards) makes climbing into the cabin an ordeal for someone 5-foot-4 like me. While the interior overachieves, people who really need it to haul stuff may want more choices. Only the two-door regular cab will offer an eight-foot box. Towing capacity of 4,127 kilograms doesn’t lead the segment, and with Transport Canada fuel consumption ratings of 16.2 L/100 km in the city, 10.8 on the highway (17 and 26 m.p.g.), it won’t win any green awards.

The Chevy Silverado 1500, starting at $31,330, climbing to $43,035 once all options are ticked, will return better fuel economy, and do more heavy lifting, but it’s short on clever storage, and isn’t as quiet. The Ford F-150 Super Crew starts at $34,599 and, with the buffed up King Ranch trim, hits $47,099. With he-man leaf springs it will haul and carry more than the Ram, and a flat rear floor means there’s less body contact in the back seat. But minus the hemi and heavier, it’s not as fast and not as cool looking.

Tooling around the 905 hinterland, I pull the Ram into a graveyard for pickups. Old, rusty vehicles, beaten down from years of hauling rocks and sump pumps, are scattered everywhere.

This new Ram is pretty and practical – which is why it’s destined for blueprints and wallpaper instead.

Freelance auto reviewer Kathy Renwald can be reached at kathyrenwald.com

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