Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dodge Ram: Work in luxury

You might think of the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie crew cab pickup as a great work truck that also offers spiffy luxury features.

Or you might think of the Ram as a spiffy luxury vehicle that can also serve as a great work truck.

But once you move beyond that "Tastes great/less filling" debate (remember the old Lite beer commercials?), you can just appreciate this truck for what it is: a bountiful, versatile, powerful machine.

When you first behold the Ram, you'll be struck by its size.

This thing is a giant.

But when you get inside, it's all about the amenities and technical features.

The Ram has gotten larger for this model year, and that means more interior space.

This thing now offers at least as much living space as a double-wide mobile home. (Well, not quite, but it seems like it.)

The added size brings more towing power and hauling capacity, too.

But what you don't get with the increased size is a loss of nimbleness; the Ram moves as gracefully as it ever has.

All that size has advantages, such as the great road visibility that accompanies the high riding position and the feeling of confidence that you could come out Ok in case of a minor collision.

But truthfully, there are some disadvantages, such as inability to fit into tight parking spots and having to be extra careful to overcome a few blind spots when you're parking or pulling out of spots that have objects within close proximity.

But to assist you with those situations, the Ram is available with a backup camera or a proximity sensor that beeps to alert you when you are getting close to something behind you.

Other features that score the Ram some impressive luxury points are the comfortable power seats upholstered in leather, the heated steering wheel and seats, the Uconnect multimedia system with USB port and 30GB hard drive and Bluetooth capability and the Sirius Satellite TV.

That feature, also available on the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans, offers Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network to entertain the younger members of your crew who will be seated in the back seat.

You can also connect a DVD player or video game console to play on the rear seat screen.

Additionally, the multimedia system can rip music to the hard drive from CDs or from a USB port that's on the faceplate.
On the outside, the feature that got the most notice from observers was the Ram Box storage area.

These bins, located on either side of the cargo bed, are lockable areas that are fairly deep and can store anything from tools to beverages.

That's an excellent innovation.

When it comes to on-road performance, our tester had the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, so power was quite abundant.

The engine, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, makes 390 horsepower and 407 pounds-feet of torque.

The Ram comes with a multilink coil suspension that enhances stability and delivers generally a very smooth ride.

All that power and size will, of course, mean not so stellar fuel economy numbers; 14 mpg city, 20 highway, according to EPA.

But Dodge did equip the truck with a colossal 32 gallon fuel tank, figuring that it's better to stop one very painful time at the pump rather than lots of uncomfortable ones.

The Ram's ride, for a pickup truck, is very refined, and its handling and power are outstanding.

A Ram configured in the way that our tester was sits at the high end of the Dodge offerings, but there are many others, including different bed sizes and single or crew cabs.

Then, you can choose from two- or four-wheel drive and up to four trim levels.

The Ram 1500 starts at a little more than $22,000 for a low-end trim model.

But our tester carried a sticker price of $48,315.

If you want to work in luxury, or have luxury that can work, Ram offers an excellent choice.

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