2009 Dodge Ram 1500: Trucker Chic OR Cocoon
July 14, 2009
We saw a Dodge Ram billboard somewhere in Nebraska (likely next to the corn field) that said, and we paraphrase here: It Swallowed a Luxury Car. It's closer to the truth than your average advertisement.
We've gone on the record saying that Ram's interior is the best within the Chrysler group. Yeah, yeah, there's not much competition. But still. What with the excellent ride quality, nice looking and feeling interior materials and a reasonably quiet deportment, the Ram is luxurious. That's certainly true in our nearly loaded Laramie version. Out on the big wide open, the Ram has a way of shrinking to manageable proportions. It's only when we got off the expressway and tried to squeeze the three-ton bug-killer through tight gas stations and restaurant parking lots that the vehicle's size becomes bothersome.
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And so, like we would in any luxury-liner we set the cruise to a reasonable speed (the limit in Nebraska is 75 mph), sealed the windows up, plugged in our iPod and occasionally noodled with the nav system or sampled some Raw Dog comedy beamed down from a satellite. Not too shabby.
But then, in the land where suspenders aren't some quirky fashion statement but a device to hold up your pants, we felt a little silly. So, in time-honored pickup-truck fashion we turned the Ram into a convection oven. No, an old-school pickup wouldn't have four power side windows (with auto up and down on the fronts) or a power-sliding rear window, but you get the point. We cranked them all full-open and let the whirling prairie heat slowly bake us. And damn, if that didn't feel good. We even rested our left arm on the window frame and used a more relaxed steering-wheel-grip strategy. This allowed us to sunburn our left arm quite nicely. The Alpine sound system has the juice to keep up with the maelstrom. It felt even better knowing that we could simply power the windows up and set the automatic climate control to full-wimp mode.
We could get used to road-tripping in this vehicle. Well, we could if we had something to tow or haul (which Karl will after I hand him the keys here in Boulder). Otherwise, the 15.1 mpg average fuel economy on this 1,300-mile trip brings a pang of guilt. That fuel economy dropped like a rock once we locked into a good pace in Nebraska and then started climbing slowly but relentlessly uphill in Eastern Colorado.
A couple of other things of interest:
The automatic transmission delivers soft, stuttering upshifts under full throttle. Now, we don't expect the snappiness of Ferrari's new dual-clutch box, but the Ram's shifts feel a bit weak.
Perhaps more than any other material known to man, chrome highlights the carcasses of various bugs that have met their end on the Ram's grille and side mirrors. Sorry Karl, but at least you know you'll always have a snack should you need one on the long, lonely portions of your drive.
Did you know that there are two-story RVs? Neither did we.