2009 Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 Long Term Road Test - Introduction

2009 Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 Long Term Road Test

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2009 Dodge Ram 1500: Introduction

July 06, 2009

At the press introduction of the 2009 Ford F-150, one Ford employee derided the also-new-for-2009 Dodge Ram as a "coffee-shop truck." This was meant to imply that, unlike the beefy Ford, the Dodge was, you know, a sissy truck.

To which we, the proud possessors of a brand-spanking-new Inferno Red 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Crew 4x4, say, "Hell yes, it's a coffee shop truck." We plan in the next year to frequent a whole slew of coffee houses in our monster-size, chrome-slathered, coil-spring-having Ram. We also will commute in this Hemi-powered beast. We will drive it across the country. We will tow vintage cars and motorcycles with it. We will pay for a whole lot of gasoline. We will load it with children, adults, adults who act like children, mulch, bed frames, statuary...whatever. We might even do some light off-roading in it. And you know what? Our bare hands will be kept warm and toasty the whole time thanks to the optional heated steering wheel.

That's right: Our truck has a heated steering wheel to go with its heated and ventilated, leather-covered front seats. Just because the Ram is a truck doesn't mean it has to be an uncomfortable truck.

What We Got
What we got was no less than the ultimate 1500 Series Dodge Ram. That starts with the biggest, most powerful engine available in the regular-duty Ram, the 390-horsepower, 407 pound-feet of torque 5.7-liter Hemi V8. The Hemi comes bolted to a five-speed automatic with automanual operation. We backed that up with the optional "anti-spin" differential carrying 3.92 gearing. We also opted for the four-wheel-drive system with an optional electric shift-on-demand transfer case.

We got the Crew Cab with its four big doors, even if it meant that we'd have to settle for the shorty 5-foot-7-inch bed. In addition to providing generous rear-seat room (with heated rear seats in our case, of course), ordering the Crew Cab also brings in-floor storage bins in the rear footwell and it meant we could opt for the Ram's newest trick, the RamBox Cargo Management System.

Dodge says the RamBox's (yes, the company insists that the words be smashed together) two bed-wall lockable storage boxes can hold 240 12-ounce cans. It also squeezes the bed's maximum width by more than 15 inches. We'll see if the covered and lockable 7.4 cubic feet of cargo space that the RamBox provides proves to be worth the 11.6 cubic feet of cargo bed storage it sacrifices and the not-insubstantial $1,895 it adds to the bottom line. At least it comes with an easy-to-use cargo bed divider and some movable tie-down cleats.

The surprisingly luxurious Laramie line already gave us the 115-volt two-prong electrical outlet, power-sliding rear window, dual-zone climate control, 20-inch chrome wheels, foglamps, locking tailgate, 506-watt, nine-speaker surround-sound Alpine audio system, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, power memory 10-way driver and six-way passenger seats and a whole host of other comfort and convenience items that a trucker from 20 years ago would never have believed could be found in a pickup.

On top of all this we added Inferno Red pearl coat paint for $225, because, well, aren't all new Dodges supposed to be Inferno Red? We also got the front bucket seats which, for $500 in option charges, also nets you the console-mounted automatic shift lever, heated second-row seats, ventilated front seats and floor mats. Then we piled on Customer Preferred Package 25H ($795), which comes with ParkSense rear parking assist (any assistance in maneuvering this 19-foot-long monster is appreciated), electric shift-on-demand transfer case and dual rear exhaust (with neat bumper cutouts).

The 3.92 rear end cost $375. The UConnect navigation system with Sirius traffic service for one year cost $945. The ParkView rear-mounted camera (again, any assistance is appreciated) added $200. Finally, we checked the option box for the Class IV receiver hitch for $335. If all this sounds somewhat familiar, that's because our long-termer is basically identical to the Ram that won our full-size pickup truck comparison test. We left off the sunroof, skid plates and tow hooks, 32-gallon fuel tank and the rear-seat entertainment system to keep the final tally below $50K.

Even so, when you throw in the $900 (!) destination charge our Ram still costs a whopping $49,660. For perspective, though, it comes with more square acreage of chrome plating than a 1959 Chrysler New Yorker.

Why We Got It
Beyond the fact that we like coffee quite a lot, we got the Ram to see how we would feel after a year with the coil-spring rear suspension that has impressed us so much in our early drives (and that has provided Ford material for its snotty sissy-truck barbs) and in that full-size pickup truck comparison test.

We will, in this year, endeavor to answer questions such as: Should I pay all that money for the RamBox? Will we be able to keep the miles-per-gallon readings solidly in the double digits? Is there any real reason for this thing to be so hulking that the top of its hood is shoulder-high on a tall guy? Can our shortest staffer climb into the cabin without a step stool? How long before a staffer takes a picture of the Ram next to our Smart car? And, finally, could Dodge have possibly found space for any more ram-head logos?

It should be a good year. Stay tuned to our long-term blogs for the next 12 months as we put 20,000 miles on this Mopar. Cheers.

Current Odometer: 604 miles
Best Fuel Economy: 13.4 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 10.5 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 12.0 mpg

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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