2009 Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 Long Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2009 Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 Long Term Road Test

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2009 Dodge Ram 1500: Wrap-Up

June 26, 2010

Think back to your favorite car. Maybe it was a truck. You really didn't care what others thought of it. No words could break that special bond between the two of you. But somewhere along the way you were separated. Maybe you couldn't make the payments. Maybe your neighbor stole it in the middle of the night. Maybe a pack of tree-hugging Earth Liberation Front eco-terrorists turned it into a candle. Or maybe you borrowed it from Dodge 12 months ago and now it has to go back.

Inside Line spent the past year with the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup. For more than 33,000 miles we drove the Ram across the long-term blog pages, a mileage milestone that ranks on top for any 12-month durability test in the history of our fleet. Functionality had a lot to do with its popularity, admittedly. The Ram could haul, tow and for one stretch it was the only genuine four-wheel drive in the garage. But there was more to this pickup. And each of us will list a different reason why it ranks among our favorites.

Why We Got It
The 2009 Dodge Ram pickup truck was all-new. But it was significant for one reason above all others: coil springs. Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds bellowed, "Prepare yourselves, fellow truckers, for a brand new day. No more will you be surprised by a sideways leap of the ass end of your truck when you encounter midcorner bumps or cross railroad tracks. No more will your insides turn into a quivering bowl of gelatin as you traverse a lumpy freeway. And no longer will you and your passengers quiver at the sight of a washboard dirt road or a poorly maintained driveway. The 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup has been healed!"

Praise for the new Ram was not limited to our first drive of the truck. It also won our full-size truck comparison test.

We enjoyed driving the Ram, as a truck or just as transportation. Senior Editor Dan Pund volunteered to drive it from Michigan to Colorado, where he would hand the reins to a West Coast staffer. Pund reflected on his trip, "With about 1,300 miles to cover in our new long-term Dodge Ram, we have some alone-time on our hands. Even splitting the drive up into two days, there are almost exactly 1,000,000 miles of corn-wrapped straight, flat Interstate 80 to cover. In a decent automobile, which early impressions indicate the Ram certainly is, this is a monstrously boring drive. The kind of boring that might inspire a grown man to affix Bugles-brand corn-based snack trumpets to each of his eight fingers, just...you know...to see. We're not saying that we actually did this, but I did."

Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh towed with the Ram for several thousand miles during its tenure. Kavanagh reflected, "The Ram drove and steered remarkably well with 4,000 pounds behind it. The ride was plush as ever. There is enough reserve power in the Ram's 5.7-liter engine that there were no sweaty-palm moments while accelerating. We drove the Tejon Pass, a grade of about 6-7 percent, for a couple miles. I locked the cruise. At 4,500 rpm coolant temperature reached a peak of 218 degrees F, trans temp hit 175 and oil pressure was 51 psi. These were expected, save for the oil temperature, which soared to 260 near the apex of the grade. It took several miles of downhill driving (i.e., light load with plenty of cooling airflow) before the oil temp even began to drop from this peak."

Our problem history with the Ram was minor. Nearly 18,000 miles into our test we began to question the advertised sturdiness of its RamBoxes. Take a tow hitch, store it in the RamBox, add a splash of road imperfection and serve the punctured plastic RamBox liner under warranty. Aside from the RamBox incident, our dealer visits were limited to routine maintenance at recommended 6,000-mile intervals. La Brea Chrysler Jeep handled the bulk of our maintenance needs and did so to our satisfaction. We should probably mention the morning we struck an inanimate object, but we'll leave that out.

Total Body Repair Costs: $2,291.32
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $253.06
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: Replace RamBox liner and RamBox key cylinder
Non-Warranty Repairs: $456.85 to replace 2 tires
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 4
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: 8 to repair body damage
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None

Performance and Fuel Economy
We sent the Ram through our standard battery of tests when it was new and again as our test wrapped up. Our first track test of the long-term Ram was impressive. But we were quite pleased to see that after 33,000 miles of service it was even better.

Senior Editor Josh Jacquot noted while testing, "Stomping the pedal is the quickest way to accelerate. Brake torque doesn't help. No real technique required." Acceleration from zero to 60 mph required 7.4 seconds (7.0 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) en route to a quarter-mile pass of 15.3 seconds at 89 mph. These figures mark a 0.2-second improvement from its first track test. Similarly, slalom speed increased to 60.3 mph and lateral acceleration around the skid pad bumped to 0.70g. Stopping distance from 60 mph remained consistent at 130 feet.

Over the course of 12 months we tracked fuel economy in the Ram with and without a trailer in tow. We averaged 14 mpg over the course of our test, with a best tank of nearly 20 mpg. Stick a trailer behind it and the figures drop as expected. Our average fuel economy with 4,000 pounds in tow was 11 mpg, with a best single tank of 12.9 mpg. That average fell to 11.7 mpg while pulling 6,000 pounds. Neither came close to the Ram's 9,100-pound maximum towing capacity.

Best Fuel Economy: 19.4 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 10.5 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 14.0 mpg

Retained Value
When our long-term Ram arrived, the odometer read 97 and the sticker in the window read $49,660. Over the next year we drove it cross-country, towed numerous heaps of metal behind it and filled the bed with everything under the sun.

By the conclusion of our test, Edmunds' TMV® Calculator valued our Ram at $30,026 based on a private-party sale. That equates to depreciation of 40 percent. For a point of reference, our long-term 2007 Chevrolet Silverado and 2007 Toyota Tundra depreciated 46 and 38 percent, respectively. The Chevy had 32,000 miles at the time of sale, making it a better comparison than the Toyota, which only ended its term with 26,000 miles.

True Market Value at service end: $30,026
Depreciation: $19,634 or 40 percent of original MSRP
Final Odometer Reading: 33,234

Summing Up
We have a new favorite car. And it's a truck. Our goal is to accumulate at least 20,000 miles on all long-term testers during their stay so the Ram's massive mileage accumulation is big news. Almost as big a story as a half-ton truck that offers class-leading ride comfort and competitive towing ability.

One year with the Ram made clear to us that this is the suspension of tomorrow. Not once did we shy away from the Dodge because it "drives like a truck." Instead, we drove it everywhere. We went cross-country, one-third of the distance pulling a trailer. We towed cars to the track. And sometimes we just drove it around town because our kids liked to sit up high and look down on other cars. Let's not even start with all of the stuff we hauled in the bed.

Dodge showed us that a truck can have redeeming qualities beyond its sheer utility and that even a truck could be comfortable. We will miss the Ram.

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

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Past Long-Term Road Tests