2008 Detroit Auto Show: 2009 Dodge Ram Pickup
What it Is
new cars: 2009 Dodge RAM pickup Preview – Dodge introduced its fourth generation of the ram pickup with a herd ambling around Cobo Hall. In addition to the assembled throng of media, Dodge also paraded a bunch of cows by the outdoor press conference. What exactly do cattle have to do with a truck named for a male sheep? We don’t know, and don’t care. The new Ram is something we care about, and the pickup was due for a new go-round. The automaker says this is the first Ram with a crew cab, but the truck has come with something akin to that for several years. Regular and Quad Cab models are also in the range, which goes on sale this fall.Why it Matters
Dodge has about 15 percent of the U.S. truck market and clearly wants more of it. That won’t be easy because along with strong brand loyalty among Ford and Chevy owners, there’s growing competition from Nissan and Toyota. All of that in front of the backdrop of declining light truck sales because of gasoline prices and a slumping housing market.
What’s Under the Hood
Why, a Hemi of course. Dodge has a new 5.7-liter, multi-displacement, V-8 Hemi, which produces 380 horsepower and 404 lb.-ft. of torque, yet is supposed to get better mileage. A 4.7-liter V-8 and a 3.7-liter V-6 are also offered. Transmissions include a six-speed manual and four- and five-speed automatics. Four wheel drive models come with either part-time or on-demand transfer cases. There are also four rear-axle ratios available: 3.21, 3.55, 3.92 and 4.10. If all that isn’t enough, a light-duty diesel is scheduled to arrive after 2009 and two-mode hybrid is slated for 2010 model year. The rear suspension is now a five-link setup..
What it Looks Like
Unmistakably like the Dodge Rams that preceded it, but with cleaner lines and a grill that tilts forward at the top. The overall design has done well for Dodge, so it’s easy to understand why they stayed within that template. Along with an overall cleaner look, the truck has better aerodynamics, Dodge says, achieved mostly through numerous small changes. Cargo management systems are a highly touted feature these days and Dodge offers one up that they call RamBox. The highlight of the system is lockable storage bins in the bed rails that are waterproof, illuminated and drainable. Combined, the bins have 8.6 cubic feet of space, enough for 10 cases of your preferred beverage. A bed divider/extender and cargo rails with movable cleats round the system out.
Dodge says the interior quality of the new truck has been improved in both materials and craftsmanship. We certainly hope so because one of the more disappointing aspects of recent Chrysler vehicles has been the cheap interiors. Dodge says it has added more storage to the Ram, including in-floor bins with removable liners that can hold 10 12-ounce drinks and ice. Also available for the first time in the Ram is an automatic floor shifter and center console.
What Dodge Says
Dodge had a lot to say before the introduction, making 16 documents available with details on various aspects of the new Ram. “We put a truck on the market that tripled our market share,” Ralph Gilles, Vice President – Jeep®/Truck Design Studio, said in the press release. “Our design was polarizing – people loved it or hated it. But the people who loved it, bought it. They still do, because Dodge Ram continues to stand out from the herd of ‘me-too’ trucks.” Oh. Herd. Now we understand the cattle metaphor.
What We Think
Dodge needs a hit, as does Chrysler. If the popularity of pickups wanes as much as that of large suvs, the Ram could be a sales misfire no matter how good it is. The company says the two-mode hybrid won’t arrive until the 2010 model year, which means sometime next year. Sooner would be better given the current economic climate. The light-duty diesel is also a welcome addition, particularly if it brings some kind of performance or economy advantage.
By Bob Beamesderfer
MyRide Road Test Editor
Photo Credit: Dodge