June 18, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 15 July 2010 10:07
We’ve reacquainted ourselves with Chrysler products lately, having driven two Jeeps, a Dodge Challenger and two Dodge trucks. For the most part, we’ve liked what we’ve driven. Since the bankruptcy, the federal bailout and the marriage with the Italian automaker Fiat, Chrysler has brought out some intelligently conceived, well-executed rolling stock.
Among the best products in the Chrysler lineup is the 2010 Dodge Ram 1500, one year out from its latest redesign. A sublime blend of ruggedness and luxury, this full-sized pickup truck will crack 20 miles per gallon on the highway, even with the legendary Hemi V-8 engine.There are 20 Ram 1500 models, priced from under $21,000 to nearly $43,000. Engine options include a V-6 and two V-8s. Every Ram truck has an automatic transmission.
We test-drove a silver regular-cab truck with 4x4 and off-road package, including the biggest available engine: a 5.7-liter, 390-horsepower Hemi V-8. With a long options list, its sticker price was $35,705.
Dodge offers a Quad Cab with a long bed and a Crew Cab with a short bed and more interior room. Bench seats are standard, bucket seats optional. The bucket seats in our truck were roomy and comfortable, but they added up to the people-moving capacity of a Mazda Miata.
Thanks in part to its rear coil springs, the Ram provides an unexpectedly smooth, refined ride. The engine is powerful but unobtrusive; wind and road noise also is minimal. Rated at 13 mpg city, 18 highway, we hit and held 20 mpg on a trip from western Connecticut to Boston and back.
The optional navigation system was a snap to operate, but the AM-FM-XM radio was noticeably less user-friendly than others we’ve used recently. Among other annoyances, it wouldn’t let us view song-and-artist information while displaying the preset list.
The GPS did have us driving in circles in downtown Boston, as the computer hunted for a less congested route out of town. But we resisted the impulse to turn off the GPS and it eventually delivered us to Interstate 90 West.
Our Ram was very tall and would have benefited from running boards, especially for short-statured drivers and passengers. The doors are big, long and heavy, making this truck less than ideal in grocery-store parking lots.
Solid reliability is among the Ram’s high points, but its crash-test results are mixed. The Ram 1500 received five-star ratings in frontal crash tests and a “Good“ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in frontal-offset tests, but just a “Marginal” rating from IIHS for side-impact crashes. Its high stance contributes to a mediocre three-star rollover rating in government tests.
Still, the Ram 1500, the only Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep model Consumer Reports magazine recommends, is a worthy contender in a market long dominated by Ford and General Motors, and in some respects is good enough to beat the best.
Engine: 5.7-liter V-8, 390 horsepower, 407 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 5-speed shiftable automatic
Drive: all-wheel with high and low range gearing
Weight: 4,830 lb.
Ground clearance: 8.6 in.
Suspension: Short and long arm front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 17x7 inch painted alloy
Tires: LT275/70R17C all-terrain
Seating capacity: 2
Payload capacity: 1,550 lb.
Towing capacity: 10,250 lb.
Fuel capacity: 26 gallons
Fuel economy: 13 mpg city, 18 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular
Note: Payload and towing capacity vary with wheelbase, engine choice and axle ratio.
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