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The massive 13.9-inch brake rotors are the largest in the segment, and combine with standard ABS and 17-inch wheels and tires to provide an extra margin of safety. Electronic Variable Brake Proportioning is part of the ABS, and it keeps the front-to-rear brake balance tuned for the best possible braking performance regardless of the load.

In the event of a crash, the Ram Heavy Duty includes the industry's only pre-tensioning seatbelts and optional side curtain air bags in a heavy-duty truck.

Safety has probably not been a significant consideration for many heavy-duty truck buyers in the past, but sales in the segment have grown by 34 percent since 1996. Most of that growth is from "personal use" buyers rather than from commercial customers who register the trucks in their company's name. So there are more boat, horse trailer and camper owners out there who want the increasingly car-like comfort and safety amenities available in light duty trucks, but in a vehicle that is better-suited to towing their toys.

Dodge has done a first rate job on the Ram in general and its new engines in particular. It is too early to say whether the new Ram is the top truck on the market, but our preview test drive at the company's proving grounds demonstrates that they have a better contender than every before.

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