Those brakes also came in handy at the stop box at the end of the autocross
circuit, where the fat Pirellis provided enough grip – fore and
aft as well as laterally – so we could put the V10’s full
power to the pavement without having to worry about speed limits, and
with little thought to the limits of adhesion, for that matter.
At the autocross,
we did our first laps in the Ram, then tried the Lightning, then returned
to the Ram.
The Ford costs some $12,000 less than the Dodge, and also weighs nearly
500 pounds less, but its supercharged 5.4-liter V8 has two fewer cylinders,
120 less horsepower and 75 fewer pound-feet of torque to send to its 18-inch
tires, and that power flows through a four-speed automatic, not a six-speed
manual. The Lightning also is lower – you step in, not climb in
– and feels more nimble through the cones, but the frustration with
the Ford on the autocross was having to wait for the supercharger to spool
up and so the V8 could spit out its power.
On the other
hand, the Ram’s power was always there – ready, willing and
as eager to strike as a venomous snake -- from the instant you tipped
into the throttle until you ran out of room on a straightaway or reached
That power, plus the truck’s steering response, suspension and
brakes combined to cause a state of disbelief that we were driving a 5100-pound
the fact that we were sitting so tall in the saddle, we might have thought
we were driving a Viper, albeit a practical Viper, but isn’t that
the point we’ve been trying to make all along?