Drive: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab
The new 2006 Dodge Mega Cab is the cathedral of all pickup trucks; a steel Mecca for those who worship big numbers.
When Dodge redesigned the Ram for the 2002 model year, it morphed extended and crew cab configurations into the Quad Cab. It was three inches longer than a normal extended cab and featured forward-opening doors with outside handles. The strategy was to offer the extended cab customer “a little more.”
Then the crew cab market exploded, jumping from 5 percent to more than 40 percent of pickup production in just a few years, according to Dodge officials. The Ford F-150 Super Crew and Super Duty crew cabs were big hits right away, and GM followed suit in both half-ton and heavy-duty models. Sometimes the crew cab came with regular sized beds, or a shorty bed was implemented to keep the wheelbase at a more maneuverable size. Either way, crew cab trucks drew thousands of utility, recreation and personal-use customers looking for more versatility than SUVs but still needing comfortable seating in the rear. Automakers also responded with luxury and convenience amenities, such as leather seating, moonroofs and rear-seat entertainment.
Expanding with the theme of offering its customers “a little more,” the Dodge version of the crew cab is at least a foot longer than the competition. There’s just over 143 cubic feet of interior space. Rear-seat passengers can enjoy 44.2 inches of legroom, 2.5 inches more than a Ford Super Duty. And in a first for any crew cab, the rear seatback is adjustable. And in another first, the cab is so big that it can support both a moonroof for the front passengers and roof-mounted DVD player for the rear seat occupants.
Dodge has limited experience in building crew cabs. If you ever saw a Dodge crew cab truck on the road, most likely it was a stock Ram that was cut up, stretched and rewelded by an experienced outfitter. One of the more popular options was to build a Dodge Ram 4-door crew cab with an extended cab back. That’s the approach Dodge engineers took in designing the Mega Cab, but without torching the cab or frame.
The Mega Cab is based on a Quad Cab-long bed frame with a 160-inch wheelbase. Engineers then swapped on a short bed. That left about 20 inches of real estate for designers to stretch the cab out to 111 inches long. The bigger cab now has huge rear doors that are 34.5 inches wide and can open out to 85 degrees, making ingress and egress among the easiest of any vehicle on the road. The wide openings also allow for quick cargo loading and unloading. With the rear seat folded down to offer a flat load floor, there is 72.2 cubic feet of cargo volume. That’s about 10 cubic feet more than the cargo space available behind the second seat of a Ford Expedition.
Engineers didn’t mount the rear seat against the cab panel. It’s forward enough to provide 7.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the seat. Also, the 60/40 split rear seat reclines from 22 to 37 degrees for added comfort.
With rear-seat passengers so far in back of the cab, Dodge engineers had to quiet down the interior so normal conversations could be held. New cab mounts, extensive use of Polymer Constraint Layer (PCL) in the front dash area and laminated glass improved help isolate road and wind noise. In fact, Dodge claims the Mega Cab is 20 percent quieter than the previous Ram heavy-duty models. I rode about 35 miles in the back of a diesel-powered Mega Cab on a mixture of highways and road surfaces and had no problem talking to the driver. The seat bottom was a little new-truck stiff but the reclining back allowed for a comfortable position. And the leg room is a treat rarely enjoyed in any vehicle except a limo. Other features that caught my eye included a huge rear-door window that rolled all the way down, a nifty storage bin behind the seat, separate heating and A/C outlets and tie-down hooks on the rear cab wall.