2009 Dodge Ram 1500
and Photos By: Mike Levine Posted:
08-22-08 13:45 PT
© 2008 PickupTrucks.com, Off-Road Images Courtesy of Basem Wasef
What’s the biggest difference between the Dodge Challenger and
the Dodge Ram? More than 200,000 units of production volume. While the
Challenger has captured the lion’s share of attention from car
enthusiasts and automotive journalists, it’s the workhorse Ram
that pays the bills and puts food on the table at Chrysler.
not hyperbole to say the professional livelihood of almost every Chrysler
employee could hang on how well the new 2009
Dodge Ram 1500 is received by truck buyers. The Germans knew not
to mess with the success of Chrysler’s big Dodge pickups when they
owned the company. It was DaimlerChrysler chairman Dieter Zetsche who
opened the corporate purse strings wide in 2004 to fund the Ram’s
neither Daimler nor the hometown team in Auburn Hills, Mich., could have
predicted how quickly the American full-size truck market would crater
in the face of soaring fuel prices and a shaky economy. Ram sales are
off 30 percent year-to-date through July 2008.
launching this new Ram even more risky; design decisions made four
years ago are going to have to be lived with for a long time to come.
The biggest risk? The truck team’s decision to emphasize
everyday usability over top-end capability. In short, there will be no
chest-pounding ads that the Ram can pull the Titanic from the bottom
of the Atlantic.
“Competing for the most towing is a battle of diminishing returns,” said
Ralph Gilles, Chrysler’s new design chief and the man responsible
for leading the Ram’s redesign. “We wanted to make a truck
our buyers can live with. One that’s well-rounded.”
usability, according to Chrysler, started with replacing conventional
leaf springs under the cargo box with five-link coil springs for improved
ride and handling, particularly when the truck is unloaded.
“We’ve taken leaf springs as far as they can go [for ride
comfort and handling],” said Scott Kunselman, Chrysler’s
vice president of truck product development, and Gilles’ engineering
counterpart. “Coil springs are the next step. We’ve made
them without sacrificing any of the towing or payload [ratings] that
we had on the previous Ram. Plus, we save 40 pounds in weight.”
also overhauled the interior in every Ram model. No more gray wall of
cheap vertical plastic or hard-to-the-touch surfaces. The composites
are higher-grade. Exposed stitching across the dashboard, complimentary
two-tone colors and molded shapes provide depth and are pleasing to the
eye. Even truck guys want their pickups to look good on the inside.
Chrysler’s segment-exclusive RamBox has been molded into both
sides of the pickup box. The two weatherproof, lockable storage trunks
are large enough to hold a set of golf clubs on each side, or 240 12-ounce
cans of your favorite beverage. Even with RamBox storage, there’s
still 49 inches of horizontal space between the bed walls inside the
cargo box to fit the most important cargo-carrying metric of any pickup:
a flat 4x8 sheet of plywood. There’s also an integrated bed extender
that acts as a bed divider. It can be indexed to almost any point inside
the bed and stowed out of the way, near the cab.