Chrysler LLC is bringing the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 full-size pickup to market with greater V-8 power ratings than originally promised, raising 2009 5.7-liter HEMI horsepower from 380 hp to 390 hp and torque from 404 lbs-ft to 407 lbs-ft. That's a 13% increase in horsepower and 8.5% increase in torque over the 2008 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 (345/375 hp/lbs-ft).
Dodge overhauled the 5.7-liter HEMI for 2009 by: adding variable cam timing (officially, variable valve timing), which phases the engine's camshaft to better control intake and exhaust valve timing for better performance at all RPMs; adding an active intake system that controls the lengths of the intake manifold's channels, shortening the intakes at low RPMs for low-end torque and lengthening the intakes at high RPMs for high-RPM power; increasing the engine's compression ratio for improved combustion; and reducing air flow restrictions in the induction and exhaust systems.
A 4 percent bump in fuel economy is also promised. The HEMI's Multiple Displacement System (MDS), which shuts off half the engine's cylinders to save fuel during steady state driving conditions, has been improved to work across a wider engine load. At highway speeds MDS will work up to 70 mph in the 2009 HEMI, versus 65 mph in the old V-8. The Ram's aerodynamics have also been improved to reduce wind drag.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 2WD model equipped with a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 is rated at 13/19 mpg city/highway and 15 mpg combined. 4 percent greater efficiency should give a comparable 2009 Dodge Ram 15.6 mpg combined (13.5/19.8 mpg city/hwy, estimated)
Some have speculated at least one HEMI V-8 equipped Ram model will be capable of 23 mpg on the highway. But according to Chrysler's PR staff on hand at a media event in Ann Arbor, Mich., the most fuel efficient model is expected to be a regular cab 4x2 with a 3.7-liter V-6, 4-speed automatic transmission, short box (120-inch wheelbase) and 3.55:1 rear axle. The latest engineering estimates (not EPA certified) are 14/20 mpg city/highway for this configuration.
The flex-fuel-capable 4.7-liter V-8 is expected to offer a 6 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the previous-generation 4.7-liter V-8.
Dodge is also overdelivering acceleration performance in the new Ram. When it was first shown at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, Dodge said the 2009 R/T regular cab 4x2 model, equipped with a short bed and 4.10 rear axle, would hit 0 to 60 mph in under 7 seconds. Now it's expected to be best-in-class with a sub-6 second 0 to 60 time, or 16 percent better than the original quote.