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Ram Sport R/T Torque Converter

According to Mr. Kunselman, an R/T badged Ram will be available in Sport trim.

The Ram R/T will be a regular cab, short box 4x2 with a HEMI and 5-speed automatic. It will feature a ‘looser’ torque converter with a higher K factor rating than other HEMI equipped Rams and a 4.10 rear axle, for better off the line accelerative performance. Dodge promises the R/T will deliver best-in-class 0 to 60-mph performance in under 7 seconds.

K factor is the point where the torque converter’s turbine stalls (slips before locking up) relative to engine RPMs and peak torque. The turbine transfers power from the engine to the transmission. The higher the K factor, the faster the engine can get into the upper portion of the power band. But there’s likely to be a trade-off in slower throttle response, while the engine revs to the new stall speed, and lower fuel economy. We’ll know more after we spend some time driving the R/T.

Improved Ride Comfort Without Sacrificing Towing and Hauling

Next to innovative storage, Dodge is also thinking different about ride quality. The 2009 Dodge Ram bucks tradition and chucks conventional leaf springs for a new 5-link coil sprung solid axle suspension.

Why is this such a big deal? Because leaf springs are a time proven and simple solution to manage the diverse range of payloads loaded into the beds of pickups. Leafs also work well overloaded, which eventually happens to every truck.

Coil springs have been used in large body-on-frame SUVs and sport utility trucks, like the Chevrolet Avalanche, but those trucks have very little likelihood of ever seeing the same duty cycle as a half-ton pickup. It’s going to take time for Chrysler to prove the Ram’s coil spring suspension is durable.

From a build perspective, coil springs are more complex and costly than leafs. The advantages are that coils control not only vertical jounce, like leaf springs, but also side-to-side motion. This should virtually eliminate rear axle hop on rough roads and in-ride shake, particularly when the truck is unloaded. It also weighs 40-lbs less than the old Ram’s leaf spring suspension.

Says Mr. Kunselman, “There’s added cost by adding the links and sway and track bars, but it’s the right thing to do for this product. Everyone has done the most they can do with ride comfort on a Hotchkiss suspension.”

And Mr. Kunselman says that buyers won’t sacrifice any towing or hauling capability with the new back suspension versus the outgoing Ram’s capacities. The truck is capable of handling a payload of up to an estimated 1,840 pounds and towing up to an estimated 9,100 pounds.

“We’re keeping payload up and enhancing comfort,” says Mr. Kunselman.

Aftermarket companies that sell air suspensions are also going to be pleased with this feature, because their products will be much easier to install with factory coils. No more bolting helper springs onto leaf springs.

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