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New Frame

Chrysler has re-engineered the back half of the Ram’s frame to support the different torsion and bending forces managed by the truck’s coil spring suspension. New federally mandated rear impact standards have also been met.

The front half of the frame is almost identical to the old chassis but higher strength steel allows a lower gauge to be used, saving about 30-pounds.

The entire frame is fully boxed from end to end and uses only welding to join the pieces. No rivets.

“Welding is better (than riveting) from a fixture and stiffness perspective. And we’ve improved the frame’s modal map, so there’s no alignment between any torsional bending mode and key suspension inputs. The entire truck will be shake free,” notes Mr. Kunselman.

Two wheelbases will be available: 120-in and 140-in. The standard cab will be configurable in both wheelbases, depending on bed size. Quad and crew cabs will only ride on the 140-inch wheelbase. For comparison, the short wheelbase on the 2008 Nissan Titan is 140-inches and the long wheelbase 160-inches. Mr. Kunselman says “garageability” was a key consideration determining the Ram’s frame lengths.

Towing

The one area where Dodge is willing to accept being a step behind the other full size trucks is in towing capacity. An optimally configured Ram (Regular Cab, short box, 4x2, 5.7-liter V8, 3.92 rear axle) won’t tow more than 9,100-lbs.

“We’re keeping towing capacity about the same as the previous Ram. We don’t have any plans to compete against Ford or Toyota for max towing. It’s rare that people tow a 10,000-lb trailer. Buyers towing that much recognize the mass of the truck helps tow a big load, so they buy a heavy duty. Most of our buyers will tow around 5,000-lbs. and infrequent towing might be 7,500-lbs.,” says Mr. Kunselman.

The Ram won’t have an optional tow package. Every Ram will have standard tow/haul mode and 4-pin and 7-pin connectors integrated in the rear bumper, out of harm’s way.

Unlike the 2009 Ford F-150, an integrated trailer brake controller will not be available as an option. Frequent towers will have to make do with an aftermarket kit if they want better control over their trailer’s brakes.

Four rear axle ratios will be available: 3.21, 3.55, 3.92 and 4.10. Super low 3.21 is new for 2009. 3.92 and 3.55 are the most common ratios. 4.10 will only be available for a regular cab HEMI with 20-inch wheels.

Summary

There will be inevitable comparisons between the 2009 Ford F-150 and 2009 Dodge Ram. The new F-150 still retains its position as the more capable of the two haulers. But Dodge has come from so far behind to close the gap in many areas and to break new ground in others that the Ram has to be recognized as the more revolutionary of the two trucks.

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