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Finally, the production design was determined. "We went with the one we felt was the most provocative, sporty, and luxurious," says Mr. Gilles.

But the design process didn't stop there. Style and aesthetics started to give way to practical considerations, like aerodynamics. "We don’t concern ourselves with aero too much when we’re doing theme searching. The thing that concerned senior management most was the grille. I wanted the cant-forward grille but management looked at it and thought it wouldn't work. So we went and built a second version with the grille leaning back but it didn't make a difference (in aerodynamics). By the time we were done we beat the aerodynamic stretch goal for (the new Ram)," recounts Mr. Gilles. Even though it’s prominent, the new Ram actually has less frontal grille area exposed to the wind than the exiting truck.

In contrast to the exterior design, the interior design was limited to only two themes and was locked down very early in the 2009 Ram’s design process, according to Mr. Gilles. "We did that to allow ourselves a lot of time to execute on the interior. We found in the past this had been our downfall because we didn't give ourselves enough time to understand all of the interior joins and how to have materials coexist," he says. A great deal of attention was also paid to ergonomics, like button sizes and controls placement moved closer to the driver.

The selected interior theme is truck-like while the other theme that was considered was more car-like, with softer organic shapes. "We wanted an interior that told the story of power and substance," says Mr. Gilles.

After three years of work and many tough choices, the end result is the next-generation 2009 Dodge Ram that carries forward the truck’s big rig looks but with a design that’s the most subtle and refined since its iconic shaped first appeared almost fifteen years ago.

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