Me: So, what did you think of the Saab?
Mamma G: Its ok, but the Dodge is awesome.
Me: In what way?
Mamma G: It’s comfy and it goes like hell!
That’s not exactly what you hear when one’s wife is describing why she likes a gigantic pick up truck, put haulin’ ass is a big part of what the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 is all about.
Perhaps the first thing one notices about the all new 09 Ram is that it is huge. As in trying to park the USS Enterprise huge. The Ram is tall, wide and long. so tall in fact that one 5’9″ passenger had to take a run at the front seat! Our tester didn’t have side step rails, so entry brings on some pretty interesting elevation techniques. From climbing up onto the floor and then the seat, to other taller riders who tried to swing a cheek onto the seat and pull themselves up with the A-pillar mounted handle. Regardless of what method was used, that handle got a workout each time.
Once inside, the gigantic theme continues. The cabin would comfortably seat 5 linebackers in leather clad comfort. Of course the prerequisite power everything, satellite radio, heated seats and what not are all in place. The heated steering wheel is a nice touch here in the Great White North. Up front, there are all sorts of storage options to keep a driver’s daily flotsam contained without messing the place up. A big selling feature for everyone we showed the truck to were the two in floor storage bins. These tubs are just the right size for 10 cans with ice and have removable liners to enable easy dumping of ice melt. The funny thing is that when we attended the Canadian launch of the 2009 Ram earlier this year, they mention the beer storage capabilities. By the time the legal beagles got hold of this, it was cleaned up to the politically correct large enough for ten 12-ounce beverages and ice. We found them useful for keeping Christmas presents hidden from prying eyes in the shopping mall parking lot.
While pick ups should be the ultimate utility vehicle, most really are useful for big work and not so practical for daily life. Ever tried getting groceries on a rainy day with most half tons? Your fresh loaf of Wonder bread ends up looking more like soggy bread pudding. Dodge has solved the water laden provisions problem by creating the Ram Box. By eliminating the unused space that typically sits fore and aft of the wheel arches, designers have a huge box on either side of the bed to play with. Those boxes are perfect for a locking storage bay complete with lighting and weather seals. Folks who worry that these wide bed sides are eating up space will be happy to know that the bed is still perfectly set to carry 4 foot wide sheets of plywood or whatever else you chose to load up with. At last, a work truck that offers real life utility too.
Aside from limited edition machines like Ford’s Lightning and Chevy’s Cyclone, most pick ups aren’t noted for being overly quick. The Ram 1500 changes the game altogether. With 380 horsepower and 404 lb-ft of torque, the 5.7 liter Hemi pushes the 2 wheel drive version from 0-60 in a measly 6.1 seconds. We didn’t get a chance to do any acceleration testing with the truck, but my backside says the 4 door 4×4 is likely in the 7 second ballpark. That is unbelievable for a machine that is roughly the size of the local Walmart.
Driving the big Ram felt strangely naughty. I half expected Greenpeace psychos to tie up alongside at every stoplight and fire harpoons across my bow as I navigated traffic. All of the economic doom and gloom lately can have that effect of you when you are driving something this big. A funny thing happened at the gas station though. As I looked at the odometer, I made note that the truck had traveled 534 km on this tank. A wave of fear began to creep over me as I began pumping. Would the Ram swallow up 110 liters like the F150 we drove not too long ago? Surprisingly, the pumps stopped at 78 liters. I was in disbelief. That works out to 14.6 L/100 km or 16.1 miles per US gallon. Not bad when you consider how much work is being done to move this monster along at fun speeds. Oh yeah, the growl from the pipes wouldn’t sound out of place from a muffled Trans Am car, so you want to stand on the loud pedal every chance you get!
At just over 41 grand (cdn), the Ram 1500 Laramie is far from inexpensive but is close to $7,000 cheaper than the equivalent F-150 Lariat that ford has on offer and $6,000 less than a Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ. Of course those are the retail prices and with today’s market I’ll bet a shrewd buyer can find substantially better deals out there as dealers and manufacturers try to reduce inventory.
Overall, the 2009 Dodge 1500 Laramie Crew Cab offers a good marriage of work and day to day utility that might be a better solution for those who need a truck to haul toys but still need to cart the kids around and pick up groceries. You can even keep your beer cold for the end of the day!