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2009 Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 ReviewThe Good
The redesigned 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup has catapulted Dodge back among the elite in the pickup truck market segment.The Bad
The lack of a six-speed automatic and, thus far, a diesel, has kept the ’09 Ram 1500 from truly legendary status.
The CarGurus View
Although there’s a lot to be said for the traditional brand loyalty among owners of full-size pickups, the 2009 Ram 1500 may gain a significant number of new friends in its impressive re-incarnation. Will the re-tooled 2009 Ford F-series top the Ram? Stay tuned.
At a Glance
Dodge presents the 2009 Ram 1500 with a significant redesign and some added features. A bold new grille and headlight design, restyled controls and instrumentation, premium seating, two-tone upholstery, more storage space - including the impressive, new BedBox storage bins inside the bed walls - a ground-breaking rear suspension, and some added potency for its three engine choices all bring the Ram 1500 into the second decade with its reputation as a brute in brute’s clothing intact.
The ’09 Ram 1500's ride and handling, interior design, and, of course, top-notch exterior styling, have drawn raves from both professional reviewers and a bunch of very happy owners. Entered as a serious contender for MotorTrend Magazine’s Truck Of The Year, Dodge and Chrysler are counting on the full-size Ram 1500 pickup to help restore them to prominence in the dog-eat-dog truck world.
The ’09 Ram 1500 is a workhorse that will haul up to 1,840 pounds and, when properly equipped, tow up to 9,100 pounds. Its newly smoothed-out ride, however, is a comfortable alternative to the jarring and jumping common to the competition.
Three cabs - the two-door, three passenger Regular Cab, with either a 6-foot-4-inch or 8-foot bed; the four-door, five-passenger Quad Cab, with a 6-foot-4 bed; and the new-for-’09, four-door, five-passenger Crew Cab (a downsized replacement for the Mega Cab) that features a re-sized 5-foot-7-inch bed - complement either rear-wheel or four-wheel-drive drivetrains. The ’09 Ram 1500 also offers a choice of two wheelbases, 120.5 inches and 140.5 inches.
The ’09 Ram 1500 is presented in three trim levels for 2009, the base ST, midrange SLT, and high-end Laramie, with the SLT available in TRX and Sport trims. The ST is available in either Regular or Quad Cab configurations, the SLT offers all three cabs, and the Laramie is available only with the Quad or Crew Cab.
Dodge offers a selection of three engines and two automatic transmissions for the ’09 Ram 1500. Although a few professional reviewers have hinted that a Cummins diesel is in the works for the 2010 Ram 1500, many are wondering why Dodge seems a bit obstinate in not keeping pace with G.M. and Ford by offering a six-speed automatic with the Ram 1500.
The base engine and tranny for the Ram 1500 lineup is a 210-hp, 3.7-liter, SOHC V6 that wheezes out 235 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPM combined with a four-speed automatic transmission. This engine, standard with the ST trim, is estimated to get 14/19 mpg with rear-wheel drive and 13/17 with four-wheel drive. Reviewers find the 3.7-liter V6, despite a slight upgrade from ’08, an underachiever that still has a ways to go before it’s considered fuel efficient.
The standard engine for the ’09 Ram 1500 SLT trim, also available for the ST, is a Flex-Fuel 4.7-liter SOHC V8 and five-speed automatic with overdrive that puts out 310 hp at 5,700 RPM and 330 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPM. The 4.7-liter V8 is estimated to get 13/18 with rear-wheel drive and 13/17 with four-wheel drive and will burn ethanol fuel just fine.
Standard in the Laramie and available for both ST and SLT trims in ‘09 is the significantly improved 5.7-liter Hemi V8, which, with its new variable-valve timing (VVT) and multi-displacement system (MDS), which shuts four of the eight cylinders down at cruising speed for added fuel economy, has drawn plaudits from virtually every professional reviewer. With the standard five-speed automatic transmission, claims of 0–60 in under 7 seconds, though controversial, have nevertheless been stated for this potent Hemi V8. The EPA estimates 13/18 for the Hemi with rear-wheel drive and 13/17 with four-wheel drive, a marginal improvement over the Hemi-equipped 2008 Ram 1500.
Ride & Handling
The 2009 Ram 1500 features a brand-new and revolutionary coil-spring, multi-link rear suspension that has professional reviewers, owners, and the competition sitting up and taking notice. As the only full-size pickup in the market that eschews a leaf-spring rear end, the Ram 1500 has impressed everyone with its smooth ride and still-significant cargo and towing capabilities. Though the Ram 1500 lags somewhat behind Chevrolet's Silverado and Ford's F-150 in sheer hauling ability, as far as pure driving pleasure and comfort go, it has set a new standard for the market.
The new semi-floating rear axle and springs have been noted by a few reviewers to be a tad jittery on bumpy surfaces and have a noticeable tendency to jump around on the highway when empty. Though a truck-like ride is common with all pickups, the ’09 Ram 1500 is considered a trailblazer in smoothing out the road – or the trail.
The Dodge Ram 1500's ST and SLT trims come equipped with adequately sized 17-inch steel and aluminum wheels, and Laramies ride on standard 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels. The SLT Sport trim also features 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels, while the TRX package includes 17-inch all-terrain tires, skid plates, and a limited-slip differential for off-road potential, though at least one reviewer claims that the TRX package is simply not tough enough to venture too far off the road.
Cabin & Comfort
The significantly improved cabin in the ’09 Ram 1500 has inspired professional reviewers to new heights of descriptive phrasing – at least for a Dodge. More storage, comfier seats, quality design and materials, all while retaining the workman-like ambiance of the cab, have given the Ram 1500 a clear edge over its competitors.
The Ram 1500 ST trim for ’09 boasts such standard features as air-conditioning, an integrated Class III tow hitch, automatic-on headlights, a single-disc CD player with MP3 capability and four speakers, tilt-wheel steering, a trailer-sway control brake, and solar-tinted windows. SLTs add power windows and locks, heated power outside mirrors, 17-inch aluminum wheels, an overhead console, SIRIUS satellite radio, cruise control, and a sliding rear window. Laramies pile on leather upholstery, the bright Laramie grille, heated front seats and steering wheel, a 10-way power driver’s seat, six-way power-adjustable passenger seating, the UConnect hands-free communication system, a universal garage door opener, ParkSense rear backup system, power-adjustable pedals with driver memory, a six-disc CD changer with 506 watts and nine Alpine premium SurroundSound speakers, and the fold-flat load-floor storage.
Options for the ’09 Ram 1500 ST include the 4.7-liter V8 or 5.7-liter Hemi, each with the five-speed automatic, power accessories, remote start, heated outside mirrors, cruise control, the UConnect system, and a Class IV trailer hitch. The SLT, in addition to the TRX and Sport Packages, offers such options as the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, Bluetooth technology, a GPS navigation system, power-adjustable seats and pedals, a USB connector, and SIRIUS RealTime Traffic. Available for the ’09 Ram 1500 Laramie are such options as a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, the MyGIG multimedia system with navigation package, the ParkView rear backup camera system, and a rain-sensing power sunroof.
Nearly all owners and professional reviewers find the ’09 Ram 1500's instruments large and easily readable and controls well positioned and well marked. One professional reviewer finds the floor-mounted, aviation-style shifter especially noteworthy, and virtually all agree that Chrysler finally seems committed to improving driver and passenger comfort and convenience.
Standard safety features for the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 include four-wheel power disc brakes with ABS and brake assist, front multi-stage airbags, front side-impact airbags, supplemental side-curtain airbags, side-impact door beams, brake-park interlock, child-protection rear door locks, the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with traction control, trailer sway control, and hill-start assist. An Enhanced Accident Response System (EARS), standard on all ’09 Ram 1500 trims, shuts down the engine in the event of an accident and allows emergency personnel to locate the vehicle more quickly.
The SentryKey theft deterrent system is an available option with the ‘09 ST and SLT trims and comes as standard equipment on the Laramie. In addition, the ParkSense and ParkView rear backup systems are available for both the SLT and Laramie trim levels, but not with the ST.
As is common with full-size pickups, no crash test or rollover data is available for the '09 Ram 1500 from either the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
What Owners Think
Of course, owners are gaga over the re-born 2009 Ram 1500, starting with its aggressive forward-canted grille and stopping just short of its tailgate, which many owners find a bit too plain to bring up the rear of an otherwise outstanding exterior.
Storage space, especially the new BedBox, interior room, and comfortable seating impress owners; gas mileage does not. Styling and advanced technology wooed many owners, though some feel – except for those who find the 7.7-inch ground clearance a little too low for such a man-size truck - that the Ram 1500 ought to come with standard running boards.
Nearly all owners found the acceleration of the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 downright awesome, and the improved ride and handling of the ’09 Ram 1500 is a definite hit.
Despite the downsized Crew Cab, several owners still find the ’09 Ram 1500 too big to fit in the garage. Most, however, accept the Ram 1500's regal stature as part of its king-size charm. More than a few owners, though, were not impressed with the newly-shortened, 5-foot-7-inch bed now standard on the Crew Cab.
The bottom line for owners, a few of whom have switched from G.M. and Ford, is that they now have a work truck that doesn’t drive like a work truck.
Have Laptop, Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.
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