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2010 Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 ReviewThe Good
The 2010 Ram 1500 earns high marks for its brawny looks and sophisticated interior, and its ride and handling are excellent, courtesy of its class-leading coil-spring rear suspension.The Bad
The lack of a six-speed automatic gearbox hampers fuel economy and limits payload versatility for the 2010 Ram 1500, and the highly anticipated hybrid and light diesel versions seem to be perpetually delayed.
The CarGurus View
Fresh off last year’s full revamp, the Ram 1500 (the Dodge moniker has been dropped) boasts a higher maximum towing capacity for 2010, along with an integrated trailer brake controller and larger mirrors to make heavy hauling easier. Still a class-leading design, the Ram impresses with its bold styling, powerful optional engines, and a functional yet stylish interior. Its revolutionary suspension design is unmatched by the competition and sets a new standard for ride comfort in the full-size pickup market.
At a Glance
Long considered an also-ran in the highly lucrative full-size truck market, the Ram has steadily increased its market share by offering buyers a tough, work-ready truck with style and attitude to match. The Ram was completely redesigned for the 2009 model year with an all-new chassis and interior, upping the ante in both functionality and comfort.
The Ram 1500 is available in a myriad of cab and bed styles with both six- and eight-cylinder gasoline engines. Regular Cab trims seat three and offer buyers either a 6-foot-4-inch bed or a full 8-foot version. Quad Cab trims gain a second set of doors and a rear bench that ups seating capacity to six (though the rear seat is not suitable for long drives) and are available only with the shorter bed. Those seeking maximum interior space will want the Crew Cab, which offers lounge-worthy rear legroom and a further truncated 5-foot-6-inch bed.
Offered in three trim levels, the Ram can be a bare-bones work truck, a leather-lined "Cowboy Cadillac," or anything in between. The base ST features vinyl upholstery and floor covering, a tilt steering wheel, air-conditioning, and 17-inch steel wheels. The midlevel SLT trim upgrades the steel wheels to aluminum and adds power accessories, keyless entry, cloth seats, and a power-sliding rear window. Optional RamBox storage bins in the sides of the bed are a nifty feature. The top-line Laramie trims transform the Ram into a luxurious, feature-laden workhorse with leather seats, 20-inch chrome wheels, remote start, and even a heated steering wheel.
Available with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or part-time four-wheel drive (4WD), the Ram offers buyers a choice of three different gas engines (the legendary Cummins diesel is available only in Heavy Duty models) and two transmissions.
The base engine (available only in RWD trims) is a 3.7-liter SOHC V6 with 12 valves. This unremarkable, gritty powerplant generates 210 hp and 235 lb/ft of torque. The V6 lacks the verve needed to move even an unladen Ram around with any alacrity; towing and/or serious hauling is best left to the larger engines. Even in the base configuration, the Ram V6 gets only 14 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway.
Standard on all 4WD variants is the latest version of the Magnum 4.7-liter V8 that produces 310 hp and a healthy 330 lb-ft of torque. This added power is a welcome addition; acceleration improves dramatically compared with the V6. Fuel economy with the V8 and RWD is a paltry 14 mpg city and 19 highway (with 4WD it drops to just 13/18 mpg).
Power junkies will want to step up to the legendary 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Delivering 390 hp and a whopping 407 lb/ft of torque, the Hemi shoves even the heaviest Laramie Crew Cab off the line with authority; 0-60 mph is yours in under 8 seconds. This engine also features variable valve timing and can run on four cylinders while cruising to improve fuel economy. These features, combined with the fact that the bigger engine doesn’t have to work as hard, means Hemi-equipped Rams offer better fuel efficiency than the 4.7-liter: 14/20 mpg.
Fully selectable 4WD is optional across the range and can of course be engaged on the fly. Both V8s are offered only with an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, and V6 models get a four-speed automatic. Properly equipped the Ram can tow 10,450 pounds and carry a 1,900-pound payload.
Ride & Handling
A first for the full-size segment, the Ram’s independent, coil-spring rear suspension was introduced in 2009 to much fanfare. More than marketing hype, this setup ditches the leaf spring, live axle rear suspension for a vastly more advanced multilink design that uses heavy-duty coil springs to shoulder the payload. This car-type design provides a greatly improved ride compared to every other full-size offering on the market. The Ram delivers a plusher ride than the competition, yet also offers more control, with only a small penalty in payload and towing capacity.
Braking is by discs at all four wheels with standard ABS control. The steering is more lifeless than most, even in this segment, and doesn’t provide the level of feel that its sophisticated suspension deserves. The chassis features fully boxed frame rails and certainly seems sufficiently beefy; those needing more should look to the Ram 2500 or 3500, which is also all new (though not equipped with the trick coil suspension).
Cabin & Comfort
In terms of cabin refinement the most recently redesigned pickup always seems to finish on top, and the new Rams are no exception. Stepping ahead of its Ford, Chevy, and Toyota competitors, the Ram offers softer-touch plastics and an inviting design. Even base ST versions get a nice-looking dash with an mp3-capable CD stereo and air conditioning. Up-market SLT trims take full advantage of the new design with comfy cloth chairs and a generous helping of all the convenience features today’s buyers expect. The top-line Laramie is rivaled only by Ford’s grandiose King Ranch F-150 and features acres of leather and convincing ersatz wood, plus optional navigation, rear seat DVD, and a back-up camera.
Regular cab trims feature a 40/20/40-split bench that seats three with plenty of shoulder room. Quad Cab models add two rear doors and a rear bench that seats three additional passengers in reasonable comfort, though legroom is a bit tight. The Crew Cab offers much improved rear legroom, enough that the even longer Mega Cab was made redundant and has been discontinued. Interior storage is excellent, with large map pockets, plenty of cupholders, and even under-seat storage in Quad and Crew Cabs. Even more cargo utility is provided by the RamBox, lockable compartments located in the bed sides that aim to replace ubiquitous metal toolboxes that take up valuable bed space.
With its strong frame and heavy curb weight, the Ram is a very safe place to be. Fitted with standard ABS brakes, dual front and curtain airbags, and stability control, the Ram scored well in both Federal and IIHS frontal crash tests. Side impact testing produced only a Marginal rating in the IIHS test, indicating a higher-than-average potential for injury. As with all large trucks and SUVs, rollovers are a significant concern, but the Ram's agile suspension should help keep the shiny side up.
What Owners Think
Comments from owners of the all-new Ram were almost universal in their praise for its aggressive styling. The comfy and spacious interior was also lauded, though some owners find the seats too mushy.
Owners love the Hemi V8, saying it delivers swift acceleration and surprisingly reasonable fuel mileage. Also highly regarded is the new suspension; most owners love the smooth ride and find the Ram very easy to handle for such a big truck.
However, some owners say the Ram 1500's rear end squats noticeably under heavy payloads; those who plan on significant towing should seriously consider a Ram 2500 or 3500.
by Jesse Berger
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