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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Feb 7, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz


The all-new 2009 Dodge Ram pickup truck is once again breaking away from the competition with innovation that brings the Ram pickup truck to new, higher levels of performance, comfort, convenience, versatility, high-technology and safety not seen before in the segment. Even with the 35 percent drop in sales for the segment, pickup trucks are a large part of the automotive marketplace and will continue to be so with sales around one-million units a year. Dodge has taken the bull by the horns and completely changed the playing field with its all-new Ram. All-new Ram innovations include the first-in-segment coil-spring, multi-link rear suspension fitted to a solid axle providing ride and handling capabilities like a sedan; all-new bold, powerful, 'get-out-of-the-way' exterior styling with a new, more aggressive 'grille-forward' design and first-in-segment chrome-tipped dual exhaust styled dramatically into the rear bumper; best-in-class aerodynamics with an estimated co-efficient of drag of 0.419; Ram's first-ever crew-size cab giving Dodge an entry into the largest segment and fastest-growing (50 percent) part of the market; new 5.7 liter HEMI V8 provides more horsepower-380-and 404lb.ft. of torque, with increased fuel economy (up to four percent); new interiors with premium seating, soft-touch materials, redesigned controls, floor console with shifter, and nearly double the storage options.

In addition, there are more than 35 new or improved features, including industry-first RamBox cargo management system (crew-size cab) with a versatile, weatherproof, lockable, illuminated and drainable storage bins built into the bed rails, a pickup bed divider/2-foot bed extender, and a cargo rail system with four sliding, adjustable cleats, with the RamBox holding up to 10-cases of 12 ounce beverages, or other gear for work or leisure; first-in-the segment 'store in the floor' storage bins, hidden under the rear 40/20/40 split folding bench seat, with removable liners big enough for 10 more 12-ounce beverages and ice; first-in-segment heated and ventilated front seats, rear heated seats, a heated steering wheel is a first for any Chrysler vehicle; first-in-segment live SIRIUS Backseat TV; first-in-segment surround-sound audio system; more than 30 safety features, including standard ABS and Electronic Stability Control with Hill Start Assist and Trailer Sway Control. Driving the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram Crew Cab is a pleasure, with greater power and the new rear suspension geometry, and more comfortable front seats with added side bolstering. The redesigned interior is more ergonomic and versatile with new storage options and convenience features. Dodge also tapped into the high-tech realm with the latest in automotive communication and entertainment systems. The all-new look is more contemporary and aggressive, starting with a redesigned aluminum hood with a large power bulge, and a forward-canted, cross-hair, chrome grille that imparts a 'head down', ready to charge attitude. The new larger headlamp clusters are integrated into the front of the fenders and sit behind clear lenses. The front and rear chrome bumpers wrap around each body side to give it a seamless look, and feature integral fog-lamps. In the rear the taillight clusters are larger while the chrome bumper on HEMI-equipped models is radiused over chrome dual exhaust tips spread at the sides. From the side is a sleek silhouette of a sweptback windshield, aero-styled, power-remote, heated, side-view mirrors, and side sills that are pulled down to cover the frame rails for a more premium appearance. The fender wells are stuffed with optional 20X9 wheels wrapped with 275/60R20 radial tires, and available in three styles. The front and rear Ram badges are larger and three-dimensional, rather than decals, and are designed to stand out. There is nothing on the market that can overtake the new bolder styling of the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500. Among the numerous segment-exclusive features in the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram are two that aren't readily visible, yet certainly help the new Ram stand out from the competition. One is the new 5.7 liter HEMI V8 engine and the other is the rear multi-link, coil spring suspension.

While the all-new engine maintains key architectural features that make 'HEMI' synonymous with power, new key features are optimized to improve engine breathing, while new technologies have been added to maximize and improve fuel economy and refinement. These include variable valve timing (VVT), expanded operating range of the Multiple Displacement System (MDS), increased compression ratio, active intake manifold with long runners for low-end torque and short runners for high-rpm power, improved cylinder head port flow efficiency and a reduced-restriction exhaust and induction system. The result is improved idle quality and overall refinement, more horsepower: 380 - up from 340 horsepower. And 404 pound-feet of torque - up from 375. The new HEMI-equipped Dodge Ram R/T regular cab 4X2 can accelerate to 60 mph from a standstill in just 6.1 seconds. Also available is a 4.7 liter V8 that uses (like the HEMI) two spark plugs per cylinder, and leverages increased compression ratio, improved cylinder head port flow, and a new slant/squish combustion system designed to substantially increase fuel economy, power and torque. It generates 310 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. All 2009 Rams come standard with a 3.7 liter Magnum V6 engine, generating 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. Mated to the new HEMI V8 is the smooth-shifting, 545RFE five-speed automatic transmission. It is a fully electronically-controlled transmission containing three planetary gear sets that provide a wide ratio capability for optimum performance. It also offers a tow-haul mode that balances engine speed and load conditions, which improves performance and fuel economy, while reducing engine noise during towing or heavy hauling. This transmission is optional on the 4.7 liter V8, which comes standard with the 42RLE four-speed transmission. The 3.7 liter equipped Rams come standard with a Getrag 238 manual transmission. The 42RLE transmission is optional. Two transfer cases are available on all 2009 Dodge Ram 4X4s, the NVG 243, which enables part-time 4X4 drive operation with a two-speed gear system; and the NVG 246, which enables an on-demand 4X4 drive system, also with a two-speed gear system. Both transfer cases are engaged with a dash-mounted switch, and both feature 2HI, 4HI, 4LO plus a neutral position. Driveshafts are upgraded for increased quality, durability and reliability. The new Ram's driveshafts now incorporate 1350 series universal joints, two-piece thrust washers with triple-lip seats, and improved journal cross strength.

The most important all-new item on the Ram is the industry-first multi-link coil spring rear suspension geometry. Everyone said it couldn't be done but Dodge did it and it is a pleasure when driving fast, slow, around curves, in slow city traffic, and when traveling at high- speeds on the freeway. It provides improved ride and handling characteristics with no loss of capability. A rear coil-spring setup centralizes and absorbs bumps and impacts, while reducing the amount of friction in the spring system unlike a leaf spring setup. It also weighs 40 pounds less than a leaf spring setup. Up front is an independent setup with upper and aluminum lower 'A' arms, coil-spring over twin-tube gas-charged shocks, and a thick stabilizer bar. The all-new rear setup features 5-links, coil springs, twin-tube gas-charged shocks, stabilizer bar and a solid axle. The rear shock absorbers are forward-facing and positioned on the outside of the frame for enhanced damping. Shocks are tuned for optimum balance in order to reduce ride harshness and provide more of an absorbent feel. The feel from the cockpit is a more solid, planted feel straight-ahead at speed, and solid tracking heading into and exiting corners. The power-assisted rack & pinion steering is standard and gives a pretty good feel for the road but it felt a little 'over-boosted' at speed on the freeway. The HEMI model should get a 'performance' steering gear to give it more weight at high-speeds. With 380 horsepower and 400+ pound-feet of torque, the Ram Crew Cab 4X2 that I tested is very fast, with a very quick launch in first gear. More efficiently putting the power to the ground is an optional helical-gear limited-slip rear axle. The limited-slip function instantaneously divides torque between the rear wheels in proportion to the traction available to each wheel. It is, however, consistently smooth when turning corners because it responds only to variations in traction. The independent front and rear multi-link coil-spring suspensions provide sport-sedan handling characteristics but doesn't give up anything in terms of payload or trailer-towing capability. After all, coil-spring setups are commonly used in heavy-duty applications including semi-trailers and railroad cars. The new Ram is capable of handling a payload of 1,850 pounds and towing up to an estimated 9,100 pounds. A range of wheels is available among the various 2009 Dodge Ram models, from a 17X8 stamped steel standard wheel size on ST models, to 20X9 aluminum wheels available on SLT, Sport and Laramie models. A full-size spare tire and wheel assembly is standard on all Ram models.

Quickly and safely slowing the all-new Ram from speed are large, 4-wheel power-assisted disc brakes, the largest standard sizes in the industry. Up front are 13.2-inch vented rotors clamped with dual-piston calipers, while 13.8-inch solid disc in the rear are clamped with single-piston calipers. Braking distance and control is enhanced with standard ABS and an electronic stability program. Keeping all of the new power and handling in harmony is a new, improved, low-torsion frame design that contributes to stability and handling precision while decreasing noise, vibration and harshness. Two frame lengths are available: 120 and 140 inches. Portions of the frame are hydroformed for dimensional accuracy and the side rails are fully boxed. The front section frame section incorporates advanced, high-strength steel that maintains overall strength and durability while saving approximately 30 pounds. The rear section of the new Ram's frame is all-new and supports the new multi-link coil-spring suspension. Also new for 2009 are redesigned tow-hook brackets (4X4 only). Well, Dodge has done it again, innovating and modernizing the full-size pickup truck that is fast, comfortable and exciting to drive, plus it can take care of any of your cargo hauling or towing needs. You'll be doing all of your driving behind the wheel of a dramatic, all-new interior that is more comfortable, ergonomic and convenient than before. The first thing you'll notice is a renewed emphasis on craftsmanship expressed in premium interior appointments including six-ring instrument cluster, soft, leather-trimmed seats with 10-way driver, six-way passenger power adjusting seats, power lumbar adjustment and two-driver memory setting, redesigned controls with chrome accents, and two-tone upholstery. An automatic transmission floor shifter, incorporated into a configurable center console is optional for the first time in a Ram. All 2009 Dodge Ram interiors are significantly upgraded with 'soft-touch' materials that feature industry-first two-tone technology and premium fit and finish. Full-width contrasting stitching is offered on soft-touch instrument panels for Sport and Laramie models.

Other premium amenities include first-in-segment heated and cooled front seats, optional rear heated seats, first-for-Dodge heated steering wheel, one-touch up/down front windows, variable intermittent windshield wipers/washers, automatic-on headlamps, and dual-zone automatic climate control. There are grab handles at each wide-opening door for easy entry and exit, a beefy and tilting leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear power sliding window, 115-volt auxiliary power outlet, traveler mini trip computer, temperature and compass readouts, overhead console with dual map lamps and sunglass holder. Convenient driving features include remote starting system, cruise-control, remote keyless entry, and power down locks. Like I said earlier, you would think that you are riding in a large sedan, but this Ram has lots of interior storage starting with the segment-first innovation utilizing a pair of 'store in the floor' bins with removable liners. There are many other convenient storage locations throughout including a large upper and lower glove box, map pockets in door panels along with deep storage slots, and a two-tiered center storage bin that can easily hold a portable computer and power it up with a 12-volt power plug inside. The rear seating area has air-ducts located on the floor at the end of each front seat bottom, and two air-ducts behind the center console. The technically sophisticated, yet simple-to-navigate electronic and infotainment choices include MyGIG Multimedia infotainment System with 30-gigabyte hard drive, U-connect phone and U-connect tunes, navigation system, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with wireless headphone and wireless remote available only in the Quad Cab and Crew Cab models. Also available is first-in-segment live SIRIUS Backseat TV and segment-first surround-sound audio from Alpine with 9-speakers and rear under-seat mounted subwoofer. Also optional is the one-touch power sliding sunroof. On the safety and security front, the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram offers more than 30 active and passive safety features including standard front and rear side-curtain airbags, front supplemental airbags, enhanced accident response system, alarm system with horn warning, knee bolsters, puddle lamps under each sideview mirror and door bottom, seat-belt pre-tensioners up front, BeltAlert system, adjustable pedals, ParkSense Rear Park Assist and ParkView Rear Back-up Camera. The all-new 2009 Dodge Ram has again broken through barriers that were said to be impossible in a powerful, rugged, full-size pickup truck than looks like a sleek big rig yet drives like a premium full-size sedan with a large cargo box in the rear. I was greatly impressed with what Dodge has done to the all-new Ram. If a pickup truck is in your future, you will be impressed as well when you take it on a test drive.

© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz For more information about Dodge products, go to More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at  SUMMARY JUDGMENT Recession notwithstanding, Dodge has a sure-fire best seller in the form of the Ram.

SPECIFICATIONS Name: 2009 Dodge Ram Crew 1500 Laramie Price: $40,020.00/$45,300.00 as tested EPA mileage: 14 mpg/city, 20 mpg/highway Engine: 5.7 liter HEMI MDS VCT Engine Horsepower: 380 hp at 5,600 rpm Torque: 404 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear wheel drive or AWD Transmission: 6-speed automatic/6-speed manual Front suspension: Independent, upper aluminum & lower aluminum A arms, coil springs over twin-tube shocks, stabilizer bar Rear suspension: 5-links, coil springs, stabilizer bar, twin-tube shocks, solid axle Wheels/tires: 20X9in. aluminum wheels/275/60R20in. all-season radial tires as tested Brakes: Front: 13.2 in. vented discs, dual-piston calipers Rear: 13.8 in. vented discs, single-piston calipers Total length: 229 in. Total width: 79.4in. Total height: 75.1 in. Curb weight: Approximately 5,300 lbs./4X2, 5,350 lbs. 4X4  

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