- The Washington Times - Friday, September 26, 2008

Dodge has a new crew-cab truck they’ll use to ram into the leaders of the pickup truck market segment market. Appropriately, it’s the all-new 2009 Ram.

Trucks only compose about 11 percent of the market, but they bring in big revenue to Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota. The Ram could very well become the Number 1 seller in the crew-cab segment of the pickup market.

There are several reasons that Chrysler Group, LLC expects the 2009 Dodge Ram to do well in sales. It’s the first pickup to offer ride and handling that are superior to other pickup trucks, due to new coil-springs front and rear, a five-link rear suspension fitted to solid rear axle, plus a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine that produces the best-in-class 370 horsepower and 407 pounds-feet of torque. It is the most comfortable pickup I’ve ever driven.

The Dodge Ram four-door Crew Cab has the bold “big rig” design, but it’s expressed with greater refinement. The grille leans forward expressing the Ram’s “head-down ready to charge attitude.” The chrome bumpers are big and wrap around the body sides on both the front and back. Also the gaps between the bumper and grille and fenders have been tightened to reduce wind noise. Ram also sports chrome dual exhaust - something that is a visual standout on a pickup truck.

The 2009 Ram is priced at $22,170 for the Regular Cab; $25,225 for the Quad Cab; and $32,630 for the Ram Crew Cab, which includes the $900 destination.

The step-in height on the all-new pickup is comparatively lower and behind the crew cab is a 5-foot 7-inch box. On each side of the box are two storage compartments that could be used to store tools - or anything. And because it has a drain plug, it could be filled with ice to store cold drinks. The box can be divided into various size compartments.

The tailgate is designed with a built-in spoiler to smooth airflow over the rear of the truck for both improved aerodynamics and fuel economy.

The interior is very refined for 2009 with rich, soft materials. The interior of the Ram Laramie, for example, features a full-width contrasting stitch on the soft instrument panel. It also has a soft feel on the seat bolsters and armrest, and clean-looking one-piece molded door panels.

The airflow comes out of “Venetian style” outlets with chrome accents. And there is plenty of storage space throughout the four-door cab — including the clamshell center armrest. I’m told there are 42 storage options in all.

Towing a boat or trailer home could very well be the concern of a potential buyer. When putting this pickup to work, the Ram tester can handle a payload of 1,850 pounds and can tow up to 9,100 pounds. In addition to being a workhorse, Dodge expects the Ram will appeal to buyers who are looking for space, second-row seating options, ride comfort, nimble handling, ease of use and overall versatility.

In regard to safety, the Ram covers this area quite well. The pickup is well equipped and includes Brake Assist for panic braking conditions. It has a Brake/Park Interlock to prevent the automatic transmission from shifting out of park unless the brake pedal is applied.

The Ram has an Electronic Stability Program, a crash energy absorbing steering column, crumple zone construction. Standard airbag protection, including head-impact protection.

So the race is on for gaining top spot in the pickup truck market. And I think the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram is set to ram the market head on.

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