- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2009

Dodge set out redefine the truck segment with the new 2009 Ram. The changes are from head to toe, inside and outside and have gotten noticed.

For Dodge, it’s a feather in the cap to be honored with Interior of the Year by Ward magazine. After all, the Dodge Ram is all about brawn and honest work performance for the “Git R Done” trucker. So to be recognized for building the most compelling interior in the truck segment shows how deep Dodge went when re-thinking the entire Dodge Ram for the 2009 model.

The Ram is the first model to come out of the automaker’s new Advance Interior Design Studio, which focused on craftsmanship for the 2009 truck with an emphasis in premium interior appointments, as well as seating with bolsters and two-tone upholstery. In honoring the Ram with the Interior of the Year, Ward cites, “The saddle stitching on the seats and instrument panel make a wonderful styling statement, as do the upscale instrument gauges.”

The Ram has also been named by Consumer Guide magazine as a “Best Buy for 2009,” citing the truck’s “composed ride, impressively comfortable and quiet cabin and unique cargo storage features.”

For example, the 2009 Dodge Ram pickup meets an unmet demand in the owner’s life: The ability to hold 240 cans of his or her favorite 12-ounce beverages. Kidding aside (but it does hold that many cans), the new RamBox is a dry, lockable storage unit integrated into the sidewall of the pickup bed.

Dodge truck development executives say the 2009 pickup features the RamBox to secure - and safely carry - the work and hobby possessions of tradesmen, craftsmen, sportsmen, fitness enthusiasts and outdoorsmen. The RamBox can carry fishing rods, golf clubs, kayak paddles, and of course tool boxes and chain saws. The RamBox features two storage bins that run the length of the pickup bed and are weatherproof, lockable, drainable and illuminated.

On the outside, I have to credit Dodge for its fierce front end punctuated by a huge, intimidating chrome grille. On my Ram SLT Crew Cab, the grille is canted forward in a head-down design, such as how a real ram of the animal kingdom would position its head in aggressive, running forward motion. Pronounced power bulges on the hood emphasize the muscle that’s underneath.

Ram is offered in a comprehensive lineup of body styles, in 2WD and 4WD with a selection of 3.7-liter V-6, 4.7-liter V-8 and 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engines. The test truck, with a base price of $34,850, featured the Hemi.

The new Dodge gets a 5.7-liter Hemi with Multiple Displacement that cuts off cylinders that are not needed on the sustained highway runs. The Hemi develops 360 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 407 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. The Crew Cab, which seats five to six passengers, has a trailering capacity of 8,400 pounds and a payload of 1,360 pounds. Fitted with the standard 17-inch, or optional 20-inch tires, the turning circle curb-to-curb is 45 feet.

Though the Hemi has cylinder deactivation, the EPA fuel economy is not impressive. The 4WD tester had ratings of 13 miles per gallon city and 18 mpg highway. The base model truck with the 3.7-liter V-6 is rated at 14/20 mpg.

Ahead for 2010, Dodge is looking to build the new Ram 1500 Hybrid pickup. The automaker estimates the hybrid pickup will have up to a 40 percent improved fuel economy in the city and 25 percent in combined driving. The hybrid system will be the same that is being used in the Aspen and Durango Hybrid SUVs.

It is returning to the lineup in the new 2010 Corvette Grand Sport model. It combines the Corvette’s LS3-based powertrain with unique, wide-body styling and a racing-bred suspension for a distinctive model that delivers a great balance of road and race-track performance. It is offered in both coupe and convertible body styles, with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The LS3 6.2L engine is rated at 430 horsepower and 424 lb.-ft. of torque. An optional two-mode exhaust system elevates the power ratings to 436 horses and 428 lb.-ft. Source: General Motors

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