With the arrival of Toyota's all-new Tundra on the scene, Dodge is at least entertaining the possibility that its solid third place in half-ton truck sales might be threatened for the first time... ever. Enter the 2009 Dodge Ram, caught here for the first time being tested. These mules are the real deal, reports Mike Levine at Pickuptruck.com, not like the ones that have been caught in the past with the truck's new nose grafted onto the current truck's body. Of course, that nose is as obnoxiously large as ever, a Ram trademark since the truck's highly successful redesign back in 1994.

We've also got new engine news to report. Seems the popular 5.7L HEMI may get variable valve timing and grow in displacement to achieve a simultaneous increase in both power and fuel efficiency. The 4.7L base V8 will also get a 30% increase in power and 10% increase in torque, again accompanied by an increase in fuel efficiency. Look for Chrysler's new Phoenix family of V6 engines to donate a motor for the Ram, as well, possibly with cylinder deactivation so save fuel. Finally, as we reported a while back, a new Cummins light-duty diesel V8 is still being developed for the new Ram, as well.

[Source: Pickuptruck.com]