2010 Ram 1500 New Car Test Drive
The Dodge Ram 1500 is Chrysler's entry in the traditional American full-size pickup truck market. While it offers the expected full range of configurations, features, and options, in some important areas the Ram is significantly different from its competitors. Also, it no longer carries the Dodge nameplate, as one of the changes brought on by the reorganization of Chrysler is that the Dodge brand is now assigned to the passenger cars and the trucks are under the Ram brand name. So, from now on it is just Ram.
The Ram 1500 is available in the expected configurations: Regular Cab, Quad Cab (think of it as an extended version of an extended cab, with the rear doors hinged at their front edges), and a full four-door Crew Cab. There are three available engines: A 3.7-liter V6 of 215 horsepower, a 4.7-liter V8 of 310 horsepower, and the famous 5.7-liter Hemi of 390 horsepower. The V6 is fitted with a four-speed automatic transmission and the two V8s have a five-speed automatic. The V6 is available with two-wheel drive only, but the two V8s are available with either two- or four-wheel drive.
On the outside the Ram 1500 carries the familiar big-rig look started by Dodge. On the inside it is full of interesting features. It's an American full-size pickup truck, but it is different in several ways from its most likely competitors, the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The interior has its own flavor and offers several interesting amenities, and the cargo box has some unique features. Underneath, where for decades pickup trucks have had live axles with leaf springs, the Ram's live axle is suspended by coil springs and it is located by four trailing links and a lateral track bar. And then there's the availability of the powerful Hemi engine.
For 2010 there are only minimal changes. There is a slightly higher Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR), with the V6 engine there is a fuel-saver indicator, all engines have a deceleration fuel shutoff for improved economy, there is an available integrated trailer-brake controller, and a few other details of trim or options.
The 2010 Ram comes in ST, SLT, Sport, TRX, and Laramie trim levels. Special edition models, such as Big Horn and Lone Star, are regional offerings and primarily cosmetic or packaging changes. (The heavy-duty Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups are covered in a separate NewCarTestDrive.com review.) Cab choices include a Regular Cab with short (6.3 feet) or long (8 feet) bed, four-door Quad Cab with short bed, and the Crew Cab with a short bed.
A V6 and four-speed automatic are standard on 2WD Regular and Quad Cabs, the 4.7-liter V8 and five-speed automatic on virtually everything else. The 5.7-liter V8 Hemi is offered across the board. No manual transmissions are offered.
Ram ST models ($20,610-$31,370) are workhorses, with standard vinyl floor and manual windows, although they do include chrome bumpers and grille outline, air conditioning, ABS, CD player, variable intermittent wipers, locking tailgate, Sentry Key and, on 4WD, electric-shift. Options include chrome wheels, two-tone paint, cruise control, trailer mirrors, limited-slip differential and alternate axle ratios, sliding rear window, and Sirius radio.
Ram SLT models ($24,855-$34,240) upgrade with carpet floor covering, floor mats, 40/20/40 split-bench seat, overhead console, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, heated mirrors and 17-inch painted aluminum wheels. Options include the 5.7-liter V8, RamBox Cargo Management System, on-demand transfer case for low-range 4WD, power sunroof, power-adjustable pedals, 10-speaker Alpine Surround Sound, UConnect/navigation system and hands-free communication system with Bluetooth technology, Sirius Backseat TV radio, low-back bucket seats with cloth upholstery, ten-way power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear defroster, and 20-inch aluminum wheels.
The Ram TRX ($25,405-$35,370) has SLT-level trim with some notable exceptions. The TRX features electric-shift transfer case on 4WD models, unique shocks and ride height, 17-inch aluminum wheels and a full-size spare tire, heavy-duty vinyl floor covering, cloth 40/20/40 split-bench front seat, folding rear bench seat, tilt steering column, remote keyless entry and standard two-tone paint. Pay extra for an engine block heater, power-sliding rear window, heated power folding mirrors, bedliner, 3.92:1 axle ratio, limited-slip differential, Tip Start, cruise control, and UConnect Studios Sirius Satellite Radio. The Ram Sport ($29,740-$38,475) is available in all three cab styles and is labeled Sport R/T on the Regular Cab. It adds a 5.7-liter Hemi, slate-gray contrast-stitched bucket seats, body-color fascia, fog lamps and 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels. R/T models use a 4.10:1 rear axle for superior acceleration but will still tow 5000 pounds. Options mirror those on the SLT. The Ram Laramie ($36,880-$42,650) is the top of the line, with leather heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, chromed door handles and mirrors, and security alarm. Extra-cost features include 20-inch aluminum wheels, sunroof, navigation and rear-seat entertainment. Safety features include dual front multi-stage airbags, three-point belts in all seating positions with constant-force retractors, LATCH child-seat anchors, child-protection rear door locks, electronic stability/traction control and four-wheel anti-lock brakes. Full side-curtain airbags for four-doors, back-up camera, and rear park sensors are optional.