Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie: Spring Forward?

January 14, 2010
blankimage.pngSpring Forward: Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie

 

Dodge's new crew cab 4X4 offers truckers innovative storage compartments called RamBoxes and a new rear coil-spring suspension attached to the vehicle's box-frame with stout car-like control rods.  The result:  side panel and below-the-floor storage spaces aplenty and a ride quality that unlike that smothers you in comfort.  In fact, body-to-frame mounts (some are tuned) and elegant independent front suspension arms tame body quivers that formerly only Dramamine cured. 

List price for the Laramie treatment, which includes heated steering wheel, is $45,000.

 

The interior is improved but still has many plastic cutlines; gratuitous faux-wood, chrome or cloth treatments; a cockeyed dashboard; loose carpeting and awkward column-mount automatic transmission controls.  Compared with other Chrysler products, the new Ram's power window switches and its various dash knobs are amply sized.  Unfortunately, the cruise control stalk and tiny radio buttons need refinement.  Although Chrysler claims handling is improved, you wouldn't know that from the over-boosted power steering.  Yet, find choppy pavement and you'll discover this truck follows your intended path very well.

 

Quad cab describes this vehicle's useful seating capacity, which ads inaccurately depict as suitable for six happy, full-size campers.  For example, heads bang against the center rear dome light turning that bench seat's middle perch into kids space.  And there's precious little toe room below the double-door glove box.  Nonetheless, front and rear outboard positions are adult rated.

Deeply recessed under the bulging hood is Dodge's 5.7-liter Hemi, which it calls a 390-hp Hotspot.  Its swift, when you floor it.  The five-speed automatic and selectable all-wheel-drive cooperative.  Ironically, when you use a light foot, the propulsion system shudders, transmission hunts and engine throbs.  It feels under powered.  A tiny fuel-saver indicator lights up, which shows deactivation of the V8s cylinders.  Measured overall fuel consumption:  12 mpg.  EPA estimates are 13 city and 18 highway.

As with other full-size pickups, this one chews up real estate.  You'd  think you could post a vacancy sign beside each fender due to airy expanses under its sheet metal.  Yet, in this big-box world, the new Dodge is an interesting package.

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