WEED HEIGHTS, Nevada — Four big and black Michelin LXT on/off-road tires spew desert sand rearward in our wake. We’re charging out of the gate for an acceleration test in a big Ram pickup, the full-size Dodge truck — and, in this instance, we’re testing a sure-footed four-wheel-drive system, a five-speed manual gearbox, and a humongous engine pulled along not by six, not by eight, but by 10 cylinders.
We work quickly through lower gears, hurling down an unpaved course, engine churning to exert massive torque on all wheels. The tires rebound in rapid-fire response to washboard rollers of the desert floor, as the driver holds his foot steady on the pedal to keep fuel flowing — and to see just what this thing can do on dirt.
Within minutes, the Ram deftly demonstrates that it's still the biggest with the mostest — it's got more space for people and cargo, more cab configurations, more strength from more engine options, and more macho guts than any other truck in the market.
It looks macho, too. You can tell in an instant that it's not some namby-pamby pickup whose styling imitates a car — simply check out that unique prow with a stair-step hood line and design cues lifted from streamlined Dodge workhorse trucks of the 1940s, not to mention cabs of big semis.
Built for business
And yet, from all appearances, there's no question that the Ram is built for business —mainly, truck-type business, like lugging lumber and pulling a trailer, herding cattle, hauling hay out to pasture or running up a range slope and plowing into wild country, back bed brimming with camping gear.
The Ram’s vital stats support the impression. It beats all comers with the most powerful production engine for a pickup; it outworks others with more towing and hauling capacity, then outmaneuvers them with a structural integrity and suspension system set for supporting heavy truckloads.