Performance » 8
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
The Ram's five-speed automatic falls one cog short of the competition, but we really didn't want for an extra gear.
Without a load, this truck is one of the smoothest riding vehicles in its class.
In performance testing, a 4WD 5.7-liter V8-powered crew cab model went from zero to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds.
The Ram's coil-spring rear suspension improves ride quality and reduces rear-end freeway hop when driving around with an unloaded bed, making the Ram perhaps the best truck on the market when it comes to hauling nothing but air.
Even when hitched to a 7000-pound enclosed car hauler, the truck tracks impressively straight.
As good as it looks, the Ram 1500 performs even better--though the coarse, wheezy 215-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 is to be avoided. The other two engines in the lineup are solid performers, however, with a 4.7-liter V-8 rated at 310 horsepower and a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 good for 390 horsepower.
Sport, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn models all come standard with the 5.7-liter HEMI engine, while the Outdoorsman and SLT come with the 4.7-liter V-8 standard. The ST is the only model that has the asthmatic 3.7-liter V-6 as standard equipment, but both can be upgraded to the 4.7-liter engine.
The Ram shines brightest with the HEMI under the hood, scoring 13/19 mpg, but never wanting for power or torque, but not coming cheaply, either. You won't find six-speed automatic transmissions in the Ram like you will with the competition; the five-speed paired with the HEMI is the best bet. All Ram models feature cylinder deactivation to improve fuel economy when cruising at highway speeds.
Hauling and driving are the strong suits of the Ram, with a stiff chassis and rear coil suspension providing a better, more controlled ride than its competitors--and better than any previous Dodge truck. Steering is quick, but numb and devoid of feedback--to be expected in a full-size pickup, but somehow less than the chassis deserves. A 10,450-pound tow rating puts the Ram right near the front of the class, though new 2011 models from Ford and Chevy have taken things slightly farther.
The 2011 Dodge Ram 1500 is probably the best-performing full-size truck you can buy, and there's every reason to choose the big HEMI V-8.