Shopping for a new Dodge Ram?
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Pulls strongly from a stop
No longer rides and handles like the usual sort of truck
ride quality is vastly improved
Car and Driver
The 2010 Ram 1500 excels in style-and in performance.
Three engines are offered, and the base 3.7-liter V-6 is to be avoided. It's a coarse, wheezy engine, and with 215 horsepower, it's hardly powerful enough to move the Ram with any authority. Add on fuel economy of 14/20 mpg, and there's almost nothing except its low price to justify it over the 310-hp, 4.7-liter V-8, which gets about the same fuel economy of 14/19 mpg. Cars.com reports the base engine makes "235 pounds-feet of torque," while the mid-grade V-8 produces "330 pound-feet of torque," which reveals how unflattering the comparison can be. Even so, the Detroit News says "the truck does provide a significant savings in overall prices, so the difference would be evident quickly in the pocketbook."
The Ram is at its best with the top engine, the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8. It flares off 390 hp but burns fossil fuel at just a 14/20 mpg clip, better even than the smaller V-8. (Automatic-equipped, 2WD versions are compared here; for more detail see TheCarConnection.com's specs pages.) If price is no object, the HEMI is the way to go. Cars.com calls it "the big dog engine," and Edmunds says it can "generate a claimed time to 60 mph of less than 6.0 seconds." Car and Driver confirms "it ¬accelerates forcefully and pulls race or boat trailers easily," and Autoblog raves "we were thrilled with the Ram's straight-line acceleration, and the roar of the legendary HEMI caused us to test its limits often."
The Ram suffers a bit in the transmission checklist; both Ford and Chevrolet/GMC offer six-speed automatics on their full-size trucks, while the Ram's best bet is the five-speed automatic in the HEMI V-8. Automobile says the V-6 models get "four-speed gearboxes," another strike against them. The Dodge Ram 1500 is available in either two- or four-wheel-drive versions as well. Edmunds reviewers add that optional towing gears are available "because the new Ram still uses a five-speed automatic," whereas "a truck with a six-speed can offer high towing capacity without forcing the customer to buy and live with a less economical rear end." The transmissions all come ready to work, according to Jalopnik, mentioning that they feature a "'Tow/Haul' mode, which changes the shift points higher up in the rev range." On the street, "the Ram's five-speed automatic falls one cog short of the competition, but we really didn't want for an extra gear," Autoblog comments. "The automatic provided smooth, predictable shifts, and when pushed hard cut through gears plenty fast enough for any sporty pickup."
When it comes to driving and hauling, the 2010 Ram proves to be a marked improvement over the last version, and at least the equal of the Ford and GM trucks. ConsumerGuide asserts that although "Ram is far too large and prone to cornering lean to be called nimble," they suggest that "car-like is not a stretch" when it comes to handling. A new stiff chassis and a new rear coil suspension loosen up the Ram's ride, which now feels better controlled than any of the competitors. It's "vastly improved," Car and Driver remarks. This is easily the best-riding truck Dodge has ever produced; Autoblog concurs, saying, "The Ram drives like a well-heeled wagon, soaking up bumps in the road and delivering a glassy-smooth ride reminiscent of a Lincoln Town Car." The steering is quick but rather numb and not as full of feedback as the chassis really deserves. The Detroit News gripes that the "steering needs more feedback." Jalopnik reports "braking was delivered confidently and the ABS feedback was smooth" during their tests, but Edmunds comments on its test truck's "mediocre braking performance."
In the full-size pickup numbers game, Dodge claims its 10,450-pound towing rating is the best in its class, but it hasn't really disclosed the changes necessary to achieve the new ratings. Dodge also announced that the gross vehicle weight rating on some HEMI-powered, long-bed trucks has improved from 14,000 to 15,500 pounds. The Detroit News claims "when towing various size trailers on a short loop, the Hemi-powered Ram acted as if nothing was attached to the rear." Jalopnik agrees, finding that "even up a massive 7.2% grade...the Dodge pulls like a freight train." With the two new ratings, the carmaker claims the Ram is the most capable light-duty truck on the planet, though the Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra are within a reasonable margin of error on either rating.
The 2010 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.