I've been keeping a keen eye on the developments surrounding the impending release of the 2009 Dodge Ram, the next generation of this popular pickup truck. Though the truck is the same size as its predecessor, Dodge has made a significant number of improvements that are certain to help buyers take notice.
Taking A Look Back
When the first Dodge Rams were introduced for the 1981 model year, its simple design fell short of what Ford and GM were offering with their F Series and Silverado/Sierra models. Never a good seller, the first generation truck soldiered on for thirteen years before it was redesigned to mimic a big rig look. That styling change along with numerous engineering and technology updates immediately doubled sales for the Ram, offering Ford and GM the stiffest competition to date.
Since 1994, the Ram has undergone two more updates including the fourth generation model which is now on sale. At its peak, more than 400,000 units were sold annually, though that number has sunk dramatically in the face of stiffer competition and, most recently, record high gas prices.
The 2009 Dodge Ram
The Ram's introduction comes at the worst time, but parent Chrysler LLC will have to make do with what they have. Introduced at this year's NAIAS (Detroit Auto Show), I had the opportunity to see a pre-production model up close and I liked what I saw. At that time, gas prices were hovering around $3 per gallon, but six months later prices topped $4 per gallon. In the ensuing months, every automaker was scrambling to find ways to push out existing products and to cut production. The Dodge Ram was no exception.
Though high gas prices are likely to adversely impact sales, for people who really need a new pickup truck (electricians, plumbers, contractors, outdoors enthusiasts, etc. ) the Ram is worth considering. The following are some of the improvements Chrysler LLC made with the 2009 Dodge Ram:
Safety - The safety list for the Dodge Ram just got longer and now includes side curtain airbags, stability control, and traction control as standard equipment.
Ride - Rear leaf springs might do, but they aren't a big contributor to passenger comfort. With its latest model, Dodge has replaced base technology with multi-link coil spring rear suspension to offer a smoother ride and to limit the all too common road bouncing drivers often experience with a pickup truck.
Engineering - If you need a big V8, the Ram doesn't disappoint. Its 5.7L V8 HEMI offers more power and torque for 2009, but through cylinder deactivation allows the burly Ram to see an improvement in fuel economy too. A smaller V8 and a V6 are also available; a diesel will be returning in 2009. Chrysler LLC has plans to offer a hybrid Ram in 2010.
Design - Less edgy than previous models, the Ram still offers a big truck look, with more refined edges. New for 2009 is a full blown crew cab model along with available cargo boxes which are part of the truck's bed rail.
Cabin - More comfortable seats and cleaner display read outs are nice improvements for the Ram. The optional U-Connect hands free communication system is a plus as is its rear seat DVD system. Lots of storage compartments are found throughout the cabin including places to put your cell phone, coffee cups, computer equipment, tools, and much more.
If In The Market For A Truck
Yes, only the dedicated pickup truck driver will be in the market for a new vehicle this year as both a tough economy and high gas prices weigh in. Still, if you're looking for a vehicle that is fresh and exciting, the 2009 Dodge Ram is worth considering.
Base MSRP for the standard Dodge Ram 1500 is $22,170. Crew, quad cab, and various package options can add an additional ten to twenty thousand dollars to the sticker price with fully loaded trucks costing upwards of $45,000.
Copyright 2008-2012 - Matthew C. Keegan is the owner of a successful writing and marketing business based in North Carolina, USA. He manages several websites and is a contributing writer for Andy's Auto Sport, a retailer of quality racing seats and tonneau covers .