Original parts are always a compromise, be they tires, drivetrains, or even bumpers. A factory front bumper needs to fend off small cars, look decent, and be mileage-friendly. Because of the latter, bumpers are usually quite close to the ground, which messes up the approach angle. And if there are heavier and bigger things in your pickup’s path than just pesky small cars, then the somewhat flimsy factory bumper doesn’t stand much of a chance.
A Tasteful Alternative
After a year of searching for a replacement bumper for this ’10 Hemi Dodge, Fred Williams one day pointed us towards Aluminess, a small Santee, California, company that builds aluminum replacement bumpers. Why aluminum, you ask? With today’s pickups having the front axle so far back, any weight added up front really impacts the ride and handling, and not in a good way. Aluminum allows for a strong bumper without the weight penalty. Aluminess offers both a gas and a diesel Ram aluminum winch bumper, but the gas bumper is more compact since it doesn’t need to clear the charge air cooler.
On our quest for an increased approach angle, getting a really big box (118 cubic feet, to be exact) wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Luckily the size was only because Aluminess wanted to package the bumper extremely well. Without all the 2x4s, cardboard, and the pallet, the bumper itself only weighed 1.8 pounds more than the stocker. Combined with their respective bracketry, the Aluminess outweighed the stocker by 4.4 pounds, and that includes a grille guard and stout front receiver.
At only 12 inches off the ground the Dodge factory bumper does help keep air from ending up under the vehicle, which helps with mileage, but it kills the approach angle. According to our measurements the angle increased by a whopping 50 percent—from 20 to 30 degrees. That alone could be worth the price of admission on a trail-driven pickup. That the Aluminess version is also a heck of a lot stouter is helpful no matter where you drive. It was primarily the frequent deer and elk encounters that made us look for something more protective for the Dodge’s nose. It always was one according to the emblems, but now it actually can ram, and live to tell about it.
In a Few Words
Good: Lightweight yet strong, good looks, great approach angle.
Bad: Fuel mileage takes a hit.