What our tattooed friend was reacting to was the subtle yet powerful redesign of the Ram "big-rig" look that first dropped in '94. With some rounding of the fenders and a forward-tilt to the cross-hair grille, the truck has kept its silhouette, yet by pulling the lights back over the new one-piece bumper, it's taken on a fast, rakish, slippery look. But without a doubt the biggest difference is in the interior design. This new interior features redesigned bolstered seats of soft-touch material in two and even three colour patterns (rather than hard gray plastic). A new center console, upper and lower gloveboxes, and a sculpted dashboard feature chrome, leather, and cloth accents-including items like real saddle stitching across the dash. Other available options include power adjustable pedals, double the number of previous storage spaces, and first-time items like heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.
In a departure from traditional full-size pickup design, Dodge has given its new Ram a coil-spring rear suspension, which has changed the ride of the solid rear axle for the better. Over washboard roads, the coils soak up the impact, and the rear wheels don't snap and dance as they did with the leaf springs.
Another key element in this new Ram design is the RamBox-there are two of them. These are two weatherproof, lockable storage bins that run the length of the 5-foot by 7-inch box and which are as wide as the wheelwell, creating a space big enough for a full set of golf clubs. The inside width of the truck bed remains at that magical four-foot number, despite the intrusion of these storage spaces. And the way the lids are integrated into the box looks pretty nice. This item is an option on the Crew Cab only.
This sort of striking design feature is a Dodge hallmark, and frankly no one has been better at mining its history for model ideas. Look at the past few years, where Dodge has come up with variations of its Ram such as the Daytona, the Rumble Bee, and the Power Wagon.
Model-year 2010 looks to be a carryover year for the Ram, but with the new body, interior, and a good selection of components, they are in good shape. Rams are available with the 3.7L V-6 and four-speed automatic, a 4.7L V-8 with a five-speed automatic, and the 5.7L Hemi with the five-speed automatic. Four rear axle ratios are available, three bed lengths, and three cabs: Regular Cab, Quad Cab, and Crew 1500. With the optional 3.92:1 axle gearing, leather-trimmed bucket seats, Class IV Hitch and Protection Group, our test Ram sported a sticker price of $47,565.
Ford F-150 Super Crew Lariat
The newest Ford F-series pickup is 61 years removed from the original 1948 F-1, but it still carries many of the forward-thinking features that first model offered, such as a larger cab, improved suspension, better payload, and extra driver comforts. Sticking to a program of innovation and improvement over many generations of F-series trucks helps explain Ford's decades-long sales success with this model.
For 2009, the F-series sported several key changes. Payload and towing capacity were increased, supported by a new frame designed with new high-strength steel. To support these weights, Ford opted to add longer (six inches) and wider (3-inch) leaf springs that improve lateral stiffness and offer a better ride, particularly under load. Compare this to GM's 2.5-inch-wide leaves or Dodge's new coil-spring rear suspension. Also upgraded are the tires-new LT (Light Truck designated) tires have stiffer sidewalls for better towing and payload support.
The Ford's new cab is also better insulated for noise and is supported entirely on isolated rubber mounts that make it more comfortable than previous versions. As a comparison, we recently test drove a new Ford Flex (that cleverly disguised mini-van), and after driving the F-150 on public roads in the Michigan countryside, we were struck by how similar they were-firm, smooth, and quiet.
The Ford's quiet interior is complemented with a nice range of driver comforts in the newly appointed base cabin package. Another high-end trim level called the Platinum has been added; sliding in above the King Ranch, this brings to seven the number of appearance packages that is now offered for the F-series. While largely unchanged from 2004, the new cabin (with tweaks) leaves Ford's interiors competitive-and no one else offers this array of interior trim packages.