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2006 Dodge Ram 1500 TRX4- Long-Term Report & Review

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on December 1, 2006
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Since the last report, our Ram TRX4 has undergone the equivalent of truck calisthenics. It has been asked to do a variety of tasks and it has obliged with no complaints or even a whimper.

It has logged over 2,700 miles slaloming through Southern California traffic, during which time the rumble of the multidisplacement Hemi engine impressed one driver with its "fantastic aural experience." That articulate driver, who logged over 6,000 miles total behind the wheel of the Ram, wasn't as impressed with the new dash configuration: "Haven't they seen an F-150 inside?" he wondered on paper. He isn't alone. The staff is split on the look of the new dash, though most agree that its simple functionality and large knobs and switches overrule its lack of visual flow where it meets the doors. We dig the new high-mount in-dash DVD-based navigation system that shares its screen with the Infinity audio system. We also like the faux wood inserts because they give the interior a rich, almost luxurious feel.

The TRX4's decent 1,600-pound payload capacity meant the truck had no problem hauling scores of metal posts and other banner-bearing paraphernalia at Top Truck Challenge while the truck served as general runabout over the course of the week. It was often asked to traverse brutal terrain to get to banner-posting locations as well. It did this with great aplomb, thanks to the traction of the TRX4-included Goodyear Wrangler AT/S tires and helical-style rear limited-slip differential. We crawled over a fair amount of rough stuff with the peace of mind that if we did drag the belly, it was protected by the full skidplating of the TRX4 package.

One of our staffers loaded the Ram with five people, gear, a trailer, and five bikes for a vacation to Door County, Wisconsin. During a stop at a cherry orchard, we found the Ram easy to maneuver through the tight rows, thanks to excellent visibility and large mirrors.

Immediately following Top Truck Challenge, the TRX4 left Hollister, California, for the Four Wheeler Midwest Bureau in Illinois, where it will spend the next few months. It was during this 1,864-mile flog that the 5.7L MDS Hemi engine returned 16.6 mpg, which is our best mileage tank so far, very commendable for a fullsize pickup. This number was generated while loaded with gear and traveling at around 80 mph. We're thinking that the TRX4 should surpass the 17mpg number when held to 65 or 70 mph, and that mpg figure is knocking on the numbers generated by our Cummins-powered '05 Ram 2500 long-termer.

The Hemi has impressed us with decent power though it wants to be spinning at high rpm to give it up. Naysayers of the Hemi's power will note that the TRX4 accelerated 0 to 60 mph in 9.73 seconds at the dragstrip during '06 Pickup Truck of the Year testing. This figure is only 0.13 seconds behind the zippy 5.6L-powered Nissan Titan, which has by default become our benchmark for zip.

Things are good in Ram-land. We'll see if they stay that way.

Previous report: Sep. '06
Base price: $30,760
Price as tested: $41,995
Four-wheel-drive system: Electronic part-time two-speed

Miles to date: 14,010
Miles since last report: 9,214
Average mpg (this report): 14.0
Test best tank (mpg): 16.6
Test worst tank (mpg): 9.0

6,000-mile service: Lube, oil and filter, tire rotation
Cost: $45.97
12,000-mile service: Lube, oil and filter, tire rotation
Cost: $42.88
Problem areas: Heatshield vibration, errant vent tube (will be addressed at next service interval)

HOT: Commendable fuel mileage; excellent on- and off-highway ride; tightly screwed together; very capable off-highway in traction, flex, and visibility
NOT: Dismal approach angle (18.3 degrees), though this low-hanging aerodynamic stuff is part of the reason the truck gets good fuel mileage; smallish rear seats

* "This truck looks great! Love the rich color and the easy-to-clean 17s"
* "Is it me, or do the brakes seem a bit soft and lack bite?"
* "The power sliding rear window is handy, and it significantly increases air flow when opened."

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