We've had some fascinating and insightful adventures with our Ram since our last report. Back in August, we drove it more than 2,000 miles roundtrip from our Illinois Midwest Bureau to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, for the Summer 4-Wheel Jamboree. Just a few short weeks before our arrival, this eastern Pennsylvania area was devastated by flooding. Though the water had receded at our shoot location, we faced a jumble of melon-sized rocks left behind by rushing flood waters. Thanks to the TRX4's rear limited-slip differential and grippy Goodyear Wrangler AT/S tires, we were able to confidently navigate over the mass of rocks to access our favorite location for vehicle photography.
We finally got a chance to snow-test the Ram during a trip to Los Angeles from our Illinois Midwest Bureau in December. As we crossed over the Rocky Mountains on Interstate 70, we encountered a quasi-blizzard, which whipped our Ram with horizontal snow and decreased visibility to near-whiteout conditions. Adding to the fun were frigid temperatures and rapidly accumulating snow. Even semi tractor-trailers with drive-wheel chains were having trouble climbing the steep grades near the Eisenhower Tunnel. With the TRX4's transfer case locked in 4-High and the Goodyear Wranglers providing bite, we were able to navigate the treacherous high country without incident. The Ram felt composed and solid, thanks in part to the new-for-'06 coilover front suspension. Further, the defroster did a fantastic job of keeping ice buildup at bay on the windshield-no easy task in those conditions. We encountered momentary rear wheelhop while ascending a steep section of road near the Eisenhower Tunnel. Naturally, it immediately ended the minute we lifted off the accelerator, and we couldn't get it to make an encore appearance after that. The axlehop was probably caused by the steep grade combined with low speed, little cargo bed weight, the soft rear spring rate, and the tight rear limited-slip. Since our last report, we've had the service team at Bryden Motors (our local Dodge dealer) tighten up a loose, rattling exhaust clamp and reinstall a dangling transfer-case vent hose that had come loose from its upper mount. Other than those two warranty items, our Ram has only required the normal recommended service.
Our Inferno Red TRX4 will spend the remainder of its time with us serving the staff in (mostly) sunny Southern California. We'll keep you posted.
REPORT: 3 of 4
Previous report: Sept. '06, Dec. '06
Base price: $30,760
Price as tested: $41,995
Four-wheel-drive system: Electronic part-time two-speed
Miles to date: 25,129
Miles since last report: 11,119
Average mpg (this report): 14.3
Test best tank (mpg): 16.6
Test worst tank (mpg): 9.0
18,000-mile service: Lube, oil and filter, tire rotation, front and rear differential lube service
23,000-mile service: Lube, oil, and filter, tire rotation
Problem areas: Loose exhaust clamp and transfer-case vent tube (repaired under warranty)
WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT
HOT: Large 34-gallon fuel tank combines with MDS-equipped Hemi to create an over 400-mile cruising range, tight rear limited-slip differential, throaty exhaust note
NOT: Notorious MDS Hemi engine vibration at idle, new dash design doesn't "flow" into door design well, lousy approach angle
* "The increased noise of the Wrangler tires is a small price to pay for their improved off-highway performance."
* "Love the big front-seat center armrest."
* "The TRX4 package is worth every penny."