There is a giant hole in the long-term Four Wheeler fleet right now. This is the fullsize pickup slot our 2006 Pickup Truck of the Year-winning Dodge Ram 1500 TRX4 once occupied. Unfortunately, the year went by faster than we realized, and when Dodge representatives came to retrieve the truck, they were forced to pry the keys from the staff. We forget how useful a fullsize truck is around the office until we don't have one anymore.
Over the course of the year, we used our big Ram to commute to work; to prepare Hollister Hills for Top Truck Challenge; to run around the trails of the Badlands in Attica, Indiana, for Real Truck Club Challenge; and to tow various project vehicles around the Western U.S.-and this was all before we handed the keys to Brubaker for a tour of winter duty in the brutal Midwest, where it handled the elements with aplomb.
With all of those experiences under its belt, the Dodge proved to be a quality product, as we only had a couple warranty issues in nearly 28,000 miles, which included a leaky front axle seal, a loose exhaust clamp, and a vent tube that had to be rerouted. All pretty minor, especially when you look at what was asked of the big Ram.
The likes-such as an over-400-mile range, good fuel economy, trustworthy navigation system, entertainment center, great exhaust note, tight limited-slip, smooth ride, and comfortable accommodations-far outweighed the dislikes (funky MDS idle, a smallish rear seating area, low approach angle, dash design). With the fuel-saving MDS system, the big 5.7L V-8 managed a best of almost 17 mpg, not bad for a loaded truck crossing the country at 80 mph.
After a year of service, we feel Dodge has really dialed in what a 1/2-ton truck should be, and we think that the tough Dodge Ram is one of the most compelling arguments for buying a real American truck. While the staff doesn't always agree on everything, one thing we can all stand behind is that none of us would hesitate to recommend a new Ram to our best friend.
Report: 4 Of 4
Previous report: Sept. '06, Dec. '06, May '07
Base price: $30,760
Price as tested: $41,995
Four-wheel-drive system: Electronic part-time, two-speed
Miles to date: 27,780
Miles since last report: 2,651
Average mpg (this report): 11.61
Test best tank (mpg): 16.6
Test worst tank (mpg): 9.00
25,718-miles: Oil change
Problem areas: Front axle seal (replaced under warranty)
What's Hot,What's Not
HOT: Awesome range, strong powertrain, quality product
NOT: Idle quality, tight rear seat, low approach angle
* "This Dodge has awesome range!"
* "It's nice to be back in a big ol' truck with gobs of power."
* "Nice turning radius, very responsive."
* "Towed the Mega Titan just fine."
* "Comfortable for long trips."