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2009 4x4 Pickup Truck Of The Year

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on March 1, 2009 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Ken Brubaker

In all the years we have been running Pickup Truck of the Year tests, we can't remember one that was as closely matched from the start as this year's 2009 competition. With four vehicles that each had the ability of taking home the trophy, even the staff was stymied as to who the victor would be. So unsure were we after an initial poll of testers, that friendly bets weren't even taken on a possible outcome. The closeness of the competitors continued all the way in to scoring, with the point spread so close, we recounted and double-checked for hanging chads. In the end we had to pick a single winner, but these vehicles are each so capable and so geared toward our reader that even the last-place finisher was likened to being fourth in a most beautiful person contest. You may not have won, but to everyone else you still look damn good.

The eligibility requirements are simple and remain unchanged from Four Wheeler of the Year. Each vehicle is invited to participate based on it being all-new or substantially revised for the upcoming model year. Each vehicle is also required to have a two-speed transfer case, have a production run of at least 1,500 vehicles available in the U.S., and must be available to the consumer by January 15, 2009.

For 2009, our field of vehicles included the Dodge Ram 1500 TRX4, Ford F-150 FX4, Hummer H3T Alpha, and the Suzuki Equator RMZ-4. And before you harangue us through e-mail because Chevy isn't represented, we hope to offer you solace in knowing that Chevy was invited to participate with both the 6.2L V-8-powered Silverado and the 5.3L V-8-powered Chevy Colorado, but declined both invitations.

As always, we score each of the vehicles based on a testing criteria of five weighted categories that include Trail Performance (30%), Empirical (25%), On-Pavement (20%), Interior (15%), and Exterior (10%).

The Players
One of the most anticipated vehicles in our test was the all-new Dodge Ram. Not only is the design gripping, but the overall quality has been moved up the scale a notch while introducing a full complement of features, such as the Ram Box in-bed storage system, rear in-floor storage bins, an electronic vehicle information center, and a 115-volt auxiliary power outlet-on the dash. While storage cubbies and cool features are nice to have, the real news about the 2009 Dodge Ram is in the rear suspension design. Ditching the leaf-spring setup in favor of a heavier-duty multilink coil arrangement similar to the JK Wrangler, Dodge's Ram has revolutionized the fullsize truck category, such part-time haulers as the Chevy Avalanche or Hummer H2 SUT notwithstanding. Front suspension is still handled by A-arms with coilover shocks.

View Slideshow

Our tester came in a Quad Cab configuration with the newly massaged 390hp and 410lb-ft of torque 5.7L Hemi V-8 with Dodge's Multi Displacement System backed by a five-speed automatic. It was equipped with the TRX4 Off-Road package, which includes such savory mechanical bits as a tight helical limited-slip rear differential, 3.92 axle ratios, 32-inch Goodyear Wrangler AT/S tires, heavy-duty rear shocks, skidplates, tow hooks, and foglamps. Our example arrived with an as-tested price of $42,030, the highest in the test.

Ford's F-150 has also been redesigned for 2009 and Ford is banking on it being a huge hit. Highlights of the 2009 redesign include a gorgeous interior, stronger frame, longer leaf springs for a better ride, a retuned coilover shock A-arm front suspension, a Super Duty-esque tailgate step, and more configurations than a Quizno's sandwich. To that Ford added its new cargo management system and an integrated trailer-brake controller for our test vehicle. Also new for 2009 is an FX4 package that has much more substance than a badge and some stickers. In addition to being a trim level on the F-150 line, the FX4 package includes a trick new electronic locker that can be activated in 4-Lo up to 66 mph and in 4-Hi up to 25 mph. Other features include aggressive 32-inch Goodyear Wrangler A/T Extreme tires, a full complement of skidplates, tow hooks, specific shock tuning, and 3.73 gears. The venerable 5.4L returns, but is now backed by Ford's new six-speed automatic transmission, making 310 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Our Ford had an as-tested price of $41,855.

View Slideshow

Also in our test was Hummer's first real entry in the pickup truck market with its midsized H3T. The H3T was made possible by stretching the H3, resulting in a wheelbase that has grown to 134 inches versus 116 inches for the H3, providing room for a true 5-foot bed. The H3T has its own frame with a deeper cross section for added strength as well as a higher-capacity steering pump and a quicker steering gear to make the long H3T drive more like its little brother. Leaf springs are still the order of the day in the back, while torsion bars handle the duty up front with monotube shocks at all four corners. Hummer also includes a bedrail system and storage cubbies in the bed. As with all Adventure Package Hummers, our H3T was loaded up with the 4:1 transfer case, 4.10 gears, the best skidplating in the test, front and rear lockers, 33-inch Bridgestone tires, along with unmatched approach and departure angles. Powered by the General's 5.3L V-8 with 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque mated to a four-speed automatic transmission, the H3T was delivered with an as-tested price of $41,450.

The final contestant in our shootout is the result of Suzuki's partnership with Nissan that has resulted in the new-for-2009 Suzuki Equator. Built off of Nissan's well-loved F-Alpha platform, the Equator is essentially the same as the Nissan Frontier that has made our 10 Best Buys list as Best Midsize 4x4 for the past four years, albeit hailing in Suzuki livery. Our tester was equipped with the Suzuki RMZ-4 package that included 32-inch BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A tires, Bilstein shocks, rear locker, and a 3.357 ring-and-pinion, in addition to the factory bedliner and Utili-trak cargo tie-down system. The Equator had the lowest as-tested price in our group at $32,309.

4th Place
Suzuki Equator RMZ-4

What's Hot: Simple, rugged, fuel efficient, modest pricing
What's Not: Pedestrian interior, slow steering, squeak, squeak
Our Take: A new Frontier for Suzuki

From the Logbook:
* "Like a comfy old pair of shoes."
* "Wow, that is some chassis flex-the bed almost punched a hole in the cab."
* "The driver steers, the vehicle doesn't."
* "Best in slow-speed terrain, fast and rough excites the in-cab rodents."
* "A great little truck that does everything well."

View Slideshow

Testing Begins
We began our test by returning to the Auto Club Dragway at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, for our performance testing, which included 0-60 mph, 1/4-mile time, and 60-0 mph measurements, as well as a few good old-fashioned smoky burnouts-in the interest of data collection, of course.

In the race from a standstill to 60 mph, it was the Dodge Ram and its hairy-chested Hemi, helped by a smooth, fast-shifting transmission, that smoked the field with a run of 7.45 seconds. Behind the Ram was the Equator at 7.96 seconds. The F-150 was next at 8.56 seconds, followed by the H3T at 8.92 seconds.

By the end of the quarter mile, the Dodge was still out in front with a run of 15.68 seconds at a trap speed of 86.59 mph. Still running in the same order as they came through 60 mph, the Suzuki with its 4.0L V-6 at full song went through the lights in 16.15 seconds at 84.18 mph, followed by the Ford with a run of 16.33 seconds at 84.27 mph and the Hummer with a still respectable run of 16.59 seconds at 81.54 mph.

While the 5.4L is outgunned against the fullsize competition in the numbers game, Ford's new six-speed transmission really breathes new life and flexibility to the 5.4L. While it wasn't the fastest, the extra cog really allows the 5.4L to make the most of its impressive 390 lb-ft of torque, allowing this version of the mod motor to hold its own in the crowd, feeling much stronger than the track data and power numbers might insinuate. We also scored Dodge's transmission high on shift quality, while the Suzuki tended to shift quickly, but short of the engine's redline. The H3T, feeling slower than it actually is, left us wishing for more gears.

As for exhaust notes, the Ford engineers must have taken a page from Dodge's book, because the F-150 had one of the best exhaust notes in the test, sounding more like a hopped-up Mustang than your typical F-Series. Whether we were at the dragstrip or in the sand dunes, listening to the mechanical symphony emanating from the F-150 and Ram as they battled it out was pure auditory ecstasy.

Back on the track, the Equator scored the shortest 60-0 mph braking distance with an excellent 135.88 feet haul down, despite a mushy brake pedal, besting the next-best Ram by almost 5 feet with its own impressive run of 140.41 feet. The H3T finished strong with a 146.14-foot stop, while the F-150 took an extra 15 feet of asphalt to drag itself down to a 160.85-foot finish. We attribute the F-150's longish stopping distance to wearing the most aggressive tires in the test. We would gladly keep the more aggressive tires and take the trade-off, but more mild Wrangler AT/S, the same as those found on the Ram, are also available on the FX4.

Over the course of our aggressive testing, the fuel-economy champion was the Suzuki with a test average of 13.55 mpg, followed by the Ford with 12.88 mpg, the Hummer at 12.27 mpg, rounded out by the Dodge at 11.51 mpg. Surprisingly, the highest single tank in the test went to the Ford with an all-highway tank achieving a remarkable 19.29 mpg.

3rd Place
Ford F-150 FX4


What's Hot: Solid chassis, high build quality, interior, value
What's Not: Stiff rear suspension, slow front traction control
Our Take: A 3/4-ton in 1/2-ton clothes

From the Logbook:
* "Tailgate step a godsend for old fat guys."
* "Needs a payload to smooth the ride."
* "The capless fuel filler attracts a lot of dirt around its mouth."
* "Lots of ABS brake barf on loose surfaces."
* "Best F-150 ever-great styling."

View Slideshow

2nd Place
Dodge Ram 1500 TRX


What's Hot: Great ride, Ram Box, styling, Hemi
What's Not: Some cheapness, missing fuel-tank skidplate, front suspension, too low
Our Take: No longer a truck that only Dodge guys will love

From the Logbook:
* "Low sills drag on rocks"
* "New frontend design is beautiful, but the truck looks under-tired."
* "The Ram Box is a great-and useful-idea."
* "Rear suspension is amazing on the trail, front needs to be stiffer."
* "Well thought-out interior."

View Slideshow

Overall Impressions
Right out of the box, logbook and staff comments started piling up about the Dodge Ram. With its new suspension out back, we can confidently say that it rides better than any pickup we have ever tested, including other "pickups" using multilink rear suspensions. It is better than an H2 SUT with airbags, better than an Avalanche with coils and even better than the car-based and all-independently sprung unibody Honda Ridgeline. We are convinced that Dodge is going to sell a lot of these trucks based solely on the 1-mile test loop around the dealership.

Our staffers didn't halt their comments at the ride, they were also impressed with the Ram's new styling-inside and out. While the exterior has a sinister look about it, we all agreed that the tires look two sizes too small on the Ram, despite being the exact same size as the blocky F-150, which didn't seem to suffer from the same criticism.

Inside the Ram, it is a smorgasbord of features with a layout and design of the dash that is so far ahead of the old Ram to have comfortably lapped it. Finally we get a beautifully designed interior from Ram. Unfortunately there were still elements of cheapness to the execution in our SLT-grade model, such as a chintzy headliner that snitches on Dodge's bean counters like an informant with a plea deal. Despite a few rough details, there are soft touch and nicely grained plastics throughout the cab, although most of our testers considered it a step behind the Ford. At least the Ram delights in the layout of the interior with storage and cubbies plentiful and a nine-speaker MyGIG stereo that was judged in the top half of our group.

While the ride was universally praised, the handling took a few shots from our testers as being a bit too soft and wallowy at times, exacerbated by steering that is quite quick off center, often leaving the driver feeling like the back of the chassis was catching up to the front in abrupt highway corrections. The Ram did offer the greatest visibility in the test, but it was also the most expensive rig, and unlike the F-150, came without leather or navigation-two things that should be part of any automotive transaction that requires more than 400 Benjamins.

Offering a lot of content for its asking price, the F-150 was definitely the truck all of our tech savvy staffers wanted to spend time in. With a navigation system that featured Sirius Travel Link, gas prices, sports scores, and yes, even weather and radar maps were at our fingertips in the Ford. Our F-150 was also equipped with Microsoft Sync 2.0 that made pairing our phones as easy as teasing Brubaker for cutting the sleeves off all of his shirts. Sync also allowed our iPod play lists to be wholly integrated into the F-150's incredible Sony sound system-a 700-watt auditory wonder that was one of the best car stereos we have ever enjoyed. Add to that arguably the most comfortable seats in the test and an incredible interior that isn't likely to look dated anytime soon, and you have a truck that walked away with interior points and logbook comments singling the F-150 out for a road trip.

While the interior bested the other vehicles, there are still some areas that could be improved, such as the rear cargo area on the Super Cab models, that unlike the SuperCrew, doesn't have a flat load floor, making the fold up rear seats relatively useless. We'd like to see some sort of shelf or tray system to give Super Cab buyers greater cab storage flexibility. Our testers also felt that the HVAC interface and center stack that made us want to run out and buy stock in Ford's button supplier, had a slightly steep learning curve. Although after a week behind the wheel the controls became second nature. One last interior curiosity, the F-150 is devoid of a driver-side grab handle, making ingress unnecessarily difficult for shorter folks.

The ride of the F-150 is improved over the last generation, but with the bragging rights for best-in-class payload and towing, the Ford makes a compromise in ride quality, ensuring that no blindfolded passenger will mistake it for a crossover. The stiff-legged chassis needs a payload to smooth out, not a big deal on its own, but when driven back to back with the Dodge, it is very apparent.

Hummer's H3T is every bit as comfortable as the H3, and then some. The longer wheelbase helps to smooth out an already decent ride, and the H3T still maintains excellent low-speed maneuverability, despite its added length. Just as it is on the H3, the H3T's suspension remains supple, soaking up road imperfections with ease.

Our tester's criticism of the H3T, focused on the interior storage, which is no surprise, given that it shares an interior with the H3. The dash fit and finish is high quality, but the map pockets are useless and there are few places to put wallets, keys, phones, and so on. We also found the H3T lacking in instrumentation and we are curious as to why Hummer still doesn't offer an auxiliary jack or iPod integration.

We praised the H3T for its seat comfort, easy-to-operate HVAC controls, and for a functional bed that includes a rail system and weather-resistant storage in the bedsides. But with high bedsides and a tall ride height, they should explore a Ford-like tailgate step.

Suzuki's Equator on the other hand, with its low ride height and short bedsides, had the easiest bed to access, and with a factory spray-in bedliner and rail system, it was one of the user-friendliest beds in this test. The Suzuki was also the most fun to drive on the pavement, aided by the powerful V-6. Also winning the testers over was the Equator's just get in and drive simplicity.

Styling, however, was a bit more controversial. While there is only so much you can do to a badge-engineered truck in the restyling department, we felt that the Tacoma-like headlights, and horse-collar grille did little to differentiate itself in a field of trucks, each representing with its own strong design language.

The Equator interior is simple in execution and reminds occupants of its low price point by its unexciting interior design and materials, but it is at least comfortable, well laid out, and easy to wipe down. Too bad the premium Rockford Fosgate stereo suffered from lackluster performance or we would have wanted to spend more time in the Equator.

Staff Picks
Douglas McColloch, Editor
Man, oh man, I've been compare-testing new rigs for Four Wheeler for the better part of 20 years, and I honestly don't know if I've ever had to make a tougher decision because all of these rigs are extremely capable. While I'd be delighted to have any of them in my driveway, the new Dodge Ram is particularly deserving of praise. Its Ram Boxes will likely get the lion's share of attention from the lay public-and they do add a measure of utility-but the Dodge's revolutionary suspension forces all of us to rethink the basics of truck design, and to reconsider how a pickup truck should ride and handle, on and off the pavement. I've never seen such a big vehicle handle the kinds of gnarly rock trails without a rear locker the way this truck did, so in an extremely competitive field, the Ram, to my mind, comes out first among equals.

Ken Brubaker, Senior Editor
This is a great group of trucks. Choosing one favorite is like being forced to choose between Moab, Tellico, Telluride, or Truckee. Each truck, like each of these wheeling destinations, has its own personality and each is attractive in its own way. If forced to choose one of these pickups, I'll go with the Ford F-150. It's a great truck that balances honest-to-goodness work capability with decent off-highway manners thanks to the FX4 option. And it takes care of its passengers with a handsome, intuitive, comfortable interior. It's my Telluride.

Sean P. Holman, Tech Editor
It was a great year for testing pickups, with a varied field of vehicles that were all worthy of consideration for our PTOTY. As much as I loved our winner on the trail, the ride of the Dodge Ram, and the fun, easy-going nature of the Equator, there was one vehicle that I felt truly fit my needs for a pickup. At the end of the test, it was the only rig that I had a hard time returning the keys to, and that was the Ford F-150.

Robin Stover, Feature Editor
This year's group was the toughest ever to pinpoint a clear winner in my mind. The familiar, yet new, Suzuki Equator stood out as the best around town daily driver with trail capability. Yet, despite years of refinement, some of the quirks we've complained about in the Nissan Frontier were still present. The Ford's solid chassis and luxuriously appointed interior almost swayed my decision altogether, it's a very potent package. The all-new Ram 1500 is just plain awesome. I seriously think pickup suspension systems have a new golden standard to match. However, as good as they all were, I have to remember the Hummer H3T is both Baja and Rubicon ready right out of the box. With front and rear lockers, a 4:1 low range, and stout attachment points, it has everything I need and nothing I don't. To me the H3T simply can't be beat.

Jason Gonderman, Web Editor
If I had to choose one of the pickup trucks from this year's test to make my own, I would choose the Ford F-150. All of the trucks this year were great, but to me the F-150 had the best of everything with its amazingly comfortable interior, superb sound system with SYNC, a rear locker that works in 4-Hi, great tires, a throaty exhaust note, decent clearance, and skidplates. It could use more power but that just leaves room for the aftermarket. All in all, the Ford F-150 would be the truck for me.

Trail Testing
Trail testing brought us to our normal hillclimb and trail loop, in addition to trails in and around Twentynine Palms, California, giving us a varied amount of terrain from sand to rock, in which to test these 2009 pickups.

In the dirt, the Dodge Ram was again impressive. Lacking any sort of axlewrap and able to get all of its power to the ground, the Ram was unstoppable in the sand and soaked up terrain imperfections like a much smaller and lighter vehicle. While the rear suspension felt perfectly tuned, the front did suffer from an ailment we have complained about before with Dodge A-arm front suspensions-it just blew through its travel way too fast, making us wish for stiffer front shocks to match the rear.

Another item worth noting was the performance of the Ram's limited-slip rear axle. Working in conjunction with traction control and a flexy rear suspension, the Ram almost never lifted a rear wheel, keeping the vehicle moving forward in the harshest terrain we took it over.

The Ram's greatest drawback on the trail was its low height. In fact, the Ram took the most body damage in the test, ranging from a resculpted front bumper to rock rash on the rockers. The low height was also a concern for the unprotected fuel tank and we were leery of front tow hooks with tight clearances that make it difficult to wrap a tow strap around. The chassis, however, was the tightest in the group, showing no squeaks or rattles during our test.

The F-150 was also blessed with a solid chassis and excellent off-highway traits, however the heavy-duty payload capability and a comparatively rough ride were what lost the Ford points in the dirt. Over fast, uneven terrain, the big heavy rear axle could be felt exerting its will under the truck, and the F-150 proved to be nowhere near as supple as the Ram, especially in loose gravel or deep sand that tended to excite some rear axle hop in the Ford.

Axle hop aside, the rear locker transforms the F-150, which has traditionally suffered from weak clutch-style limited slips that don't work well in technical off-highway terrain. With the pull of a switch, the F-150 bounded up and over obstacles. The added benefit of being the only vehicle that could be locked up in 4-Hi meant that we didn't have to unnecessarily stop forward momentum, just to gain traction by shifting in to Lo Range to engage the locker.

By far, the best performer in the dirt was the Hummer H3T. It was virtually unstoppable by any obstacle thanks to big tires, front and rear lockers, and excellent approach angles. It feasted on desert whoops like it was the main course at Thanksgiving dinner, really benefitting in most situations by the longer wheelbase.

The H3T feels so composed in the dirt that its capability is no doubt above the driving level of many of its customers. In fact, some testers said driving the H3T made them feel lazy on the trail because the Hummer is such a point-and-shoot vehicle, usually shrugging off bad lines the same way it is indifferent to speed bumps in a parking lot.

Although not an issue in this test, the only drawback that we could see would be the H3T's length on tighter trails. The H3T also didn't feel quite as solid as the granite-like H3, even developing a small squeak somewhere in the chassis during the last days of our testing.

Also developing a squeak was our Equator, which is the same noise we have heard on our long-term Frontier and project Frontier, making us wonder if all Frontiers and Equators, subjected to the trail, will have the same noise. The Suzuki also lost points for heavy, slow steering that couldn't keep up with the driver, especially in deep sand. It was also the least refined in terms of ride quality in rutted sand and chassis performance in this group, as evidenced by the near hole put in to the rear of the cab by the bed because of chassis flex.

However, several strong points did elevate the Equator in scoring. It is by far the most maneuverable on the trail and has the least invasive electronic nannies. And we can't say enough about how much better this vehicle is because it has a rear locker. We also heaped praise on the excellent shock tuning that went into the Bilstein shocks. The bottom line is that the Equator is a great truck in need of a little refinement.

At the end of the week, with staffers still struggling with their personal picks, we tallied up the logbooks to see what the numbers showed. And while overall scoring was tight, we did have one vehicle that broke from the pack and scored high enough to earn the 2009 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year award....

Winner!
Hummer H3T Alpha

Despite the stiff competition in this year's test, it was the Hummer H3T Alpha, based largely on its test-leading showing in the Trail Performance category, and solid finishes in the rest of our scoring, that kept it in front of the pack throughout the test.

The H3T Alpha is Hummer's first crack at a real pickup truck and they have hit the mark for the four-wheeling enthusiast. Unlike the other vehicles in this test that were equipped with off-road packages, the H3T was built with the enthusiast in mind from the ground up. The only vehicle in this test to offer a 4:1 transfer case and locking front and rear differentials, the H3T Alpha led the test in tire size, approach angle, departure angle, ground clearance, and crawl ratio. The H3T Alpha was also the only vehicle with full-time four-wheel drive and real shackle recovery points. The H3T was the second least expensive in this test, offering good value for the money.

Distinctive in design and offering comfortable accommodations, the H3T is bigger than the midsize Suzuki Equator, yet smaller than the fullsize Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram, ensuring it fills a size niche that should be attractive to most consumers.

At the heart of any pickup is the bed, and here the H3T doesn't disappoint. With a deep, functional bed that has bedrails and a host of accessories that can be purchased from the aftermarket, as well as the dealer, the H3T is configurable to the needs of the buyer.

Most of all the Hummer H3T Alpha was the most fun vehicle to drive on the trail, yet still civilized around town, earning the points and the respect of our staff to become our 2009 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year.


What's Hot: Real recovery points, V-8 power, superior trail ability
What's Not: No six-speed (manual or auto), mediocre stereo, overall length
Our Take: 2009 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year

From the Logbook:
* "Needs more storage."
* "Where is GM's six-speed automatic?"
* "Long wheelbase really helps vehicle ride and stability."
* "Other than oddly long proportions, H3 looks good with a bed on it."
* "Nothing comes close to the way the Hummer handles the dirt."

View Slideshow
SPECIFICATIONS AS TESTED
GENERAL
Vehicle/model
{{{Dodge Ram 1500}}} SLT Crew Cab {{{Ford F-150}}} Supercab FX4
{{{Hummer H3T}}} Alpha {{{Suzuki Equator}}} RMZ-4
Base price $34,{{{850}}} $33,930 $36,015 $30,{{{600}}}
Price as tested $42,030 $41,855 $41,450 $32,309
Options as tested Inferno Red Crystal Pearl Coat exterior paint ($225); premium cloth bucket seats ($925); Customer Preferred Package 28T ($1,145); Luxury Group ($510); Technology Group ($495); Remote start and Security Group ($335); 5.7L V-8 Hemi MDS VCT engine ($1,310); 32-gallon fuel tank ($75); Uconnect tunes ($800); power adjustable pedals ($125); class IV receiver hitch ($335); destination (${{{900}}}) Sony navigation radio ($2,430); chrome step bar ($495); power moonroof ($995); power sliding rear window ($250); Cargo Management Package (${{{200}}}); tailgate step ($350); 17-inch machined aluminum wheels ($195); Cargo Management System ($115); FX4 Luxury Package ($3,420); lower two-tone paint ($250); destination ($975); FX4 Premium Discount (-$1,000); FX4 Luxury Discount (-$750) Off Road Suspension Package ($1,725); navigation system ($1,{{{720}}}); rear vision camera system ($550); trailer hitch and wiring harness ($420); 8-way power adjustable drivers seat ($275); destination ($745) Floor mats ($119); five-speed automatic transmission ($795); destination ($795)
ENGINE
Type OHV V-8 SOHC V-8 OHV V-8 DOHC V-6
Displacement (ci/liter) 345/5.7 330/5.4 325/5.3 241/4.0
Bore x stroke (in) 3.92 x 3.58 3.55 x 4.16 3.78 x 3.{{{62}}} 3.76 x 3.62
Compression ratio 10.5:1 9.8:1 9.9:1 9.7:1
Intake Sequential multi-port EFI Sequential multi-port electronic SFI EFI
Mfg.’s power/torque rating @ rpm 390 @ 5,600/407 @ 4,000 320 @ 5,000/390 @ 3,500 {{{300}}} @ 5,200/320 @ 4,000 261 @ 5,600/ 281 @ 4,000
Mfg.’s suggested fuel type Regular unleaded Regular unleaded Regular unleaded Regular unleaded
DRIVETRAIN
Transmission 545RFE 5-spd automatic 6R80 6-spd automatic Hydra-Matic 4L60 45-spd automatic Five-speed automatic
Ratios: 1st 3.00:1 4.17:1 3.06:1 3.842:1
2nd 1.67:1 (upshift), 1.50:1 (kickdown) 2.34:1 1.63:1 2.353:1
3rd 1.00:1 1.52:1 1.00:1 1.529:1
4th 0.75:1 1.14:1 0.70:1 1.000:1
5th 0.67:1 0.86:1 n/a 0.839
6th n/a 0.69:1 n/a n/a
Reverse 3.0:1 3.40:1 2.29:1 2.764:1
Axle ratio 3.92:1 3.73:1 4.10:1 3.357:1
Transfer case NVG243 part-time 2-speed Borg-Warner 4419 part-time 2-speed B-W 44-94 full-time 2-speed Part-time 2-speed
Low-range ratio 2.72:1 2.64:1 4.03:1 2.625:1
Crawl ratio 32.0:1 41.1:1 50.6:1 33.9:1
FRAME/BODY
Frame Ladder-type Ladder-type Ladder-type Ladder-type
Body Steel Steel Steel Steel
SUSPENSION/AXLES
Front Independent, upper and lower A-arms, coil over twin tube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar/Corporate 8.07-inch Coil-on-shock, long-spindle double wishbone independent, stamped steel lower control arm/{{{Ford}}} {{{Sterling}}} 8.8-inch Front Independent, torsion bar, 46mm monotube gas-charged shocks, 36mm stabilizer bar/AAM 7.25 Eaton E-Locker Independent, Bilstein high-performance shocks, stabilizer bar/diff NA
Rear Five-link with track bar, coil springs, stabilizer bar, twin tube shock absorbers /Dana 9.25-in, Dana limited-slip Hotchkiss-type non-independent live, leaf springs and outboard shock absorbers/Ford Sterling 9.75-inch, GKN ELD (electronic locking differential) Hotchkiss design multi-leaf spring, semi-elliptic dual stage leaf spring, 46mm monotube gas-charged shocks, 25mm diameter solid stabilizer bar/AAM 8.6-inch, Eaton E-Locker Overslung multileaf, Bilstein high-performance shocks, stabilizer bar/Dana 44
SPECIFICATIONS AS TESTED
GENERAL
Vehicle/model
{{{Dodge Ram 1500}}} SLT Crew Cab {{{Ford F-150}}} Supercab FX4
{{{Hummer H3T}}} Alpha {{{Suzuki Equator}}} RMZ-4
STEERING
Type Power rack-and-pinion Power rack-and-pinion Power rack-and-pinion with tri-bushing mount design Power rack-and-pinion, engine speed sensitive
Turns (lock-to-lock) 3.3 3.5 3.125 3.55
Ratio 17.89:1 20:1 16:1 20.4:1
BRAKES
Front 13.2 x 1.1 vented disc, dual-piston pin-slider calipers 13.0 x 1.18 vented disc, dual-piston calipers 12.4 x 1.1 vented disc, four-piston fixed calipers 11.7 x 1.1 vented disc, dual-piston calipers
Rear 13.8 x 0.87 solid disc, single-piston pin-slider calipers 13.7 x 0.79 vented disc, single-piston calipers 12.28 x 0.47 vented disc, single-piston sliding calipers 11.3. x .0.71 vented disc, single-piston calipers
ABS Four-wheel Four-wheel Four-wheel Four-wheel
WHEELS/TIRES
Wheels (in) 17 x 7 17 x 7.5 16 x 7.5 16x7
Tires LT275/70R17 Goodyear {{{Wrangler}}} AT/S LT275/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler AT Extreme LT285/75R16 Bridgestone Dueler A/T P265/75R16 BFGoodrich Long Trail T/A
FUEL ECONOMY
EPA city/highway 13/18 14/18 13/16 15/20
Observed city/highway/trail 11.51 12.89 12.27 13.55
DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES
Weight (lb) 5,500 5,493 5,069 4,491
Wheelbase (in) 140.5 144.5 134.2 125.9
Overall length (in) 229.0 231.7 212.7 206.6
Overall width (in) 79.4 78.9 85.1 72.8
Height (in) 75.7 75.9 72.1 70.1
Track f/r (in) 68.2/67.5 67/67 65/65.5 61.8/61.8
Minimum ground clearance (in) 8.6 8.7 10.2 8.9
Bed dimensions LxWxH (in) 67.4 x 51.1 x 20.0 78.8 x 65.2 x 22.4 59.3 x 54.6 x 19.4 59.5 x 61.4 x 18
Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft) 45.0 47.0 43.8 43.33
Approach/departure angles (deg) 20.5/25.4 23.7/20.7 38.7/30.6 32.6/23.3
Breakover angle (deg) 16.6 18.0 20.2 20.5
GVWR (lb) 6,800 7,{{{200}}} 6,{{{100}}} 5,{{{600}}}
Payload (lb) 1,360 1,650 1,031 1,105
Maximum towing capacity (lb) 8,400 11,200 5,{{{900}}} 6,100
Seating 5 5 5 5
Fuel capacity (gal) 32 36 27 21.1
PERFORMANCE
0-60 mph (sec) 7.45 8.56 8.92 7.96
Quarter-mile (sec @ mph) 15.68 @ 86.59 16.33 @ 84.27 16.59 @ 81.54 16.15 @ 84.18
Braking 60-0 mph (ft) 140.41 160.85 146.14 135.88
Ramp Travel Index 485.7 455 417.9 488.1

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