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2009 Dodge Ram 1500 TRX4 Long-Term Report 3 of 4

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on August 1, 2010
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Another quarter has gone by, and our Ram continues to be a favorite vehicle of the staff. Whether it's the exceptional highway range, great ride, sizable cabin, or seamless Hemi power, everyone has found a reason to like this truck.

During our testing, we have loaded up the bed, used it as a commuter, and taken the family on road trips, but the one thing we haven't done with the Ram until this quarter was tow with it. In the rush to get Project 'Con Artist finished before the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab we had to shuttle the Jeep between shops, and this gave us the chance to hook up our Carson trailer and do some testing.

With nearly 9,000 pounds in tow, the 5.7L Hemi worked flawlessly, with more than enough power to get the load up to freeway speeds. We found the Ram to be very stable, with nicely weighted steering and plenty of brake reserve. The rear link-coil suspension helps the Ram track straight and makes it less susceptible to the chassis being upset by crosswinds or larger vehicles passing on the highway.

Depressing the Tow/Haul button activates the Electronic Range Select, which allows the driver to limit the highest gear available from the transmission and locks out multi-displacement. We tried towing with and without Tow/Haul selected, and favored the extra control and firmer shifting of the Tow/Haul mode.

Our TRX4 came standard with the Trailer Sway Control (TSC) feature, which we were able to experience when we loaded the trailer with a little too much rear weight bias. When trailer sway is detected, TSC activates individual brakes on alternating sides and/or reduces engine power until the trailer returns to its normal state. Our truck performed as advertised by bringing the load back into check safely and quickly. With the trailer hooked up, we recorded a favorable 12 mpg in mixed driving and about 13 mpg on the highway.

Not only does Ram offer four- and seven-pin trailer connectors, but the connectors are mounted high in the bumper and thus protected from being damaged.

Something worth mentioning, especially at max trailer weight: The coil springs are more sensitive to tongue weight than a leaf-sprung truck. However, with a properly loaded trailer, the Ram didn't display any ill manners.

Towing also enlightened us as to another use for the awesome and lockable Ram Boxes-holding all of our towing gear and making the trailer tie-downs, hitch, and gloves easily accessible. No more climbing on the trailer and in and out of the bed to retrieve our gear, or dirty tools rolling around the back of the cab.

Our only real complaints this quarter are an intermittent key fob issue that sometimes requires several attempts to unlock the truck, and a stubborn Bluetooth system that, no matter how many times we set the iPhone as the primary phone, almost always defaults to the BlackBerry. Perhaps the software developer wasn't a fan of Apple?

We've been fans of the new Ram since it first came out. With only one more quarter of testing to go, we'll be sorry to see this one go back.

Report: 3 Of 4
Previous reports: Oct '09, Mar '10
Base price: $35,100
Price as tested: $44,960
Four-wheel-drive system: Two-speed, part-time electronic, shift on the fly

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 15,306
Miles since last report: 5,260
Average mpg (this report): 13.22
Test best tank (mpg): 17.56
Test worst tank (mpg): 10.05

This period: 12,000-mile service: $79.98
Problem areas: Key fob

What's Hot, What's Not
HOT: Hemi power, Ram Boxes, coil-sprung ride, Tow/Haul mode
NOT: Stubborn Bluetooth, can be sensitive to tongue weight

Logbook Quotes
-"Hmm, key fob is acting up again. It wouldn't unlock the door after several attempts. I had to press the lock button again before the unlock button would work."
-"Even with 9,000 pounds in tow, the Hemi has plenty of power and Tow/Haul is a nice feature."
-"Just turned 15,000 miles and I love this truck as much as the day we got it."
-"With the trailer hooked up, the Ram Boxes provide secure, easy access to all of the towing gear."
-"No matter how many times I choose my iPhone as the primary phone, the MyGIG always reverts to the BlackBerry as the primary handset."

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