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

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on October 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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2009 Dodge Ram 1500 TRX4 - Long-Term Report 4 of 4

We've been working our Ram 1500 hard this quarter, and while we were awaiting our delayed 2010 Power Wagon long-termer to replace our TRX4, Chrysler decided to let us have the 1500 for an extra couple of months.

So for a little while past our normal one-year cutoff, we continued to use the Ram for towing, shuttling staffers to and from the airport, desert camping excursions, and even taking it up to Hollister for Top Truck Challenge for one last road trip.

So what do we think of the Ram 1500 after a year of service? Well, simply put, we feel this is truck is one of the best 1/2-tons on the market. The Ram 1500 is a complete package by any measure. It intermixes style, power, comfort, capability, and functionality all in one package.

Despite 3.92:1 gearing and a potent 390hp 5.7L Hemi V-8, we managed a test-average around 13.25 mpg, with a test-high of 18.88 mpg. Thanks to Multi-Displacement System (MDS), the powerful V-8 becomes a four-cylinder in low load situations and during cruise at speeds of up to 70 mph. If there was one thing we'd change to improve the system, it would be some sort of driver-activated option that would keep it in four-cylinder mode longer at low speeds.

Over the course of our nearly 20,000-mile evaluation, the coil-sprung rear suspension got rave reviews by truck guys and regular passengers alike. More than once we heard someone in the passenger seat comment on what a smooth, quiet ride this truck offers. Other benefits of the coils are exceptional articulation on the trail, absence of axle hop, and towing stability over rough roads. We would like to see some sort of variable-rate coil as a payload option to stiffen up the rear when towing or hauling at the GVWR max.

In the cabin, the big Ram offered comfortable accommodations for all storage and excellent visibility. Trimmed out with MyGIG, satellite radio and navigation, occupants of the Ram could easily cover huge distances at a time with minimal fatigue. We also used the 110-volt in-dash plug constantly to run our laptops or charge camera batteries on photo shoots.

A controversial option on our truck was the Ram Box. This in-bed, weatherproof, and lockable storage probably drew the most comments from bystanders. Everyone wanted to see the Ram Boxes up close. At the beginning of this test, we wondered if we'd miss the bed space. After living with them for a year, we wouldn't go back and hope that the Ram brand is in development of this product for their other bed lengths.

Out on the trail, despite being a bit low for our tastes, the Ram worked well. One nice feature is that Electronic Range Select is activated in low-range, allowing the operator full manual control over the transmission gear. The tight helical limited-slip always worked well to get the Hemi's power to the ground. Our one major beef was that the TRX4 Off Road package lacks a skidplate on the fuel tank.

Problems were generally few for our early-build test unit, although our truck did suffer from a squeaky door hinge that was re-torqued at the dealer. Another concern was a key fob that sometimes needed an extra push to unlock the doors. Other than those minor issues, our Ram is as solid as the day we got it, with no creaks in the body structure or suspension.

While we're sad to see the Ram 1500 TRX4 leave our fleet, we enjoyed our extra time with it. Overall the Ram 1500 is a great truck, and we highly recommend it to anyone that has it on their shopping list.

Report: 4 of 4
Previous reports: Nov. '09, Mar. '10, Aug. '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: 19,501
  • Miles since last report: 4,195
  • Average mpg (this report): 13.68
  • Test best tank (mpg): 18.88
  • Test worst tank (mpg): 10.05

Maintenance
This period: None
Problem areas: Squeaky door hinge and seat, keyfob

What's Hot, What's Not
HOT: Great overall package, great power, notable ride, storage everywhere
NOT: No fuel tank skidplate, low ground clearance

Logbook Quotes

  • "Wow, just got nearly 19 mpg on the highway coming home from TTC"
  • Just drove our TRX4 back-to-back with a Raptor, and I still love this truck"
  • "550-mile range is possible-I wish I didn't drink that Big Gulp"
  • "The MyGIG got glitchy, but restarting the truck seemed to have cured the issue"
  • "If I were going to buy a 1/2-ton, someone would have to talk me really hard out of the Ram"

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