2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Preview

FAST FACTS
  • First redesign since 2002

  • New RamBox storage system

  • New in-floor storage system

  • Hemi V-8 engine upgraded for more power and better fuel economy

  • Three cab styles

  • Three bed lengths

  • Multi-link coil spring rear suspension

  • 9,100-pound towing capacity

  • Sales to start in fall 2008

Introduction

When Dodge gave its full-size Ram pickup "big rig" styling in 1994, the bold new look helped triple market share. A significant 2002 update gave it fresh sheetmetal, new engines and larger cabs. For 2009, Dodge introduces its next-generation Ram pickup.

The 2009 Rams have two new innovative storage systems and feature three engines, including an updated Hemi V-8. Dodge says a 2-mode hybrid powertrain will debut for 2010 and a diesel engine will be offered some time after 2009. Three cab configurations and three bed styles will be available, including Dodge's first-ever Crew Cab. The 2-door regular cab will be offered with a 76-inch short bed or a 9-inch long bed. The 4-door Quad Cab, which will have rear access doors, will come only with the 76-inch bed. The 4-door Crew Cab will have four regular doors and come with a 67-inch bed. The 4-door Mega Cab, with almost two feet of extra rear-seat space, will no longer be offered. All body styles will be available with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or a choice of two 4-wheel drive (4WD) systems. Regular cabs will seat 3, while the other body styles will seat up to 6 with a second-row bench seat.

Model LineupDodge will offer the Ram in five trim levels: ST, SLT, TRX, Sport and top-of-the-line Laramie.Equipment hasn't been announced, but expect the ST model to have air conditioning and vinyl upholstery. Customers will have to step up a model to get cruise control and power windows and locks. Laramie models will have leather upholstery and a host of luxury amenities. Available features will include power adjustable pedals, Dodge's UConnect hands-free cell phone link, remote engine starting, universal garage door opener, fog lights, and a sunroof. Entertainment features will include a rear DVD entertainment system, Sirius Backseat TV, a surround sound audio system-and Dodge's MyGIG MultiMedia Infotainment System, which includes a navigation system and a 30-gigabyte hard drive to hold songs, pictures and map information.

Among the new options for 2009 will be heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, a pair of "store in the floor" storage bins, and Dodge's RamBox storage system. The interior storage bins will have removable liners and will be able to hold up to 10 soda cans and ice. The RamBox system will be offered only with the Crew Cab. It will have 4.3 cubic feet of storage space in each bed rail. The storage will be weatherproof, lockable, illuminated, and drainable. RamBox will also have a bed extender and a cargo rail system with four sliding, adjustable cleats.

Hardware

Like the 2008 models, 2009 Ram 1500s will come with a choice of one V-6 and two V-8 engines. The V-6 is a 3.7-liter engine that puts out 210 hp at 5200 rpm and 235 lb.-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm. It will be offered only in regular cab and Quad Cab models with 2WD. All 4WD and Crew Cab models will come standard with Dodge's 4.7-liter Magnum V-8 engine, which makes 310 hp at 5650 rpm and 330 lb.-ft. of torque at 3950 rpm. This engine is FlexFuel capable, meaning it can operate on regular unleaded fuel or E85 ethanol. The top engine choice will be an upgraded version of the vaunted 5.7-liter V-8. For 2009, the Hemi will get variable valve timing and other improvements that Dodge says will provide a 4-percent increase in fuel economy, a 10-percent increase in horsepower and an 8-percent increase in torque. The Hemi will make 380 hp at 5600 rpm and 404 lb.-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm. Dodge says it will be able to launch the Ram from 0 to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds.

The Hemi has Dodge's Multi-Displacement System (MDS), which shuts down four cylinders under light engine loads to conserve fuel. According to Dodge, MDS will operate more often in the upgraded Hemi. A 5-speed automatic transmission with a tow/haul mode will be standard with the Hemi and optional with the 4.7-liter V-8 engine. A 6-speed manual transmission will be standard with the V-6 and 4.7-liter V-8 engines. A 4-speed automatic transmission will be optional for the V-6 engine.

With the V-6 engine and manual transmission, the Ram will be rated at 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway. With the V-6 engine and automatic transmission, the numbers will be 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway. Rams equipped with either V-8 engine will be rated at 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway with 2WD and 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway with 4WD.

Two 4WD systems will be offered: a part-time system that should be disengaged on dry pavement and an on-demand system that can be left engaged on dry pavement. Both systems will have low-range gearing for towing and off-roading needs.

Under the skin, the 2009 Dodge Ram's frame will be highly modified and the rear section will be completely new to accommodate a segment-exclusive multi-link coil spring rear suspension (as opposed to leaf springs). Four rear axle ratios will be offered, and 4-wheel disc brakes will be standard. Wheel sizes will range from 17 to 20 inches. Dodge says the maximum payload will be 1850 pounds and the Ram will be able to tow up to 9100 pounds.

Safety

The 2009 Dodge Ram will have more standard safety equipment than the current model. All will come with dual-stage front air bags, curtain side air bags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, tire-pressure monitor, traction control, and electronic stability control with Hill Start Assist and Dodge's Trailer Sway Control. Rear park assist and a rear back-up camera will be available.