Trucks – April 2009

Your go-to pickup truck should be rugged enough to be an everyday workhorse, yet truck manufacturers are heeding truck enthusiasts’ call for more than just the basics with amenity-loaded performers. Enter Dodge’s 2009 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab. The 1500 has all the standard features you require, plus a handful of new extras that up its value on the jobsite.

Refined ruggedness
I had the opportunity to test drive Dodge’s latest take on the Ram for a few days in March. My demo came equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission and a 5.7-liter Hemi engine that delivered 390 horsepower and 407 pounds-feet of torque for a powerful ride. Other available engine options include a 310-horsepower, 4.7-liter flexible fuel V-8 engine or a 215-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 gasoline engine.

Improvements to the Hemi – such as variable valve timing, expanded operating range on the multiple displacement system, an increased compression ratio and reduced restriction exhaust and induction systems – were able to increase horsepower by 13 percent, torque by 8 percent and fuel economy by 4 percent.

Most of the time, my Hemi-powered demo stayed within its estimated fuel economy ratings of 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway, but on an extended trip it hovered around 16 mpg.

Overall, the truck provided a smooth, quiet ride and maneuvered easily, while turning quite a few heads on the highway. The above could be attributed to two things: first, Dodge improved the Ram’s ride and handling with a multi-link coil spring rear suspension; and second, changes to the exterior, such as a forward-sloping grille and chrome-tipped dual exhaust helped to increase the “tough but refined” look.

For work or pleasure
Truck manufacturers’ continue to pull out all the stops when it comes to the newest pickup interiors. Dodge’s 1500 model is no different, as its interior feels more like a luxury car than a pickup truck.

Two-tone leather bucket seats come as part of the Laramie trim package, along with a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel and chrome accents on the dash. Heated and ventilated front seats with dual zone temperature controls allow the driver and passenger to adjust settings to their own comfort levels.

An in-dash computer and uconnect GPS navigation system logs trips, informs drivers of nearby locations, provides Sirius satellite radio and traffic updates and converts to show a full-screen rear view of the truck once it’s put in reverse as part of the backup camera system. The in-dash screen lets drivers know when another object gets close through color-coded lines and an audio alert.

On the Quad Cab and Crew Cab, a DVD player is available as an option. Other interior features include an automatic transmission floor shifter integrated into the center console and optional heated rear seats. Dodge also doubled the interior storage capacity compared to last year’s model, with new in-floor storage compartments featuring removable liners.

A notable exterior addition to the ’09 Ram Crew Cab is the RamBox cargo management system, built into the truck’s bed rails. Two illuminated RamBox bins offer 7.4 cubic feet of storage space for handheld tools or other items, while a bed divider/2-foot bed extender makes room for oversized loads and a cargo rail system offers four adjustable, sliding cleats to tie down and organize equipment.

Truck products
DUCK AND COVER
Designed according to the Ford F-150 truck bed’s exact size and shape, ARE’s fiberglass truck cap and tonneau covers are painted to match using the OEM paint code for a high quality appearance. The LSII Seires, Z Series, V Series and Deluxe Commercial Unit are currently available for the 2009 F-150. The covers allow truck owners to stow items when not in use, protect gear from harsh weather and keep equipment safe from possible theft, thanks to heavy-duty locks.

GET A LEG UP
AMP Research’s Power Step, a full-length, power-deploying running board, fits on a Dodge Ram or Ford F-150 to make truck access safe and easy. The lightweight aluminum Power Step has a 600-pound weight rating and is activated by your truck’s factory door sensors. It extends within a few seconds once the door opens and later retracts behind the rocker panels, reducing aerodynamic drag.

SHINE ON
Valley’s LED trailer lighting comes in both 10 diode LED and 24 diode LED patterns to deliver optimal lighting performance and durability. Designed to withstand everyday road vibration and shock, LED lights have a life expectancy six times longer than regular incandescent bulbs and meet Federal Motor Vehicle safety standard requirements.