My family loves trucks. Perhaps it's because we have two boys or because the hubby is in the construction biz, but there's a definite novelty associated with them for us. The 2009 Dodge Ram is wicked looking. Standing tall with a bright, shiny grille angled inward, it almost looked like a giant sheet-metal shark. I have to admit that the moment my string-bean 4-year-old stood in front of the parked Ram, I had the urge to push him out of the way for fear it might gobble him up.
Dodge redesigned the Ram for 2009, but little has changed for the 2010 model year. The 2010 Ram comes with improved iPod connectivity and a tire pressure monitoring system.
My test pickup truck, the Ram 1500 SLT Crew Cab Sport 4x2, had the optional 390-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. What a beast! The Ram's performance easily exceeded my expectations. This Hemi-powered mammoth boasted the acceleration and agility of a much smaller vehicle, and it impressively threw my head back as I moved to accelerate from a cruising speed of 70 mph on the highway.
As you might expect, the Ram's gas mileage was the only downside to the V-8 engine; it gets an EPA-estimated 14/20 mpg city/highway.
Maneuvering the Ram was easy - no extra arm-muscle was needed to turn this bad boy - its turning radius was sharp and car-like. The ride was comfy and completely bump-free in the front row. However, when I looked in the rearview mirror to check on the kids, their little heads were bouncing around as if they were in the back row of a bus!
This truck had personality plus functionality, and I had a blast being seen within its shimmering shark-like silhouette. Its huge chrome grille and headlights demand attention. The grille angles in toward the front bumper, creating drama and complementing the oversized Ram logo.
From the side, the Ram gets boxy, but that goes with the territory. It's a bit of a climb to get into it, but my boys, ages 4 and 7, didn't have any trouble with it. If you have younger kids you'll be helping them get in and out all of the time. If I were buying this truck, I'd get the optional side steps to help everyone get in and out of it with ease. My test truck didn't have them, and I didn't mind looking slightly awkward when I hopped into the Ram. A more reserved mom might require a more graceful entry and exit.
Huge mirrors and windows made for amazing visibility while driving Ram; of course, the Ram's height didn't hurt either when looking out the front or side windows, but it was a problem when backing up. My test truck wasn't equipped with the optional backup camera and rear parking sensors, and there were just too many opportunities to miss something or someone hiding out behind the rear bumper. If I were buying a Ram, I'd add the camera.
What my family and a few neighbors really adored about the Ram was its truck bed and tailgate. In the evenings, the hubby and I often sit outside and watch the kids burn off some energy in front of our house. With the Ram we observed this nightly ritual from the tailgate; we had fun waving at our neighbors and swinging our legs from our higher-than-normal perch.
However, the groceries didn't do so well in the truck bed. With nothing back there to hold them in, they slid all over the place. My test truck didn't have the optional RamBoxes, but they probably would've solved this grocery problem. The integrated, lockable storage boxes sit on each side of the truck bed over the wheel wells. They're designed to house tools and man-stuff, but they sound perfect for groceries, too.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
This truck can go toe-to-toe with any minivan when it comes to storage and cubbies. The Ram has plenty of perfect places for cell phones, change, and cups and bottles of differing sizes. It also has a huge center console that's big enough to fit a small- or medium-size purse. There are two in-floor storage bins in the second row that come in handy for travel toys, wipes, snacks and whatever else you can fit in there. The Ram was a terrific mommy's helper when it came to cleaning the interior. Almost all of the numerous cubbies and cupholders come with a removable liner that can be washed to eliminate the nasty gunk that accumulates over time.
The Ram's optional heated steering wheel was an unexpected plus, which I'd happily use during Michigan's long winters. The center stack's radio and air-conditioning controls are chunky and easy to reach, and the buttons on the steering wheel helped me control the features without taking my eyes away from the road. The standard power rear window, which opens with the push of a button located near the rearview mirror, provided the perfect distraction for busting grumpy kids out of their stupor on a couple of occasions.
One thing we test in every car is the stereo. We like to rock out ... a lot; we find our favorite booty shakin' tune and we see just how loud the stereo system can go. Most of the time we never reach the volume summit and the Ram was no different. It sounded fantastic, but it was so loud with the volume dial only halfway up that we couldn't imagine going louder. The kids always get a kick out of Mom acting silly and letting them be loud, even if it's for just a minute.
The Ram's overall man-focused design really helped this mom on many fronts. The rugged design elements assured me that nothing would be scratched or broken by my kids. The simple, uncluttered placements of all the controls were easy to navigate and helped me avoid time-consuming mishaps. The truck's roominess was an absolute blessing and kept the kids from touching each other too much or kicking the seatbacks, both huge no-no's when riding with Mom.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
The Ram has two sets of easy-to-find Latch connectors and plenty of room in the second row to fit rear-facing child-safety seats. However, my sons and I had problems with the location of the seat belt receptors. Our booster seats sat right on top of the receptors, which meant I had to adjust the kids' booster seats and assist in the buckling process with each entry. Wrestling with the booster seats and seat belts was very annoying. My kids insist on buckling themselves in, but after 10 minutes of waiting patiently, Mommy gets tired of waiting and wants to move the process along. Trust me, this scene gets ugly fast, and it was a pain, especially considering how many times I load my kids in and out of a car each day.
The truck's height would help parents using infant-safety seats; it puts the seat at arm-height, eliminating awkward bending and reaching when placing the seat into the base.
For 2009, Dodge added standard side curtain airbags for the first and second rows on its quad and crew cabs; it also comes with standard front-impact airbags for the first row.
The Ram has standard antilock brakes, brake assist, an Electronic Stability Program, which can react to even the most minute changes in your driving pattern and add braking, throttle or steering help, and the Enhanced Accident Response System automatically turns on interior lights, hazard lights and stops the flow of fuel in the event of an accident. For weekends with the camper, Dodge's trailer-sway control helps when towing those heavy loads.
In Diapers: There's plenty of space for a rear-facing child-safety seat in the second row.
In School: It's a bit of a climb to get in, but my boys loved it.
Teens: This truck has a lot of safety features to keep teen drivers safe on the road.
|Sherrice Gilsbach||Mother Proof||March 25, 2010|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||March 19, 2009|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||December 6, 2008|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||November 30, 2008|
|Mike Magda||PickupTrucks.com||October 29, 2008|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||October 19, 2008|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||September 21, 2008|
|Scott Burgess||The Detroit Newspapers||August 27, 2008|
|Mike Levine||PickupTrucks.com||August 22, 2008|
|Mike Levine||PickupTrucks.com||June 27, 2008|
|Mike Levine||PickupTrucks.com||January 12, 2008|
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