Vehicle Overview
Ram 1500 pickups have changed considerably for the 2006 model year. A new frame, suspension and body mounts are used, and new headlamps provide 22 percent more light intensity. Newly available features include a power-sliding rear window, bucket seats, a full-screen navigation radio and a DVD entertainment system. Four-wheel-drive models have a standard electronic transfer case. Hemi-equipped Rams are the first pickup trucks equipped with fuel-saving cylinder deactivation: the Multi-Displacement System.

Dodge's Ram is available in 1500, 2500 and 3500 versions, which translates to half- , three-quarter- and one-ton ratings, respectively. While the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 models are intended for serious work, an offshoot of the light-duty 1500 — the 500-horsepower Ram SRT10 — is designed for serious play.

Ram pickups come in regular-cab and four-door Quad Cab body styles. Light-duty Rams can have V-6, V-8 or V-10 power, while heavy-duty models can have V-8 or diesel power. A sunroof is available on Quad Cab models, and Sirius Satellite Radio is offered.

A Power Wagon version of the 2500 pickup is available. Dodge also has a new Mega Cab model for 2006.
(Skip to details on the: 2500 | 3500| SRT10 | Mega Cab)

Regular-cab Rams can be equipped with a 6.3-foot cargo bed, ride a 120.5-inch wheelbase and stretch to 207.7 inches long overall. With an 8-foot cargo bed, the Ram has a 140.5-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 229.7 inches.

Quad Cab pickups, with four conventional front-hinged doors, can also be equipped with the two bed sizes and are 20 inches longer in both wheelbase and overall length. The rear doors open 85 degrees to ease access. All models have a chrome grille, while the Laramie gets chrome bodyside moldings. A body-colored grille goes on Rams with the Sport Appearance Group. Hoods have a pronounced crown that falls toward the front fenders.

A front bench seat holds up to three occupants in a 40/20/40 configuration. A center business console can hold a laptop computer, and the center portion offers under-cushion storage.

Quad Cab models have a folding rear seat. Leather upholstery and adjustable pedals are standard in the Laramie model.

Under the Hood
The standard 3.7-liter V-6 produces 215 hp. Rams can be equipped with an available 235-hp, 4.7-liter Magnum V-8 or a 345-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. A six-speed-manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional. With the 4.7- or 5.7-liter engine, the automatic is a five-speed unit. Rear- and four-wheel-drive models are available.

All-disc brakes with a rear-wheel antilock feature are standard. Four-wheel ABS is standard in the Laramie. Roof-mounted side curtain-type airbags are optional.

Driving Impressions
The Ram 1500 is a light-duty truck, but it seems big in every way — including its reaction to bumps and holes in the road. Although the suspension regains control fairly quickly, quite a bit of jolting occurs in city driving. The ride improves on the highway.

The Ram 1500 is easy to drive and steer, and it responds predictably to driver input. A four-wheel-drive version maneuvers capably and takes curves passably well at modest speeds. Three adults fit adequately in a regular cab when the immense center armrest/storage box is raised.

Called "the most capable offroad pickup ever on the planet," the 2500 Power Wagon edition holds a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 that cranks out 345 hp and 375 pounds-feet of torque. Either a six-speed-manual gearbox or a five-speed automatic can be installed. Special features include locking front and rear differentials, an electronically disconnecting front sway bar and a custom-built 12,000-pound winch. Polished forged-aluminum 17-inch wheels hold 33-inch BFGoodrich tires.

Regular 2500 pickups are available with a diesel engine or the Hemi V-8. The optional Cummins 5.9-liter turbo-diesel inline-six-cylinder develops 325 hp and 610 pounds-feet of torque. Three transmissions — a six-speed manual and two automatics — are offered.

Ram 2500 pickups with the regular cab have an 8-foot cargo bed, ride a 140.5-inch wheelbase and measure 229.7 inches long overall. Quad Cab models come with either a 6.3- or 8-foot cargo bed and ride a 140.5- or 160.5-inch wheelbase. All heavy-duty Ram models have a Sweptline (slab-sided) cargo bed.

A Ram 2500 with the Hemi V-8 sounds and feels like a muscle car when pushed, though it settles down quietly for ordinary use. Performance is this Ram's strong point, but it's accompanied by a seriously lumpy ride over uneven pavement. Steering is confident for a full-size pickup, but the back wheels spin easily on wet pavement when the bed is empty.

Long seat bottoms in the Ram 2500 offer an easy-chair experience. Interior space is plentiful, especially in the Quad Cab. Overall, the Ram 2500 doesn't feel much like a typical heavy-duty pickup. Back to top

Ram 3500 powertrains are similar to the 2500 series, which means buyers have a choice of a 330-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 or a 5.9-liter inline-six-cylinder Cummins diesel. Three transmissions — a six-speed manual and two automatics — are available. Regular-cab Ram 3500 models have dual rear wheels, but Quad Cab pickups can have either single or dual rear wheels. Back to top

The SRT10 features a 500-hp, 8.3-liter V-10 that's borrowed from the company's mighty Viper SRT10 sports car. The massive V-10 produces 525 pounds-feet of torque, which promises near-startling acceleration. A six-speed-manual gearbox is standard in the regular-cab model, while a four-speed automatic is standard in the Quad Cab.

Plenty of enhancements accompany the V-10, including a true dual exhaust system, 22-inch Pirelli tires, TRW antilock brakes, a Dana 60 rear axle, a rear wing and a hydraulic cooling fan. The body has been lowered by an inch in front and 2.5 inches at the rear. The unique power dome hood contains a functional scoop.

A larger fuel tank goes into the 2006 Ram SRT10 Quad Cab. The regular-cab model adds a hard tonneau cover with a body-colored wing, and the Quad Cab can be equipped with a backseat DVD entertainment system.

The response that results from tromping on the gas in the SRT10 can only be described as awesome — occupants are shoved back into the surprisingly comfortable seats whether the transmission is in the ideal gear or not. Yet the SRT10 can be driven modestly with ease.

Handling beats that of ordinary pickup trucks by a mile. Navigating the Hurst shifter through its six forward ratios is sheer delight. The ride is hardly gentle, but it isn't bad considering the overall experience. Simply put, the SRT10 is about as close as you're going to come to a true muscle-car experience from any modern vehicle. Back to top

Mega Cab
Dodge calls the new Ram Mega Cab model the longest-cab pickup truck ever. Measuring 111.1 inches long, the cab offers 71 cubic feet of cargo volume (7.6 cubic feet behind the rear seat). Dodge also claims the Ram Mega Cab has, at 44.2 inches, the most second-row legroom in its class. Built on a 160.5-inch wheelbase, the Mega Cab model stretches to 247.7 inches long overall. Either the 345-hp Hemi V-8 or the 325-hp turbo-diesel can be installed. Back to top