By CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer

Dodge upgrades its Ram with luxury for the interior but without skimping on utility

Even before the 1994 facelift, Dodge boys loved their truck. While Rams are known for their muscular engines and penchant for dirty work, their styling has always been as exciting as grandpa’s trousers. Then came a Peterbilt face that even trendsetters could love: smooth glass, daring headlamps and flared fenders. The all-new 2009 Ram takes its load with panache.

The truck can tow big loads and behave like a luxury car. Engineers stoked its undersides with a multi-link coil-spring rear suspension that dispenses leaf springs for a refined and settled ride. Trailer sway control, electronic stability control, brake force distribution and four-wheel ABS keep the big queen from throwing a fit on slick surfaces. Even on rough city streets, the Ram’s rear suspension was better behaved than my sister’s offspring.

The interior glamour is no farm boy pickup. A gated gear selector in the center console with two drink holders and a concealed bin with space for cell phones accents it. Even a laptop can be hidden. A heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, twin analog gauges, silver console finishes and elegant wood grains raise the level of style and convenience. Twin glove boxes, dual-zone automatic climate control, in-dash navigation, side curtain airbags, rearview camera and available Sirius backseat satellite TV take it up a notch. If Mercedes built a truck, this would be it. (The Ram was engineered while Mercedes’ parent, Daimler, controlled Chrysler.)

RAM GOOD TIME | Bigger is better inside and out with the Dodge Ram’s extreme makeover.

Unique in a pickup is Dodge’s RamBox that can store sports equipment, tools or even beverages. Two compartments carved into the bedsides are easily accessible. The lit, self-draining compartments hold up to 10 cases of your cool beverage of choice. An adjustable bed divider, extender and cargo rail system with sliding cleats add versatility.

Engineers buffed and pumped the big truck’s muscles. Among engine choices of a 3.7-liter V6 or 4.7-liter V8 is a new 5.7-liter hemi V8 that generates 380 horsepower and 404 lb.-ft. of torque to pull almost anything. MDS (variable displacement) technology allows the engine to run on four cylinders to conserve fuel during low power situations. Our test truck came with the V8, producing all the power you could sanely desire. Fuel economy for the V8 with four-wheel-drive is rated 13/18-mpg city/highway — frugal for a big truck.

Much attention was given to aerodynamics and wind noise. Corners are pushed downward, the domed hood helps flow air over windshield wipers and mirrors are streamlined and wheel openings minimized. The A-pillar now directs air and water over the vehicle. Window moldings are reduced to make glass flush with the body sides and the front air dam is shaped to direct air cleanly under the truck. No pickup has had this kind of makeover to reduce aero drag, lower cabin noise and, most importantly, increase gas mileage.

To show your Texas Pride, order up the Lone Star Edition. It starts with an SLT-grade hemi-powered crew cab in two- or four-wheel-drive and adds chromed 4-in. exhausts, 20-in. chrome wheels, chrome grille, puddle lamp exterior mirrors and an overhead console. The Lone Star tailgate badge adds Texan appeal.

This truck’s lucky drivers will appreciate the all-out effort that went into engineering and styling this generation of Rams. That Dodge could create an all-new truck with so much technology and keep a familiar face is impressive.

Our loaded Laramie Crew 4×4 came to $44,935, making it tough competition for its counterparts.


Name: Olga Garcia

Occupation: AT&T, manager, Operations Execution Team

What kind of car: 2008 C300 Mercedes Benz

Name of car: Fräulein Helga

Don’t lesbians drive trucks? Yes. I’m just not one of them. Does Mercedes make a truck?

Why this car: This is my second Benz and quite honestly, once you’ve owned one you’d be hard pressed to change to another car maker. I admire other cars from afar, but I’m fairly certain that I’ll always drive a Mercedes.

Good gas mileage? Yes, and I don’t exactly drive the speed limit. I fill up every 10 days or so.

So you’re a fast driver: I even drive fast down my alleyway.

What are the rules of your car? Here’s the biggie: Do not slam my doors or trunk. It is a finely-tuned German automobile. A simple push is all you need to shut the door.

When you and your wife Alex go out, who drives more? This is tied into the Rules of the Car. If the consumption of food or drink is involved, we take my car. So I would say that’s 75 percent of the time because I must have water or coffee with me when I drive.

Best car memory: I have many memories of my first car, a 1974 VW Bug with a sunroof. One Friday night, after my high school football game, my BFF and I went to a party where all the jocks were. When we were leaving, they had picked up my car and moved it! It was hilarious. Once I saw that, I did it to other friends who drove Bugs. It was an innocent, but effective trick to play on people.

Funniest road trip story? In my Bug, I used to drive from Wichita, Kan. to Oklahoma City to party at The Free Spirit. That bar was fabulous! I had the itinerary down to the minute. From the time I left Wichita and got to the bar, I knew my alcohol limit and then drive back after it closed. One night, I had one too many tequila sours and my bar buddies fell asleep in the car. As I was driving, I swear I saw a UFO off in a distant field. Turns out, it was a fire that farmers set to their fields. I laughed out loud and never told my friends. I guess I was hallucinating a little bit.

What’s in your CD changer? At this very moment that would be Melissa Etheridge, Yes I Am. Some music is timeless.

Can you perform car maintenance? Because I was the youngest, and only girl in a family of five brothers, I was taught how to change/rotate my tires, change the oil and take care of those pesky things like changing windshield wipers. I certainly can do all of those things if I were forced to. But I’d prefer to drive to a Mercedes dealership and let them handle it.

How do you rate this car to previous ones? This is the best-made car I have ever owned. It is a wonderfully crafted and engineered piece of machinery.

Does this car automatically make you a power lesbian? I like that label. I suppose it depends on whom you ask. I would say no.

Sexiest thing about your car? I love the front of my car! It looks sassy and powerful. I especially adore the star in the grill. Inside it would be the black leather seats, baby!

Are there any downsides to owning a Mercedes? That’s easy. No.

Where is one place you would like to drive your car? I would love to take her home to Germany and drive her on the Autobahn. That would be a very invigorating experience.

Are you a Mercedes snob? I suppose I am. But I prefer to think that it is more like belonging to an exclusive club. The fees are a little high but well worth the perks.

Do people look at you snidely in this economic climate? If they do, I don’t notice it.

Snob. Definitely.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 18, 2009.siteпроверить индексацию в яндексе