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#5

in 2009 Full Size Pickup Trucks

Avg. Price Paid: $11,171 - $26,552
Original MSRP: $21,520 - $43,490
MPG: 14 City / 20 Hwy
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2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

For a car company that's known for its Hemi engine, the big news about the Dodge Ram's performance is its handling.  Most reviewers focus on the Ram's coil spring suspension - the only one in this class. A majority of reviewers say that suspension makes the Ram one of the best-driving full size trucks available today.

  • "A real surprise in the new Ram is the smooth carlike ride, which comes from a five-link, coil-spring suspension on the rear that replaced the traditional leaf-spring arrangement that pickups normally have." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Dodge Ram is available with three engines. A 3.7 liter V6 makes 210 horsepower and 235 pound feet of torque.  Most reviewers didn't drive a Ram with this engine, but advise consumers to skip it. The middle engine is a 4.7 liter V8 that makes 310 horsepower and 330 pound feet of torque. While that's fairly powerful, this engine's gas mileage leads many reviewers to recommend the third engine; a 5.7 liter Hemi V8, which makes 390 horsepower and 407 pound feet of torque.  The 5.7 liter engine gets an EPA-estimated 14/20 mpg city/highway with two-wheel drive, which is about the same as the 4.7 liter V8. The V8 engines come with a standard five-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 comes with a four-speed automatic.  Reviewers don't have much to complain about with the engines, but a few wish the Ram had a six-speed transmission like some competitors offer.

  • "We tested the crew cab 4x4 with its potent Hemi that can tow up to 9,100 pounds. It's never short on power, and you don't feel the switch from 8 to 4 cylinders." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "A big truck plus a big engine equals low fuel economy. Throttle responsiveness is lacking." -- CNET
  • "Underhood, improved breathing helps raise the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8's output to 390 horsepower (from 345) and 407 pound-feet of torque (from 375). Thus equipped, it accelerates forcefully and pulls race or boat trailers easily." -- Car and Driver
  • "Cotillion behavior in traffic; sudden jump when asked. And a good-humored grumble from the dual pipes." -- USA TODAY
  • "Power from the 4.7-liter V8 is adequate (we'd avoid the V6 like Ebola), but given that it gets worse gas mileage than the 5.7-liter V8, it seems like a no-brainer to step up to the big engine. We wish the five-speed automatic came with another gear, though, in order to optimize both fuel economy and towing ability, like the six-speed-equipped GM and Toyota pickups." -- Edmunds
  • "The 4.7-liter V8 is nearly the performance equal of the 5.3-liter V8 from Chevrolet, or the 5.4-liter V8 from Ford. It pulls strongly from a stop and has more than adequate passing punch. The 5.7 V8 is stronger still, with impressive launch power and abundant passing and merging muscle." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Reviewers are almost unanimous is saying the 2009 Dodge Ram is the best-handling and easiest to drive truck on the road, thanks in large part to its coil-spring suspension.  While most other trucks use leaf springs, many reviewers say the Ram's coil springs contribute to a smoother, more car-like ride and excellent handling capabilities for a truck. The brakes and steering get high marks as well.

  • "For a big truck, the suspension assures you don't get bounced and banged around the cabin." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "The steering on the test truck, a Ram 1500 Crew Cab SLT, was absolutely spot-on, the best I've experienced in any pickup. Ditto the progressive, predictable brakes." -- Orlando Sentinel
  • "Though coils are heresy to the crustiest truckers, the coils give a smoother ride, better handling and crisper steering." -- USA TODAY
  • "Don't expect buttery smoothness -- the springs still need to be sturdy enough to sustain the Ram's massive hauling and towing capabilities, so some jiggling over bumps and freeway hop is inevitable. But for a full-size truck, the Ram's relaxed ride is revolutionary." -- Edmunds
  • "Here's what the new suspension does for the Ram: Makes it comfortable with an empty bed, eliminating that bouncy feeling empty trucks can have on the highway; makes it pleasant with 1,000 pounds in the bed, with little lateral shift through turns; and eliminates axle hops and skips, always a problem with a pickup with a powerful engine such as the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8." -- Detroit News
  • "Ram is far too large and prone to cornering lean to be called nimble, but car-like is not a stretch. There's too little on-center steering response though, and Laramies with their 20-inch wheels seem prone to highway wander--requiring frequent correction. Brake response is excellent, with little nose plow in simulated panic stops." -- Consumer Guide

Towing and Hauling

Despite the Ram's coil-spring suspension, several reviewers say it is a competent tow and haul vehicle. Properly equipped, the Ram can haul 1,850 pounds and tow 9,100 pounds.

  • "Ram tows and hauls enough for most users." -- USA TODAY
  • "When towing various size trailers on a short loop, the Hemi-powered Ram acted as if nothing was attached to the rear. It just chugged along, getting up to 60 mph with ease, even with a 9,000-pound Air Stream attached on a simple hitch." -- Detroit News
  • "Should you ever end up using the bed itself, you may put the new coil-spring rear suspension to the test only to find that Dodge indeed did its homework here: Payload capacity is retained, but ride quality is vastly improved." -- Car and Driver

Next Steps: 2009 Dodge Ram 1500

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