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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 written when the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 was new.

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 engine.  The HEMI makes 390 horsepower and 407 pound feet of torque.  The HEMI also features Dodge's multiple displacement system which deactivates four of the engine's cylinders when they're not needed.  As a result, the 5.7 liter engine gets an EPA-estimated 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway in two-wheel drive  - 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. "fuel saver" readout in the instrument panel is the only tell-tale." -- 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 V6 comes only with a 4-speed automatic transmission, V8s only with a 5-speed automatic. 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
  • "The R/T's cornering abilities are especially impressive. Its figure-eight performance of 28.2 seconds at 0.61 g is among the best of this ilk, topping even the Range Rover Sport (no doubt a result of the new rear suspension and big motor)." -- Motor Trend
  • "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. Even when I tried to get the new Ram to bounce through a turn, it wouldn't." -- 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
Review Last Updated: 10/5/09

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