test ram.JPG

    …And not just on the open road.  This week I attended a media event held by
    the good people at Ford Motor Company, to test their new F150.  While that may not be of much interest to the
    DF members, Ford also provided us with a new Ram to take through the same tests
    as we did with the Ford.  We were also
    provided with a new Silverado and new Tundra, for comparisons, although those
    two trucks were light years behind the Dodge and Ford in every category.


    The three categories where we tested were the durability
    course (Ford’s Silver creek 2), the autocross course, and the towing course.  Check the full article for a complete rundown!

    Test One: Chassis Durability / Suspension and Steering

    ram 1.JPG

    Model: 2009 Dodge Ram SLT Quad Cab
    Engine: 4.7L Magnum V8

    Wheel Option: 17″ Base Aluminum Wheel Package

    The durability course consisted of two quarter mile
    stretches of concrete, with texture added via large concrete humps and section
    of metal beams buried in the concrete.  I took the Ram through the long stretch of jagged rocks then a rough section of washboard
    road.  We were to maintain a steady speed
    of 30 miles per hour, and while the backend of the Ram hopped around a bit
    towards the end of the path, it stayed fairly straight and I was easily able to
    maintain my speed, safely.  Also, the
    steering was barely affected by the impact of the front wheels and there wasn’t
    much fighting with the wheel on my part to keep the truck headed in a straight
    line, and at a steady speed.


    We then turned around and went through another section of
    the same length, which was just washboard and then deep dips in the path and
    the ride was smooth inside the truck and interior vibration was no where near
    as rough as it was in the new Chevy Silverado or the Toyota Tundra.  Considering that these road surfaces are far
    rougher than almost anything the average driver will ever come across on a
    public road, the Ram still performed very well, and I would consider what
    vibrations there were to be well within the acceptable range.  The new suspension setup handled the course
    well, and the steering vibrations communicated through the steering wheel was
    obvious, but not to the point of being distracting.


    Test Two: Handling under heavy payload.

    ram and ford 1.JPG

    Model: 2009 Dodge Ram SLT (Silver), 2009 Dodge Ram Laramie (Deep Red)
    Engine: 4.7L Magnum V8 (Silver, 5.7L Hemi (Deep Red)

    Wheel Option: 17″ Base Aluminum Wheel Package (Silver), 20″
    High Gloss Aluminum Wheels (Deep Red)


    ram and ford 2.JPG


    Our second exercise was on the large open area used for
    handling tests, and to illustrate the capabilities, the trucks were taken
    through an autocross course, loaded with 850 pounds of ballast in the bed,
    along with a driver (obviously) and one passenger.  We started from a stop and went through a
    series of short, tight S-turns, where we gradually increased our speed, opening
    up into a straightaway with a series of hard cuts to be taken at 30 miles per
    hour.  The Ram handled the first two
    well, but on the third, the back end was sliding a bit and that slide was
    magnified when I hit the final necessary cut, but I was easily able to make the
    hard left at the end, after swerving to the right for the last cut.  We then went through a short, 180+ degree
    left, then heading us through a long, sweeping right hand turn, into a sharper
    right, where enough throttle would get the trucks to drift a bit, and as we
    accelerated out of that turn we hit the “sudden lane change” obstacle, at 35
    miles per hour, and the Ram was able to negotiate this portion without a
    problem, once again able to make the hard left at the end, doubling back towards
    the end of the course, but first a series of rubber strips displayed how the
    850lb payload affected the truck over some rough spots, and again, the Ram
    responded well.  Even with the fairly
    bulky payload, the Ram did a fine job of handling the hard turns, as well as the
    long, sweeping turns, and with the larger wheels, there was a distinct
    improvement in the handling through the tight turns, although both trimlines
    performed well.


    Test Three: Handling and Acceleration During Towing

    ram pulling.JPG

    Model: 2009 Dodge Ram Laramie
    Engine:5.7L Hemi (With towing package)

    Wheel Option: 20″ High Gloss Aluminum Wheels


    This test was performed while pulling a 7,000lb enclosed car
    trailer.  The course was executed both
    with, and without the tow/haul mode engaged. 
    I found this test to be the least impressive of the three for the Ram,
    as from a stop heading up a steep hill, the Ram struggled up the first large
    hill.  We began from a dig, and were
    asked to reach a speed of 50 miles per hour, but around 45mph (and 3500rpm) the
    Ram flattened out until I reached the top of the hill.  The other, smaller hills which were attacked
    from a roll were much easier on the Ram, and the suspension of the redesigned
    Ram did handle the turns and downhill portions very well.  Both the higher speed, downhill turns and
    sweeping uphill turns which were taken at speed showed the benefit of the new
    suspension setup, even though the 2009 Ram did struggle a bit with the heavy
    trailer on the largest of the hills. I suspected that the Ram would have
    performed better on this exercise had we been shifting manually, but all of the
    trucks were to be driven in the exact same manner for the test.


    I was very pleased with the 2009 Dodge Ram, with both the
    4.7 Magnum and 5.7L Hemi.  The stock
    exhaust had a good tone to it (although it could be a little louder, but that’s
    just my opinion), and the interior, along with looking great and being very
    comfortable, was fairly quiet with the windows up, even during hard
    acceleration.  These tests showed to me
    that Ford and Dodge have clearly separated themselves as the top dogs in the
    quarter ton pick-up market, and with the new F150 offering a towing capacity of
    over 11,000 pounds, the battle for the top American made truck will certainly
    be a hard-fought battle between these two companies.  The 2009 Dodge Ram offers a comfortable,
    styling interior and the new exterior is a step in the right direction,
    offering a sporty, aggressive new look and the 5.7L Hemi with even more power
    really sits you back in the seat under hard acceleration, and at the end of the
    day, my only complaint with the new Dodge Ram is the towing capacity, but Dodge
    has done an awesome job of improving upon their long history of great trucks.