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    2009 ram f150 compare header pic.jpgThis year brought about complete redesigns for both the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 and the 2009 Ford F150.  The Dodge Ram and the Ford F150 were improved in almost every way, and they each staked their claim as the best new truck on the market thanks to positive reviews.  We traveled to the Ford Proving Grounds to put the new Dodge Ram and Ford F150 head to head to see which is truly the best truck of 2009.

    Powertrain
    The 2009 Dodge Ram and 2009 Ford F150 both have improved engine lineups, but even with the changes to the F150, the Ram still has a definite advantage in power.  The Dodge Ram options begin with a 3.7L V6 making 210 horsepower, followed by a 310 horsepower 4.7L V8, and the premium engine is the 390 horsepower Hemi.  The 2009 F150 boasts an entry level 4.6L V8 engine that offers 248 horsepower but still gets over 20mpg, and the next level is another 4.6L V8, this one making 292 horsepower.  The Ford F150′s premium engine option is their Triton 5.4L. While the 310 horsepower is an increase over the previous models, it falls short of the Hemi.  


    ram and ford 1.JPGThe advantage of the Dodge engines was evident during the hauling exercise, where we drove two 2009 Dodge Ram 1500s and two 2009 Ford F150s through an autocross course.  We tested the Dodge 4.7L and 5.7L Hemi alongside the Ford 4.6L 3V and the Triton 5.4, all of which were loaded with 800 pounds of ballast and sent through a collection of s-turns, hairpin turns, and straightaways.  We launched from the starting line, and the Ram’s strength was evident right away, easily climbing to the target speed before hitting the first series of turns.  Through the longer sweeping turns, the power was a bit overwhelming for the rear wheels, causing the truck to drift a bit under hard acceleration.  Both trucks felt strong going through the autocross course, but like the basic road test, the Dodge Ram was clearly more powerful more fun to drive.

    Surprisingly, the Dodge Ram’s power advantage wasn’t as evident in the towing exercise.  The 2009 Dodge Ram 5.7L Hemi was matched against the 2009 Ford F150 5.4L Triton, both with the available towing packages.  The Dodge Ram and Ford F150 were each hitched to a 7000lb trailer and taken through a two mile road course.  The Dodge Ram had no problems pulling the trailer on the flat portions, but from a stop heading up a large hill, the Dodge struggled to reach the target speed of 50mph, where the 5.4L powered F150 easily reached 50.  The Dodge Ram’s transmission allowed the RPMs to sit at a point where it was not pulling strongly, nor would it downshift, causing the truck to slow towards the top of the hill.  There was little to separate the vehicles in towing with the exception of the “big hill” portion of the exercise, but that alone gave the 2009 F150 the advantage in the towing category.  Even with the power advantage of the Dodge Ram, the Ford F150 is the better tow vehicle, boasting a towing capacity 2000 pounds more than the Ram.

    Ride Quality and Handling
    silver creek ford 1.JPGThe 2009 Dodge Ram has made a huge departure from the conventional half ton truck rear suspension with coil springs, whereas the 2009 Ford F150 has focused on perfecting the leaf spring.  During the basic road test, the two trucks performed equally well across all types of road surfaces, but when the trucks went taken down the Ford Proving Grounds Silver Creek Test Track, the Ford F150 suspension provided a smoother ride.  Silver Creek is a quarter mile recreating the roughest roads imaginable.  Even Ford’s test drivers are only permitted to drive it a few times a day, due to the impact to their body during test sessions. We were instructed to drive each length of the track, trying to maintain 30mph while keeping the truck on the brutal path.  The Dodge Ram was smooth but did display some rear wheel hop.  The Ford F150 showed less bounce in the rear end, and had less vibration through the steering wheel and less rattle throughout the interior.  The Dodge Ram’s vibration was not excessive but it was obvious that Ford put a tremendous amount of effort into ride quality, and that helped to give Ford the edge in this comparison.

    ram pulling.JPGThe hauling exercise on the autocross course also showed the improvements made to the suspension setups of the 2009 Dodge Ram and 2009 Ford F150.  Both trucks were very nimble, handling the s-turns and tight hairpins very well. The exercise would have been more fun had we been permitted to turn off the traction control systems.  The bends through the long course were taken easily by both the Dodge Ram and the Ford F150.  The rear end of the Dodge Ram squatted when it was loaded with the 7000lb trailer, but the sport inspired coil suspension of the Dodge Ram never felt like it was pushed beyond its abilities with the 800lbs of ballast loaded up for the autocross exercise.  The two trucks each make a great case for their respective suspension systems, but overall the 2009 Dodge Ram offers a more nimble feel and was more fun to drive.  

    Exterior And Interior
    While the exterior styling comes down to a matter of opinion, both Dodge and Ford have come up with a handful of additions to the truck to make the trucks more functional.  Dodge has focused on storage, with the new RamBox Cargo Management System.  This adds weatherproof, lockable storage compartments to the top of both bedsides, and the inside of the Dodge Ram’s bed features ribs to control the integrated bed divider/extender.  The 2009 Ford F150 also offers a bed divider system, but the key additions to the new F150 stress accessibility.  The 2009 F150 offers an integrated tailgate step and handle (previous found on Ford’s heavy duty lineup), and in front of the rear wheels they offer their new bed-side steps.  These spring loaded steps pop from under the vehicle with a light kick to the button on each step, and make for easy access to the front of the bed.

    09 ram 1500 interior.jpgBoth the 2009 Dodge Ram and 2009 Ford F150 feature all of the basic amenities that you would expect such as climate control and state of the art sound systems.  The 2009 Ram 1500 offers some accessibility with their on-board Wi-Fi connection that works with devices like laptops of PDA within 100 feet of the truck.  The Ram also offers Sirius Radio and Backseat TV service with their navigation system. 

    09 f15 interior.jpgFord has taken the functionality of a truck interior to the next level with the 2009 F150.  Ford recognized how many F150 buyers were using their truck for work, so they have allowed a handful of high tech options to turn the ’09 F150 into a rolling office.  The center console opens to reveal a large hanging file storage space, and the new Ford Work Solutions computer system puts the internet in your truck and at your fingertips.  From the Ford Tool Link System, to the Crew Chief vehicle location system, to the Microsoft windows vehicle application, there is little that the on-board computer of the F150 cannot do.  For the businessman who spends a great deal of time on the road, working from his truck, the F150 offers accessibility like no other truck on the road, and when compared to the Dodge Ram, there is little comparison to Dodge’s run-of-the-mill navigation screen.

    Summary
    dodge ram display.JPGThe 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 and the 2009 Ford F150 have both made vast improvements to put themselves atop of the half-ton truck class.  The 2009 Ram’s 390 horsepower Hemi and coil suspension make the truck more exciting to drive than the Ford, but the 2009 F150 features more accessibility items to create the ideal work truck.  In the end, if you are looking for a half ton truck with the towing capacity of many heavy duty models, as well as the features of your office, the 2009 Ford F150 may be the truck for you.  On the other hand, if you don’t need to tow 11,000lbs and you are more interested in performance than your truck’s ability to print Word files, the 2009 Dodge Ram is the truck for you.

    Which is the truck for you?  Has Ford improved this new F150 enough for you to consider buying it, or is the Dodge performance still the top dog?

    2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Specs

     

    Model Line
    Overview


    Model lineup:

    Dodge Ram ST regular
    cab long bed 2WD ($21,270); SLT Quad Cab 4WD ($32,695); TRX Quad Cab 4WD ($33,840);
    Sport Crew Cab 2WD ($35,055); R/T ($29,365); Laramie Crew Cab 4WD ($43,240)

    Engines:

    215-hp 3.7-liter sohc
    12-valve V6; 310-hp 4.7-liter sohc 16-valve V8; 390-hp 5.7-liter ohv 16-valve
    V8

    Transmissions:

    4-speed automatic;
    5-speed automatic

    Safety equipment (standard):

    dual front
    multi-stage airbags, three-point belts in all seating positions with
    constant-force retractors, LATCH child-seat anchors, child-protection rear
    door locks; electronic stability/traction control, four-wheel ABS

    Safety equipment (optional):

    side-curtain airbags
    for front and rear seats, back-up camera, rear park sensors

    Basic warranty:

    3 years/36,000 miles

    Assembled in:

    St. Louis, Missouri;
    Warren, Michigan

     


    Specifications
    As Tested

    (Specs below do not
    represent all of the test vehicles)


    Model tested (MSRP):

    Dodge Ram Crew Cab
    1500 Laramie 4WD ($44,035)

    Standard equipment:

    leather upholstery,
    dual-zone climate control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, heated
    front seats, security alarm, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Sentry Key engine
    immobilizer; overhead console with mini trip computer and compass, cruise
    control, power windows and door locks, keyless entry, four-wheel disc brakes
    with four-wheel ABS; part-time manual shift transfer case

    Options as tested (MSRP):

    Navigation radio with
    AM/FM/CD/DVD/HDD/MP3 ($945); 20-inch wheels ($125)

    Destination charge:

    ($900)

    Gas guzzler tax:

    N/A

    Price as tested (MSRP):

    $46,005

    Layout:

    four-wheel drive

    Engine:

    5.7-Liter V8

    Horsepower (hp @ rpm):

    390 @ 5600

    Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):

    407 @ 4000

    Transmission:

    5-speed automatic

    EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:

    13/18 mpg

    Wheelbase:

    140.0 in.

    Length/width/height:

    227.5/79.4/74.8 in.

    Track, f/r:

    68.1/67.5 in.

    Turning circle:

    45.4 ft.

    Seating capacity:

    5

    Head/hip/leg room, f:

    41.0/63.6/41.0 in.

    Head/hip/leg room, m:

    N/A

    Head/hip/leg room, r:

    39.9/63.2/39.4 in.

    Cargo volume:

    N/A

    Payload:

    1380 Lbs.

    Towing capacity:

    6300 Lbs.

    Suspension, f:

    independent, double
    A-arms, coil-over-shock springs, stabilizer bar

    Suspension, r:

    live axle, trailing
    links, coil springs, Panhard rod, stabilizer bar

    Ground clearance:

    7.7 in.

    Curb weight:

    5440 lbs.

    Tires:

    P275/60R20 Goodyear
    Wrangler

    Brakes, f/r:

    vented disc/vented
    disc with ABS, EBD

    Fuel capacity:

    26.0 gal.












    2009 Ford F150 Specs

    Model lineup:

    Ford F-150 XL Regular
    Cab 2WD standard bed ($21,095); STX SuperCab 4WD Flareside ($27,245); XLT
    SuperCab 2WD long bed ($28,785); FX4 SuperCab standard bed ($33,930) Lariat
    SuperCrew 2WD standard bed ($35,145); King Ranch SuperCrew 4WD short bed
    ($41,985); Platinum SuperCrew 4WD standard bed ($43,885)

    Engines:

    248-hp 4.6-liter sohc
    16-valve V8; 292-hp 4.6-liter sohc 24-valve V8; 310-hp 5.4-liter sohc
    24-valve V8

    Transmissions:

    4-speed automatic;
    6-speed automatic

    Safety equipment (standard):

    ABS, smart front
    airbags

    Safety equipment (optional):

    traction control,
    reverse sensing system, rearview camera

    Basic warranty:

    3 years/36,000 miles

    Assembled in:

    Kansas
    City
    , Missouri; Dearborn, Michigan

     


    Specifications
    As Tested

    (Specs below do not represent all of the test
    vehicles)


    Model tested (MSRP):

    Ford F-150 SuperCrew
    Lariat 4×2 short bed ($34,845)

    Standard equipment:

    air conditioning,
    5.4-liter V8, 6-speed automatic, P265/60R18 tires, power steering, power disc
    brakes, power windows, power locks, cruise control, AM/FM/CD, remote keyless
    entry, leather 40/20/40 split bench power front seats w/lumbar

    Options as tested (MSRP):

    limited-slip rear
    differential ($300); Sony navigation radio ($2,430); power sliding rear
    window ($250); Lariat Plus package ($795); trailer brake controller ($230)

    Destination charge:

    ($975)

    Gas guzzler tax:

    N/A

    Price as tested (MSRP):

    $39,825

    Layout:

    rear-wheel drive

    Engine:

    5.4-liter sohc
    24-valve V8

    Horsepower (hp @ rpm):

    310 @ 5000

    Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):

    365 @ 3500

    Transmission:

    6-speed automatic

    EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:

    14/20 mpg

    Wheelbase:

    148.5 in.

    Length/width/height:

    231.7/78.9/74.3 in.

    Track, f/r:

    67.0/67.0 in.

    Turning circle:

    47.0 ft.

    Seating capacity:

    6

    Head/hip/leg room, f:

    41.0/60.5/41.3 in.

    Head/hip/leg room, m:

    N/A

    Head/hip/leg room, r:

    40.3/64.3/43.5 in.

    Cargo volume:

    N/A

    Payload:

    1730 Lbs.

    Towing capacity:

    8500 Lbs.

    Suspension, f:

    independent, coil
    springs

    Suspension, r:

    live axle, leaf
    springs

    Ground clearance:

    N/A

    Curb weight:

    5314 lbs.

    Tires:

    P265/60R18

    Brakes, f/r:

    vented disc/vented
    disc with ABS

    Fuel capacity:

    26.0 gal.

     
     
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