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    ram v tundra 1.jpgThe 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 received a major facelift, as well as a more powerful engine lineup, and Dodge has claimed their spot atop the half ton truck in the market.  Their key foreign competitor in the market is the 2008 Toyota Tundra, last year’s Motor Trend Truck of the Year.  We tested the 2008 Toyota because they had not released their 2009 model in time for testing.  However, it has been stated that there will be only minor aesthetic changes to last year’s champion.

    Powertrain
    The 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 and 2008 Toyota Tundra offer the most powerful standard engine lineups  in the standard full-size truck class lineups, along with both offering a six cylinder option.   The 2009 Ram has a revamped engine lineup, beginning 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 2008 Toyota Tundra begins with a 235 horsepower 4.0L V6, followed by a 276 horsepower 4.7L V8, and their premium engine is the 5.7L i-Force V8 making 381 horsepower.  


    During the hauling exercise, we tested two 2009 Dodge Rams equipped with the 4.7L and 5.7L Hemi against two 2008 Toyota Tundras with the 4.7L and the 5.7L i-Force.  The trucks were each loaded with 850lbs of ballast, and the testing area was an autocross course with a variety of s-turns, long sweeping turns, hard hairpins, and a “lane change maneuver”.  Each of the trucks accelerated well into the first turn, and there was little indication of the weight in the back of the trucks.  The models equipped with the 5.7L engines broke the tires loose easily, and the stability/traction control quickly stepped in to settle the tires down.  Both trucks shifted smoothly throughout the course, and the slight advantage in horsepower and torque gave the Ram the edge through the hauling exercise.

    ram lf 1.jpgDuring our towing exercise, the 2008 Toyota Tundra showed a minor advantage.  The 2009 Dodge Ram was equipped with the 5.7L Hemi and the Tundra had its 5.7L i-Force, and both trucks were hitched to a 7,000lb car trailer.  The course began with a steep incline, where we were asked to reach and hold 50 mph.  While the Tundra was able to complete the task, the Ram struggled.  The transmission of the Ram kept the engine RPM at a point where it wasn’t pulling strongly, and it wouldn’t shift down to another gear, causing the truck to get stuck around 45mph.  Once reaching the top of the hill, both trucks made short work of the course through a series of smaller hills as well as a variety of mild turns.  Even though the Ram did a fine job through the rest of the course, the struggle up the first big hill gave the Toyota the advantage in the pulling exercise.

    Both the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 and the 2008 Toyota Tundra offer three powerful engines, but the power advantage of each of the similarly sized V8s gives Dodge the edge in the Powertrain comparison.

    Ride Quality and Handling
    tundra2.jpgThe 2009 Dodge Ram has made a dramatic change to their new rear coil springs, whereas the 2008 Toyota Tundra uses a conventional leaf spring setup, and this was the area where the new Ram really set itself apart from the Toyota.  During our basic road test, the 2009 Ram was far smoother, both in handling and ride quality.  Very little of the road vibration was noticeable through the steering wheel, and the truck felt very secure in turns at normal speeds.  The Tundra, on the other hand, had more body roll steering wheel vibration.  When the 2009 Ram and 2008 Tundra were each taken down the Ford Proving Grounds Silver Creek Test Track, the advantage of the new Dodge suspension was clear, as was the gross sufficiency in the engineering of the Toyota chassis.  The 2009 Ram was very smooth heading down the rough track, with only the most violent of the bumps causing the rear wheels to hop.  Climbing into the Tundra, I had pretty high expectations for the reigning truck of the year, but it was an utter disappointment.  The sloppy rear suspension and soft chassis caused so much vibration that even the smaller bumps on the course got the rear wheels hopping and every bit of that force was sent directly into the cabin, vibrating the dash and mirrors severely.  The Tundra was so terrible on the Silver Creek course that during previous testing, the chassis flex allowed contact between the cabin and bed of the truck, breaking the back window.  Unlike the Ram, the Tundra was unsteady throughout the bumpy course, and that alone made it clear that Toyota has a great deal of work to do in order to compete with the new Dodge Ram.

    During the autocross hauling exercise, the 2009 Ram’s new coil suspension continued to outperform the 2008 Tundra.  The Ram easily handled all of the hard turns, with only a slight amount of wheel slide heading out of the s-turns.  The Tundra’s body roll was violent, and to make matters worse the stability control system of the Toyota is distracting and overwhelming.  The last thing that you need in a time of a sudden hard turn is flashing lights and a loud buzzer as the computer controls the actions of the vehicle.  Even then, it felt as though the badly oversteering Tundra wasn’t going to make it through the sharper turns.  During the towing exercise, the Ram performed well, even though the 7,000lb trailer caused the rear end to squat.  The 7,000lb trailer seemed to mute the suspension and chassis issues of the Tundra, and during the long sweeping turns at higher speeds, the Tundra felt far more comfortable than it had on the sharp turns of the autocross course.  The Tundra does boast of a higher towing capacity than the Ram, although with 7,000lbs behind it, the Tundra felt like it was being pushed a bit.

    Overall, the ride quality and handling of the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 surpassed the 2008 Toyota Tundra in every category, and the Toyota’s inability to handle the rough test course made me question the Tundra winning the2008 Motor Trend Truck of the Year.

    Exterior and Interior
    While the exterior appearance comes down to a matter of opinion, the 2009 Dodge Ram is just a better looking truck than the 2008 Toyota Tundra.  The styling of the Tundra makes it look awkward and almost squished in the front end, and the short front nose smacks of the also unattractive Toyota Previa.  Along with being easier on the eyes, the 2009 Ram also features a handful of innovations to make the exterior more functional.  Dodge has added the new RamBox Cargo Management System, a unique feature across the entire truck market.  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 2008 Tundra also offers a customizable bedrail system with storage boxes, a bed extension, tie-down hooks, and other now-basic amenities of a half ton truck.

    09 ram 1500 interior.jpgThe 2009 Dodge Ram offers packages and interior layout options to go from a bare work truck to a luxury vehicle with leather, heated seats, heated steering wheel, and a state of the art stereo/information screen. The 2008 Toyota Tundra falls short in both quality and quantity of interior options, with only basic items like floormats, dash appliqués, and sport pedals.  Both trucks offer the popular touch screen navigation radio, but the Dodge has the advantage of their on-board Wi-Fi connection that works with devices like laptops or PDAs.  The only advantage that the Toyota can claim is that they offer both Sirius and XM satellite radio, but for those who have experienced both, offering XM is barely an advantage.  Gadgets and accessories aside, the quality of the 2009 Ram far surpasses the Toyota.  The 2009 Ram interior is more comfortable from the base model option to the highest trimline, and the vehicle cabin keeps out more external noise than the Tundra. 

    tundra dash.jpgEven in its most dressed-up model, the Toyota interior is a compilation of cheap plastic with a variety of glued-on faux finishes.  The flimsy door panels and dash seemed at times like they might fall apart during the more grueling tests and the amount of wasted dash space puts the HVAC and radio controls more towards the passenger than the driver.  It may have been Motor Trend’s 2008 Truck of the Year, but the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 is clearly the better truck when it comes down to interior comfort and options.

    Summary
    The 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 has an all new suspension setup, more powerful engines, and more accessibility and storage options, giving the new Ram a defined advantage over the 2008 Toyota Tundra.  Toyota has been slow to get their 2009 models to the showrooms, which is why we tested the 2008MY truck (even their website still lists just 2008 models), and it’s a good thing as the 2008 Truck of the Year will need a great deal of refinement to compete with the new Dodge Ram.  The one advantage of the Toyota is that it is slightly less expensive for the higher (V8) powered models when similarly equipped, even though the entry level Tundra costs more than the base Ram.  However, with the lack of quality in the suspension, the interior, and lack of power, the Toyota isn’t worth much consideration against the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500.

    ram front close.jpg

    Is the 2008 Toyota Tundra a better buy due to its low cost, or is the 2009 Dodge Ram worth the few extra dollars? Talk about it in the forums!!!












    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


    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.

     

     Price Your 2009 Dodge Ram Today!

     

    2008 Toyota Tundra Specs

    Model Line
    Overview


    Model lineup:

    Toyota Tundra Regular
    Cab standard bed 4.0L V6 ($22,290); Regular Cab standard bed 4.7L V8 4×4
    ($26,480); Double Cab Tundra Grade standard bed 4.0L V6 ($24,175); Double Cab
    Tundra Grade standard bed 4.7L V8 4×4 ($27,910); Double Cab SR5 standard bed
    4.0L V6 ($26,105); Double Cab SR5 standard bed 4.7L V8 4X4 ($29,900); Double
    Cab Limited 4.7L V8 ($34,460); Double Cab Limited 4.7L V8 4X4 ($37,510);
    CrewMax Tundra Grade 4.7L V8 ($27,685); CrewMax Tundra Grade 4.7L V8 4×4
    ($30,735); CrewMax SR5 4.7L V8 ($29,675); CrewMax SR5 4.7L V8 4X4 ($32,725);
    CrewMax Limited 4.7L V8 ($37,760); CrewMax Limited 4.7L V8 4X4 ($40,810)

    Engines:

    236-hp 4.0-liter V6;
    271-hp 4.7-liter V8; 381-hp 5.7-liter V8

    Transmissions:

    5-speed automatic;
    6-speed automatic

    Safety equipment (standard):

    front-impact airbags,
    front passenger side-impact airbags, curtain-style head protection airbags
    with rollover sensor, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force
    distribution (EBD) and brake assist, electronic stability control with
    traction control, tire-pressure monitor

    Safety equipment (optional):

    front and rear
    park-assist sonar; back-up camera

    Basic warranty:

    3 years/36,000 miles

    Assembled in:

    San Antonio, Texas;
    Princeton, Indiana

     


    Specifications
    As Tested


    Model tested (MSRP):

    Toyota Tundra Double
    Cab Limited 5.7L V8 4X4 ($38,770)

    Standard equipment:

    front and rear
    park-assist sonar, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-trimmed power
    driver and passenger seats with center console, JBL stereo with 10 speakers,
    in-dash six-CD changer and auxiliary audio input, power windows, central
    locking with keyless remote, power heated and folding outside mirrors with
    turn indicators, cruise control, tilt/telescope steering wheel with redundant
    audio controls, auto-dim rearview mirror with compass, programmable
    garage-door opener, overhead console, sliding rear glass, fog lights, engine
    skid plate, heavy-duty starter and battery, deck rail system with adjustable
    tie-down cleats, front and rear mud flaps, 18-inch alloy wheels

    Options as tested (MSRP):

    Option Package C
    ($2,915) includes 20-inch alloy wheels, DVD Navigation with back-up camera,
    440-watt audio amplifier with 12 speakers, four-CD changer and Bluetooth
    wireless technology, and black running boards; bedliner with rails ($345);
    carpeted floor mats with door sill protector ($178)

    Destination charge:

    ($685)

    Gas guzzler tax:

    N/A

    Price as tested (MSRP):

    $42,893

    Layout:

    four-wheel drive

    Engine:

    5.7-liter dual
    overhead cam 32-valve V8 with variable valve timing

    Horsepower (hp @ rpm):

    381 @ 5600

    Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):

    401 @ 3600

    Transmission:

    6-speed automatic
    with manual shift feature

    EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:

    13/17 mpg

    Wheelbase:

    145.7 in.

    Length/width/height:

    228.7/79.9/76.2 in.

    Track, f/r:

    67.9/67.9 in.

    Turning circle:

    44.0 ft.

    Seating capacity:

    5

    Head/hip/leg room, f:

    40.2/63/42.5 in.

    Head/hip/leg room, m:

    N/A

    Head/hip/leg room, r:

    38.7/62.6/34.7 in.

    Cargo volume:

    N/A

    Payload:

    1560 Lbs.

    Towing capacity:

    10300 Lbs.

    Suspension, f:

    independent double
    wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer bar

    Suspension, r:

    solid axle,
    multi-leaf springs

    Ground clearance:

    10.8 in.

    Curb weight:

    5440 lbs.

    Tires:

    P275/55R20

    Brakes, f/r:

    vented disc/vented
    disc with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist

    Fuel capacity:

    26.4 gal.

    Price your 2008 Toyota Tundra Today!

     
     
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