Long Term Update
2006 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Mega Cab 4x4In case you missed our Truck and SUV of the Year coverage in Issue 1, the 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Mega Cab 4x4 took the top spot in the pickup truck evaluation. From the winners came the spoils, as we convinced the manufacturers to loan us the Truck and SUV of the Year for a period of one year. In that time period, we will be giving you updates in just about every issue of what we did with these vehicles and how they took it.

Right off the bat, it's painfully obvious that the Dodge Mega Cab isn't going to be parking in the front row of anywhere. With its Titanic-like length and wheelbase, parking is best suited with room to roam. Maneuvering in and around the bothersome little cars is best accomplished by shoving the menacing chrome nose of the Dodge squarely in the dinky rearview of any driver that thinks they should be in front of you. Your only other choice is to be patient. Nah

In my stint as the leadoff driver for the long term, I spent about 99 percent of my time behind the wheel of the big truck simply driving it on the freeway. My grind back and forth to work sees almost 60 miles of SoCal's finest (not really) paved swaths. One major flaw, so to speak, of the truck is the extremely rough ride on the freeway. Dodge designed this Ram to make life simpler for the working class by including a seriously heavy-duty suspension. The bed was meant be filled and the trailer hitch loaded down, and the trade-off for that hauling capacity is an empty bed that bounces up and down over expansion joints like a kid hopped up on sugar. Fuel mileage was 11.6 mpg over 3,905 miles. I struggle to think that the truck's 5.7L Hemi drank 338 milk-jugs worth of gas over a 3,905-mile period, but it was on par with the 11.4 mpg that we logged during our Of the Year evaluation. It could have been worse, I guess, if the engine didn't have cylinder deactivation.

Where the Mega Cab glistens in my book is in people capacity and interior space. My daughter is a cheerleader and her team does quite well on the competition circuit, so she needs to be all over the place during the course of the season. My wife and I go, as well, to support our offspring. But the clincher is the grandmothers who would be my mom and the mother-in-law (insert haunting theme music here), and they want us to ride all together in one vehicle like one happy freakin' family. I got nothing but praise about the amount of legroom and the reclining design of the rear seats, underscored by the grinding edge of twin backseat-drivers about my speeding. Legroom will cover any human up to the 6-foot, 6-inch range. I didn't get to test it myself, but my 10-year-old daughter gave two thumbs up for the included optional DVD rear seat entertainment system.

As six weeks of empty-bed bouncies ticked by on my calendar, I had come to love/hate the Mega Cab. When my time was done, I passed the keys to the next editor and rode home in our five-year-old Ford Super Crewzer project. Turning onto the freeway on-ramp and heading south, I got smacked by the reality of what a bucket our Crewzer really is. Darn it. Can I have the Dodge Ram back please?