It's the most truck-like of all the trucks we tested. This statement left all of our mouths after spending seat time in the Dodge Ram. What we meant by that is the raw, unmolested, and traction control-free power, the heavy steering, and a ride that is 100 percent all-truck. There is no question you are in a truck once you hop up into the driver seat. There's no real excitement inside, cloth seats, same-old Dodge dash and ergonomics, and a list of options that was shorter than the rear leg room.
A strong suit for the Dodge is the continual support the aftermarket provides the Ram: suspension kits, interior dress-up items, and of course, performance. That support comes mostly for the Hemi 5.7L V-8. Rated at 345 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque, we only managed to pull 247hp from the Ram on the chassis dyno. This low number surprised all of us and explains why every Dodge owner we know installs an intake, headers, exhaust, and programmer on them. We're expecting the 6.1 Hemi found in the SRT Grand Cherokee to find its way under the Ram hood soon. And if it doesn't, Dodge will have to step up with a better V-8 option.
Riding long distances in the Dodge really left much to be desired as the stiff rear leaf springs tended to pound occupants on freeways and uneven highways. Whereas these stiff springs help in hauling and towing, without any extra weight in the back, the ride is very harsh. Our particular tester was packaged as the Big Horn edition. This package included chrome tubular side steps, a chrome fuel door, a chrome exhaust tip, inner rear-fender liners, and "Big Horn" badging. This much chrome may sound like a good idea. But after looking at the exterior, when we opened the doors, we found it the most disappointing aspect.
Plain Jane is how most of the driver's characterized the interior and this nothing-special approach to design really hurt the Dodge's chance for winning our competition. The dash and instrument cluster layout was so basic, we wondered if Dodge was going after the nostalgic look. The Ram also suffers from a lack of amenities not typical of a truck pushing $40K. Cloth seats that were not labeled as comfortable, a radio as basic as they come, and an overall interior look that makes you wonder how many light-years Dodge is behind GM and Ford, and you get the point of why our Ram tester didn't excel. Coming in at $38,985, the Ram doesn't offer much value considering its max-tow rating is at the bottom of the pack; a person has to step up to the Mega Cab to have any real rear-seat room, and the Tundra outperforms it in every category for around a $1,000 less with Mega Cab-like rear room. Despite the lack of frills, we all seemed to enjoy the Dodge for its good exterior looks and the support the aftermarket provides, but found that it fell short in value and technology.
New for 2008 is the Ford F-150 Lariat Limited 4x4 catering to the truck owner who wants to ride in style and arrive to the golf course with darn-near every option available for a fullsize truck. This Limited package is strictly a cosmetic package and includes 22-inch aluminum wheels with painted accents, Limited badging, two-toned leather seats, and polished tubular running boards. Combine this, with the F-150 Lariat 4x4 MSRP of $38,160 and the Limited will cost you $45,040. This staggering price tag provides amenities more commonly associated with a luxury SUV, but fails to deliver comparable fullsize truck performance.