Coil spring rear end improves ride
Top-class, quiet interior
Overall fit and finish is much improved
Improved fuel economy

Off-road enthusiasts won't like the smaller wheelwells and lower rockers
Mega Cab is dead in the 1500

Dodge recently invited us to Nashville to get behind the wheel of an '09 Ram 1500. Unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January, the '09 Ram showed its bold new styling to the world, along with a few of its segment-exclusive designs. We were anxious to see how far Dodge had come and how their latest offering would stack up against some of our favorite -ton trucks.

Starting with the exterior of the Ram, designers tightened up the panel gaps and eliminated the bumper to body gap in the front. On appearances alone, the result is a truck that looks much more refined, with a perception of high tolerances. The practical side of the styling, which also includes smaller wheelwell openings, a wiper cowl that directs air over the wipers, and an integrated tailgate spoiler, is that aerodynamic drag is now best-in-class at .419 for 4x4 Crew Cab and .39 for the 2WD Crew Cab.

We were impressed with the new Ram before we even turned the key, as the interior is a huge departure from the previous generation. We never had many complaints about Dodge interiors, they were solid and functional, just nothing to write home about. The Ram's new interior, even on base models, is tightly assembled and much more interesting visually. Move up to Laramie models and you'll get a stitched gauge cluster surround and improved materials in the door panels. Smooth silver-colored interior pieces in the center stack and vent surrounds break up the interior and it's not at all busy like some of its competition. Seat ventilation is now available for the first time in a truck, an option that was a big hit on our long-term Ford Expedition, even in Southern California's mild weather. Standard bucket seats were comfortable, especially with the ventilation, but we like the Sport model's aggressively-bolstered buckets even more.