Everyone on staff was impressed with the exterior styling of the new Ram. The Inferno Red Crystal Metallic Pearl and Tan color combo definitely makes the Ram stand out in a crowd, but in any color, the chromed honeycomb grille, flanked by crystalline muscle-car-like headlights create an aggressive leading edge. The wraparound, chromed bumper with the frenched-in running lights closes the deal making the front end a complete package. A close inspection of the body panel and door gaps revealed very tight, consistent tolerances. The only snag was the small gap on the forward edge of the taillights. The only reason we noticed it was that on an otherwise clean truck, the gap gathers dust. The wraparound rear bumper with dual exhaust cutouts was also appreciated, though it did pose concerns for towing with the exhaust leading directly to the towed equipment. Overall, the sleek design represented the most dramatic change in Ram design since the '94's love-it-or-leave-it, big-rig look, and we think it's a hit. The Dodge Boys have really done their homework on this one.
The quality of materials, including wood trim, chrome accents, and leather, is miles ahead of the previous generation, and really makes the Dodge look luxurious. The two-tone tan and brown leather-trimmed dash with contrasting white stitching is a big factor, and gives the dash texture and definition. The front heated and ventilated seats were comfortable for just about everyone who got behind the wheel. The seat's bolsters keep you planted laterally and the leather upholstery was soft and pliable. A heated steering wheel should appeal to those of you who live where there are actual seasons. Staff members really appreciated the gauge cluster layout with the centered Driver Information Center (DIC) framed by the large tachometer and speedometer. Transplanting the DIC from the overhead console to the gauge cluster allows you to keep your eyes closer to the road when checking vital stats like tire pressure and fuel economy.
A ginormous center console features several convenient trays, dual cup holders, and electrical receptacle located in the console's center bin. The T-grip shifter has an effortless gear selection pattern without a needless maze of gates like the Tundra. A bevy of storage areas, both large and small, allow you to stash maps, cell phones, sunglasses, and dozens of other small accessories out of the way. The 110V outlet in the dash helps with both the "working man" and "family" theme, i.e., powering a laptop while on a construction site or powering the PS3 for the kids in the back. Speaking of the rear seats, Dodge made a great compromise in space between the Mega Cab and Quad Cab rear seats, and the heated rear seat option trumps all of the competitors. Rear seat passengers had plenty of legroom, just a bit less than the F-150, but the higher hip point was more comfortable for taller passengers. The rear TV is a decent size and quality, while the inputs are easy to distinguish. The Sirius satellite TV option has got to be a big draw for families, as it keeps the kids entertained whether or not you have DVDs on hand.