While driving on either city streets or highways we didn't experience any obnoxious rearend bouncing and it handled every pothole or railroad crossing with little jarring. The Ram is in a league of its own here. The front springs are compliant enough for the freeway but stiff enough to dive into corners in the hills. The real star is the new coil-link rear suspension that's sure to be adopted by more fullsize 1/2-tons in the not-too-distant future. The front and rear suspension work very well under heavy braking creating minimal nose dive during rear to front weight transfer. During acceleration there was also minimal rear squat during weight transfer. The front and rear sway bars eliminated any lateral body roll during cornering and allow for easy, predictable lane changes. The power rack/pinion steering is a little quick but has a much better feel to it than previous Rams. The 4-wheel disc brakes are very good with minimal fade. With the factory Goodyear tires leaning more towards comfort and low noise rather than all-out performance, there is definitely more fun to be had with a tire swap.
The Ram is by far the hot rod of the group. In last year's test, on the same exact dyno, our '08 Hemi Ram put down only 245 hp. This year, with the same engine displacement, the '09 Ram put down a solid 300 hp. In an impromptu acceleration test between the Ram and the Tundra, the Ram easily accelerated away. The five-speed automatic transmission delivers good, firm shifts although we did find a few situations at certain speeds and certain throttle inputs where the computer needs a few seconds to make its mind up on where to put the transmission. The dual exhaust gives the engine a deep throaty sound to affirm that it's the baddest on the block.
Thinking back to previous Truck of the Year winners, we always chose a truck that was both innovative and impressive in all areas. This year is no different. The interior, powertrain, and, most significantly, the suspension upgrades on the '09 Dodge Ram put it at the top of this years strong list of competitors. Congratulations to Dodge, as well as the engineers and designers behind it.
* Quiet interior
* Comfortable seating, with deep bolsters
* Hot-rod power
* Smooth Ride
* 5.7L available in regular cab/shortbed
* Wide center console takes up a lot of space
* Goodyear Wranglers leave performance potential on the table
* Audio system isn't well-balanced and could use some placement tuning