Class 1-2 Roundup

Redesigns, New Features Add Value

October 2008, - Test Drives

by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor - Also by this author

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A “true” Crew Cab with four full-size doors is among many changes to 2009-model Ram 1500s. They also get bolder but more aerodynamic styling, plusher interiors, more storage cubbies and compartments, and a long list of electronic and audio-visual options. A Ram Bed option adds lighted, lockable and drainable storage compartments in each sidewall; for now it’s available only with the Crew Cab. The 2-door Regular and 4-door Quad Cab with shorter rear doors continue from last year. All Ram 1500s get a new rear suspension with two coil springs and five links, coupled to a live axle; the suspension is unique to this segment and provides a smoother ride when a truck is empty or lightly loaded. Two bed lengths are used with the various cabs and wheelbases. Three gasoline engines include a 3.7-liter V-6, with either a 6-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic, and two V-8s, a 4.7-liter and the 5.7-liter Hemi, both with a 5-speed automatics.


Full-size Titan enters its fifth year with one engine, two cab styles and four bed lengths. The 5.6-liter V-8 has an aluminum block and runs through a 5-speed autotranny; it can now be had with E85 capability as a no-cost option. The two-door King Cab’s rear doors open a full 180 degrees, and with a 98.8-inch long bed it’s a popular choice among work-truck buyers. The bed on the base XE can be factory sprayed with a protective coating. That lining is standard on the LE, which can be ordered with Utili-Track cargo-securement equipment, including dividers, sliding trays and modular storage units. The top-of-the-line SE comes with a bedside storage compartment behind the rear wheel on the driver’s side. The next-generation Titan, due in the 2011 model year, will be built by Chrysler on a Dodge Ram chassis, but other components will be “Nissan-specific.”


Full-size Tundra includes a Regular Cab model popular with fleets, while Double and CrewMax cabs are chosen by personal and dual-use buyers. Short, Standard and Long beds are used, depending on cab and wheelbase. A 4-liter V-6 and 4.7-liter V-8 have four-valve heads and variable valve timing; they run through 5-speed automatic transmissions. The double-overhead-cam 5.7-liter V-8 also has variable valve timing and gets a 6-speed autotranny; 5.7s sold in some ethanol-producing Midwestern states will be able to burn E85 fuel. All engines have dual-stage intake runners to maximize efficiency and performance. Tundra has been well-received by enthusiast magazines and customers since it was upsized from its original 7/8-scale version several years ago. Toyota is actively courting business customers with available upfitted equipment and special cash incentives.

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