2010 Dodge Ram Fort Lauderdale

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Chrysler has done it again with the Dodge Ram 1500. This entry into the traditional American full-size pickup truck market is quite comfortable and powerful to boot. The Ram 1500 is available in the expected configurations: Regular Cab, Quad Cab (think of it as an extended version of an extended cab, with the rear doors hinged at their front edges), and a full four-door Crew Cab. There are three available engines: A 3.7-liter V6 of 215 horsepower, a 4.7-liter V8 of 310 horsepower, and the famous 5.7-liter Hemi of 390 horsepower. On the outside the Ram 1500 carries the familiar big-rig look started by Dodge. The interior has its own flavor and offers several interesting amenities, and the cargo box has some unique features. Underneath, where for decades pickup trucks have had live axles with leaf springs, the Ram's live axle is suspended by coil springs and it is located by four trailing links and a lateral track bar.

2010 Dodge Ram Trims and Style

The 2010 Ram comes in ST, SLT, Sport, TRX, and Laramie trim levels. (The heavy-duty Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups are covered in a separate NewCarTestDrive.com review.) Cab choices include a Regular Cab with short (6.3 feet) or long (8 feet) bed, four-door Quad Cab with short bed, and the Crew Cab with a short bed. 

A V6 and four-speed automatic are standard on 2WD Regular and Quad Cabs, the 4.7-liter V8 and five-speed automatic on virtually everything else. The 5.7-liter V8 Hemi is offered across the board. No manual transmissions are offered. 

Ram ST models are workhorses, with standard vinyl floor and manual windows, although they do include chrome bumpers and grille outline, air conditioning, ABS, CD player, variable intermittent wipers, locking tailgate, Sentry Key and, on 4WD, electric-shift. Options include chrome wheels, two-tone paint, cruise control, trailer mirrors, limited-slip differential and alternate axle ratios, sliding rear window, and Sirius radio.

Ram SLT models upgrade with carpet floor covering, floor mats, 40/20/40 split-bench seat, overhead console, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, heated mirrors and 17-inch painted aluminum wheels. Options include the 5.7-liter V8, RamBox Cargo Management System, on-demand transfer case for low-range 4WD, power sunroof, power-adjustable pedals, 10-speaker Alpine Surround Sound, UConnect/navigation system and hands-free communication system with Bluetooth technology, Sirius Backseat TV radio, low-back bucket seats with cloth upholstery, ten-way power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear defroster, and 20-inch aluminum wheels.

The Ram TRX has SLT-level trim with some notable exceptions. The TRX features electric-shift transfer case on 4WD models, unique shocks and ride height, 17-inch aluminum wheels and a full-size spare tire, heavy-duty vinyl floor covering, cloth 40/20/40 split-bench front seat, folding rear bench seat, tilt steering column, remote keyless entry and standard two-tone paint. Pay extra for an engine block heater, power-sliding rear window, heated power folding mirrors, bedliner, 3.92:1 axle ratio, limited-slip differential, Tip Start, cruise control, and UConnect Studios Sirius Satellite Radio.

The Ram Sport is available in all three cab styles and is labeled Sport R/T on the Regular Cab. It adds a 5.7-liter Hemi, slate-gray contrast-stitched bucket seats, body-color fascia, fog lamps and 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels. R/T models use a 4.10:1 rear axle for superior acceleration but will still tow 5000 pounds.

The Ram Laramie is the top of the line, with leather heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, chromed door handles and mirrors, and security alarm. Extra-cost features include 20-inch aluminum wheels, sunroof, navigation and rear-seat entertainment. Safety features include dual front multi-stage airbags, three-point belts in all seating positions with constant-force retractors, LATCH child-seat anchors, child-protection rear door locks, electronic stability/traction control and four-wheel anti-lock brakes. Full side-curtain airbags for four-doors, back-up camera, and rear park sensors are optional.

Everything on the Ram looks big, yet the truck takes up no more real estate than its competitors. The large rear bumper has half-round openings for the sport exhaust on trucks so equipped, and both seven- and four-pin trailer plugs are fitted adjacent to the rear license plate. The RamBox Cargo Management System, available only on the Crew Cab, includes a cargo box with a rectangular interior and no wheel-well intrusions. The RamBox Cargo Management System has its trade-offs.

2010 Dodge Ram Style and Interior Comfort

We swapped through a few Ram models back-to-back to compare the trim levels and found the seat in the base model is the same design as in the top-line models, and we had no complaints after a full day of driving. The electronic stability control switch (standard) and 4WD switch are on the dash (both 4WD systems are electrically-switched).

A typical steering-column lever controls the transmission, with a thumb toggle for independently selecting any forward gear; some people with small hands may prefer this to the bulky floor shift that comes with center console trucks. Common operating controls such as lights, wipers and cruise control are on column-mounted stalks.

The dashboard is nicely framed, with symmetry on both sides of the wheel and both sides of the truck. We found the basic ST work truck model particularly impressive. The ST models have plastic door panels that are easy to clean and fairly scuff resistant. Chrome rings the gauges, leather wraps the wheels on upper models, and the vehicle information center between the larger gauges offers myriad functions from trip computer and transmission fluid temperature to radio data. 

The MyGig infotainment system with 30GB hard drive is available, along with navigation, dual-zone climate control, rear park sensors with audible beeps and LED warnings above the rear window, and a 150-watt, 110-volt AC outlet. A moonroof is offered on both four door cabs as is a rear-seat DVD entertainment system (though you can't get both on the Quad Cab). We'd rank the Ram cabin at or near the top of its class. The Nissan Titan offers good instrumentation and controls, but doesn't quite reach the refinement of the Ram.

First Drive 2010 Dodge Ram

Match the engine's power with the truck's clean aerodynamics and one result is that the Hemi's Multiple Displacement System (MDS) operates fairly often, enhancing fuel efficiency. With the Hemi the Ram is among the most powerful of the full-size half-ton pickups. The 4.7 feels the smoothest and is the quietest engine in the Ram line. It uses the same five-speed automatic as the Hemi.

A Tow/Haul mode is standard and is useful when towing. The Tow/Haul mode keeps the transmission cooler when towing by holding gears longer (and reducing hunting between gears) and shifting faster (and harder). 

The 4WD systems have a Neutral position for flat-towing a Ram behind an RV or heavier construction truck. A Ram will never a racecar make but it benefits the same as a racecar when weight is removed from the suspension, axles, brakes and wheels. Using aluminum in some protected front suspension pieces takes 10 pounds off each corner, and the coil/link rear suspension takes 40 pounds off the back and allows more precise wheel control. Also, there's little compression braking in high-range. The Ram felt smooth and quiet, even on the 20-inch wheels. Payload, or how much weight in cargo and passengers a truck can carry, varies by cab, bed, drive wheels, and engine. Ram payload ratings run from 1340 pounds (for a 2WD regular cab, short bed, 4.7-liter) to 1900 pounds (for a 2WD regular cab, long bed, V6) and that's for trucks without options; if you routinely carry more than 1000 pounds of cargo it may be better to think about a Ram 2500 or another heavy-duty pickup.

Tow ratings top out at 10,200 pounds (for a Quad Cab or Crew Cab 2WD Hemi with the 3.92:1 axle ratio and 17-inch wheels), but range from a meager 3450 pounds with the V6. Also, choosing those stylish 20-inch wheels will knock at least 1100 pounds off the tow rating. We'd go for the 17-inch wheels because we use trucks for towing things. 

2010 Dodge Ram Conclusions

The Ram 1500 has a refined package with loads of amenities for the occupants as well as the bold and brash style for which it is well known. "Although you might think that its coil-sprung rear axle imparts commendable ride and handling at the expense of burliness, the Ram maintains great cargo and towing abilities. Three engine, cab, and bed choices are available, and the Ram's styling remains brash and unmistakable." says Car and Driver If you are looking for a truck that can really haul, but want some comfort and the availability of a good deal of options, opt for the 2010 Dodge Ram.


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