Only time will tell whether the Ram is far enough ahead to grab some sales, and whether the new engines due to replace the aged 360 will be strong enough. Gas mileage is par for the course and makes us wish a diesel or hybrid option was available. We expect the 360 or, as it's now called, the 5. The base V8 is more powerful and economical than the past 318 engine, finally retired after decades of loyal and reliable service. The turning radius has been shortened, so that it is a foot less than Chevy's and about 18 inches less than Ford's - and 18 inches can be a long distance.
Handling is a mixed bag, better than the previous generation, but prone to tire squealing on initial acceleration and around sharp turns. All figures vary by body type and options. At least the brake release was in a sensible location, right where generations of buyers have grown used to it. While slightly more refined than its predecessor, the changes are evolutionary, and some of the best differences weren't available on our test vehicle. The air conditioning did not seem to have any drag on the engine. The lack of power memory is especially strange given the clever customization feature offered by the trip computer, which allows you to set your preferences for door locking and other features. As the chart shows, we cannot find much of a compelling reason to go with the Dodge.
We also favor the Ram's five-speed automatic transmission, trip computer, and dual-zone climate control, while noting that the Silverado has a moderately convertible Avalanche version with a step built into the bumper. We found it hard to shift directly into reverse, overshooting nearly every time. We feel that the cruise control should have been placed on a stalk, because people without oversized hands will find it hard to operate the wheel-mounted cruise. Given Chrysler's current reputation and market position, not leapfrogging the competition by a substantial margin can be fairly dangerous. However, the ignition key was high up on the steering wheel, a moderately inconvenient place.
. It also has an internal power outlet and a sensibly designed, removable coin holder with no room for pennies. The rear gate lifts easier than the Silverado's, and the cargo light seems to be more effective. Ride is best described as bouncy, with bumps being felt strongly in the cabin along with their aftershocks. Headlights are placed on the dashboard, with a large, traditional switch.
Another clever feature is storage room under the rear seats; yet another, the best-in-class-beyond-all-doubt ratcheting cup holders which, like their cousins in minivans, can hold large or small containers tightly. However, there is no step built into the bumper, and it can be hard to launch one's self into the bed. The styling was very good, inside and out, with a mean Peterbilt look outside and a luxury-car look inside. While we didn't test the 3. Criterion Dodge Ram 1500 Chevy Silverado 1500 Ford F-150 Base engine power 215 200 202 Base engine torque 235 260 252 Middle engine power 240 270 4. Door controls seem to be lit whenever the key is in the ignition; other controls are illuminated well at night, though shedding some light on the little storage nooks would also have been helpful.
We also liked the little touches - overhead lights that go on when you press them, the overhead sunglass holder, the built-in, universal garage door opener built into the trip computer with room in its memory for three different garage doors or gates. Oddly, while the cargo and interior lights go on when you unlock the doors, there is no power memory - when you take out the key, the radio and power windows suddenly stop working. We dropped off the Hemi and a shortbed truck at So-Cal Speed Shop, and under the wrench of project leader Rick Pearmain, it became the tire-roasting monster the Dodge brand team had hoped for. A simple switch on the dashboard makes it possible to bring the pedals up to your feet, or down to a comfortable depth. In 1998 the Hemi was reintroduced as a crate engine, and the promotion went the other way: Mopar Performance was working on kits to stuff the big Elephant into little Dakota trucks. The Ram offers better styling, a more ergonomic but not by much! It also provides the outside temperature, compass setting, time to the next service adjustable , and the rather painful average gas mileage display. If you're relatively short, you may want to try that package regardless, since it includes a unique and easy-to-use feature: electrically adjustable pedal height.
While the heater is powerful and works quickly, the vent fan can be noisy - despite huge, square vent openings. Braking is on par with the Silverado, better than the F-150, in our estimation. Dodge was out to hype its latest pickup even if it took a nitro-burning blown Hemi to do it. The seems to handle bumps better, though the Ram admittedly does a good job of smoothing out moderately rough surfaces. The white-faced gauges had sharp backlighting at night, making them easy to see day or night, though the numbers could get washed out if the headlights were used in twilight. Dodge's Latest Hemi Truck Put a Hemi in it. There are little places to put coins, highway passes, and such in the dashboard, along with small map pockets in the front doors.
It seems to be roughly on par with the Silverado. A light went on when the cruise control was active, but not when a speed was actually locked in. The upgraded base V6 engine, with an additional 40 horsepower and slightly better gas mileage, is smoother and quieter than past models, and comes with a five-speed automatic. The transmission shifted firmly, but downshifted readily and generally chose the right gear at the right time. The truck didn't seem to lose control, but it can be disconcerting for the driver and passengers, and rough roads can be a problem. The seats in our test vehicle were very adjustable and hence comfortable, but they are part of a rather pricey option package. When we refer to that transmission as a five-speed, keep in mind that it has two second gear ratios - so it won't go through five different gears getting up to highway speed, but is more responsive and smoother when passing.
In the meantime, at least the Ram clearly outclasses not necessarily on paper the Ford F-150 - which is, after all, the sales leader. Yes, we are Dodge fans, and would buy a Ram over a Silverado for that reason alone - but we'd be hard pressed to convince anyone else to do the same. Going back to utility for a moment - we found acceleration to be impressive, moving the heavy vehicle quickly yet very quietly. Gauges were all sensibly placed, as were most of the controls. .