Dodge's 2009 Ram 1500 Laramie truck combines brute force with refined elegance. The eight-cylinder Hemi engine beckons you to come out and play, while the leather-clad, heated and cooled front seats offer La-Z-Boylike comfort. With a towing capacity of more than four and a half tons, the Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie truck can be a sturdy hauler or a plush family vehicle. "I don't think this engine ever stops pulling," said Steve Liner, sales representative at Kile Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep in Cleveland, Tenn. Competing with the top trim levels of the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, the Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie was redesigned for 2009 with significant upgrades to its suspension and interior.
DRIVING IMPRESSION: Word is out, Dodge's revolutionary rear-coil suspension - no leaf springs here - is setting a new standard in driving comfort. As the truck was tooling down side streets in Cleveland, steering was light and responsive. The rear springs give the Dodge a much more compliant ride than you get in most big trucks. The Ram 1500 gobbles up potholes and speed bumps with ease. The 5.7-liter Hemi in our tester makes 390 horsepower. Apply your right foot and the Hemi snarls, hurling the truck ahead with instant torque. At highway cruising speeds, the engine shuts down four cylinders to boost fuel economy. The back seat in our crew cab pickup seats three comfortably. Even the rear seats are heated (but not cooled) and are outfitted in the Laramie trim.
STYLING: Our Inferno Red Crystal tester sported a massive honeycomb grille, gleaming 20-inch wheels and handsome chrome accents. The interior is rich and inviting with leather seats and dash inserts. Opulent wood trim frames the center stack's navigation system. Government crash tests results are impressive.
BOTTOM LINE: Generous incentives and dealer discounts make it a great time to buy a top-of-the-line pickup. If you're in the market for a full-size truck, the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie combines beauty and brawn in a way that is sure to please.
(E-mail your questions about new cars and trucks to Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
TESTED MODEL: Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab
ENGINE: 5.7L, eight-cylinder Hemi
TRANSMISSION: Five-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY: City MPG: 14 Highway MPG: 20
STICKER PRICE AS TESTED: $43.310