Dodge Ram Pickup’s Redesigned Suspension Will Spring Into Action Later This Year
Chrysler LLC
Among the most noticeable changes in the 2009 Dodge Ram light-duty pickup truck, besides its Charger-inspired mug, is a new rear suspension that strays from the traditional Hotchkiss leaf-spring style of other trucks in favor of more cruising-friendly coil springs. Also radically different are diesel and gas-electric hybrid options that are set to roll out over the next two years.

As the only full-size pickup to come with a solid rear axle mated to coil springs, Ram 1500, available this fall, will be selling a modern, comfortable ride. But Chrysler LLC engineers are promising that performance won’t sag. The package is 40 lb lighter and, according to Jim Press, vice chairman and president, has posted less road hop in laboratory tests than the Silverado, F-150 and Tundra, Ram’s main light-duty competitors.

Dodge Ram Pickup’s Redesigned Suspension Will Spring Into Action Later This Year
Chrysler LLC
Coils replace leaf springs (below); cargo rails (above) add storage.

Maximum towing capacity stays the usual 9,100 lb, which lags behind the others, but a lighter chassis, combined with sleeker styling and powertrain upgrades, makes the new Ram at least 4% more fuel efficient than the 2008 model. Engineers say more savings are on the way.

Even so, engine options in this rig will pack a bigger punch. Besides a 3.7L V6 and 4.7L V8, the Ram can also be had with a beefed-up 5.7L V8 HEMI that cranks out 380 hp (up 10%) and 404 lb-ft of torque (up 8%), which will rocket a trimmed-out “R/T” performance rig 0-60 in 6.1 seconds. That is not too shabby for a power plant that automatically shuts down four cylinders, when they are not needed, to save fuel. Standard on the 5.7L is an automatic, five-speed transmission. The V6 comes with a manual shifter.

Dodge Ram Pickup’s Redesigned Suspension Will Spring Into Action Later This Year
Dodge Ram Pickup’s Redesigned Suspension Will Spring Into Action Later This Year
Chrysler LLC

In terms of fuel economy, The V6 promises up to 20 mpg on highways. A smaller Cummins diesel, slated for 2009, will translate into a 25% gain, and the two-mode HEMI hybrid, set to arrive in 2010, will make users feel as though they are filling up a midsize sedan rather than a work truck: It will post at least a 40% improvement in the city, Chrysler says.

Inside, a redesigned gauge console puts trip information right in central view. Executives will appreciate options like a heated steering wheel and seats. Parking sensors are now available.

A crew cab option replaces Mega Cab on the 1500, and it will sport two, lockable cargo bins that run the length of its 5-ft, 7-in. bed rails—plenty of space for tools.