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2015 Ram 1500

Bigger Than a Bread Box... Or Two
2015 Ram 1500

Yes, the Ram 1500 is a big truck. Too big for my Roaring Twenties-era garage, but as you can see in the photo, it did fit in my driveway. Lol.

After this past weekend I’m now three-quarters of the way through the list of full-sized pickups available in the U.S. market. Haven’t driven the new Toyota Tundra yet (and the Nissan Titan will be all new for 2016 and isn’t available yet). So here’s what I think...

All three American trucks—Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado (and I guess, the nearly identical GMC Sierra), and the Ram are very capable, very competitively priced, and very popular. Choosing one over the other mostly comes down to taste. They’ve all been re-done in the past year, or rather, have evolved from previous versions to more efficient, more modern vehicles. Driving the Ram reminded me why these big pickups are so popular with folks who never throw anything larger than a bag of mulch into the business end of the truck: they’re easy to drive, comfortable, quiet, and they give you a commanding view of the road. Of course, on the other hand they’re expensive, troublesome to park, and, did I mention expensive?

The Bright Silver Ram 1500 Tradesman/Express Quad Cab which I drove off the lot of Northtown Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram last Saturday afternoon had a bottom line of $40,300. Not cheap, but people are still buying ‘em (and they make their respective companies truckloads of cash). Yes, you can buy a Ram Tradesman rear-wheel drive single cab work truck for $25,660, but they’re as scarce as hens’ teeth. If you do find one, hopefully it will be in one of the colors reserved for the bottom-rung trucks, such as Agriculture Red.

Chrysler has made sure to offer enough configurations to please just about any pickup buyer out there. I was surprised to see the online brochure had only 22 pages (they are crammed with info, though). My test truck, which was handed over to me by Northtown’s Jeremy Demarco, was somewhere in the middle of the pack option- and price-wise. It had the Express Package, an audio upgrade, something Chrysler calls the Popular Equipment Group, 20” chrome wheels, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a bunch of other stuff which would take up the remainder of this column if I listed it all. “Well-equipped” are the words that come to mind to describe it. Online readers can check out the whole package here.

One option I was really glad to see was the 5.7L, 395 hp Hemi V-8. This engine, coupled to an excellent eight-speed automatic, moved the big truck with ease, and had a nifty exhaust note to boot. The transmission was never on my radar for the whole drive, which means it did its job admirably. Although...when I first got in I had a bit of a time finding its gear selector. Checked the floor. Nope. Maybe the steering column? Nope. I eventually found the round dial on the dash next to the ignition which was marked PRND. Under it were pushbuttons for 2- or 4-wheel drive options. Once I got used to it it was like I’d been using it for years.

Merging onto the 290 with the Hemi was a breeze. As I mentioned, you sit high with a commanding view of the road, and the combination of the outside mirrors and the good view out the windows of all four sides made driving and lane changing easy. After a while you forget how big the truck really is. The EPA rates this particular vehicle at 15/21 mpg city/highway, aided somewhat by the fuel saver technology which shuts down half the cylinders once you’re up to speed. And you never notice a thing.

Do I really have to say there’s plenty of room in the cab? Well, of course there is, although rear seat passengers could use a bit more leg room when there’s a tall driver behind the wheel.

My only regret of the day was not driving across the street to Home Depot and loading up the bed with mulch. Why should I be any different?

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Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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