In 2009, following a makeover and mild restyling job, the Dodge Ram 1500 garnered the Automobile Journalists' Association of Canada award for best new pickup.
There were three engine choices: 3.7-litre V-6, 4.7-litre V8, and 5.7-litre V-8, and you could get this full-size truck in 2WD and 4WD configurations, with a couple of automatic transmission choices and regular or extended-cab body styles.
All things considered, the larger engine mated to a five-speed automatic was the best choice – and the most popular. The V-6 was vastly underpowered and the larger V-8 delivered the most power of the three, with fuel consumption that wasn't dramatically inferior to that of the smaller V-8. This was thanks in large measure to a multi displacement shut-off feature (MDS) that deactivated up to half of the engine's cylinders during certain driving conditions – mainly on the highway.
With 390 horsepower on tap for the 5.7-litre version, the Ram 1500 was no slouch when it came to off-the-line acceleration or hauling cargo. On the other hand, MDS notwithstanding, it was thirsty; Transport Canada rated it at 16.2 litres/100 km in town and 10.8 on the highway for the 4X4 model. But it did run happily on regular gas.
The ST was the base version, and the Laramie, the top-of-the-line model, offered interior amenities such as dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, power and heated front seats, and one-touch up-down power windows. Functional features included four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, engine block heater, cruise control, power door locks, keyless entry, a tire pressure warning system and shift-on-the-fly 4WD access. This latter function was accomplished via a dash-mounted rotary knob, and the 4X4 version featured off-road capability as good as it got for this size of pickup.
You could also get extras like leather interior, ventilated front seats, back-up camera, clever "Ram Box" storage compartments located in the rear fenders and a "protection package," which included tow hooks, transfer case skid plate and front suspension skid plate. One note here: if you hauled anything with the back gate down, you lost the back-up camera.
All Ram 1500s were built in Warren, Mich., or St. Louis.
A hefty nine safety recalls are on file with Transport Canada, and they range from problems with the front steering linkage components, to potential loss of braking, to non-functioning windshield defogging/defrosting, to unreliable windshield wipers, to various electrical gremlins. Lots to consider here, in other words. Prospective buyers should also bear in mind that these trucks were often put to work and pre-owned models may have seen their share of abuse.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has 16 technical service bulletins for the '09 Ram 1500. These include front bumpers that may rust and corrode prematurely, issues with the heat/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system, front seat upholstery that may "tear" during normal use, and a tendency for some trucks to "wander" during highway driving.
Consumer Reports gives this iteration of the Ram 1500 a tentative thumbs-up. It likes the redesign and improved ride, and describe it as being more "up-to-date" than previous versions and finally on equal footing with its Ford and General Motors rivals. Most areas receive above-average grades, with the exception of the paint and trim, climate control system, suspension and the inevitable "squeaks and rattles." Both the 2WD and 4WD versions receive an "average" used car prediction rating from the magazine. Some comments from owners: "Long trip comfort is great," "Quad cab rear seats are too cramped for most adults," "Love the Hemi" and "Has not been as reliable as I had hoped."
Market research firm J.D. Power, can't seem to decide about the '09 Ram 1500. While it appreciates its powertrain and features accessories quality, and likes the styling and comfort level, it has misgivings regarding body and interior quality. Overall quality is rated as average.
From a base price of just less than $24,000 for a base ST V-6 in 2009, the Ram 1500 has held up reasonably well. Like most full-size trucks, this one came in a wide variety of models and trim levels, and depending upon the model, powertrain, and cab configuration, prices now range from the low teens, to just less than $30,000 for a fully loaded Laramie Crew Cab 4X4. Four-wheel-drive adds $2,000-$3000 to the truck's price.
2009 Dodge Ram 1500
Original Base Price: $23,795; Black Book: $15,800-$29,950
Engines: 3.7-litre V-6/4.7-litre V-8/5.7-litre V-8
Horsepower/Torque: 390 hp/407 lb-ft (5.7-litre V-8)
Transmission: Four- and five-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 16.2 city/10.8 highway; regular gas
Alternatives: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Ford F-150, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra