2009 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 Review

Is it too much too late for this newly refined pickup?

Feb. 18, 2009 By Dan Sanchez

It happened in the ‘70s, when Dodge finally came out with its best, most refined and highest horsepower cars that the economy tanked and the company nose-dived into financial crisis. Although at that time, it was more of a fuel shortage that changed the face of the company and the economy. As Dodge finally comes out with what we consider one of its best trucks yet, history repeats itself and the company dove into another financial crisis amidst a poor economy.

We can’t help but think that truck enthusiasts, now and in the future, will have the same appreciation for the many features Dodge built into the ’09 1500 Ram. Although there are many upgrades, including a sleek, new body style, 20-inch diameter wheels, storage compartments in the bed and more, it’s the radical change of its suspension that impressed this group of off-road truck enthusiasts the most.

The ’09 Dodge Ram Crew Cab 4x4 1500 (above) is a great looking truck that that can come with just about every option you can imagine. We were very impressed with the multi-link rear suspension that gives the Ram great articulation without loss of traction.

Dodge swapped out the old reliable rear leaf spring suspension for a coil spring, multi-link version. While the multi-link suspension is common on many passenger cars, it typically hasn’t been used on pickup trucks due to its limitations to support heavy loads. Dodge engineers, however, found a way to make the suspension work on the truck, allowing it to be capable of an estimated 1850-pound payload and an estimated 9100-pound towing capacity. In addition, the suspension also improves the trucks’ handling, and in the case of the 4x4 model, its off-road capabilities.


The Hemi receives more horsepower at 380 hp and produces 404 lb-ft of torque while getting adequate fuel economy. We got a little more than 16 MPG in combined highway, street and off-road driving.

When you combine a superior suspension with a peppier 5.7L Hemi V8 engine that produces 380 horsepower and 404 lb-ft of torque, you’ll be driving down the highway forgetting that you have a bed behind you. In this case, it was a Dodge’s new 5-foot, 7-inch bed that’s available in the Crew Cab 1500 models, which keeps the longer wheel base truck looking more proportional.

Was the slight increase in power noticeable? You bet. Upon acceleration, the new Hemi produces torque right off of idle and feels great while pushing us back into the leather buckets seats of our Laramie Edition test model. On highways battered by 18-wheel big rigs that cause longer-wheel-base trucks to oscillate up and down, jarring your neck and kidneys loose, our ’09 Crew Cab Ram drove smoothly, absorbing every bump, crack and groove in its path. It also managed to pull off more than 16 MPG on combined street, off-road and highway driving, giving it respectable fuel consumption for the amount of power the engine produces. Much of the Ram’s fuel economy and great use of power is due to the five-speed automatic transmission that seemed to have firmer shifts for greater performance.


The interior is luxurious on the Laramie Edition. It includes chromed trim and simulated wood that is comparable to a high-end luxury SUV.

Inside, our well-appointed Ram featured the nine-speaker amplified stereo system, as well as heated front and rear seats, Sirius radio and Sirius Backseat TV. The Laramie edition also surrounds all of the instrument controls with a combination of chromed trim and simulated wood that puts the Ram’s interior in the same league with luxury SUVs, but without the hefty price tag.


Storage spaces under the rear seats and under the floorboards make the Crew Cab great for traveling with kids who can take along games and reach down for a cool soda or juice box. If you need more storage space, the Ram has optional storage compartments in the truck’s bedsides (above) that are lighted, lockable and are a great place to store tools, cold beverages and more.

But while we enjoyed the full amenities and multiple storage spaces of the Ram’s interior, it was our intent to see how well it performed on a minor off-road excursion. This would allow us to see how the multi-link rear suspension and front coil springs handle a wide variety of situations that one typically encounters in the dirt. Right away, we noticed that the ride was smooth, even as we slowly climbed over small rocks that left the rear fully articulated, never giving up any traction when we needed it most. It was also evident that the rigid new frame, that features high-strength steel supports, kept the vehicle from twisting and gives the driver a more secure, predictable feeling.

No matter what the terrain, the stiffer frame and improved suspension gave us a smooth ride.

As we traveled over a variety of terrain that included loose dirt, river rocks, ruts and small ledges, we were impressed with the ’09 Ram’s power, and smooth ride. A simple twist of a knob on the dash easily switched the vehicle from 2WD to 4WD High without hesitation.

All things considered, the 2009 Dodge Ram definitely sets new goals for Ford, GM and Toyota to reach for in a new pickup truck. In addition, the vehicle’s appearance with a more slanted and aggressive front fascia and an aluminum power-bulge hood really adds a great performance appeal to the Ram over the bulkier appearance of its predecessor.

The 5-foot, 7-inch bed also has an optional divider that can adjust to any position, providing a great way to secure cargo.

If Dodge survives its latest hurdle, it would plan to bring out a light-duty diesel later in 2009 and a hybrid in 2010. Despite its hefty price tag $46,755 as tested, you can get the Ram in other models that limit all of your infotainment features to a bare minimum. As long as you opt for the 5.7L Hemi, five-speed automatic transmission and a 3:55 axle ratio rear 4x4 model, you’re set to have the best in family transportation and a truck that might keep up with your Jeep off road.


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