Thursday, October 11, 2007

2009 Dodge Ram Caught in the Desert

Now that GM and Toyota have brought out their biggest and best half-ton trucks, it's time for the rest of the segment to catch up. The 2009 Dodge Ram will attempt to narrow the gap when it goes on sale late next year, and our latest spy video gives you a hint at what it will look like.

There's all the usual camouflage, of course, but you can still see that this Dodge Ram will lose some of its big-rig styling in favor of a more streamlined front end. The hood blends with the front quarter panels more smoothly than before and the headlight clusters look as though they'll get slimmed down a bit, too.

Body style choices won't change much for 2009. Although this test group only included Quad Cabs and Mega Cabs, it's safe to assume Dodge will continue with two-door regular cabs as well. The dimensions of these test mules don't indicate a substantial size increase over the current models, so either these test mules are using current sheet metal in back or the changes aren't that big on the next-generation model.

Since you can't introduce a new full-size truck without more power, this Ram is expected to get a few upgrades under the hood as well. The base V6 engine will most likely go from 3.7 to 4.0 liters, which will add roughly 40 horsepower and 20 pound-feet of torque. Midgrade models get the carryover 4.7-liter V8, as this engine is new for '08. According to officials at Dodge, the top-of-the-line 5.7-liter Hemi V8 will get several revisions that will improve efficiency while boosting horsepower and torque.

A year or so after the Ram's launch, a small-displacement diesel is expected to join the lineup as well. Most of the Ram's competitors are expected to introduce similar engines around the same time. A Dodge Ram hybrid will follow the diesel, giving the big truck two fuel-efficient engine options. It will use the dual-mode transmission codeveloped with GM and BMW.

Expect to see an official debut early next year, with sales beginning in the fall of 2008.

2009 Dodge Ram

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You can't see much through the camouflage, but this Ram looks as though it might be losing some of its big-rig styling this time around. (Photo by KGP Photography)

2009 Dodge Ram - Rear

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We expect extended-cab models to retain their front-hinged rear doors, but this prototype appears so similar to the current model that we think this is carryover sheet metal being used for testing. (Photo by KGP Photography)

2009 Dodge Ram - Profile View

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Judging by the size of these brake rotors, this may be a special performance edition of the Ram. (Photo by KGP Photography)

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