Monday, January 7, 2008

Dodge Ram gets interior upgrade

Bradford Wernle | Automotive News

Dodge hopes to shake up the pickup market by offering some 2009 Ram models with a coil spring rear suspension in place of the traditional leaf spring suspension. Chrysler LLC engineers hope to set their pickup apart from the competition by giving it a superior ride without sacrificing load capacity.

And the interior — a sore spot for some critics — has been thoroughly reworked.

On the styling front, the 2009 Ram keeps its distinctive cross-hair grille yet looks sleeker and more aerodynamic than the current model. For example, the top of the grille extends forward, similar in execution to the Dodge Charger sedan, giving the truck a sense of motion when it is standing still.

Refinement is the name of the game in the pickup wars these days, with brands battling to offer the most bells and whistles at the best price. Dodge will offer an option called Ram Box, a lock and key storage area in the bed similar to that of the Chevrolet Avalanche. The Crew Cab version will offer storage areas under the floor, similar to the storage areas in Chrysler's new minivans. There is also under-seat storage.

Chrysler, which has been lambasted for the appearance and quality of its interiors, wants the new Ram to showcase its ability to offer the kinds of softer surfaces and refined switches today's truck owners see in their cars and other truck brands. Under the aegis of designer Ralph Gilles' advanced interiors studio, Chrysler is bringing suppliers into the process earlier so quality can be improved and the process expedited.

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