news by Allpar.Com
Including a suspension engineer’s analysis of the new Ram suspension, and a brief interview with Steve Williams, head of Body-on-Frame Vehicle Development.
The manual transmission has been dropped, according to a Chrysler representative. Gas mileage with the Ram Hemi is said to be 23 mpg on the highway, a 10% increase — despite the 40-hp power boost.
The 2009 Dodge Ram, introduced on January 13, 2008, features revised engines, a new rear suspension setup featuring coil springs fitted to a solid rear axle held in place with multiple links, a first-class interior, and two revolutionary storage systems, along with nearly every gadget seen on a minivan. The fastest 2009 Ram pickup will do 0-60 in a remarkable seven seconds or less (one source claims six seconds) - with a normal V8 available on most models. Gas mileage increased along with power (except on the V6). Still rumored is the Ram R/T which, according to Mr. Source, will have an upgraded 5.7 HEMI, beefed-up suspension and steering, and a 4.10:1 axle.
Meanwhile, the 2009 Ram Hemi’s 380 hp is expected to have about 10% better gas mileage than the 2008 Ram Hemi — due partly to a 4% increase in engine efficiency, partly in an 80 lb weight reduction, and partly in extensive aerodynamic work. Highway mileage is expected to reach 23 mpg, among the top performers in pickups. Gas mileage will probably be considerably higher with the new Cummins turbodiesel engine, designed and produced specifically for the Dodge Ram.
We have more details on the development and features of the 2009 Dodge Ram in our Industria Show page.
The mega cab is being replaced by a conventional crew cab, but the 2500 and 3500 models (see 2009 changes) will still have mega cabs and leaf-spring rear suspensions in the 2009 model year. After that, heavy duty models will keep their leaf springs but drop the mega-cab for a standard crew cab.
2009 Dodge Ram interiors
“Quite simply, our goal with the 2009 Dodge Ram was to make the competition sweat,” said Gilles. “We spent a lot of time rethinking the layout, functionality, feel and packaging of the interior. We also no longer have a ‘base’ interior, just higher levels of luxury throughout the series. The new interior was conceived to match the image of the exterior and drill home a new level of perceived and actual quality. Much higher grades of materials and finishes were selected throughout, culminating in the Laramie interior, which is the exclamation point on a new level of luxury for the segment. All surfaces have been carefully thought-out, as we wanted a robust feel to the interior that communicates to the owner that he is driving an extremely high quality piece of engineering.”
Each model will have different interior trim. An optional package will include chrome trim and upper door map pockets; standard soft door bolster and armrest, large door speaker grilles, built-in garment hangers and assist handles. The Laramie interior features a full-width contrasting stitch on its soft instrument panel, chrome trim throughout, unique color combinations and wood-grain inserts on each door and the center instrument-panel stack. All Rams (except Sport) feature an industry-first two-tone technology, creating an inspired interior at all trim levels; Sport has an all-dark-slate interior with gray contrasting stitching on the instrument panel and seats.
Seats include industry-first heated and ventilated seats covered in YES® Essentials stain resistant, odor resistant, anti-static seat fabric or improved leather. Seats have redesigned frames and trim, with improved seat bolsters, unique stitching, full power with memory, and dual map pockets. Also new for 2009 is the addition of rear heated seats, optional on the crew cab.
New upper and lower glove boxes combined provide best-in-class glove box storage (the base ST model has an open upper glove compartment). The gauge cluster face is new, and the dashboard is composed of Thermo-Plastic Olefin top panel and PC-ABS plastic retainers that are recyclable; soft upper panel with stitching (Laramie and Sport models); two large airflow registers in the center stack and two at the outboard ends of the panel deliver air flow for rapid interior cooling and heating.
An optional center console has a floor-mounted automatic transmission shifter with Electronic Range Select, deep dual map pockets, abundant upper and lower storage space in the new soft, oversized clamshell center armrest, multiple storage compartments around the gearshift lever and multiple power outlets available for electronic devices
The center stack is designed for optimum “reach zones” – the placement of controls in the most intuitive and comfortable locations. The center stack includes strategic placement of a large radio yet still allows room for a navigation system screen, two large “Venetian-blind” style airflow outlets with chrome accents, upper and lower switch banks for control switches (based on vehicle options), climate controls, improved cup holders, 12-volt and 115-volt power outlets and a sunglass bin.
2009 Dodge Ram pickup truck engines
A revised Powertrain Control Module (PCM) includes Smart Start control, which prevents starter operation if the engine is running, and automatically disengages the starter when the engine reaches operating speed to prevent excessive starter overrun. Engine choices are a V6 (rear drive only), 4.7 V8, Hemi V8, and, starting in 2010, a Cummins turbodiesel. All but the V6 come with a five-speed automatic transmission (the transmission for the diesel is not yet known).
Hemi engine updates: 380 hp / 404 lb-ft
40% of Ram buyers opt for the Hemi, which has gas mileage similar to the 4.7 liter V8 but much more power. For 2008, the Hemi was revised to improve engine breathing and gas mileage, with the addition of variable cam timing; a higher compression ratio; higher-flowing heads, intake, and exhaust; and an active intake manifold that switches from long runners to short runners, to optimize the engine for either better high-end horsepower or better low-end torque.
In addition, the MDS system has been updated so the engine will spend more time in four-cylinder mode, saving fuel. Numerous other hardware upgrades were implemented to build on the quality, reliability and durability reputation of the HEMI engine, including crankshaft structural upgrades, a dual-mass crankshaft damper, floating pin piston design, valve spring design, and oil pump capacity increase.
The results of all this work are a 10% boost in power to 380 hp (283 kW) and 404 lb-ft of torque (548 Nm), up from 345 hp and 375 lb-ft. At the same time, gas mileage increased by nearly 5%. The Dodge Ram R/T rear-wheel-drive model, with a short bed, regular cab, and 4.10:1 gears, can reach 60 mph in a mere 7 seconds, making it faster than the PT Cruiser GT or V6 Dodge Charger.
The variable cam timing (VCT) reduces the engine’s pumping work by closing the intake valve later, and increases the expansion process of the combustion event. This allows more work to be transferred to the crankshaft instead of being rejected out of the exhaust port as heat. VCT improves engine breathing, which improves engine efficiency and power.
The MDS system, which shuts off or restores four cylinders in a small fraction of a second, has, according to Chrysler estimates, saved nearly 100 million gallons of gasoline since 2005, along with reduced carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions of close to a million metric tons. When MDS is operating, it is indicated by a “Fuel Saver” readout in the 2009 Dodge Ram’s Electronic Vehicle Information Center.
The 4.7-liter V-8 has been boosted to a 310 horsepower (231 kW) and 330 lb.-ft. (447 N·m) of torque with increased fuel economy; that puts it close to the outgoing Hemi's horsepower. It now has two spark plugs per cylinder, a higher compression ratio, better head port flow, and a new slant/squish combustion system. This engine is also compatible with E85 fuel.
Standard on 2009 Dodge Ram two-wheel-drive regular cab and Quad Cab® models is a 3.7-liter Magnum V-6 engine, generating 215 horsepower (160 kW) and 235 lb.-ft. (319 N·m) of torque. Similar to the 4.7-liter and 5.7-liter V-8s, the 3.7-liter V-6 is equipped with Electronic Throttle Control, which provides engine torque control while compensating for changes in engine load caused by the air conditioning compressor, alternator and power steering pump. The 3.7 liter engine has best-in-class gas mileage.
The big news will be a new turbodiesel from Cummins, showing up in 2010; it will greatly increase low-end torque while slashing gas usage by nearly a third and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20%, compared to a similar gas engine. The Cummins diesel will meet 50-state emissions standards for 2010.
The Ram Hybrid is on the way, with gas mileage rivalling mid-size sedans.
The base model is the ST, which has a simple four-gauge instrument cluster (tach, temp, gas, speed), an open top glove compartment, and vinyl seats and floor with steel wheels, black upper front bumper, and gray bumpers in front and rear. This is clearly a base model work truck.
The SLT features upgraded wheels, headlamps, and mirrors, with a painted upper front bumper, chrome bumpers, quad headlamps, and signal/puddle mirrors; standard wheels are 17” painted aluminum. The interior features carpet and cloth seats and trim, with a covered upper glove box, six-gauge instrument cluster with trip computer, and optional console with floor shifter.
The TRX model, available in quad and crew cabs, has an integrated two-tone style with flared fenders, body-color grille, unique wheels, and matching bumpers.
The Sport exterior is available with all cabs, has a standard Hemi engine, body-color mirrors, door handles, grille, and bumper fascia, dual exhaust, unique 20 inch wheel, upgraded interior with standard bucket seats and floor shifter, and soft dashboard padding with visible stitching.
The Laramie is available with quad and crew cabs, and features a chrome grille, mirror, and door handles; unique chrome wheels; two-tone exterior with integrated wheel flares; stop dashboard padding with visible stitching; and chrome trip with wood appliqués on both front and rear doors.
Suspension, steering, wheels
For 2009, a multi-link coil-spring rear suspension will provides improved ride and handling characteristics with no loss of capability. A coil-spring setup centralizes and absorbs bumps and impacts, while reducing the amount of friction in the spring system. This setup also weighs 40 pounds less than a leaf-spring configuration. Coil-spring setups are commonly used in heavy-duty applications such as semi trailers and railroad cars; and for the 4x4, the Ram now has a larger articulation range than its leaf-spring competitors, with less freeway hop.
Shock absorbers are forward-facing and positioned on the outside of the frame for optimum damping. Shocks are tuned for optimum balance in order to reduce ride harshness and provide more of an absorbent feel.
Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is standard; wheels run from a 17-inch stamped steel (ST) to 20 inch aluminum (optional on SLT, Sport, and Laramie), while a full sized spare is standard across the board.
Steve Williams, Senior Manager of the body-on-frame product team, on the new 2009 Dodge Ram suspension
Allpar: What is the design purpose for the rear sway bar to be mounted facing rearward?
S.Williams: Primarily, it was a packaging concern.
Allpar: What about frame rigidity? Wouldn't it be stronger with the attachment point ahead of the rear axle?
Williams: That was addressed early in the design phase. The only room for the bar was behind the axle, so the frame was a clean sheet design to accompany this. The frame is a box section, hydroformed to provide the strength required.
Allpar: It was mention during the reveal that no one has used a coil sprung rear in a pickup since GM used it in the 1970s. Those trucks were known to have poor handling loaded, and excessive wheelhop on acceleration when unloaded. How were these problems addressed?
Williams: The GM system was a three point suspension. The Ram's suspension is multi link that controls the motion of the rear axle. The spring placement helps to control wheelhop under accelaration.
Allpar: There was mention of a diesel for the light truck, Any hints as to size and configuration?
Williams: All I can say is that it will be a "V" design....you can speculate further if you wish.
Allpar: The interior is a big improvement over the previous models. How much consumer input was involved in the redesign?
Williams: We visit Allpar and other sites, read peoples opinions of our products and take that into consideration when designing the entire vehicle.
Allpar: There is a hybrid system in Rams' future. Is it the same system as the Aspen's?
Williams: Essentially, yes, but reprogrammed for the unique needs of the Ram truck. [Allpar will be following up tomorrow, we hope, with more detail on this.]
Bob Sheaves, independent suspension engineer, on the new Ram suspension
Overall, I am impressed with the efforts of the suspension design engineers and development engineers on the new rear suspension of the Ram pickup. Building on the success of the original ZJ Jeep (Grand Cherokee) rear link-coil suspension design, it appears that many of the shortcomings of the original ZJ design have been corrected.
The new spring layout shows the attention to details and vehicle dynamics that the people at "JTE" [Jeep-Truck Engineering] are famous for. While odd looking with its offset springs to the layman, this design shows attention to the fundamentals of vehicle dynamics.
In 1967, GM used a 3 link (as opposed to the new Ram's 5 link) coil sprung suspension. The result was that the vehicle had a very comfortable ride when empty (industry leading, in fact), but when any load was placed in the pickup bed, the vehicle became unstable and sloppy handling. This result almost sank the new trucks before they were even out of the gate (it was deleted in favor of a conventional Hotchkiss shortly thereafter). The new Ram is the first US, volume built, pickup truck since that time to attempt to use coil springs as its primary suspension system.
The pitch of the springs shown in the accompanying graphic show how the springs are canted and "bent" at the BPL position (BPL=Body Part Loaded- this means a loading of 2 each 150 lb passengers, full fluids, and 1/2 payload all combined to be the base point of design for the vehicle) to allow the reactions to motion of the ground contact patch ("where the rubber meets the road", to use an old marketing phrase of another company) to be efficiently controlled and isolated from disturbing the ride quality and stability of the vehicle.
The UCA (Upper Control Arm) links appear to be splayed outward at the frame attachment points, providing a lateral stability to the system that, in conjunction with the track bar (or "panhard rod") keeps the lateral shift of the axle, between jounce and rebound (maximum travel up and maximum travel down- NOT "bounce" and "droop"), to the minimum arc possible. Due to the over-constrained system (more about this in a moment) the axle will travel laterally in the vehicle, through an arc of approximately 2" total, left to right. The positioning of the track bar ensures that the travel will also be split evenly from jounce to rebound, minimizing the dreaded "head toss" so prevalent in the Jeep XJ (Cherokee SUV), MJ (Comanche pickup), and early ZJs.
The side view angularity between the UCA and LCA (Lower Control Arm) indicates a long instant center, a theoretical point in space ahead of the axle, that controls the fore and aft arc the axle travels through as it goes from jounce to rebound. By having a long instant center, you ensure the axle does not change the wheelbase a great deal, affecting braking distances and geometry and upsetting the transient dynamics of handling in an emergency lane change.
The rear stabilizer bar is the only complaint I have about this design. As was shown on the original Dodge Dakota 4x4, the most effective position of a stabilizer bar is to place the end links as close to a rigid body (meaning the center of the frame where the bend and torsion is minimized) as possible. I do not know all the compromises the engineering staff were forced to make, but I am concerned this location has forced several poor tradeoffs, primarily excess weight needed from larger than desired components to control the loading the vehicle sees.
The RamBox and other storage systems
The RamBox, an option on Crew Cab 1500 models, is Avalanche done right: instead of small plastic containers stuck onto the pickup bed walls, Dodge has set up full-length storage bins, lighted, drainable, lockable, and weatherproof, as wide as the wheel well, with 7.6 cubic feet of space. They include configurable bed dividers, an adjustable bed extender that fits onto the lowered tailgate for another 2 feet of length (7 feet long total), and a cargo rail system with sliding adjustable cleats for tie-downs. The system can hold 240 twelve-ounce cans, or golf clubs, fishing rods, toolboxes, or other gear, while still leaving enough room in the bed for a flat sheet of plywood — in short, it has 7.6 cubic feet of storage, while still leaving 49 inches between the wheel wells.
Lids include swing hinges with intermediate and full-open positions that lift the lid 90 degrees perpendicular to each side. Side bins are large enough to hold items including a set of golf clubs, helmets, toolboxes, kayak paddles, fishing rods, chainsaws – or 12-ounce cans with ice. Bed dividers create individual compartments in the pickup bed to separate payload items such as tools or equipment.
“All of our research indicated that new customers are buying a truck for the first time not only because it’s cool and capable, but also because it gives them a place to put all their stuff,” said Kunselman. “The RamBox storage system is Dodge’s response to that need.”
In addition, in-floor storage allows customers to store items in floor compartments using removeable bins so different sets of equipment can be swapped or garaged. Two bins are each 8 inches x 13.25 inches x 5 inches; as they are under the rear passengers’ feet, they do not intrude on rear-seat leg room.
An upper glove box provides 391 cubic inches of storage capacity, and combined with the lower glove box volume of 426 cubic inches (!), provides best-in-class glove-box volume.
Option packages have been rationalized, with six packages added and ten free-standing options removed to reduce complexity and the number of possible combinations. Some new features include heated steering, heated/ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats.
Visibility and safety
- Dual and quad headlamps: High-efficiency, dual-filament halogen headlamp bulbs with more light per watt than traditional headlamps, an average life of 3,000 hours, and inexpensive replacement cost. A polycarbonate clear lens is impact-resistant. With quad headlamps (average service life, 1,000 hours), a “four-bulb burn” is now possible, lighting all four headlamp bulbs to light at once.
- Electronic Stability Program (ESP): uses selective braking and engine control to try to keep the vehicle’s intended course. Includes Hill Start Assist (especially helpful with manual transmissions), Brake Assist, and Trailer Sway Control. Hill Start Assist maintains the level of brake pressure of the driver for a short duration once the driver takes his foot off of the brake pedal. Brake Assist overcomes the tendency of not applying the brakes hard enough in an emergency by using the ESC system to instantly apply the maximum available pressure to the brake. Trailer Sway Control (TSC) recognizes a swaying trailer and applies individual wheel brakes and/or reduces engine power to eliminate the trailer sway
- Exterior Mirrors: new turn signal lamps and puddle lamps integrated into outside mirror housing (not available on ST), new memory function (Laramie only), new body-color finish (Sport) and new chrome finish (Laramie). Power and heat functions also available, depending on trim level.
- Fog Lamps: Halogen bulbs distribute light through ultraviolet- and abrasion-resistant, coated polycarbonate lenses. High-efficiency halogen bulbs provide excellent road coverage, with a low wide-beam that illuminates the area immediately ahead of the truck
- Taillamps: New two-bulb units use acrylic lenses with optical reflectors to distribute light. The dual-filament upper bulb provides stop lamp, turn signal, taillamp, and side-marker lamp functions. The lower bulb provides the backup lamp function in the lower half of the lens.
- More safety features are listed in the safety section, later on this page.
Comfort and convenience
- Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC): Redesigned controls are mounted on steering wheel. Functions include compass, outside temperature, average fuel economy, distance to empty, trip elapsed time, and system preferences.
- Express Up/down Windows: for Quad Cab and Ram Crew 1500
- Heated Steering Wheel: Activated either by a switch on the lower switch bank or by the remote start function. When the temperature attains a preset level, the heat function shuts off. Steering wheel is available with urethane or leather-grip surface.
- Dual-zone automatic temperature control
- Memory System: Personal settings for two drivers, covering outside mirrors, driver seat, adjustable pedals, and radio control presets
- Power Adjustable Pedals: With new memory feature
- Rear Bumper: The longest wraparound rear bumper in its class; includes standard 7-pin trailer connector
- Spare Tire: New 17-inch full-size spare
- SIRIUS Backseat TV™: A segment first, it offers three channels of children’s programming commercial-free 24 hours a day. Can play satellite streaming video and audio at the same time
- Tailgate: All-new, one-piece, fold-over stamping with new lift-assist that releases tension created when the tailgate is lowered to help raise it for closing
- Trailer Hitch: Redesigned Class IV trailer hitch attachment to frame
- Wireless Ignition Node (WIN): Panel-mounted node replaces the conventional key cylinder mounted on the steering column
The 545RFE five-speed automatic transmission is standard on 2009 Dodge Ram pickups equipped with the 5.7-liter HEMI and optional on Ram pickups equipped with the 4.7-liter V-8. It is a fully electronically controlled transmission containing three planetary gear sets that provide a wide ratio capability for optimum performance. It has a tow-haul mode that balances engine speed and load conditions which improves performance and fuel economy.
The 545RFE five-speed automatic includes a new Electronic Range Select (ERS), which enables the driver to manually limit the highest available transmission gear, allowing manual upshifts and downshifts based on road speed and engine speed. Also new is an optional floor-mounted automatic shifter – available in the Dodge Ram for the first time.
2009 Dodge Ram models with the 3.7-liter V-6 engine (two-wheel drive only) get the 42RLE four-speed, a multi-range, electronically controlled transmission with an electronically modulated converter clutch that increases fuel economy by engaging the torque converter clutch at a lower engine speed. ERS is also included in the four-speed automatic, as is tow-haul mode.
Dropped from 2009 Ram plans is the Getrag 238 six-speed manual, which was to be encased in a two-piece, die-cast aluminum housing; it featured hard-finished gears and shift rails supported with ball bearings and Teflon bushings.
2009 Dodge Ram transfer cases
Two transfer cases are available: the NVG 243, which enables part-time four-wheel drive operation with a two-speed gear system; and the NVG 246, which enables an on-demand four-wheel drive system, also with a two-speed gear system. Both transfer cases are engaged with a dash-mounted switch.
The part-time transfer case provides three operating ranges – 2HI (two-wheel drive), 4HI (four-wheel drive) and 4LO (low-range reduction four-wheel drive) – plus a neutral position. 2HI is designed for any road surface at any time. 4HI and 4LO are for off-road use. Operating mode may be switched between 2HI and 4HI while the vehicle is in motion, but the vehicle’s transmission must be in neutral to engage 4LO. The low-range reduction ratio for 4LO is 2.72:1, which provides increased low-speed torque capability for pulling power in off-road conditions.
The on-demand transfer case provides four operating ranges: auto, 2HI, 4HI and 4LO. The auto range provides optimum versatility by engaging two- or four-wheel drive depending on road conditions. 2HI, 4HI and 4LO function the same as in the part-time transfer case.
Driveshafts are upgraded for increased quality, durability and reliability. The 2009 Dodge Ram’s driveshafts now incorporate 1350 series universal joints, two-piece thrust washers with triple-lip seals, and improved journal cross strength.
Four-wheel drive 2009 Dodge Ram pickups use a front axle incorporating half-shafts that drive front hubs. The axle has a disconnect system that automatically disengages the axle when four-wheel drive mode is disengaged, for increased fuel economy. 3.55 and 3.92 gear ratios are available.
The rear axle uses a new multi-link mounting design to facilitate a new coil-spring setup, with forward-facing shock absorber brackets. (The previous Dodge Ram incorporated a Hotchkiss leaf-spring design and staggered shock brackets.) Four gear ratios are available: 3.21, 3.55, 3.92 and 4.10. Standard on all 2009 Dodge Ram rear axles are an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP), which helps drivers maintain directional stability by applying selective braking and engine control to keep the vehicle on course.
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on all 2009 Dodge Ram pickup trucks. Front rotors measure 13.2 inches (336 mm) in diameter and are clamped with dual-piston calipers, while rear rotors are 13.8 inches (352 mm) and utilize single-piston calipers.
An optional helical-gear limited-slip rear axle instantly divides torque between the rear wheels in proportion to the traction available to each wheel. It’s consistently smooth when turning corners because it responds only to variations in traction.
The rear axle is constructed of stronger materials for added durability, yet weighs only 15 pounds more.
The all-new 2009 Dodge Ram uses a low-torsion frame design that contributes to stability and handling precision while decreasing noise, vibration and harshness. Two frame lengths are available: 120-inch and 140-inch.
Portions of the frame are hydroformed for dimensional accuracy (hydroforming reduces the amount of welding that leads to distortion), and side rails are fully boxed. The front frame section incorporates advanced, high-strength steel that maintains overall strength and durability while saving approximately 30 pounds. New for 2009 are redesigned tow-hook brackets (four-wheel drive models). The rear section of the 2009 Dodge Ram’s frame is all new, and supports Dodge’s new multi-link coil-spring rear suspension.
The 2009 Dodge Ram is capable of handling a payload of up to an estimated 1,840 pounds and towing up to an estimated 9,100 pounds.
Radios and video entertainment
Four new radios are available. The single-disc CD system plays MP3 and WMA files, and has a dot-matrix display including icons; the radio station can be displayed with the time. CDs can be played randomly and satellite capability is available; as with all Ram stereos, a stereo input line is provided for easy connection of iPods and other devices. The next higher radio includes a six-disc CD/DVD changer, and can play DVD audio or video discs, in addition to the single-disc capabilities.
Doors have been designed to handle large (6-inch x 9-inch) door speakers for low range sound reproduction. The instrument panel has two speakers for crystal clear midrange and crisp highs. Select models with the premium sound package feature a new center-imaging speaker strategically located to use the windshield as a sound reflection surface for exceptional surround sound, and segment-first surround-sound technology.
Then comes a system with a DVD changer and 30-gigabyte hard disc drive, including a 6.5-inch thin film transfer display with a touch-screen panel. The motorized screen flips down to accept a disc for playing or downloading music or data onto the hard disc drive. The hard drive can record from discs, telephone, AM or FM, satellite radio, a microphone, or an included USB port. The music jukebox feature is similar to a virtual disc changer, which allows up to 9 gigabytes of music (about 10 CDs) and pictures to be stored on the hard drive. Voice memos may be recorded using the microphone integrated into rearview mirror.
The final stereo incorporates all the features of the hard drive system, except with a 20-gigabyte hard disc and a navigation system built in.
The Dodge Ram’s optional rear-seat video entertainment system (VES) allows Dodge Ram’s rear-seat passengers to watch movies and use external devices including video games and MP3 players. The system consists of a overhead-mounted DVD player with an 8-inch LCD screen, a battery-powered remote control and two wireless, multi-channel headsets; it will play DVDs, WMAs, MP3s and audio and video CDs. Additional auxiliary input jacks are available so rear-seat passengers can play games from a video-game console or listen to music directly from a portable MP3 player. When the Ram’s VES system is not playing a video, the video screen displays information in a split screen format, with two channels. The VES remote control is designed to control either channel by the use of a selector switch on the control. Headphones are designed to pick up either channel by use of the selection switch located on the right ear cup. Using the included wireless headphones allows rear passengers to listen to two different sources simultaneously. The audio from the VES may be heard through the vehicle’s speaker system, through the wireless headphones, or both.
UConnect continues, providing voice dialing, an audio address book, voice commands for emergencies, call transfers, three languages, and recognizing up to seven phones.
The cooperative application of aerodynamic science and innovative styling led to aerodynamic improvements on the new Ram that resulted in an estimated coefficient of drag (Cd) of .422 for a crew cab 4x4 model – compared with a Cd of .463 for a 2008 Ram Quad Cab® 4x4 (and .42 for the original 1994 Dodge Ram!). Extensive wind-tunnel testing was conducted to hone the 2009 Dodge Ram’s exterior shape.
- The shape of the front grille, hood, and exterior mirrors cuts wind resistance
- A subtle circumferential notch near the rear edge of each outside mirror housing causes airflow (and dust or water, when present) to separate from the housing. This also helps keep the door glass clean
- An air dam directs air flow around the vehicle to reduce drag, and cool the engine and air conditioning condenser
- Full cut-line doors reduce wind noise and drag
- A carefully developed curve at the leading edge of the windshield frame reduces drag
- A raised lip on the cowl screen directs air flow and water toward the sides of the windshield
- The cowl screen smoothes the airflow transition from hood to windshield, reducing turbulence and wind noise
- Troughs created by windshield side moldings channel water over the roof rather than around to the side windows
- Side windows offset from door frames were minimized to help reduce turbulence and wind noise
- Side sills are lowered, extending the attached air flow and eliminating some underbody turbulence
- The new front-end module has smaller gaps around head lamps to help aero performance
- A large tailgate spoiler integrated into the sheet metal improves aerodynamic flow
- Lowered windshield-wiper location improves visibility, as well as reduces wind noise and drag
- Flush-fit fog-lamp pockets eliminate drag of fog lamps
- Reduced wheel openings help decrease drag
- Optimized ride heights provide aerodynamic efficiencies
Engineers have conducted approximately 40,000 hours of full-scale vehicle and system testing for durability and reliability of the 2009 Dodge Ram. Testing and validation in various climates included road trips to a variety of locations including Death Valley, Nev., Bemidji, Minn., Tampa and Denver. A full battery of lab testing included full-frame fatigue testing, door-slam testing, a road test simulator, and more than 200 hours of wind noise and aerodynamic evaluations in Chrysler’s state-of-the-art aerodynamic and acoustic test facility in Auburn Hills. By the time the 2009 Dodge Ram goes on sale, nearly 6.5 million customer-equivalent miles will be logged by Dodge Truck engineers.
The company is also employing techniques of Design for Six Sigma, which is folding in "voice of the customer" data along with lessons learned to ensure any vehicle reaching the customers’ hands is the highest quality. Since 1998, the company has seen its warranty costs drop nearly 50 percent.
Every facet of the development of the 2009 Dodge Ram was aimed at quality improvement. A few examples include:
- A hydroformed tubular front body structure is both stiff and light. The natural frequency of this structure and the continuity of its weld attachments to the cab were developed using computer-aided structural analysis
- The 2009 Dodge Ram’s sloping windshield is composed of two layers of solar glass for thermal protection and glare reduction
- Fenders are now bolted to a hydroformed inner structure for the engine compartment, and no longer serve as structural elements. This makes fenders easier and less costly to replace when damaged
- The overall cab construction uses a full-length roof ditch with continuous molding where cab and roof surfaces meet. One-piece bodyside outer panels match inner panels to form door openings with exceptional dimensional control
- To make the cab as quiet as possible, every path that leads to the interior is sealed. Joints are made as tight as possible and applied sealers are often expandable, which causes them to swell to form a tight seal
- The air-tight cabin forces air to flow through the cab and out via the cab-back air exhausters, rather than taking a shortcut that might leave some occupants uncomfortable
- Computer-aided analysis was used to develop bead (rib) patterns and mastic patch dampers that stiffen the floor pan and dash panel. The resulting panels achieve a natural vibration frequency that prevents them from amplifying with the frequencies of other vibration sources
- Doors are triple-sealed to keep out weather and noise. The first weatherstrip, in the greenhouse area, closes the gap to the door opening, cutting wind noise. The second is a full-circumference door-mounted seal. The third is a full-circumference body-mounted watertight seal. In addition, the wiring harness is on a plastic carrier, which is also a water shield for the interior trim. The integrated foam seal reduces traffic noise intrusion.
- Bake-hardened steel door panels provide greater dent resistance than conventional steel doors because the steel hardens when subjected to high heat during the paint-curing process. Inner and outer door panels are also galvanized for corrosion protection.
- Expandable baffles are used at the base of the structural pillars to block noise
- In crew cab models, a reinforced structural pillar between front and rear doors provides a solid attachment for the front door latch striker, supports the roof in a vehicle rollover, supports the rear door hinges and gives side-impact protection for occupants. Rear door side impact beams are placed at a height where a car or truck bumper would make first contact
- Dual-bulb taillamps use acrylic lenses with optical reflectors to distribute light. Reflectors are vacuum metallized to provide a brighter appearance
- All-new top covers on pickup bed rails reduce box marring and scratching for long-term durability
Research for developing the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram was centered on direct feedback from truck owners and potential buyers. “We listened to anecdotes from truck owners, not just our own, but owners of competitive makes as well,” said Mark Allen, Chief Designer – Jeep/Truck Studios. “We built a range of concept trucks that we took to clinics, including one that was intentionally not ‘Ram-like.’ We heard loud and clear that people wanted the look we own with Dodge Ram – bold, powerful and capable. We knew we had to build on that theme.”
Designers started with 11 proposals for the 2009 Dodge Ram and culled it to three finalists. Design proposals were taken to several leading pickup markets throughout the country and shown to consumers in order to get their input.
Dodge Ram team members heard about real-world considerations that could impact the 2009 Dodge Ram design. For example, at one clinic, a participant noted that a Ram design concept featured a front bumper that seemed too close to the bodywork. “He said that ranchers sometimes use their trucks to nudge open gates, rather than climb out and do it by hand,” recalled Allen. “If the bumper is too shallow, nudging the gate can bash up the bodywork.”
Truck designers also hit the road on ride-and-drive trips, driving pickups outfitted for typical users: ranchers, tradesmen, firefighters and suburbanites. Driving outfitted trucks gave designers better insight into real-world considerations for pickup owners. “We worked to create the most well-rounded pickup truck ever,” said Gilles. “And who better to tell us than the people who will be our customers?”
The grille is canted forward, creating an aggressive, head-down appearance. “We heard at a clinic that it looks like a drill sergeant – bold, authoritative, in-charge,” said Allen. The grille is now body mounted and separate from the new hood, which contributes to better panel-gap clearances and much-improved aerodynamics.
A new aluminum hood with a more pronounced power bulge that better shields the wipers opens with the assistance of dual gas props. Headlamps have integrated lenses and their shapes are echoed in the bumper fascia. Below the headlamps, a fully integrated air dam contributes to engine cooling and air-conditioning condenser air flow.
Front doors are a new construction style. The roll-frame design now relocates the door cut to the side of the vehicle, similar to the Chrysler 300C and other recent products. This dramatically improves wind noise and reduces weight. The Ram door handles are a pull type and are large enough to be operated with gloved hands. Handles are finished in black and now feature upgrades such as body color or chrome depending on trim level.
A crew cab model is new for the 2009 Dodge Ram, which gives Dodge an entry into the fastest-growing and highest-volume (nearly 50 percent) piece of the pickup truck market. The new package offers an additional six inches of leg room and in-floor storage. The new crew cab features full-access rear doors that open 90 degrees for easy entry and exit. Dodge expects the Crew Cab (the largest cab) to hit 45% of sales, with the short 5’7” box; while the Quad Cab, with a 6’4” box should take another 40%. The standard cabs, with both 6’4” and 8’ boxes, will take the rest. Both Crew Cab and Quad Cab will have four doors with exterior handles (no need to open the front door to open the back door.) Likewise, Dodge expects most of the sales to be the mid-range SLT model.
Rearview mirrors were designed for minimum drag and maximum image stability. They have been moved further outboard and lower for improved visibility and reduction in wind noise. Available flip-up tow mirrors also have been redesigned with similar features. Both designs contribute to the Ram’s best-in-class aerodynamics.
The overall glass-to-body ratio on the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram imparts a modern aesthetic, featuring blacked-out center pillars creating a sleek look. On the inside, the Ram benefits from improved pillar sections all the way around, improving outward visibility. In addition, side sills are pulled down to cover frame rails, giving the 2009 Dodge Ram a refined, contemporary look while improving aerodynamics.
The pickup bed height on all three body styles (54 inches on two-wheel drive models, 56 inches on four-wheel drive models) allows easy over-the-side loading. Three bed lengths are available: 8-foot (regular cab), 6-foot-4-inches (regular cab and Quad Cab®), and a new-for-2009 box length of 5-foot-7-inches (Ram Crew 1500). Dimensions of the 8-foot and 6-foot-3-inch boxes are unchanged from the 2008 model year. All beds now feature integrated bed-rail caps on all three sides.
The tailgate on the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram is as inspired as the new front end appearance. It features a dramatic, integrated, stamped-steel spoiler that aids aerodynamics and also allows for an ergonomic location for the tailgate release handle. A lift assist, new for 2009, decreases the effort needed to raise and close the tailgate.
The 2009 Dodge Ram’s overall coefficient of drag (Cd) is an estimated .422 for a crew cab 4x4 model – compared with a Cd of .463 for a 2008 Ram Quad Cab® 4x4 and .42 on the original “big-rig” style Ram of over a decade ago.
Dual exhaust (with the 5.7-liter HEMI) is now available for the first time from the factory on a pickup truck. The bumper features a flared radius around each of the new slash-cut 4-inch rolled chrome exhaust tips. The rear bumper is also the largest wrap-around bumper in its class, and depending on the model, it is available in mineral grey, body color or chrome. It offers three standard tow ball holes and a standard, integrated 7-pin connector. The new Ram also will be available with a ParkSense® Rear Park Assist System and ParkView® Rear Back-up Camera as options on select models.
Nearly all badges on the 2009 Dodge Ram are three-dimensional, rather than decals. Large, sculpted Ram badges adorn the center of the grille and tailgate – the Ram’s-head badge on the tailgate is 250 percent larger than the previous badge. Other nameplates and badges are located on driver and front-passenger doors, box and tailgate.
The Dodge Ram pickup truck will be built at two Chrysler manufacturing facilities in the United States, St. Louis North (Fenton, Missouri) and Warren, Michigan. The 2009 Dodge Ram Crew 1500 crew cab and Quad Cab® pickups will be built at Warren Truck. Ram standard cab and Quad Cab pickups will be built at St. Louis North.
With over a $400 million combined investment at the two assembly plants, each facility underwent extensive upgrades. Enhanced processes and new technology will also benefit future product launches and product variants due to the greater levels of flexibility.
In St. Louis North, the body shop was completely rebuilt, with the addition of 210 new robots and more than one mile of new conveyor, including an extensive use of clean, quiet, friction-drive conveyance systems. The Warren Assembly Plant added a 200,000-square-foot body shop with new automation, including 270 new robots, several new conveyors and use of a fast, quiet pallet conveyance system. In both facilities, the trim, chassis and final areas implemented a new sun roof installation process as well as modifications to the seat delivery system. Trim shop work stations were revised to produce the new interior and the chassis shop received multiple enhancements to manufacture new features for the truck, including the segment-first RamBox cargo storage system and segment-first multi-link coil-spring rear suspension system.
The 2.29 million-square-foot St. Louis North Plant was constructed in 1966. The plant employs approximately 1,085 people. The 3.32 million-square-foot Warren Truck Plant was originally constructed in 1937. The plant employs approximately 2,200 people.
In the pickup truck market, customer preferences continue to change. For example, in the 2002 model year, crew cabs were relatively new and accounted for only 8 percent of the overall segment. In 2007, crew cabs accounted for nearly 50 percent of the segment. Following are target demographics for the 2009 Dodge Ram:
- 84 percent male, 16 percent female
- Median age: 52
- Married: 70 percent
- Median annual income: $64,000
- College educated: 28 percent
- Primary vehicle usage: 71 percent “personal”
Safety and security
In addition to offering a standard four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Dodge Ram safety and security features include advanced multi-stage front driver and passenger air bags, supplemental side-curtain air bags and ParkSense® Rear Park Assist System.
Chrysler employs a two-fold safety approach: passive safety features including pretentioning and load-limiting seat belt retractors and supplemental side air bags, combined with active accident-avoidance safety features including responsive steering and handling and braking.
Following are some safety and security features:
- Advanced Multi-stage Air Bags: Inflates with a force appropriate to the severity of an impact. Meets FMVSS 208 advanced air bag requirements for small out-of-position occupants
- Auto-reverse Sun Roof: Advanced sensing system that automatically engages and reverses the sun roof to the open position
- Auto-reverse Window: Automatically engages and reverses the window to the down position when an obstacle that restricts glass movement is detected
- Brake/Park Interlock: Prevents an automatic transmission or transaxle from being shifted out of Park unless the brake pedal is applied
- Child-protection Rear Door Locks: Disables the rear doors’ inside-release handles via a small lever on the door-shut face
- Digressive Load-limiting Retractors: A two-stage load-limiting feature to limit the maximum force on the belt webbing in order to help absorb the energy of the occupant’s upper torso during an impact
- Enhanced Accident Response System (EARS): Makes it easier for emergency personnel to see and reach occupants in the event of an accident by turning on interior lights and unlocking doors after air-bag deployment. Also shuts off the flow of fuel to the engine
- Interior Head-impact Protection: Interior pillars above the belt line and instrument panel, including areas around windshield and rear window headers, roof and side-rail structures and shoulder-belt turning loops are specifically designed to limit head-impact force
- ParkSense® Rear Park Assist System: Assists at low speeds in Reverse to detect stationary objects. Consists of visible (interior lights seen with rearview mirror) and audible warnings for the driver. Optional.
- ParkView® Rear Back-up Camera: Provides a wide-angle view of the area immediately behind the vehicle, giving the driver greater peace of mind before backing up. Also aids in lining up a trailer to the vehicle’s trailer hitch, when so equipped. The image automatically displays on the navigation screen when the transmission is shifted into Reverse. Optional.
- Side Guard Door Beams: In front and rear doors, provides occupant protection during a side impact
The rumor mill
oh20 did not make any predictions, but redriderbob and Brenda Priddy were both pretty far off. Autoblog was right about the suspension. The anonymous writer who told us about the new interior was completely right, including his prediction on horsepower from the new 5.7 liter Hemi and better gas mileage; he also predicted the models and end of the Mega Cab, and the new box storage system. He wrote, “The hood bows down towards the headlights more now, so it’s more sleek but still has the unmistakeable Ram-ness to it.” That was true, as was “The interior on the Laramie is luxurious, with multiple shades of brown and tan, bright chrome, and woodgrain panels. The Sport interior is the usual high-contrast color scheme, with bright chrome highlights. Both are impressive in appearance.” He gets the “oh20 Award for Predictive Accuracy.” Or at least he would if we could find him.
Brenda Priddy wrote that the 3.7 would be replaced by the 4.0, which was wrong; and she greatly underpredicted the 4.7 V8's power boost, but was right it would get more power. Brenda said the Hemi would get more power from a size increase, while we (correctly) said VVT would be used instead. She predicted a six-speed automatic which has not arrived.
Redriderbob said the big-rig styling would give way to aerodynamics; this version is more aerodynamic than the last one (the original “big rig” seems to have been equally slippery). He also went with the 4.0 V6, power updates on the 4.7 to 290 hp (which was fairly close), and a 5.9 liter or 6.1 liter Hemi with three valves per cylinder and VVT; he was right about the VVT. Like Brenda Priddy, he also predicted six speed automatics. Overall, Allpar did pretty well compared with the larger media world.
We have more details on the development and features of the 2009 Dodge Ram in our Industria Show page.