Ram 1500 pickups have changed considerably for the 2006 model year. A new frame, suspension and body mounts are used, and new headlamps provide 22 percent more light intensity. Newly available features include a power-sliding rear window, bucket seats, a full-screen navigation radio and a DVD entertainment system. Four-wheel-drive models have a standard electronic transfer case. Hemi-equipped Rams are the first pickup trucks equipped with fuel-saving cylinder deactivation: the Multi-Displacement System.
Dodge's Ram is available in 1500, 2500 and 3500 versions, which translates to half- , three-quarter- and one-ton ratings, respectively. While the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 models are intended for serious work, an offshoot of the light-duty 1500 — the 500-horsepower Ram SRT10 — is designed for serious play.
Ram pickups come in regular-cab and four-door Quad Cab body styles. Light-duty Rams can have V-6, V-8 or V-10 power, while heavy-duty models can have V-8 or diesel power. A sunroof is available on Quad Cab models, and Sirius Satellite Radio is offered.
Regular-cab Rams can be equipped with a 6.3-foot cargo bed, ride a 120.5-inch wheelbase and stretch to 207.7 inches long overall. With an 8-foot cargo bed, the Ram has a 140.5-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 229.7 inches.
Quad Cab pickups, with four conventional front-hinged doors, can also be equipped with the two bed sizes and are 20 inches longer in both wheelbase and overall length. The rear doors open 85 degrees to ease access. All models have a chrome grille, while the Laramie gets chrome bodyside moldings. A body-colored grille goes on Rams with the Sport Appearance Group. Hoods have a pronounced crown that falls toward the front fenders.
A front bench seat holds up to three occupants in a 40/20/40 configuration. A center business console can hold a laptop computer, and the center portion offers under-cushion storage.
Quad Cab models have a folding rear seat. Leather upholstery and adjustable pedals are standard in the Laramie model.
The standard 3.7-liter V-6 produces 215 hp. Rams can be equipped with an available 235-hp, 4.7-liter Magnum V-8 or a 345-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. A six-speed-manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional. With the 4.7- or 5.7-liter engine, the automatic is a five-speed unit. Rear- and four-wheel-drive models are available.
All-disc brakes with a rear-wheel antilock feature are standard. Four-wheel ABS is standard in the Laramie. Roof-mounted side curtain-type airbags are optional.
The Ram 1500 is a light-duty truck, but it seems big in every way — including its reaction to bumps and holes in the road. Although the suspension regains control fairly quickly, quite a bit of jolting occurs in city driving. The ride improves on the highway.
The Ram 1500 is easy to drive and steer, and it responds predictably to driver input. A four-wheel-drive version maneuvers capably and takes curves passably well at modest speeds. Three adults fit adequately in a regular cab when the immense center armrest/storage box is raised.