For 2005, the full-size Dodge Ram offers a few new items. There’s a sunroof available on the Quad Cab short-box model; a six-speed manual to replace 2004’s five-speed on the 3.7- and 4.7-litre engines; new transmission mounts improve noise, vibration and harshness; a ram’s head-badge replaces the Dodge insignia on the tailgate; UConnect hands-free cellular phone with BlueTooth technology is optional on the SLT and Laramie; and the SRT-10 now comes in a quad cab, so the whole family can enjoy the world’s fastest pickup truck.

The Dodge Ram comes in a dizzying array of configurations, including 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (three-quarter-ton) and 3500 (one-ton) in regular and quad cab. All but the long-box-only 2500 and 3500 regular cab come in long or short box style. Engine choices are a 3.7-litre V6, 4.7-litre V8, 5.7-litre Hemi V8, 5.9-litre inline-six Cummins diesel, and the 8.3-litre V10, the same engine that powers the Viper, exclusively on the SRT-10. Drivelines are 4×2 or 4×4.

Trim levels are the base ST, the mid-line SLT, and the top-line Laramie; the 2500 can also be ordered as the Power Wagon, with matte-finish wheel wells, 18-inch aluminum wheels and 51 mm taller stance.

All Dodge Rams include air conditioning, full instrumentation, an engine hour meter, tilt wheel, transmission cooler (on automatics), variable intermittent wipers, and stake pockets in the bed. The base ST comes with vinyl seats and flooring, CD player, 17-inch wheels and four-wheel disc brakes with rear anti-lock brakes.

On most models, the SLT adds an overhead console, power locks with keyless entry, carpeting, cloth seats, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, and chrome-clad wheels.

The Laramie includes dual-zone climate control, Homelink garage door opener, power-adjustable pedals, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lamps, and four-wheel antilock brakes.

The Dodge Ram is a heavy-duty player in this field; it’s got good manners, a comfortable ride (in two-wheel configuration; the 4×4 is very stiff), well-done interior, and while the idea of a Viper that can haul home a load of gravel may seem odd, you can’t deny that screamer’s appeal.

The Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and clone GMC Sierra have a lower starting price, and in the heavier-duty models, Dodge is the only one unavailable as a crew cab, although its quad cab has independently-opening rear doors. Still, when equipped with a Hemi, the Ram 1500 remains the most powerful mass-produced light truck on the market.

The Dodge Ram regular cab is built in St. Louis, Missouri. The quad cab is built in Warren, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; and Satillo, Mexico.