Story and photos by Grant Yoxon

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First Drive: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab trucks first drives dodge
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Kananaskis, Alberta – In the quest to make pickup trucks more passenger-friendly, interior space has been growing. Two-door standard cabs are rare these days, replaced by extended cabs and four-door models with more space for people and cargo inside.

Sales of crew cab models with real rear seats and real leg room for adults are up more than 25% over the past year and now account for 35% of total pickup sales.

Despite four doors and adequate seating comfort, Dodge’s Ram Quad Cab didn’t provide the kind of comfort and interior cargo carrying capability truck buyer’s wanted. The answer? The 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab – the roomiest pickup truck you can buy.

The cab is larger and longer than any other available pickup, and it can carry more cargo inside than any other competitor. The rear seats will fold forward providing a large, flat loading surface, or move forward to provide additional cargo carrying space behind the seats.

With 1123 mm (44.2 in.) of rear legroom, it can carry six adult passengers – and their gear – comfortably.

How comfortably? The rear seats – split 60/40 – recline 15 degrees, from a 22 to 37 degree seatback angle. Rear passengers have enough room to not only sit comfortably, but to relax as well. And watch a movie on the optional DVD entertainment system.

The facts
Cab length: 2,822 mm (111.1 in.)
Cab volume: 4,058 L (143.3 cu. ft.)
Interior cargo volume: 2,044 L (72.2 cu. ft.)

Cargo volume behind rear seat: 218 L (7.7 cu. ft.)
Flat-floor load area: 2.3 sq. m (24.9 sq. ft.)
Second row leg room: 1,123 mm (44.2 in.)
Rear door opening: 876 mm (34.5 in.)
Rear door open angle: 85 degrees
Rear seat recline: 15 degrees

Available in Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 models, and built on the Dodge Ram Heavy Duty platform, the Mega Cab is available with two engines – the 5.9-litre Cummins Turbo Diesel and the 5.7-litre Hemi engine – and two trim levels – SLT and Laramie.

SLT models are well-equipped with air conditioning, AM/FM stereo and CD player with four speakers, overhead console with trip computer and compass, cruise control, power windows (which descend fully) and door locks, keyless entry, 17-inch chrome clad steel wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and part-time four-wheel drive on 4X4 models. Prices start at $35,740 for the 1500 SLT 4X2 and $39,630 for SLT 4X4 and range up to $50,495 for the 3500 SLT 4×4.

First Drive: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab trucks first drives dodge

First Drive: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab trucks first drives dodge
Click image to enlarge

Optional equipment available with the SLT versions includes power-sliding rear window, bedliner, trailer tow mirrors, power sun roof, power adjustable pedals, six-disc CD changer and Infinity speaker system, full-screen radio and navigation system, DVD entertainment system, hands-free wireless communication system with Bluetooth technology, bucket seats, six-way power driver’s seat and 17-inch chrome clad aluminum wheels.

Standard equipment on top-of-the-line Laramie models includes dual-zone climate control, power-sliding rear window, six-disc CD changer and Infinity speaker system, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, leather upholstery, six-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, 17-inch aluminum chrome-clad wheels, auto-dimming rear view mirror, security alarm and engine immobilizer.

Power sunroof, navigation system, hands-free wireless, side-curtain air bags and bucket seats are optionally available.

Also available later in the model year, on both SLT and Laramie, is SIRIUS satellite radio.

The standard powerplant for Mega Cab 1500 and 2500 models is the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 with a class-leading 345 horsepower and 375 lb.-ft. of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard.

First Drive: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab trucks first drives dodge

First Drive: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab trucks first drives dodge

First Drive: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab trucks first drives dodge
Click image to enlarge

The 5.9-litre Cummins Turbo Diesel is optionally available on 2500 models and standard on the 3500. With 610 lb.-ft. of torque and 325 hp, the 3500 4×2 model has a maximum towing capacity of 7,212 kg (15,900 lbs.), a payload of 1,329 kg (2,930 lbs.) and a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) and Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,433 kg (23,000 lbs.) and 4,491 kg (9,900 lbs) respectively.

At the other end, payload capacity and maximum trailer weight for the Ram Mega Cab 1500 Laramie with 5.7-litre Hemi is 853 kg (1,880 lbs.) and 3,266 kg (7,200 lbs.) respectively.

The Dodge Ram Mega Cab is based on the 4077 mm (160.5 in.) wheelbase Ram 2500 long box model. By replacing the 2.4 m (8-foot) long box with the 1.9 m (6-foot, 3-inch) short box, Dodge engineers were able to find an additional 508 mm (20 in.) to extend to the cab.

With a short 45 minutes available to drive the new Mega Cab, our test driving time was limited to a 2500 Laramie 4×4 model with 5.7-litre Hemi engine. The Laramie was fully equipped with leather seating, navigation system and rear-seat DVD entertainment system – a level of luxury once unheard of in a pickup truck.

First Drive: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab trucks first drives dodge

First Drive: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab trucks first drives dodge
Photos: Daimlerchrysler. Click image to enlarge

Rear seat room is, as suggested, huge, allowing six-footers to relax with legs crossed and seat reclined – the perfect place to doze off after a hard day’s work. With the six-way power adjustable driver’s seat and power adjustable pedals, finding a good seating position was easy.

Our tester was equipped with heated front bucket seats with a large console in between that, which when flipped back, provided an additional centre seat. There was plenty of storage space inside the seatback/arm rest, and more beneath on a floor mounted console.

The long wheelbase provided a comfortable ride over all surfaces with minimal bounce and shudder through the frame. We would imagine that fully loaded or pulling a trailer, the Mega Cab’s ride would be as limousine-like as its interior.

The Dodge Ram Mega Cab holds true to the maxim that bigger is better – more interior room is something that pickup owners who spend a lot of time in their trucks can appreciate. As well, buyers who need a strong truck to pull recreational trailers will not give up any creature comforts on a long haul, keeping family members – front and rear – happy and content.

First Drive: 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab trucks first drives dodge
Click image to enlarge

While fuel consumption data was not yet available from Natural Resources Canada, one can imagine that it is not that great with either of these large trucks and engines, and fuel costs are something no one can ignore.

But fleet buyers may see some savings in the Dodge Ram Mega Cab. With its extra large interior, one truck can carry more men and equipment to the job site than smaller pickups. Fewer trucks mean lower carrying costs and lower fuel costs.

And fewer complaints from rear seat passengers.

The Dodge Ram Mega Cab is built in Saltillo, Mexico and is on sale now.