For 2006, the Dodge Ram’s big news is exactly that: the all-new Mega Cab, which the company claims is the largest pickup cab ever. Built on a long-wheelbase 2500 model, the Mega Cab replaces the long-wheelbase’s 2.4-metre (8 foot) box with a 1.9-metre (6-foot-3) box, which allows the cab to be stretched to 2822 mm (111.1 in.). The full-size rear doors open 876 mm (34.5 in.) wide to a maximum 85 degrees, and the rear seat reclines up to 15 degrees. The rear seats also split 60/40, fold down and move forward for numerous configurations. A rear-seat DVD video entertainment system is available. Although it’s built on the heavy-duty structure, it’s available in 1500, 2500 and 3500 configuration.

Changes to the Ram line include Multi-Displacement System (MDS) added to the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 engine, which deactivates half the cylinders when not needed for better fuel economy, an industry first on a pickup truck; variable line pressure is added to the four-speed automatic transmission on the V6 for smoother shifts and better fuel economy; a standard front-axle disconnect system on 4×4 models improves economy; a new full-time electric transfer case is standard on all 4×4 models and delivers 45/55 front/rear torque split in 4WD; and there’s an optional all-wheel-drive electronic transfer case.

The Ram receives a new, re-engineered hydroformed fully-boxed frame for enhanced ride and handling; reduced drag brake calipers; a coil-over shock, double-wishbone front suspension on 4×4 models; specifically-tuned monotube shock absorbers; retuned springs and bushings; new body, engine and transmission mounts; thicker front glass and new door seals for reduced wind noise; extra sound-deadening materials; redesigned headlamps, grille, front fascia and fenders; an optional power sliding backlight; a redesigned instrument panel; optional full-screen navigation radio and DVD rear seat entertainment system (on Quad Cab); optional front bucket seats on some models; and new exterior Inferno Red Crystal Pearl Coat and Light Khaki Metallic Clear Coat and interior Khaki and Medium Slate colours.

The SRT10 receives three new colours, a standard hard tonneau cover and bed tray, and a satin-silver and carbon-fibre-finish centre stack.

The Dodge Ram comes in a number of configurations, including 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (three-quarter-ton) and 3500 (one-ton). Cab choices are regular, Quad or Mega. Engine choices on the 1500 are a 3.7-litre V6, 4.7-litre V8 and 5.7-litre V8; 2500 and 3500 models use the 5.7-litre V8 or 5.9-litre inline-six Cummins turbo diesel; and the SRT10 exclusively uses a version of the Dodge Viper’s 8.3-litre V10. Trim levels are the base ST, mid-line SLT, and the top-line Laramie. The 2500 is also available as the Power Wagon for heavy-duty off-road work.

Standard or available features include air conditioning, engine hour meter, tilt wheel, variable intermittent wipers, power windows and locks, power mirrors, power-adjustable pedals, cloth or leather seats, fog lamps and chrome-clad wheels.

With the introduction of the massive Mega Cab, the Ram should have something for everyone, from work trucks to a Viper that can haul home a load of gravel (but alas, there’s a price; the EPA’s 2006 fuel economy guide shows the SRT10 is the thirstiest vehicle available). The Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150 have a lower starting price, although it’s easy to ring all three up into serious dollars, and for many buyers it will come down to brand loyalty, as it always has.

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