Review and photos by Lesley Wimbush

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2005 Dodge Ram Daytona
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If you’re in the market for a nice, sensible, fairly nondescript vehicle that will get you from A to B quietly and without too much fore or afterthought – then you probably won’t be interested in reading any further. This review talks about an outrageously huge, in-your-face performance truck.

The 2005 Dodge Ram Daytona has probably attracted more attention than any other vehicle I’ve driven. Hardly surprising, since with its bright new-penny-copper paint (called ‘Go ManGo”) accentuated by matte black Daytona stripes, 11 inch winged tail, goliath front-end capped with massive scooped hood and jutting air dam beneath that fire engine sized grill – and riding on 20″ chrome wheels – the Daytona doesn’t exactly make a subdued impression.

But this limited edition Ram is more than just a pretty boy with a statement-making appearance package. Powered by the mighty new-generation Hemi, the test vehicle was a big, brawny, hairy-chested 4×4. Equipped with a tow package, it has a gross trailer weight rating of 9,300 lbs, a payload of 1750 lbs. and tough bed liner, numerous tie-downs and all the features you’d expect in full-size pickup.

Unless your truck requirements entail that it be capable of toting a six-pack of fridges (the wing might necessitate that the last two be pint-size bar fridges) this truck should more than suffice for heavy- duty work.

2005 Dodge Ram Daytona
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The look is outrageous. Drawing on its muscle car heritage, the Daytona package is a nod to the winged “aero warriors” of Mopar’s NASCAR past. Plymouth’s Superbird and the Dodge Daytona were Hemi-driven stock cars with signature huge rear wings. Their domination of 1970s NASCAR was so complete that the Hemi powered cars were eventually banned from competing.

To some long-time Mopar fans – the recent revamping of legendary models, borrowing of design features and muscle car monikers, is tantamount to sacrilege. Others greet the new arrivals with delight – particularly at the playful audacity of a gigantic 4×4 truck sporting a huge wing.

2005 Dodge Ram Daytona
Click image to enlarge

Driving this big Ram, I received many grins and thumbs up, comments and stares – although one do-rag sporting muscle car lover told me with derision that the truck was “obscene”. You don’t buy a truck like this if you’re looking to blend in – the politically correct might be better off with a Prius.

The strongest response was from guys in the 25-35 range, who absolutely loved it – yet the most delightful reaction came from an elderly lady I encountered at the fill-up station. Walking back to her car, she paused and looked thoughtfully at the truck, then at me, then back at the Ram. “What a beautiful truck” she exclaimed. “Why didn’t I buy something like that when I was young?”

2005 Dodge Ram Daytona
Click image to enlarge

For such a big vehicle, the Ram was easy to drive and surprisingly light on its feet. Steering was supple, fluid and responsive, and thanks to the power of the 5.7 litre V8 Hemi, it never felt ponderous. The sonorous lowing of the Borla exhaust gives way to a snarl – matched by the wailing Hemi when the gas pedal is tromped. This big truck sprints from 0-100 km/h in an effortless 6.8 seconds – 345 horsepower comes at 5400 rpm; peak torque (375 lb-ft) is available at 4200.

The rear end is equipped with performance and off-roading oriented 3:92 gears rather than the 3:55 ratio more applicable for towing. The 5-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly with no lag. In comparison to the clattering harshness of my 8-year old 2WD Dakota’s harder suspension, I found the ride to be soft, with just a bit more body roll than I prefer – although extremely smooth, composed and comfortable. A huge front sway bar, and adjustable torsion front suspension indicate that any excess roll could easily be remedied by the sports enthusiast. Then again, the track day or drag strip enthusiast would probably opt for the lower riding 2WD version of the Daytona.

2005 Dodge Ram Daytona Quad Cab.
2005 Dodge Ram Daytona Quad Cab. Click image to enlarge

If the idea of a 4200 lb performance vehicle sounds somewhat implausible – the very day I picked the Daytona up, Spike TV’s ‘Trucks’ aired an episode featuring Mario Andretti putting the big truck through its paces in a lapping session. He was impressed with its handling and grip, commenting on the astounding evolution that trucks have gone through in the last few years.

The four disc brakes (13.2-in disc up front; 13.8-in disc behind with ABS) are quite sensitive, requiring a steadying hand on my morning coffee when applying them because they stopped with Timmy-toppling abruptness.

The cabin, in this case a regular-sized cab, was attractive, with comfortable seats covered in a velour type cloth. White-faced gauges became a soft green when backlit, crisp and easily read at night. The huge, fold away mirrors were a boon for rear and side visibility although the rear view mirror was somewhat compromised by the wing.

2005 Dodge Ram Daytona Quad Cab.
2005 Dodge Ram Daytona Quad Cab. Click image to enlarge

For small people (like me) it’s a long way up into the cab so the A-pillar grab-handles were put to good use. The Daytona is also available in a quad cab version, with full-size rear doors and seats.

Included in the limited edition Daytona package is a body-coloured centre console bezel – housing climate controls and 6-CD Infinity sound system, and sequentially numbered dash plaque. Exterior features include custom-look air dam, hood scoop (identical to that of the Viper powered SRT-10 Ram), dual, side-exiting chrome Borla exhaust tips, chrome fuel filler door, side body moulding, 20 inch chrome ‘dubs’, matte-black paint accents…and of course, that Daytona wing.

Technical Data: 2005 Dodge Ram Daytona 4X4 regular cab

Base price $37,005
Freight $1,175
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $38,280
Type 2-door, 3-passenger full-size pickup truck
Layout longitudinal front engine/PT four-wheel drive
Engine 5.7 litre V8 Hemi, 2 valves per cylinder, OHV
Horsepower 345 @ 5400 rpm
Torque 375 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Curb weight 2148 kg (4736 lbs.)
Wheelbase 3061 mm (120.5 in.)
Length 5276 mm (207.7 in.)
Width 2019 mm (79.5 in.)
Height 1918 mm (75.5 in.)
Bed length 1.9 metres (6.3 ft.)
Payload 794 kg (1750 lbs.)
Towing capacity (max 4219 kg (9300 lbs.)
Fuel consumption n/a
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Assembly location St. Louis, Missouri

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