2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie
2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie. Click image to enlarge

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Dodge Canada

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Review and photos by Howard Elmer

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Head Lake, Ontario – Back in 1932, a sculptor named Avard Fairbanks met with Walter P. Chrysler and tried to sell him a bust of a bighorn ram as Dodge’s symbol. Fairbanks explained the animal was “king of the trail,” in his presentation, but Chrysler was unconvinced until Fairbanks added, “Besides, if you saw one on the trail in front of you, you’d think – ‘Dodge!’” Chrysler immediately agreed. In 1981 the ram moved beyond a symbol and the Dodge Ram pickup was born.

The most recent generation of the Ram debuted last year as a 2009 model and I first had a chance to drive one in California, where (like many places, I’m sure) the Dodge Ram has serious fans; like the guy who ran up to me in the Starbucks parking lot to show off his Ram logo tattoo. Then like a kid on Christmas he circled the two-tone Crew Cab Ram I was driving, finally commenting – “man, that’s pretty.”

2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie
2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie. Click image to enlarge

What my tattooed friend was reacting to is the subtle (yet powerful) redesign of the Ram “big-rig” look that first dropped in ’94. With some rounding of the fenders and a forward-tilt to the cross-hair grille, the truck has kept its silhouette, but by pulling the lights back over the new one-piece bumper it’s taken on a fast, rakish, slippery look.

But, without a doubt, the biggest difference is in the interior design. This new interior features redesigned bolstered seats, soft-touch material in two and even three colour patterns (rather than nasty hard grey plastic). A new centre console, upper and lower gloveboxes and a sculpted dashboard feature chrome, leather and cloth accents – including items like real saddle stitching across the dash. Other available options include power adjustable pedals, double the number of previous storage spaces and first-time items like heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

In a departure from traditional full-size pickup design, Dodge has given its new Ram a coil-spring rear suspension that, in a word, has changed the ride of the solid rear axle for the better. Over washboard roads the coils soak up the impacts and the rear wheels don’t snap and dance as they did with the leaf springs.

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