Here's a scene you wouldn't expect to see among a staff of car-enthusiast writers--a bunch of long faces because a pickup leaves the fleet.
But a tear or two might have been shed as the silver tailgate of our long-term 2010 Ram 1500 SLT Crew Cab 4x4 faded from view.
Our year with the Ram can be distilled to this: We loved it.
That wasn't a given when the truck showed up at One AutoWeek Tower. The Ram was the last all-new product Chrysler churned out before its white-knuckle ride through bankruptcy. And Chrysler bet big on the truck, abandoning leaf springs for coil springs in the rear suspension, a move that had many truck purists shaking their heads.
Guess what? Chrysler hit the jackpot with that move. More than one AutoWeek editor declared the Ram to be the best-riding truck--loaded or unloaded--that we've come across.
Now, just because we're city dwellers doesn't mean we took it easy on the Ram. We may not have moved bales of hay with it, but there was no lack of couches, boxes, televisions, tires, lumber and yard material to throw into the bed. And we knocked the shine off the trailer hitch, too.
We have plenty of praise for this truck's 5.7-liter V8 and its 390 hp. Big power is ready at a mere stab of your right foot, accompanied by the appropriately macho exhaust tone. Yet this mill becomes a gas sipper, relatively speaking, at highway speeds when the cylinder-deactivation system coverts the V8 to a V4.
Overall, we burned off 1,609 gallons of gasoline to rack up 24,330 miles on the Ram, with overall fuel economy of 15.1 mpg, which seems average for a full-size pickup.
The Ram's interior, on the other hand, is above average. The leather-covered seats were comfortable and held up well during long stints on the road. The rear bench will seat three adults comfortably or fold out of the way to make room for weather-sensitive cargo. After a year of pounding, there were no squeaks or rattles.
The final three months of duty in our fleet coincided with the annual arrival of cold, snow and ice in our neck of the woods. Suddenly, the $1,875 extra charge for the remote start and heated seats and steering wheel--don't knock it until you've tried it on a single-digit morning--didn't seem so frivolous.
One editor noted, "This is a luxury vehicle, plain and simple. The heated seats, the backup camera, the satellite radio--I've driven purported luxury cars that aren't this decked out."
And kudos for the big knobs for the HVAC and the audio/nav touch screen that are easy to use even when wearing gloves.
It's also worth noting that in the course of a year of use, we didn't pay anything beyond normal maintenance charges. One small issue--a cracked lid on one of the Ram storage boxes on the truck bed--was replaced under warranty.
Drawbacks? It was hard to find any, other than the trucklike fuel economy and a sticker weighed down by $13,615 in options that boosted the bottom line to $48,755.
We are going to miss that truck.
2010 Ram 1500 SLT Crew Cab 4x4
Miles Driven (Quarter/Year): 5,890/24,330
Fuel Economy (Quarter/Year): 14.9/15.1 mpg
Fuel Cost (Quarter/Year): $1,253.46/$4,665.63
Days Out of Service (Quarter/Year): None/none
Maintenance: First scheduled maintenance, including oil change ($29.99); second scheduled maintenance, including oil change, tire rotation, general inspection ($45.58); third scheduled maintenance, including oil change ($29.99); fourth scheduled maintenance, including oil change, air filter change ($25.99); replace left rear storage container lid (warranty); recall to replace defroster actuator, update HVAC software (warranty)
Original Sticker Price: $48,755
Trade-In Value: $30,875 (www.kbb.com)
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