2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Review and Prices
The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 is the best pickup for you if you fancy some refinement with your brute force.
The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 full-size pickup gets increased towing capacity to address a criticism of its class-exclusive coil-spring rear suspension. Dodge, meanwhile, is waffling on the release of a gas-electric hybrid Ram; it now seems delayed until model-year 2011. Even without a hybrid, the 2010 Ram 1500 is an outstanding truck that tempers its bad-boy looks with what is arguably the best blend of ride and handling in the history of half-ton pickups.
Should you buy a 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 or wait for the 2011 Dodge Ram 1500? Wait for the 2011 Ram 1500 if you’re among the small number who believes a hybrid is the answer to your hauling needs. Buy the 2010 Ram 1500 if you realize this truck is already uncommonly practical for work and unfailingly pleasant for play.
2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Changes back to top
Styling: The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 styling gets only minor detail changes. Overall appearance is unaltered from styling that debuted with the all-new 2009 Ram 1500, itself an evolution of the big-rig look Ram adopted back in 1994. The 2010 Ram styling is tough and athletic, highlighted by a canted grille bearing Dodge’s cross-bar design. Dodge calls it a “head down, ready to charge” attitude. The body itself reflects some serious science aimed at improving economy and reducing noise. Wind-tunnel tuning and tight panel gaps create what Dodge insists is the world’s most aerodynamic big pickup. In fact, a front air dam lengthened by 18 mm to further improve aerodynamics is among the few 2010 styling changes. The 2010 Ram continues in three cab styles and three cargo-bed lengths. The regular cab rides a 120.5-inch wheelbase. It has two doors, seats up to three, and offers beds of 6-feet-4-inches and 8 feet. The Quad Cab rides a 140.5-inch wheelbase. It adds three-quarter-sized rear doors, seats up to six, and uses a 6-foot-4-inch box. The Crew Cab also rides the 140.5-inch wheelbase but has four conventionally sized side doors, seats up to six, and has a 5-foot-7-inch box. Five models are offered. ST, SLT, TRX, and Sport models come in all three cab styles. The top-of-the-line Laramie is offered only in Quad- and Crew-cab form. Regular-cab Sports are also available in R/T trim. And Quad and Crew SLTs can be ordered with regional packages called Big Horn and Lone Star. The basic tire size is 17 inches on a steel or alloy wheel; 20-inch alloys are optional on SLT and standard on Sport and Laramie models; the R/T gets 22-inch alloys for 2010. Folding trailer-tow mirrors are also newly available.
Mechanical: The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 mechanical changes include increased trailering capacity, plus a newly available integrated trailer-brake controller. All engines gain Dodge’s Decel Fuel Shut Off designed to improve mileage by stopping the flow of gas when you lift your foot from the accelerator. The 2010 Ram 1500 comes with a choice of three engines and with a choice of rear-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel-drive (4WD). The engine lineup begins with a 3.7-liter V-6 rated at 215 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. The V-6 is limited to 2WD regular- and Quad-cab models. Standard on all Crew Cabs and on every 4WD Ram is a 4.7-liter V-8 with 310 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. Standard on all Sport and Laramie models and optional on every other Ram is a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 390 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque. In addition to Decel Fuel Shut Off, the Hemi saves gas by cutting back to four cylinders at idle and in low-demand conditions. All engines mate with an automatic transmission, a four-speed for the V-6, a five-speed for the V-8s. The Ram 1500’s 2009 redesign ditched pickup-truck-traditional rear leaf springs, instead locating the solid rear axle by multiple links with coil springs and dampers. That design continues for 2010 with the goal of making Ram the best handling, best riding big pickup. The tradeoff had been in payload and towing capacities: a maximum trailer weight of 8,950 pounds placed Ram last among the six big pickups. Tow capacity increases for 2010, to between 10,000 and 10,450 pounds, for Quad and Crew models with the Hemi and 3.92:1 axle ratio. This elevates Ram’s towing capacity to third in class. Ram remains mid-pack for payload, despite a 50-pound increase, to a maximum 1,900 pounds.
Features: Would anyone buy a 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 just for its cargo bed? Maybe if it’s equipped with the RamBox. That’s Dodge’s name for a cargo-management system designed around two weatherproof, lockable, illuminated, and drainable storage bins that basically take over the side walls of the cargo box. Accessible from outside the trunk, these bins swallow big tool boxes, a bulky golf bag, or 240 12-ounce cans of your favorite beverage. RamBox is available only on the Ram 1500 Crew Cab and comes with a bed divider, bed extender, and cargo-rail system. Inside the Crew Cab are two lined floor bins below the rear seat. Rams’s comfort story includes available heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and the first heated steering wheel on any pickup. Infotainment options include Sirius Backseat TV and Chrysler’s “uconnect” system with a 30-gigabyte hard drive, voice-activated navigation with real-time traffic, USB iPod interface, and hands-free Bluetooth connectivity. For 2010, Rams without the navigation system are available with a USB cable-link that allows audio-system control of iPods and similar digital devices. Dealers can install a mobile WiFi modem that turns the truck and its immediate perimeter into an Internet hot spot. Standard safety features include head-protecting curtain side airbags for both seating rows. Also standard is antiskid control that can activate individual brakes and modulate engine power to counteract vehicle or trailer sway when towing.
2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Test Drive back to top
From behind the wheel: Forget the V-6; even 2WD regular-cab versions of the 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 need at least the 4.7-liter V-8. This single overhead-cam engine has the guts to do the jobs you should be asking of a full-size pickup. You’ll revel in the extra brawn of the 5.7-liter Hemi -- and the brainpower that comes with it. This pushrod V-8 has variable cam timing, and Dodge says the multi-displacement technology improves fuel economy by 4 percent. The only evidence of cylinder deactivation in Hemi Rams we’ve tested was a slight shudder at idle as four cylinders shut down.
Ram has exceptional steering feel and precision for a big pickup. It requires minimal correction to maintain a heading and few amendments as you maneuver through turns. The coil-spring rear suspension does indeed pay off in control. An empty-bed Dodge Ram 1500 shimmies less than other pickups over bumps and expansion joints, and isn’t quite as anxious to hop or jolt in cratered corners. As for towing: frankly, few pickup owners pull trailers weighing more than 7,000 pounds, and those who do tend to opt for heavier-duty three-quarter or one-ton models. Still, the 2010 Ram 1500’s 10,450-pound trailer rating is a bragging point. By comparison, the Nissan Titan has a trailer rating of 9,500 pounds, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500/GMC Sierra 1500 10,000 pounds, the Toyota Tundra 10,800 pounds, and the Ford F-150 11,300 pounds. Ram 1500’s 1,900-pound payload limit is quite acceptable for a half-ton pickup.
Ram V-8 models are available with 4WD that includes low-range gearing for off-road use. The basic 4WD system is a part-time setup designed to be disengaged on dry pavement to avoid drivetrain wear. Dodge’s On-Demand 4WD system is exclusive to the top-line Laramie model, where it’s standard. This full-time system adds to the basic setup a “4WD Auto” setting that allows it to remain engaged on dry pavement without damaging the drivetrain. Full-time 4WD is a boon to traction on wet surfaces, especially with an unladened cargo bed. Among full-size pickups, only the Ram and the Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra offer full-time 4WD.
Dashboard and controls: Ram’s all square-jawed and manly inside, too. Gauges are unobstructed, nicely illuminated, and bookend a useful information display with compass and ambient temperature readouts. The steering wheel is a serious three-spoke design, and Dodge thankfully gives cruise control its own steering-column stalk rather than cluttering the wheel or turn-signal lever. The steering wheel adjusts for rake, but some drivers may nonetheless find its rim blocks part of the speedometer’s face. The wheel doesn’t telescope, but power-adjustable pedals are available on every Ram except the entry-level ST model.
The ST is also the only Ram not available with front bucket seats. Specify a model with buckets rather than the three-person bench and you get a transmission shift lever relocated from the steering column to the center console. Besides looking sporty, the floor-mounted lever makes possible manual-type gear changes with a mere flick of the shifter left and right. You’ll stretch adjust the audio and climate controls – they’re in the center of the dashboard of a wide truck, after all – but Dodge should have taken advantage of all that real estate to provide larger buttons for some accessory controls.
The Ram’s interior is padded on every surface you’re likely to touch, but poke around and the weight- and cost-saving necessity of hard, relatively thin plastic is evident. In this regard, Ram runs with the herd. On the other hand, you’ll want for few amenities: heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system remarkably responsive to voice commands, satellite TV, and a fantastic-sounding 10-speaker Alpine sound system are just some of the available treats.
Room, comfort, and utility: All cabs feel plus-sized and ready for work or recreation. Front seating is commanding and commodious. The Quad Cab’s diminished rear doorways and back seat area won’t be a problem if your passenger-carrying chores only occasionally include adults. The Crew Cab’s rear compartment has astounding head and leg room, but the seat cushion and backrest lack contour, feel thinly padded, and the cushion is short on thigh support. Even on 2WD Rams, the doorsill are some 20 inches off the ground, which makes climbing in and out a challenge.
Once aboard, all that attention to aerodynamics pays off in levels of wind noise that would be low in a car much less a truck with a 6.3-foot tall cab and a PT-boat prow. Go down a bumpy road and you’ll reap the rewards of the coil-sprung rear suspension, too. Compliance of course isn’t car-like, but Ram’s rangy wheelbase, hefty weight, big tires, and smart chassis design mean only the roughest bumps intrude with force enough to compromise comfort
This Dodge actually has a more limited choice of box lengths than Ford and GM – there’s no long-bed Quad Cab, for example. But every Ram bed – even fitted with the RamBox -- is wide enough to carry a 4x8 sheet of material laid flat. And all have a tailgate damped and counterweighted for easier opening and closing. Ram tops the class for interior storage. Crew Cabs have 42 cabin compartments (though the bigger of the two rear-floor bin gets filled with subwoofer when you order the premium stereo).
Unfortunately, folding the rear seatback against the cab wall in Quad and Crew models doesn’t net quite the load versatility you’d expect because the floorboard isn’t flat. The RamBox is a worthwhile innovation, if a little steep at $1,895. And we’d like to see availability expanded beyond just the Crew Cab.
2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Prices back to top
The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 pricing ranges from $21,510-$43,550, before options. Prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Dodge’s fee for the 2010 Ram 1500 is $900.
Base prices for the 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 regular-cab range from $21,510-$30,640 with 2WD and from $25,965-$29,625 with 4WD. Prices are influenced by cab style, bed length, trim level, and options you specify or options than may be mandatory with certain features.
The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab prices span $25,565-$37,780 with 2WD and $29,975-$41,395 with 4WD, depending on cab style, bed length, trim level, and options.
Dodge says Crew Cabs account for 50 percent of Ram 1500 sales. Base prices for 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab 2WD models are $30,180 for the ST, $31,920 for the SLT, $32,470 for the TRX, $36,155 for the Sport, and $39,935 for the Laramie.
Base prices for 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4WD models are $33,400 for the ST, $35,140 for the SLT, $36,270 for the TRX, and $43,550 for the Laramie.
Also available are numerous options and trim packages (including the regional offerings), engine substitutions, and seating arrangements. Among key extra-cost items, the RamBox costs $1,895, the navigation system $1,865, and rear-seat DVD and satellite-TV video $1,695.
2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Fuel Economy back to top
The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500’s EPA mileage estimates vary from the competition by a mile per gallon here and there, but the differences are hardly enough to sway a buying decision.
Ram 1500s with the V-6 engine come only in 2WD and are rated 14/20 mpg (city/highway). Rams 1500s with the 4.7 V-8 are rated 14/19 mpg with 2WD and 13/18 with 4WD. Rams 1500s with the Hemi V-8 are rated at 14/20 mpg with 2WD and 13/18 with 4WD.
Dodge recommends mid-grade 89-octane gas for the Hemi. Ram’s other engines use regular 87-octane. The 4.7 V-8 can also run on E85 ethanol; doing so reduces fuel economy to a rated 9/13 with 2WD and 9/12 with 4WD.
2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Safety and Reliability back to top
Government crash-test ratings award a maximum five stars for occupant protection (safecar.gov). The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 earns the maximum five stars for driver and passenger protection in a frontal impact. Among full-size pickups, only the Toyota Tundra, with four stars, earns less than the maximum in these tests. The government did not test the 2010 Ram 1500 for passenger protection in side impacts, a test in which most pickups earn four or five stars.
The government also conducts five-star tests to determine the likelihood of a rollover, a leading cause of fatalities in accidents involving pickups and SUVs, which have a relatively high center of gravity. In rollover testing, the Dodge Ram earned four stars for 2WD models and three stars for 4WD versions. This is in line with most big pickups, none of which earns five stars in rollover testing.
Dodge is ranked below average among automotive brands in overall quality and dependability by J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer survey firm (jdpower.com).
In J.D. Power initial-quality surveys that poll owners on problems experienced during the first 90 days of ownership, the 2009 Ram 1500 rated below average overall. Owners gave it low marks for the design of some features and accessories but high grades in areas of powertrain quality. The current-generation Ram 1500 hasn’t been on sale long enough to be included in J.D. Power’s surveys that measure dependability during the first three years of ownership.
2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Release Date back to top
The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 went on sale in autumn 2009.
The “1500” designation, by the way, is Dodge’s way of identifying this Ram as a half-ton pickup, a classification loosely defined by payload capacity. Only the three domestic-brand carmakers produce full-size pickups in the heavier-duty three-quarter-ton and one-ton categories. Those trucks typically have more robust chassis construction than half-ton models and also are the only class of pickups to offer diesel engines. Dodge uses Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 designations for its heavier-duty pickups.
What's next for the 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 back to top
Chrysler’s bankruptcy crisis and its government-engendered takeover by Italy’s Fiat threw a monkey wrench into future planning for virtually every Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep model. In fact, the new Fiat-controlled Chrysler LLC has spun-off “Dodge Ram” as a separate brand for trucks.
Don’t expect major styling or structural alterations to the Ram 1500 for several years. That’s not to say new engines aren’t possible, particularly if they can help Dodge meet ever-tightening corporate fuel-economy requirements. That could point to a Ram 1500 Hybrid and perhaps to a replacement for the 3.7-liter V-6.
The hybrid previously considered for the Ram 1500 was a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 assisted by two battery-powered electric motors encased in the transmission housing. The system was offered in the discontinued Dodge Durango SUV. Power, payload, and towing ratings were similar to the conventional Hemi V-8. This hybrid system can run on electric power at around-town speeds and on any combination of gas and electric propulsion the computer determines most efficient. It self-charged; no plug-in required.
We tested the Hemi hybrid powertrain in a Durango SUV, which actually was a bit heavier than the Ram 1500. Aside from the eerie ability to trundle along silently on electric power alone, the hybrid acted little different from the conventional Hemi. In fact, the Hemi felt slightly more responsive at highway passing speeds. Part of the credit for that goes to the transmission, a continuously variable unit with ability to deliver extra power without a requiring a downshift, and to the hybrid system’s willingness to apply an added jolt of electric assist. Dodge says the Hemi hybrid system in the Durango improved fuel economy about 25 percent overall and up to 40 percent in the city. That could mean a Ram 1500 Hybrid would be rated around 18/19 mpg (city/highway).
Chrysler is debuting a highly regarded new V-6 in the redesigned 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the engine is likely to spread to other vehicles in the company. Called the Pentastar V-6, the double-overhead-cam 3.6-liter has variable valve timing and in the new Grand Cherokee is rated at 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Jeep says it improves fuel economy up to 11 percent compared with Grand Cherokee’s previous V-6, a 3.7-liter similar to the Ram 1500’s base engine.
Some diesel diehards continue to hold out hope Dodge will filter an oil-burner down to the half-ton ranks. Indeed, a diesel V-8 was widely reported to be slated for duty in the 2010 Ram 1500 until the economy tanked. The diesel would give Ram 1500 owners heavy-duty payload and towing ability without the expense of moving up to a three-quarter or one-ton truck. Reports pointed to a 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V-8 with something like 300 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy of 20/25 mpg (city/highway) was discussed. But diesel engines are relatively costly, and diesel fuel is no bargain at the pump. Those are big negatives in a troubled economy.
2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Competition back to top
2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: With a basic design that dates to the 2007 model year, this popular pickup, along with its GMC Sierra corporate cousin, is an oldster compared to the Dodge and Ford competition. But Chevy’s done a fine job keeping Silverado fresh where it counts. RamBox-type containers aren’t part of its resume, but a 332-horsepower gas-electric hybrid V-8 (21/22 mpg) is. The hybrid complements a still-competitive range of conventional gas engines, body styles, and bed lengths. Crew Cab rear-seat room lags, but brand loyalty and keen pricing means Silverado and Sierra are still very much in the game. The next all-new Silverado/Sierra will likely appear in model-year 2013 or 2014.
2010 Ford F-150: Like the Doge Ram 1500, the F-150 was redesigned for model-year 2009 with evolutionary styling and some attractive new features. These include cabs enlarged for more passenger room and storage space, and cargo beds with new compartments and dividers. Ford doesn’t offer a hybrid F-150, but this truck is very solid and refined, though not quite as pleasurable to drive as the Ram 1500. Ford is placing its fuel-efficiency bets with its twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6, which it bills as having V-8 power and V-6 fuel economy. Look for an EcoBoost F-150 sometime in calendar 2010, with the next all-new F-150 due in model-year 2014 or so.
2010 Toyota Tundra: Tundra’s model-year 2007 redesign pit it squarely against Ford, GM, and Dodge for size, power, and features, but Toyota has found it difficult to hold that beachhead. High gas prices and some early design bugs depressed sales, but this remains a legit alternative to the big domestics, even if it doesn’t offer diesel or hybrid options. Note that Tundra’s lead over its rivals in resale value and customer-satisfaction ratings are not as wide as they once were but still count as a plus for this truck. Smooth, strong V-8s are a highlight, too. No major changes are anticipated before model year 2014.