2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Expert Review

You'll Like The 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 If...

If you want capacious rear-cabin room for people and cargo, this is your truck. With a limo-like 44.2 inches of rear-seat legroom and 71 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded, the 2008 Dodge Ram Mega Cab is the King of the Hill.

You May Not Like The 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 If...

If your towing, hauling and rear-cabin roominess needs are more modest than this Mega Cab provides, or your fuel budget is limited, the Quad Cab is probably all the truck you need. The smaller six-foot bed may also pose a problem for some.

What's New

A new SXT trim joins the line, while 2500 and 3500 models receive a standard 7x10-inch trailer-tow mirror. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 3500 4x4 models with the 6.7-liter diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission climbs from 23,000 to 24,000 pounds.

Interior Features

The spacious six-passenger cabin has a wide front-center console, with generous storage bins and cup holders and an optional "business console" under the middle front cushion for a laptop and other mobile office needs. The gauges and controls have a precise look and feel, and the fittings and materials are good even in mid-level SLT models. Besides prodigious room and reclining seats, rear-seat riders get their own HVAC outlets, reading lamps, stowable center armrest with cupholders and (available) DVD with integrated game ports and wireless headsets. Behind the 60/40 fold-flat rear seats is a unique and useful 7.6 cubic feet of cargo space, plus another 1.8 cubic feet in covered bins.

Exterior Features

Dodge has distinguished its pickups from competitors with aggressive "big-rig" styling featuring lowered front fenders and big, bold cross-bar grilles. The 2008 Dodge Ram Mega Cab SLT builds on that theme with chrome grille bars inside a thick chrome collar, contemporary new headlamps and a massive front bumper. Uplevel Laramie models also wear chrome on their front bumpers and side sills. The front-hinged rear doors swing out nearly perpendicular (85 degrees) to the body, opening a cavernous 34.5 by 35.5-inch portal to the rear compartment for easy entry and exit, and for loading and unloading large, bulky items.

Driving Impressions

Despite their bulk, these Mega Cabs steer, ride, handle and brake at least as well as competitive long-wheelbase heavy-duty pickups. The HEMI V8 delivers its 375 pound-feet of peak torque at 4200 rpm and its 345 maximum horsepower at 5400 rpm, and the five-speed automatic provides smooth power at any reasonable speed. The Cummins Turbo Diesel, by contrast, unleashes its monster 610 pound-feet of max torque at just 1600 rpm and its 325 peak horsepower at 2900 rpm. This is great for launching with heavy loads and for off-road creeping, but on-road, if you start in first gear, you'll need to shift to second almost immediately and to third before reaching 20 miles per hour. The available automatic upshifts smoothly and quickly enough to mask this musclebound diesel's narrow torque band.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base Ram 1500 Mega Cab SXT two-wheel drive with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and five-speed automatic starts around $34,000, while the Laramie trim bumps the price to around $38,000. The 2500 model starts close to $36,000 and the 3500 with the Cummins Diesel is about $44,000. These are expensive trucks, but they have no real competitors in terms of flexibility and capability so they will likely sell close to sticker. Click on the Fair Purchase Price tab to find out what consumers are actually paying for a Ram pickup in your area. Because of their specialty nature we expect that the resale values of the Mega Cab models will be strong compared to other domestic pickups.

Notable Equipment

Base SXTs come well-equipped with a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine (6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel on 3500), air conditioning, AM/FM/CD four-speaker stereo, speed control, power windows and locks, keyless entry, overhead console with "mini" trip computer and compass, black grille billets, 17-inch chrome-clad wheels and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS).

Notable Options

SLT trims add chrome grille billets and a sliding rear window, while the uplevel Laramie models add leather upholstery, six-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, power sliding rear window, chromed aluminum wheels, security alarm, Sentry Key engine immobilizer and upscale audio with a six-disc CD changer, Infinity speakers, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and steering wheel-mounted controls. Additional options include full-screen navigation (integrated into the radio), rear-seat DVD, power sunroof and power-adjustable pedals.

Favorite Features

Cabin Capacity
The primary disadvantage of a pickup truck versus a truck-based SUV is the latter's enclosed, theft-resistant and weather-protected cargo capacity. This truck's aptly-named Mega Cab goes a long way toward eliminating that disadvantage, yet retains a substantial conventional bed out back for your dirty, heavy stuff. Unlike any other pickup, it will seat an NBA basketball team and its sixth man off the bench in commodious comfort, plus a fair amount of gear behind the back seat.

HEMI V8 Engine
Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota and Nissan all offer strong, reliable V8 power in full-size pickups, but none beats this Dodge powerhouse for its balance of smoothness, muscle and efficiency. Partnered with the robust five-speed automatic, it's simply the most powerfully pleasing big-pickup powerplant available.

Under the Hood

Two very different engine choices are available to Mega Cab customers, who will decide based on individual needs -- both work and play -- and desires. The standard HEMI gas V8 delivers outstanding power and torque, but despite the efficiency-enhancing Multiple-Displacement System, which disables four cylinders under light loads, don't expect much in the way of fuel economy in a truck this massive. The optional Cummins Turbo Diesel offers torque enough to pull a house off its foundation and better on-road economy, at the cost of diesel noise and roughness. Those with diesel needs or tastes will love it, others won't.

5.7-liter V8 HEMI
345 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
375 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18 (2WD), 13/17 (4WD)

6.7-liter in-line 6 Cummins Turbo Diesel
350 horsepower @ 3013 rpm
650 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500 rpm (automatic), 610 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1400 rpm (manual)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A

Editors' Notes

How big is too big? At Dodge, the question seems not to have crossed anyone's mind. How else can one explain the massive 2008 Dodge Ram Mega Cab pickup? As if the Ram Quad Cab isn't more truck than most folks need, the Mega Cab stretches its interior by replacing the standard eight-foot box with a six-foot bed and filling the remaining gap with an additional 20 inches of cab. The Mega Cab now boasts the largest interior of any full-size pickup and features so much rear-seat legroom it's only a matter of time before someone starts using it as an off-road limo! The true beauty of the Mega Cab's design is that its stem-to-stern dimensions remain identical to the eight-foot bed Ram Quad Cab pickup, meaning it will still fit in your garage -- but just barely.

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