Trucks, Jeeps

2009 Dodge Ram pickup: styling, features, conveniences, and safety

2009 Dodge Ram interiors

“Quite simply, our goal with the 2009 Dodge Ram was to make the competition sweat,” said Gilles. “We spent a lot of time rethinking the layout, functionality, feel and packaging of the interior. We also no longer have a ‘base’ interior, just higher levels of luxury throughout the series. The new interior was conceived to match the image of the exterior and drill home a new level of perceived and actual quality. Much higher grades of materials and finishes were selected throughout, culminating in the Laramie interior, which is the exclamation point on a new level of luxury for the segment. All surfaces have been carefully thought-out, as we wanted a robust feel to the interior that communicates to the owner that he is driving an extremely high quality piece of engineering.”

dodge ram cockpit

Each model had different interior trim. An optional package included chrome trim and upper door map pockets; standard soft door bolster and armrest, large door speaker grilles, built-in garment hangers and assist handles. The Laramie interior featured a full-width contrasting stitch on its soft instrument panel, chrome trim throughout, unique color combinations and wood-grain inserts on each door and the center instrument-panel stack. All Rams (except Sport) featured an industry-first two-tone technology, creating an inspired interior at all trim levels; Sport had an all-dark-slate interior with gray contrasting stitching on the instrument panel and seats.

Seats included industry-first heated and ventilated seats covered in YES® Essentials stain resistant, odor resistant, anti-static seat fabric or improved leather. Seats had redesigned frames and trim, with improved seat bolsters, unique stitching, full power with memory, and dual map pockets. Also for 2009 was the addition of rear heated seats, optional on the crew cab.

dodge laramie dashboard

New upper and lower glove boxes combined provide best-in-class glove box storage (the base ST model had an open upper glove compartment). The gauge cluster face was new, and the dashboard was composed of Thermo-Plastic Olefin top panel and PC-ABS plastic retainers that were recyclable; soft upper panel with stitching (Laramie and Sport models); two large airflow registers in the center stack and two at the outboard ends of the panel deliver air flow for rapid interior cooling and heating.

An optional center console had a floor-mounted automatic transmission shifter with Electronic Range Select, deep dual map pockets, abundant upper and lower storage space in the new soft, oversized clamshell center armrest, multiple storage compartments around the gearshift lever and multiple power outlets available for electronic devices.

inside the cutaway

The center stack was designed for optimum “reach zones” – the placement of controls in the most intuitive and comfortable locations. The center stack included strategic placement of a large radio yet still allowed room for a navigation system screen, two large “Venetian-blind” style airflow outlets with chrome accents, upper and lower switch banks for control switches (based on vehicle options), climate controls, improved cup holders, 12-volt and 115-volt power outlets and a sunglass bin.

dodge details

The RamBox and other storage systems

The RamBox, an option on Crew Cab 1500 models, was Avalanche done right: instead of small plastic containers stuck onto the pickup bed walls, Dodge had set up full-length storage bins, lighted, drainable, lockable, and weatherproof, as wide as the wheel well, with 7.6 cubic feet of space. They included configurable bed dividers, an adjustable bed extender that fit onto the lowered tailgate for another 2 feet of length (7 feet long total), and a cargo rail system with sliding adjustable cleats for tie-downs. The system could hold 240 twelve-ounce cans, or golf clubs, fishing rods, toolboxes, or other gear, while still leaving enough room in the bed for a flat sheet of plywood — in short, it had 7.6 cubic feet of storage, while still leaving 49 inches between the wheel wells.

2009  RamBox

Lids included swing hinges with intermediate and full-open positions that lifted the lid 90 degrees perpendicular to each side. Side bins were large enough to hold items including a set of golf clubs, helmets, toolboxes, kayak paddles, fishing rods, chainsaws – or 12-ounce cans with ice. Bed dividers created individual compartments in the pickup bed to separate payload items such as tools or equipment.

“All of our research indicated that new customers are buying a truck for the first time not only because it’s cool and capable, but also because it gives them a place to put all their stuff,” said Kunselman. “The RamBox storage system is Dodge’s response to that need.”

In addition, in-floor storage allowed customers to store items in floor compartments using removeable bins so different sets of equipment can be swapped or garaged. Two bins were each 8 inches x 13.25 inches x 5 inches; as they were under the rear passengers’ feet, they did not intrude on rear-seat leg room.

storage

An upper glove box provided 391 cubic inches of storage capacity, and combined with the lower glove box volume of 426 cubic inches (!), provided best-in-class glove-box volume.

glove box

Radios and video entertainment

Four new radios were available. The single-disc CD system played MP3 and WMA files, and had a dot-matrix display including icons; the radio station could be displayed with the time. CDs could be played randomly and satellite capability was available; as with all Ram stereos, a stereo input line was provided for easy connection of iPods and other devices. The next higher radio included a six-disc CD/DVD changer, and could play DVD audio or video discs, in addition to the single-disc capabilities.

Doors were designed to handle large (6-inch x 9-inch) door speakers for low range sound reproduction. The instrument panel had two speakers for crystal clear midrange and crisp highs. Select models with the premium sound package featured a new center-imaging speaker strategically located to use the windshield as a sound reflection surface for exceptional surround sound, and segment-first surround-sound technology.

ram trucks

Then came a system with a DVD changer and 30-gigabyte hard disc drive, including a 6.5-inch thin film transfer display with a touch-screen panel. The motorized screen flipped down to accept a disc for playing or downloading music or data onto the hard disc drive. The hard drive could record from discs, telephone, AM or FM, satellite radio, a microphone, or an included USB port. The music jukebox feature was similar to a virtual disc changer, which allowed up to 9 gigabytes of music (about 10 CDs) and pictures to be stored on the hard drive. Voice memos may be recorded using the microphone integrated into rearview mirror.

The final stereo incorporated all the features of the hard drive system, except with a 20-gigabyte hard disc and a navigation system built in.

The Dodge Ram’s optional rear-seat video entertainment system (VES) allowed Dodge Ram’s rear-seat passengers to watch movies and use external devices including video games and MP3 players. The system consisted of a overhead-mounted DVD player with an 8-inch LCD screen, a battery-powered remote control and two wireless, multi-channel headsets; it would play DVDs, WMAs, MP3s and audio and video CDs. Additional auxiliary input jacks were available so rear-seat passengers could play games from a video-game console or listen to music directly from a portable MP3 player. When the Ram’s VES system was not playing a video, the video screen displayed information in a split screen format, with two channels. The VES remote control was designed to control either channel by the use of a selector switch on the control. Headphones were designed to pick up either channel by use of the selection switch located on the right ear cup. Using the included wireless headphones allowed rear passengers to listen to two different sources simultaneously. The audio from the VES may be heard through the vehicle’s speaker system, through the wireless headphones, or both.

UConnect continued, providing voice dialing, an audio address book, voice commands for emergencies, call transfers, three languages, and recognizing up to seven phones.

ram testing

Styling

Research for developing the 2009 Dodge Ram was centered on direct feedback from truck owners and potential buyers. “We listened to anecdotes from truck owners, not just our own, but owners of competitive makes as well,” said Mark Allen, Chief Designer – Jeep/Truck Studios. “We built a range of concept trucks that we took to clinics, including one that was intentionally not ‘Ram-like.’ We heard loud and clear that people wanted the look we own with Dodge Ram – bold, powerful and capable. We knew we had to build on that theme.”

Designers started with 11 proposals for the 2009 Dodge Ram and culled it to three finalists. Design proposals were taken to several leading pickup markets throughout the country and shown to consumers in order to get their input.

Dodge Ram team members heard about real-world considerations that could impact the 2009 Dodge Ram design. For example, at one clinic, a participant noted that a Ram design concept featured a front bumper that seemed too close to the bodywork. “He said that ranchers sometimes use their trucks to nudge open gates, rather than climb out and do it by hand,” recalled Allen. “If the bumper is too shallow, nudging the gate can bash up the bodywork.”

Truck designers also hit the road on ride-and-drive trips, driving pickups outfitted for typical users: ranchers, tradesmen, firefighters and suburbanites. Driving outfitted trucks gave designers better insight into real-world considerations for pickup owners. “We worked to create the most well-rounded pickup truck ever,” said Gilles. “And who better to tell us than the people who will be our customers?”

The grille was canted forward, creating an aggressive, head-down appearance. “We heard at a clinic that it looks like a drill sergeant – bold, authoritative, in-charge,” said Allen. The grille was body mounted and separate from the new hood, which contributed to better panel-gap clearances and much-improved aerodynamics.

crown imperial

A new aluminum hood with a more pronounced power bulge that better shields the wipers opened with the assistance of dual gas props. Headlamps had integrated lenses and their shapes were echoed in the bumper fascia. Below the headlamps, a fully integrated air dam contributed to engine cooling and air-conditioning condenser air flow.

Front doors were a new construction style. The roll-frame design relocated the door cut to the side of the vehicle, similar to the Chrysler 300C and other recent products. This dramatically improved wind noise and reduced weight. The Ram door handles were a pull type and were large enough to be operated with gloved hands. Handles were finished in black and featured upgrades such as body color or chrome depending on trim level.

A crew cab model was new for the 2009 Dodge Ram, which gave Dodge an entry into the fastest-growing and highest-volume (nearly 50 percent) piece of the pickup truck market. The new package offered an additional six inches of leg room and in-floor storage. The new crew cab featured full-access rear doors that opened 90 degrees for easy entry and exit. Dodge expected the Crew Cab (the largest cab) to hit 45% of sales, with the short 5’7” box; while the Quad Cab, with a 6’4” box should take another 40%. The standard cabs, with both 6’4” and 8’ boxes, took the rest. Both Crew Cab and Quad Cab had four doors with exterior handles (no need to open the front door to open the back door.) Likewise, Dodge expected most of the sales to be the mid-range SLT model.

Rearview mirrors were designed for minimum drag and maximum image stability. They were moved further outboard and lower for improved visibility and reduction in wind noise. Available flip-up tow mirrors also had been redesigned with similar features. Both designs contributed to the Ram’s best-in-class aerodynamics.

The overall glass-to-body ratio on the 2009 Dodge Ram imparts a modern aesthetic, featuring blacked-out center pillars creating a sleek look. On the inside, the Ram benefitted from improved pillar sections all the way around, improving outward visibility. In addition, side sills were pulled down to cover frame rails, giving the 2009 Dodge Ram a refined, contemporary look while improving aerodynamics.

The pickup bed height on all three body styles (54 inches on two-wheel drive models, 56 inches on four-wheel drive models) allowed easy over-the-side loading. Three bed lengths were available: 8-foot (regular cab), 6-foot-4-inches (regular cab and Quad Cab®), and a new-for-2009 box length of 5-foot-7-inches (Ram Crew 1500). Dimensions of the 8-foot and 6-foot-3-inch boxes were unchanged from the 2008 model year. All beds featured integrated bed-rail caps on all three sides.

The tailgate on the 2009 Dodge Ram was as inspired as the new front end appearance. It featured a dramatic, integrated, stamped-steel spoiler that aided aerodynamics and also allowed for an ergonomic location for the tailgate release handle. A lift assist, new for 2009, decreased the effort needed to raise and close the tailgate.

The 2009 Dodge Ram’s overall coefficient of drag (Cd) was an estimated .422 for a crew cab 4x4 model – compared with a Cd of .463 for a 2008 Ram Quad Cab® 4x4 and .42 on the original “big-rig” style Ram of over a decade ago.

Dual exhaust (with the 5.7-liter HEMI) was available for the first time from the factory on a pickup truck. The bumper featured a flared radius around each of the new slash-cut 4-inch rolled chrome exhaust tips. The rear bumper was also the largest wrap-around bumper in its class, and depending on the model, it was available in mineral grey, body color or chrome. It offered three standard tow ball holes and a standard, integrated 7-pin connector. The new Ram would also be available with a ParkSense® Rear Park Assist System and ParkView® Rear Back-up Camera as options on select models.

Nearly all badges on the 2009 Dodge Ram were three-dimensional, rather than decals. Large, sculpted Ram badges adorn the center of the grille and tailgate – the Ram’s-head badge on the tailgate was 250 percent larger than the previous badge. Other nameplates and badges were located on driver and front-passenger doors, box and tailgate.

Safety and security

In addition to offering a standard four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Dodge Ram safety and security features included advanced multi-stage front driver and passenger air bags, supplemental side-curtain air bags and ParkSense® Rear Park Assist System.

Chrysler employed a two-fold safety approach: passive safety features including pretentioning and load-limiting seat belt retractors and supplemental side air bags, combined with active accident-avoidance safety features including responsive steering and handling and braking.

Following were some safety and security features:

  • Advanced Multi-stage Air Bags:  Inflated with a force appropriate to the severity of an impact.  Met FMVSS 208 advanced air bag requirements for small out-of-position occupants
  • Auto-reverse Sun Roof:  Advanced sensing system that automatically engaged and reversed the sun roof to the open position
  • Auto-reverse Window:  Automatically engaged and reversed the window to the down position when an obstacle that restricts glass movement was detected
  • Brake/Park Interlock:  Prevented an automatic transmission or transaxle from being shifted out of Park unless the brake pedal was applied
  • Child-protection Rear Door Locks:  Disabled the rear doors’ inside-release handles via a small lever on the door-shut face
  • Digressive Load-limiting Retractors:  A two-stage load-limiting feature to limit the maximum force on the belt webbing in order to help absorb the energy of the occupant’s upper torso during an impact
  • Enhanced Accident Response System (EARS):  Made it easier for emergency personnel to see and reach occupants in the event of an accident by turning on interior lights and unlocking doors after air-bag deployment. Also shut off the flow of fuel to the engine 
  • Interior Head-impact Protection:  Interior pillars above the belt line and instrument panel, including areas around windshield and rear window headers, roof and side-rail structures and shoulder-belt turning loops were specifically designed to limit head-impact force
  • ParkSense® Rear Park Assist System:  Assisted at low speeds in Reverse to detect stationary objects.  Consisted of visible (interior lights seen with rearview mirror) and audible warnings for the driver. Optional.
  • ParkView® Rear Back-up Camera:  Provided a wide-angle view of the area immediately behind the vehicle, giving the driver greater peace of mind before backing up.  Also aided in lining up a trailer to the vehicle’s trailer hitch, when so equipped.  The image automatically displayed on the navigation screen when the transmission was shifted into Reverse. Optional.
  • Side Guard Door Beams: In front and rear doors, provided occupant protection during a side impact

We make no guarantees regarding validity, accuracy, or applicability of information, predictions, or advice. Please read the terms of use and privacy policy. Copyright © 1994-2000, David Zatz; copyright © 2001-2016, Allpar LLC (except as noted, and press/publicity materials); all rights reserved. Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, Ram, and Mopar are trademarks of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.


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