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by Sean T. Marzola
Earlier this year, I swapped out my 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit Hemi for a 2016 Ram 1500 Limited with a Hemi and four wheel drive. It was purchased from Dennis Dillon of Boise, Idaho, in a good deal and a pleasant experience, though I live in San Jose, California; I also bought accessories from them.
The Hemi is powerful; it has 35 horsepower more than my Jeep, presumably due to having more room to breathe; but even though the Truck is heavier, you can feel the power improvement. Clearly, the eight speed (“Torqueflite 8” in Rams) has something to do with it. The ZF eight speed changes everything about the Hemi and how it puts down the power. Compared to the six speed in my Jeep, I can’t tell you how different it is. It is an amazing transmission and it’s got sporty gearing in the Ram 1500.
The exhaust rumbles like a serious muscle car. I can’t believe how loud it is for a stock truck. It’s far louder than the Jeep. I laid into it and it moves and makes great noises. That eight speed is key; the 3.92 gears help (ordered for the maximum towing of 9,800 pounds).
It’s nearly as plush as my Jeep, and I really like the build quality thus far. The ride is great for a pickup. The coil springs in back (versus leaf springs) absolutely cut bed hop. But it is a pickup, for sure, and it does ride a lot higher than the Jeep.
I feel it’s quite secure on the road…. went through a rain storm in the desert, believe it or not, on the way back from Boise to San Jose… wind, lightning, pouring rain, etc.; the dang thing doesn’t budge on the road.
It’s very quiet at highway speed. As for the looks, I especially like the Limited trim, the wheels, and the overall stance. It has a presence. Folks have told me they like the cap on it.
There are down-sides. It’s big for city driving. It’s too heavy, and you feel it — far less than a Toyota Tundra, but it is really heavy. I also thought the Ram would have, as my Jeep did, radar cruise control, blind spot protection, and forward collision warning. I am ashamed to say I didn’t check, I just assumed, and I am a huge fan of the blind spot protection. It’s annoying that but not a show stopper.
I love this transmission. It’s not about the number of gears, it’s how it functions. The Torqueflite 8 in the Ram operates as if it was listening to my brain. My wife has a 2012 BMW X3 with a ZF 8 spd, and it’s fantastic, but it has more settings, while the Ram is just straight… no modes. To me, it’s just unreal that they can make it work the way I would have it operate in my head. It listens to every single input. It reacts. It’s smooth. It’s lightning fast. The Torqueflite 8 is the best transmission of any car I have ever had, hands down.
As for the Ram 1500 versus the Jeep Grand Cherokee, assuming you were attracted to both because of the Hemi. Much of the Technology is similar, even the air suspension, but they tune them differently. The Jeep’s eight-speed feels tuned for less sporty shifting, and the exhaust is muted, though a dual setup. The interior appointments are nearly identical, with the exception of the high end collision protection, radar, and such.
I could see them building a full size SUV on the Ram 1500 platform. If it were me, I’d do the Jeep Grand Wagoneer that way.
We took the Ram from San Jose to Salt Lake City, which is where these photos came from. On the way out, we packed the vehicle, with no room to spare and four people and one dog inside. We drove 754 miles at an average of 67 mph, and achieved 18.8 mpg by the trip computer. On the way back, we had three people and one dog, and less cargo. This was 810 miles, at an average of 65 mph, for 19.3 mpg. The wind was kinder, but we hit major traffic, around 45 minutes in delays and stop and go traffic.
The terrain is elevated and not ideal for gas mileage runs. There are four peaks — 7,000 feet to get through the California mountains, then three across Nevada (7,000, 6,000, and 5,000 feet). Salt Lake City is at 4,000 feet which robs power; the climbs take down the gas mileage. Still, the economy isn’t terrible for an engine with under 3,000 miles, given the nature of the trip, and gives some hope that we can hit the EPA estimates later.
What would I change? If I could build my own,
That’s it. Nothing else. The first and the last, together, would keep me happy for ten or more years in it. I may still have it that long.
I mentioned, I bought accessories:
I’ve also changed the tires out. I know that sounds insane and spoiled, but I hated those Goodyears on my Jeep, and replaced them with Bridgestone Duelers on it after the factory Goodyears were done; they have a more aggressive tread and ride a little quieter. I thought about getting Michelins (anong other things to get the white letters), but went with Dueler H/Ls on the Ram as well.
I really, really like it. I loved my Jeep, and I think I’m going to love my truck too. But now there is nothing in the garage (the truck doesn’t fit), and I think I’m going to have to remedy that with something else from FCA.
If there was a Chrysler 300 SRT with the 8 speed, I’d buy it today and I’d be patient with cars for a long time. Since there is not, it’s going to come down to a Maserati Ghibli S in 2017 or the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio in 2018 (not doing this in the first year!). Then maybe something Hemi SRT for the garage before the V8 “dies.” That’s the goal, anyway.
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