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Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab SLTIn the truck world, beauty is a beast.

By Warren Brown WASHINGTONAuBeauty takes on new meaning at county landfill in Lorton, Va., where refuse from home and shop compete with nature for attention. It is a place where strength and brawn are honored, where practicality trumps gadgetry, where wheels that canAAEt haul or pull, or that do a lousy job of complying with those tasks, are so useless they border on silly.ItAAEs a truck kind of a place. And over the next few months, in this season of leaf piles and fallen tree limbs and discovered junk in the basement and storage shed, when sedans and sports cars wonAAEt do, weAAEre going to look at trucks, both pickups and sport-utility vehiclesAuwheels that bring frowns to the faces of urban folk and that make environmentalists wince ... until they have to haul stuff to a place like this.WeAAEll start with the Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab SLT, a truck as muscular and as long as its nameAusurely enough a work truck, but one that offers an amenable ride without in any way undermining its truck genetics, or, what for purposes of handy reference I will call it TG.The Ram 1500 Crew Cab SLT, for this column equipped with all-wheel drive, optional 20-inch wheels, and a bodacious 5.7-liter, 390-horsepower V-8 engine, is capable to the max. The only thing I would change about it, and IAAEm not alone in this, is that guzzling gasoline engine.IAAEve traveled all over Virginia and parts of North Carolina talking to real truck peopleAufolks who actually need and use trucks in their daily livesAuand IAAEve discovered a hankering for diesel engines in standard pickups such as the Ram 1500 Crew Cab SLT, the Chevrolet Silverado, the ever-popular Ford F-150 and the Toyota Tundra.ThatAAEs diesel, as opposed to the dual-mode gas-electric hybrids being produced by General Motors and a few other companies. Real truck people are practical sorts. It makes little sense to them to use two drive systems, at increased cost and complexity, where one will do.Diesel gives them a 30 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over gasoline, using one drive system. Diesel also gives them substantially more torqueAutwisting, pulling power. More torque means more work done. Real truck people work for a living, and as one truck person told me in Staunton, Va., AoWhoever comes up with a good, affordable diesel in a standard pickup is the company that wins in my book.AoThe Ram 1500 Crew Cab SLT swallows regular gasoline at the rate of 15 miles per gallon, combined city-highway. That egregious consumption is reduced somewhat by technology that deactivates four of the truckAAEs eight cylinders at low speeds and under light loads. ThereAAEs also the possibility of getting better mileage with different equipment mixes, such as rear-wheel-drive-only mated with a standard 4.7-liter, 310-horsepower V-8.But my sojourn through the truck culture of places such as the local landfill has taught me that, when it comes to pickups, power nearly always gets more respect than fuel economyAupower and muscle.But that emphasis on brawn raises some suspicions about the Ram 1500 Crew Cab SLT in the kingdom of pickup trucks. HereAAEs why:Most pickups have leaf-spring rear suspensionsAusemi-concentric strips of steel bent one within the other to support the truckAAEs weight. Leaf springs have done a good support job for decades, but at the expense of a comfortable ride.The Ram 1500 Crew Cab SLT dispenses with leaf springs in favor of coil springs. Coil springs also do a good support job, but they offer a much more comfortable ride in the process. Apparently, comfort is suspect in the truck world.AoThat the one with them coils?Ao asked a fellow landfill patron.AoYes,Ao I said. And in answering in the affirmative, I seemed to have come down several notches in his esteem.AoHumph,Ao he said. AoBut can it do what a truck do?AoLATWP News Servic

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Nov 2, 2009
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