Gas sip­per

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - AUTOS -

r.p.m. 3.6-L V-6 305 hp at 6,400 r.p.m., 269 lb-ft at 4,175

Eight-speed au­to­matic Anti-lock four-wheel discs 275/60/20 $44,395 base/$60,665 as tested Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada fuel econ­omy (L/100 km): 10.1 city, 14.6 high­way

Ad­vanced mul­ti­stage front airbags, side-cur­tain front and rear airbags, sup­ple­men­tal side airbags, elec­tric shift-on-the-fly trans­fer case, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, tire pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, aux­il­iary trans­mis­sion oil cooler, heavy-duty shock ab­sorbers front and back, re­mote key­less en­try, lock­ing tail­gate, elec­tronic ve­hi­cle in­for­ma­tion cen­tre, halo­gen quad head­lights, trailer-tow four-pin con­nec­tor wiring, en­gine block heater

Think of it as an SUV with the added util­ity of a truck bed Fan­tas­tic ride qual­ity, lots of room Not that pow­er­ful when work­ing

Rea­son­able, but the price climbs

with op­tions


4WD light-duty pickup truck

Ro­tary shift dial is a bit

I’d forgo the Lux­ury Group ($725), Re­mote Start Group ($595), side steps ($850), ton­neau cover ($450) and power sun­roof ($1,395)

More than just a con­cep­tual bound­ary, the high­way we call “No. 7” is the back­bone of my home­town. A bi­sect­ing axis of recre­ation and commerce, it con­nects east to west and di­vides north from south. As the city’s main drag, it’s the strip where most stop­light tableaus play out on any given Satur­day night.

This far north of the me­trop­o­lis, it’s noth­ing out of the or­di­nary to see trucks used as daily driv­ers. While young ur­ban­ites roll in neon-hued im­ports, up here where the di­alect is Wayne’s World- meets- Fargo, the ride of choice is the jacked-up pickup. “Pump­kins on dis­play” I call them, their un­der­car­riages laid bare by el­e­vated chas­sis, gi­gan­tic treads thrum­ming on the pave­ment, ac­com­pa­nied by the calv­ing-heifer bel­low of dual tailpipes.

My Ram 1500 seems quite mod­est by com­par­i­son, the coun­try equiv­a­lent of a fam­ily sedan. In navy blue with discreet chrome trim, it blends in when parked on my street as well as it does in front of the barn.

We’ve re­cently driven the en­tire Heavy Duty lineup and the im­pres­sive Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. This truck, a Ram 1500 Crew Cab SLT, is pow­ered by the base Pen­tas­tar V-6. In the world of trucks, where big­ger usu­ally equals bet­ter, is there a place for a V-6-pow­ered pickup? Ain’t no bet­ter place to find out than here, north of seven, where even if all you haul is air, you’re at home.

Compact and mod­er­ately pow­ered trucks were los­ing ground for a while to the ever-more-use­ful crossovers, but their in­creas­ing lev­els of com­fort and tech­nol­ogy have lured buy­ers back. There’s a re­viv­ing mar­ket for peo­ple who don’t really need the power of a V-8, but still have oc­ca­sional need for a truck’s ca­pa­bil­ity. There’s really no sub­sti­tute for a gen­uine pickup bed to get a dirty job done.

My tester is a mid-range SLT trim, but it’s loaded with more than $5,000 of op­tional me­chan­i­cal and con­ve­nience ex­tras. Out­wardly, it fea­tures more lash­ings of chrome, 20-inch alu­minum wheels, wheelto-wheel side steps and a neat, tidy tri-fold ton­neau cover.

The cabin isn’t as op­u­lent as the branded leather Laramie mod­els, but its chocolate and cream trim is rather at­trac­tive. Seats are up­hol­stered in pre­mium cloth rather than leather, but they’re an in­ter­est­ing blend of tex­tures and con­trast­ing colours. The Crew Cab con­fig­u­ra­tion is as spa­cious as any full-size SUV; rear pas­sen­gers have plenty of room to stretch out their legs, and a 60/40-split seat bot­tom flips up to cre­ate an im­pres­sive flat cargo area.

There are also watertight stor­age com­part­ments clev­erly hid­den be­neath the rear floor and bins be­neath the rear seats. The op­tional RamBox cargo man­age­ment sys­tem ($1,195) fea­tures two re­mote­lock­able stor­age com­part­ments in­te­grated in the






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