Archive for April 13th, 2016|Daily archive page

The 2016 Popular Mechanics Automotive Excellence Awards

Best Truck: Ram
2016-Ram-1500-Rebel-pickup-01

– Base price: $26,605
– Towing capacity: 9,000-plus lb.
– EPA mileage: 17 mpg city/25 highway

Give it up for the Ram! Top to bottom, this is the model to beat. Chrysler is a perennial third-place finisher in the domestic-truck sales battles, which means that these new Rams are the product of a striver mentality. Chrysler knows that, unlike with a Ford or a Chevy, you probably won’t buy its truck out of habit or hallowed family tradition. So it wants to give you other reasons, compelling technological reasons, for joining the Mopar crowd.

And there are certainly plenty of those. The Ram is the only pickup with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, a device so manifestly excellent that Rolls-Royce and Range Rover put the same one in their cars, too. That transmission can be bolted to a satisfying 305-hp V-6, a beastly Hemi V-8, or a 3.0-liter diesel, the only small diesel you can get in a full-size truck. The Ram EcoDiesel nets 29 mpg highway and can tow more than 9,000 pounds, which makes you wonder why it has, as yet, no direct competition.

The Rams also have the most ambitious suspension. The 1500- and 2500-series trucks come standard with a coil-spring rear end, so when you’ve got nothing in the bed (which is probably most of the time) they still manage a smooth ride with superior control, none of the rear-end hopscotch that leaf springs can give you on a bumpy road.

A coil-spring rear end would be revolutionary enough, but Chrysler also offers the industry’s only available air suspension. Going off-roading? Hit a button and it’s like you installed an instant lift kit. If you’re loading cargo, drop the suspension and you can heave those bags of mulch into the bed without approximating the caber toss at the Scottish Highland Games. The truck even knows to drop the body closer to the pavement at highway speeds to improve fuel economy.

On the heavy-duty side, Ram’s got the most torque (a downright silly 900 lb-ft from the high-output Cummins diesel) and the most powerful gas engine with the 410-hp 6.4-liter Hemi. The trucks with an HD badge also get optional rear air suspension, which means the bed stays level even when you’ve loaded it with two yards of gravel or your pet hippopotamus or a bunch of caber poles.

No, the Ram isn’t perfect—the fancy Laramie Longhorn interiors exhibit the aesthetic sensibility of a Reno whorehouse circa 1895—but in terms of fearless ambition and overall goodness, the striver makes a compelling case. You ought to hear it out.

Read more at: http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/g2573/2016-popular-mechanics-automotive-excellence-awards/