It was 1994, and I was testing cars on the radio and for magazines back in Houston when our delivery service brought a vehicle to the station that was about to set the truck world on fire. The Dodge Ram that arrived that day drew more stares on the street than anything I had driven up to then, including a Ferrari, a Hummer, and various new model Mustangs, Corvettes and Mercedes Benzes. It was what is kindly referred to as a "polarizing" design. That is writer-speak for you either loved it or hated it.
I loved it, and it took a bit of time to love its successor, and its successor. Oh, the new Ram is a better truck in every aspect…better interior, better engine, etc. But the formal grill that set the Ram apart and made Ford and GM scramble back to the drawing board, has been enlarged to big-mouth bass proportions.
When I first saw it, I thought they'd frankly gone too far. It looks like the product of an illicit affair between a Dakota and a Kenworth. Well, I still prefer the more subdued original model, but the Ram has grown on me.
And it's grown on my colleagues in the automotive press. The scribblers who were gathered in Detroit for the first big auto show of the year named the Ram 1500 the North American Truck of the Year.
And this came as Ford showed off the new F-150, and the 2014 Sailverado was on display by GM. For the perennial bridesmaid of the big 3, that was like catching the bouquet.
Add to that being the Motor Trend Truck of the Year, and the gang at Ram are in danger of severe eye injuries from popping champagne corks.
Our test truck was the four by four Laramie Edition. The 5.7 liter Hemi V8 cranks out 395-horsepower which is more than enough to haul the groceries…for a small European country. This Hemi dates back to a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth and truck motors were by gosh tough. It is proof positive that Darwin was right. The fittest do survive.
The interior, always the most accommodating and handy of the big 3, is even better. Adjustable gas pedals mean my 5 ft. wife can easily fit in the big Ram, and the dash, huge fold-down armrest/console and seats have all be redesigned with nicer materials and a better layout. The cab comes either standard with two doors, or the Quad-Cab with four forward hinged doors, or the crew cab, or just about any configuration you want.
And frankly, it all works. Room with a good ride, excellent build quality a nicer engine and more comfortable interior, the Ram 1500 has improved enough to be considered a true equal of Ford and Chevrolet in all aspects, not just style. And Ram has the awards to prove it.