Test Drive: 2009 Dodge Ram pickup pays attention to details

•Why? Truck market looked infinite when it was being planned.

•How much? ST regular cab, V-6, rear drive starts at $22,170 including shipping. Laramie crew cab, Hemi V-8, 4x4: $47,850 with all factory options.

•How potent? Base 3.7-liter V-6: 215 horsepower at 5,200 rpm, 235 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Optional 4.7-liter V-8: 310 hp at 5,650 rpm, 330 lbs.-ft. at 3,950 rpm. Hemi 5.7-liter V-8: 390 hp at 5,600 rpm, 407 lbs.-ft. at 4,000 rpm. V-6 has four-speed automatic transmission; five-speed automatic optional. V-8s have the five-speed.

Two 4x4 systems. Fulltime version has 4x4 automatic mode that shifts into 4x4 as needed as well as 4x4 lock-up setting. Part-time version has no auto mode.

•How big? Most-popular model — crew-cab, short-bed — is, in inches: 227.5 long, 79.4 wide, 73.9 (rear-drive) or 74.8 (4x4) tall on 140-in. wheelbase. Payload ratings range from 1,360 to 1,850 lbs.; towing, 3,600 to 9,100 lbs. Bed sizes: 5-foot-7; 6-foot-4; 8 feet. Various models' turning circles: 39.2 to 45.4 feet.

•How thirsty? Rear-drive models rated 14 miles per gallon in town, regardless of engine; 19 or 20 on the highway, depending on engine; 15 or 16 in combined driving. 4x4: 14/18/15 regardless of engine.

Trip computers in crew-cab, 4x4, Hemi V-8 test trucks showed 11.2 mpg in suburban driving, 16.9 in fast, hilly highway driving.

Tank: 26 gallons (32 optional). Regular (87 octane) specified for V-6, 4.7-liter V-8. Hemi needs midgrade (89) for full power, but regular is safe, Chrysler says.

•Overall:Immensely appealing if you don't need maximum towing, hauling abilities.

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