For the first time in 16 years, the a Chrysler truck has been named the Consumer Reports top pick in the truck category. While this is obviously not the first award that the Ram brand vehicle has won, it is another feather in the hat of a truck team that surprised and delighted sportsmen with a wide range of features in an outstanding package.
The last time a Chrysler vehicle was applauded in this way, the award went to the 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The Ram 1500 has won Motor Trend Truck of the Year for both 2013 and 2014 — a first for any manufacturer, Truck of Texas for both years, and North American International Auto Show Truck of the Year for 2013. (It was ineligible for 2014.) It has offered special editions and included features aimed specifically at hunters and fishermen with its Mossy Oak edition, and Rambox locked firearm/fishing gear compartments.
Towing capability, quiet cabin and a rear-coil suspension — unique for full-size pickups — make it “feel like a luxury vehicle, while being able to get its hands dirty when duty calls”, according to the magazine’s assessment. It is also the only truck in its class available with a diesel engine, although others definitely plan to include one in the future on both full-size and mid-size trucks.
I’ve driven both the conventional gas and diesel models on and off road and was also impressed. Many of my readers complained about quality or performance issues on their Dodge (Ram’s predecessor brand) trucks. When Chrysler split Ram from Dodge, they made a commitment to compete head to head with the other trucks in the full-size segment, and they have delivered.
Consumer Reports is extremely independent in their evaluations beginning with how they acquire vehicles for testing. While most journalists drive and assess trucks provided by the manufacturers from their media fleets, Consumer Reports goes on the open market and buys them, just as you do. Manufacturers don’t know where they get them or under what names. In some ways, this assures that nothing has been specially tuned or adjusted for higher marks, although I have never known a truck maker to stoop to that.
Vehicles are put through more than 50 tests that encompass overall road performance, average or better predicted reliability (based upon problems reported by subscribers on 1.1-million vehicles, and acceptable ratings in crash and rollover tests done by the government and insurance industry. About 6,000 miles of driving and evaluation with multiple drivers is done.
It will be interesting to see what is up their sleeve for next year when they will be competing with Ford’s new 2015 F-150, as well as the new Chevy, GMC and Toyota pickups that were introduced for 2014.