San Francisco: With
the 2006 Ram Mega Cab, Dodge now offers the largest pickup truck cab in
the world. By slicing 21 inches out of the bed length and adding it to
the cab, Dodge has created a vehicle that rivals my first studio
apartment in San Francisco. That humble dwelling was made from a one-car
garage, so Iím only exaggerating slightly here.
More than a decade ago,
Dodge was a distant number three in the high volume, high profit,
full-size pickup wars. As soon as they introduced the now signature big
rig styling, Dodge truck sales took off. The latest Ram wears the same
popular proportions, with an even larger grille and massive, modern
headlamp units. The Mega Cabís intimidating size and bulk is probably
its biggest selling point.
With the Mega Cab, you
can finally carry five or six people and their luggage and a ton of pea
gravel at the same time. The front seat armrest doubles as a covered bin
capable of carrying your laptop, even if itís a couple of generations
old. The bin has two folding dividers if youíre carrying smaller items.
Fold up the armrest and youíve got room for a sixth person, but with the
wide center console, thereís not much legroom available.
Second row legroom is
an unbelievable 44.2 inches, thatís limo territory. Rear passengers not
only get a wealth of legroom, they enjoy the first reclining rear seats
in a pickup. All thatís missing is helpful flight attendants with some
drinks and peanuts. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 configuration
and slide forward, so you can create countless combinations of folks and
The cabin is not only
spacious, but stylish as well. My Inferno Red Laramie model, the upper
of two levels, sported a handsome wood and silver center section in the
dash that would rival a Mercedes for presentation, if not materials. The
full set of gauges features the sporty white faces favored by Dodge. A
nifty power sliding rear window supplies helpful ventilation in case you
and your five passengers fog up the windows.
The Mega Cab comes in
1500, 2500, and 3500 levels, each one more capable of hauling more
goods. All are built on Dodgeís heavy-duty platform. It says something
about the size of this truck that the base engine is Chryslerís mighty
Hemi motor. This 5.7-liter V8, standard on the 1500 and 2500, churns out
345 horsepower and 375 lb.-ft. of torque.
If you really want to
haul, you need the 5.9-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel, which is an expensive
($5,555) option on the 2500 and standard on the 3500. It generates 325
horsepower, a little less than the Hemi, but delivers an eye-popping 610
lb.-ft. of torque. That pushes the Mega Cabís towing capacity from 7,000
pounds to a maximum of 15,800 pounds.
I have driven a Cummins
Diesel a few times, but it always amazes me how when the transmission
upshifts, the car digs in and flies along, unlike a conventional engine.
The Diesel makes quite a racket, however. One time, when I painstakingly
weaved the Mega Cab through the local fast food drive-through, the
disembodied voice asked me to turn my engine off so she could hear my
order! With the windows closed, however, neither you nor your passengers
will be bothered by the clatter.
Diesel tends to deliver
better mileage than gasoline, but this house on wheels averaged just
13.7 mpg, including many freeway miles. Itís also a bit disturbing now
that diesel fuel costs at least a quarter more a gallon than premium
gasoline. But if you truly need and want a do-anything, take-everybody
hauler, you wonít mind the penalty.
With its 160.5-inch
wheelbase and 247.7 inches of length, the Mega Cab creates parking
problems and it sure was a chore backing it out of my driveway. Cruising
down the freeway was pleasant, however. The 80-inch-wide truck fills the
lane pretty fully, so attentive steering is recommended.
The SLT model gets a
load of standard equipment, from air conditioning to an AM/FM/CD with
four speakers, keyless entry, and four-wheel disc brakes with four-wheel
antilock. The Laramie model adds chrome moldings on the sides, dual-zone
climate control, a security alarm, an engine immobilizer and audio
controls on the steering wheel.
As with all pickups,
you can pick from a range of options that will swell the price
dramatically. The 1500 Mega Cab SLT starts at $32,760. My test truck had
a base price of $39,260, but totaled out at $50,765 with its numerous
options. $50,000 for a pickup truck? Yes, but it did have a power
sunroof, supplemental side airbags and even a rear seat video system,
but thatís still a lot of cash. But you could rent the Mega Cab out as a
hotel room or use it as a limo to help make the payments.
Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Dodge Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
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