Car Pro 2011 Dodge Ram Outdoorsman Truck review

Dodge pickup buyers love the outdoors according to their data.  47 percent hunt, 57 percent fresh water fish, 33 percent salt water fish, 36 percent own power boats and 37 percent tow camping trailers.  So why not make a pickup aimed squarely at this crowd?  That’s exactly what Chrysler did with the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman, which I test drove this week.

My test truck was a red Crew Cab model with a dark gray bottom, and it is a darned good looking truck.  It is clear the truck was built for two things;  going off-road and towing.  It is well equipped for both.

The truck comes equipped with the Ram Box, a pickup bed with lockable storage built into the outside of the bed for easy and secure access to your valuables.  In the case of the Outdoorsman edition truck, you can purchase options for a combination gun rack and rod & reel holder.  The Mopar RamBox Holster ($205 option) can secure two rifles or shotguns, or it can be rotated 90 degrees to hold up to six fishing rods.  For the serious hunter, it even comes with standard anti-scratch bumpers.

This truck comes in a half-ton like the one I had this week, but is also available in the 2500 and 3500 as well.  For all you wondering if “that thing’s got a Hemi” the answer is yes, and I always enjoy the combination of power and fuel economy the Hemi offers.

In the true spirit of hunting, the Outdoorsman offers a special lighting package that includes standard quad halogen headlamps, fog lights, mirror puddle lights and an under-hood light.

The spacious cab is nicely appointed but has hints of cheapness.  For me, it looks very plastic in places.  Functionally however, everything lays out nicely.  The screen display of the truck has a definite learning curve to it, but once mastered it is fine.  One touch I always love about Ram trucks is they all have a power outlet to plug in your phone or computer just like you are in your home.

The Ram seats are very comfortable and the center console is mammoth.  Chrysler did a great job with storage inside the cab and around the center stack.  I have to admit I was a bit shocked that a truck of this price came with cloth seats, which added to the overall impression of cheapness.

Under the hood, you get a 380-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, iron block/aluminum cylinder heads, cam-in-block, two valves per cylinder, 404 pound-feet of torque and a five-speed shiftable automatic transmission.

All in all, not much has changed since the big re-design of 2009 with the truck.  Dodge has disappeared from the name, they are all called Rams now, and the ride is still good with the multi-link coil spring suspension system.  Ram 1500 rides firm, but not rough.

The Outdoorsman package makes this truck stand out and I am sure the outdoorsy types will love it.  It will probably not appeal to those truck buyers who love the loaded Silverado or Ford Lariat, but this truck is useful without a doubt.

My colleagues at the Texas Auto Writers Association voted the Outdoorsman the full-size truck of the year at the annual Truck Rodeo.  I was not able to go to the event this year, but while I like this truck, I can’t see me voting for it in that category.  The price of this package, versus the competition, just doesn’t stack up for me

What I liked most:  The Ram Box, it is super handy.

What I would change if I could: Upgrade the interior and lower the price.

MSRP as tested: $44535.

Fuel Economy: 13 city/19 highway.  I am averaging 16 all around, not trying.

Ram Outdoorsman in a few words: A different truck but not a great buy.

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