The Dodge Ram Mega Cab has been aptly named. The Mega Cab is akin to a limousine with a six-foot bed attached. It takes the increasingly popular crew cab pickup truck to a new level of spaciousness. If you were so inclined you could camp out in the rear seat and watch your favorite video on the optional rear entertainment system before dropping off to sleep.
Wake up and stretch out. Wake up and discover scads of space to change into a fresh shirt and jeans for a new day's travel.
The rear seat has a humongous 44-inches of legroom and space to seat three adults a-cross without the necessity of becoming intimately acquainted.
There's 134 cubic feet of interior space including more than 70 cubic feet in the rear-seating area. It can be turned into cargo space by folding the seats flat. There's another 7.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the seat. Did we mention it was humongous?
Dodge introduced the Mega Cab in 2006 in part, we suspect, to blunt criticism that its standard Quad Cab, introduced in 2002, does not have enough rear-seat leg room.
With this enormous interior comes an enormous truck that is hard to park in a standard parking place and impossible to get into a standard garage.
But when it comes time to transport adult passengers, the huge dimensions — 247 inches long and 80 inches wide riding on a 160-inch wheelbase — are welcome.
We can attest. On the weekend we were in possession of the Mega Cab, we were asked to help move a big desk from an office supply store. And it wasn't just a moving chore it was also a shopping trip for five people. We didn't come close to taxing the Mega Cab with five passengers and a big desk secured in the cargo bed. It turned out to be a live demonstration of the usefulness and practicality of the Mega Cab in certain situations.
Probably more to the point, the truck fits the family that needs passenger space for several people, space to store stuff in the 6-foot-4 cargo bed and the towing capability to pull a big boat to the beach or a big travel trailer through the mountains. Or as a brut of a work truck.
The Mega Cab 1500, built on a heavy duty chassis, has a maximum tow rating of 8,700 pounds with a 2,400 pound payload. This is not best in class, but when you combine those numbers with the vehicle's massive passenger compartment you get a very desirable vehicle.
Power to move the three-ton pickup is not a problem.
The standard engine is a 5.7-liter 345-horsepower Hemi V-8 making 375 pound-feet of torque mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Even partially loaded there's no problem moving sharply from a stoplight or merging on a busy highway. The big truck will finish off a 0-to-60 run in about 9 seconds, although you might get more then a few stares with the big rig under full throttle.
And perhaps just as important, emergency stops can be made relatively quickly. The brakes bring the three tons of truck down from 60 miles per hour in 149 feet.
A new 6.7-liter Cummins diesel became optional on the 2500 version earlier this year for about $5,600 replacing a 5.9-liter diesel. It makes 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.
Amazingly, we discovered the big truck is an easy driver. A new independent front suspension and steering system make the Ram a snap to herd down the road. While point and shoot might be overstating it, the steering feel is excellent.
It was also delightful to luxuriate in the quiet interior and the smooth ride engineered into the truck. You don't have to sacrifice the solitude expected from a luxury car or the ride that comes with a more refined sedan. It's part of the Dodge package.
There's no disappointment with interior appointments, either.
The front seats are comfortable, controls are easy to use and storage in the center bin is enormous. Readouts display outside temperature, instant fuel mileage and other tidbits of information you might find interesting.
Everything you expect from a luxury sedan or SUV can be purchased in the big Ram including DVD-based navigation, satellite radio and rear-seat entertainment.
The Mega Cab comes in two trim levels, SLT and Laramie, with the SLT starting at $32,270. The Laramie begins at $37,290. For 32 grand, the SLT comes with power windows and door-locks, air conditioning, cruise control, stereo with CD player and ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution. Move up to the Laramie and power seats, leather upholstery, steering wheel audio controls, dual zone climate control and an upgraded audio system with MP3 playback and Sirius satellite radio become standard equipment.
While ABS is standard across the lineup, we were disappointed that Dodge has not made other safety features such as full-length side curtain airbags standard equipment. That feature can be picked up for $490.
Our Laramie test truck came with such extras as navigation and rear entertainment taking the bottom line to $40,185.
Of course, there are obvious downsides to the big rig. But we figure people will purchase the Mega Cab for specific reasons that only a big truck will satisfy, trumping the negative aspects.
Parking a vehicle that stretches out nearly 21 feet with a gargantuan 52-foot turning circle is one of those negatives. It's no easy task on a busy street or in the shopping center parking lot where slots are narrow for even mid-sized vehicles.
If you've got to do chores in your Mega Cab, just park it in the far reaches and hike. Or unabashedly take up two spaces.
The other big downside, of course, is the Mega Cab's mega appetite. Keeping the 35-gallon tank filled will take mega cash. Fuel economy ratings are not required for heavy duty trucks, but from our observation figure about 10 miles per gallon in city driving and about 13 mpg on the highway. One good thing — the big Hemi will run just fine on regular gas.
If you need a truck not only for towing, but for carrying four or five passengers on a regular basis, the Ram Mega Cab should definitely be on your shopping list.
Just keep in mind there's a price to pay for this type of convenience.
Base price: $32,270; as driven, $40,185
Engine: 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi
Horsepower: 345 @ 5,400 rpm
Torque: 375 foot-pounds @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Turning circle: 52.1 feet
Maximum payload: 2,420 pounds
Towing capacity: 8,570 pounds
Wheelbase: 160.5 inches
Length: 247.9 inches
Curb weight: 6,087 pounds
Fuel capacity: 35 gallons (regular)
EPA mileage: none listed
0-60: 9.1 seconds (MotorWeek)
Also consider: Chevrolet Silverado HD crew cab; Toyota Tundra V-8 crew cab, Ford F-250 crew cab
Spacious interior big enough to live in
Handling and ride are exemplary
Lusty Hemi V-8 up to task of moving three tons
Seems like it takes a half acre to turn this rig around
Single-digit mileage can put a dent in the wallet at $3 per gallon.