The second part of our 2008 Tundra vs 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 comparison will compare the relative costs of the two trucks and available features for both. If you haven’t already read part one of our 2009 Dodge Ram Tundra comparison – Mechanicals – you might want to.
The Ram Laramie cab is exquisite – wood grain, everything within easy reach and the peripheral vision is perfect. There
Dodge and the new Dodge Ram have been under fire quite a bit lately, and for good reason:
- Two years in a row, the Toyota Tundra has been more American than the Dodge Ram.
- With the price of gas dropping every day, Dodge’s “fuel price protection program” officially ripped-off thousands of truck buyers.
- The auto industry has been ablaze with predictions that Chrysler will file bankruptcy, thereby completing destroying the resale value of their vehicles (not to mention thousands of jobs lost).
- The new 2009 Dodge Ram launched with a $1000 customer cash incentive, which doesn’t speak well to the truck’s appeal or value.
- Finally, Dodge’s emphasis on the new Ram’s luxury and superior ride have us wondering if the new Dodge Ram is soft.
While everything we’ve said above is true, one thing is certain. The new Dodge Ram 1500 is a hell of a truck. Our official comparison of the 2008 Tundra and the 2009 Ram will follow our previous 2007 Tundra vs. 2007 Ram comparison format – we’ll give you the highs and lows around the important distinctions and evaluate the key components. In an effort to decrease the perception of bias, we’ve pulled in freelance writer Dan Murphy to assist us with this comparison.
Let the showdown begin!
We’re not sure why, but the reviewers at Consumer Reports, Car and Driver, and Edmunds.com don’t seem to know very much about pickups. It’s not because they don’t like our favorite truck – the Tundra always does well enough – it’s just that all the reviews have some variation of this complaint:
The truck is too big. Wah. It’s hard for us to park. Boo-hoo. We don’t like the fact that it rides and handles like a truck. Sniff sniff.
No kidding? You found the “truck-like qualities” of the truck you tested to be a little uncomfortable? Go figure.
They must not be truck people.
Anyone else think this cute widdle guy works for Edmunds.com?
Take this Edmunds.com Toyota Tundra long-term test update. The Tundra enjoyed quite a few compliments – such as:
The differences between the Honda Ridgeline and the Toyota Tundra demonstrate the fundamental difference between the understanding each of these Japanese manufacturers has of the North American truck market. After spending decades selling mini-trucks and three-quarter size versions of their domestic competition’s pickups, Toyota decided to target the not-so-big three and develop a full-size pickup that was every inch the equal of the perennial class-leading F150 and Silverado. The Tundra has been a definite success in that regard, even surpassing the competition out of Detroit in terms of certain features and capabilities.
Honda, to put it mildly, decided to go another route. With no history of selling trucks in the United States, the Ridgeline appeared out of nowhere as a sort of combination pickup truck / SUV hybrid that claimed to be a full-size truck but fell short in several crucial areas – most notably horsepower, towing capacity and, well, size. In terms of exterior dimensions, the Ridgeline follows the old Toyota game plan of trying to offer big features with a small footprint. Sadly, in the minds of truck buyers, the length, width and height of a vehicle make a difference, and when seen side by side the Ridgeline is clearly dwarfed by the Tundra.
Here’s an approximate proportional view of the Tundra and the Ridgeline side by side.
Honda has chosen to outfit the Ridgeline with only one engine choice, a 3.5 liter V6 which is rated at 247 horsepower. Not only is this a full 120 horsepower less than the available 5.7 liter V8 in the Tundra, but historically, pickup trucks have offered a wide range of drive train choices in order to satisfy the individual needs of buyers. Both vehicles offer variable-valve timing in order to improve fuel consumption, yet the Toyota’s 13 miles per gallon in city driving and 17 miles per gallon on the highway compare favorably with the Ridgeline’s 15 / 20 rating – especially when you factor in the 2 extra cylinders and 50 percent greater available power. The Ridgeline also has a smaller box and less than half the towing capacity of the Tundra.
It seems obvious that the Honda Ridgeline is not a serious player when it comes to the full-size pickup truck game. So what exactly is it? Well, to put it simply, the Ridgeline is a pickup truck for people who don’t buy pickup trucks. With its vast array of storage compartments and locking “trunk,” it’s a mini-Chevrolet Avalanche. With an independent rear suspension and smaller dimensions, it’s the kind of truck that won’t intimidate drivers moving up from a Honda SUV. In this sense, it is quite successful – the driving characteristics are more similar to a crossover than a pickup, yet it offers a degree of cargo storage that isn’t found in any other Honda sport-utility vehicle. The ride height lets buyers feel more confident on the road, and the four-wheel drive system adds an air of legitimacy to the entire package.
The Tundra and the Ridgeline are clearly not competing for the same share of the market. In fact, it’s not really easy to see if the Ridgeline has any competition at all in the niche that Honda has carved out for the vehicle. Full-size truck buyers will most likely steer clear of the Ridgeline based on its specifications alone, but it could definitely hold some appeal to those in the mid-size segment, or anyone wanting to fulfill their fantasy of pickup truck ownership without having to extend their driveway or find a bigger parking spot at work.
Intellichoice, a company dedicated to providing vehicle ownership cost estimates and value analysis, provides a monthly “Best Deal” list for new car buyers.
For September 2008, the Toyota Tundra is a listed as the best deal in the 1/2 ton, 2wd category. Were it not for the fact that Lincoln is giving away the discontinued Mark LT, the Tundra might be the best deal overall in 1/2 ton trucks.
Intellichoice’s “Best Deal” designation is determined by current car prices, market conditions and the lowest national manufacturer consumer new car rebate. In addition, IntelliChoice.com uses the latest information from numerous automotive resources to evaluate what it costs to buy, own and operate each new car model-year trim line over a five-year basis.
So in other words, the Tundra is the best deal not only because of rebates, but because it’s expected to be the lowest cost 1/2 ton truck option over the next 5 years.