Ram 1500 pickups come in flavors to satisfy a range of tastes, and the Sport R/T is the spiciest of the new batch. The 2011 Ram Sport R/T is available only in a regular cab with 6-foot-4-inch short box and 4×2 configuration.
It has been a while since I’ve driven a regular-cab pickup truck —- in a market dominated by stretched cabs. The two-door cab does look cool, and certainly a longer cab and bed would be awkward for a sporty truck wearing an R/T label.
While the cab is small, the Sport R/T has an imposing presence and is offered in eight paint colors. The test truck’s vivid Flame Red paint works well in punctuating the Sport R/T’s attitude.
Particularly eye-grabbing is the aggressively sculpted, monochromatic front end. The body-colored crosshair grille is filled with a black honeycomb insert and has a red R/T badge in the lower-right corner. It meets with a stunning raised sport performance hood with dual black “nostrils.”
Below is a large, chiseled, body-colored bumper fascia with an air-dam opening filled with a black insert. It’s flanked by standard rectangular fog lamps. The main visual punch at the truck’s sides is its 22-x9.0-inch forged-aluminum polished five-spoke wheels, which are standard for 2011 models. These are wrapped by P285/45R-22 all-season tires.
The test truck is fitted with 20-inch chrome-clad five-spoke aluminum wheels that come with the 2010 Sport R/T (otherwise unchanged) and 2011 4×4 Sport models. Mopar chrome tubular side steps are available for $500 or packaged with chrome bed rails as an $895 option. The Ram Sport R/T starts at $30,740.
Door handles and side mirrors contribute to the monotone effect, and fold-away power trailer-tow mirrors are a $100 option. A Class IV receiver hitch adds $335 to the price and a trailer brake control costs an extra $230.
Ram’s standard rear spoiler, integrated into the top of the tailgate, adds performance flair. Sending a message this truck is ready to run is a pair of round, bright exhaust outlets, notched into the body-colored lower rear bumper fascia.
These exhausts link with the Sport R/T’s standard 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi MDS VVT engine. The Hemi, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, propels the 4,754-pound truck with 390 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 407 lb.-ft. of torque 4,000 rpm. Estimated fuel economy is 14 miles per gallon city and 20 mpg highway. Regular-unleaded gas is recommended to fill the 26-gallon tank.
Hemi muscle and a 4.10 rear-axle ratio team for spirited acceleration with a 0-60-mph time of less than 6 seconds. The Sport R/T has towing rating of 5,000 pounds and a 1,340-pound payload capacity.
Passenger capacity is limited to two, but the cab’s environment is top notch. Dark Slate Gray is the standard color for the interior, which features beautifully tailored, well-bolstered sport cloth bucket seats. The supportive seats team with a well-engineered suspension to provide compliant ride quality for a full-size pickup.
Ram interior design, which took a giant leap with the new-generation 2009 models, continues for 2011. The dashboard is crafted with a quality look, featuring white stitching neatly tracing the top” front edge. The steering wheel grip is leather covered and the shifter is topped with a macho T-grip handle.
A plus with Ram trucks for years is a wide center console with a beefy armrest/storage, offering the convenience of two levels — shallow upper and deep lower compartments. The glove box, too, provides the advantage of dual-level storage.
The Sport R/T provides storage behind the seat with bins, stretched full width on the floor. It’s amazing how much can be packed in the space behind the seat. I stuffed groceries, bags of clothes, a briefcase and more in the narrow space.
Standard with the Sport R/T is a Media Center with CD/DVD/MP3/HDD radio. This package includes a 6.5-inch touch screen, 30GB hard drive with a 6,700-song capacity, Album Artwork and audio jack. The test truck ups the ante with an $800 Media Center 730N package, which upgrades with the following: GPS navigation with voice command; 30GB hard drive with 4,250 song capacity; Sirius Satellite Radio; Sirius Traffic; Uconnect Voice Command of hands-free phone; Music & Navigation; USB iPod control; remote USB port; and Bluetooth streaming audio.
For those shopping for a performance-look, Hemi-powered, regular-cab/short-box pickup at a more-modest price, Ram Truck Brand recently announced its Ram 1500 Express with a $23,830 starting price.
It appears that regular-cab cool is among the Ram Truck Brand’s strategies for attracting a wider range of truckers to its growing 1500 lineup.
(Tim Spell is editor the Houston Chronicle InMotion section.)
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2011