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Dodge Ram Mega Cab sets a new standard for space

April 08, 2005|by TIM SPELL/Motor Matters

It's "room with a vroom," said George Murphy, Chrysler Group senior vice president, global brand marketing, as the new 2006 Dodge Mega Cab was recently unveiled.

Murphy touted the Mega Cab as Dodge's "biggest truck idea to date and the most spacious and versatile pickup in the history of the industry."

"This cab is huge, the largest in the segment" Murphy said. "In fact, it's the largest pickup cab ever, with over 145 cubic feet of total interior volume."

Creating this bigger six-passenger cab required juggling space. "We put our space in a different place," said Mike Donoughe, vice president of the Chrysler Group's body-on-frame product team. "We started with our Quad Cab long box, put a short box on it, and took the 20 inches difference and put it all into the cab. That makes it the biggest cab on the planet."

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This leaves a 6-foot-3-inch cargo box that's competitive with most other short-box lengths. This length couples with a 66-inch width to eliminate the offering of an 8-foot-long box.

Stretching the cab leaves a wide band of sheet at the cab's rear, and Trevor Creed, Chrysler Group senior vice president of design, said doing something to break up the space, most likely cutting in a window, was under consideration. But it would have diluted the Mega Cab's visual effect.

"In proportion it tells you something different is happening back there," Creed said. "If we would have put a window back there it would have made it look more normal. To me it signals that you're getting additional room back there."

Engineers started with the Heavy-Duty Ram frame, adapted that for ride tuning to give it - on the light-duty application of this model - a lot of capability in terms of hauling and towing, as well as maximum ride comfort, Donoughe said. And with the 2500 and 3500 models, engineers worked to maximize hauling and towing, and tuned them accordingly for precision handling and ride comfort.

Mega capability is another Dodge bragging point. On its 1500 model, the maximum payload is more than 2,400 pounds and the maximum Gross Combined Weight Rating is 15,000 pounds. The larger 3500 model totes more than 2,800 pounds of payload and has a 23,000-pound GCWR.

The Mega Cab's focal points are enlarged rear doors that dwarf its Quad Cab sibling's. "It's a very big door in the back," Donoughe said. "In fact it's the widest door (a 34.5-by-35.5-inch opening) in the industry. And it also opens up 88 degrees, which is the best angle so you can load all sorts of stuff in there."

This door provides easy access to a rear compartment featuring 60/40-split rear seats that Murphy touts as the most versatile seats ever offered on a pickup.

Most impressive, in a segment where rear seats commonly are sit-'em-up-straight park-bench varieties, is that the Mega Cab provides first-in-segment reclining rear seats. They can recline from a 22-degree seatback angle to 37 degrees.

In addition, these seats fold down or move forward to create a variety of storage options, and a cargo volume of up to 71 cubic feet behind the front seat. There's also storage behind the rear seats, including another 7.6 cubic feet of space inside flip-open bins.

The 111.1-inch-long cab also provides superb rear-compartment leg-stretching space of 44.2 inches, which is more than the ultraluxury Maybach 57 sedan's.

Of course, the mega package also includes mega power, delivered to standard 17-inch wheels. Grunt is provided by a choice of the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, standard on 1500 and 2500 models, or the Goliath Cummins 610, optional on 2500 models and standard on the 3500. The 5.7-liter Hemi delivers 345 horsepower and 375 lbs.-ft. of torque, and the 5.9-liter, six-cylinder, High Output Cummins Turbo Diesel cranks out 325 hp and, more importantly, 610 lbs.-ft. torque.

All this power and enormous cab space will be available to consumers this year. Production is scheduled to begin in August and introduction to the public is expected to be in September or October. Pricing has not been announced.

Dodge has been building up to this ultimate Ram since it first began beefing up its portfolio with the rebirth of the Ram in the early 1990s, Donoughe said. "We see the trends in the crew-cab market steadily increasing and we want to be a big player in that," he said. "We think the Mega Cab is going to bring us a lot of success in this market."

(Tim Spell is the writer for the Houston Chronicle Cars & Trucks section.)

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2005

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