2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4x4 Pickup Truck Review

Introduction to the 2008 Dodge Ram Mega Cab Pickup Truck

Dodge Ram Pickup Truck
2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Mega Cab 4x4 Pickup Truck. © Jason Fogelson

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The pickup truck races are definitely not over. Bigger, faster, more powerful -- that's the battle cry, and the 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Mega Cab 4x4 answers the call. In a very competitive field, can a carryover model stand strong when redesigned trucks sprout up all around it? The 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Mega Cab 4x4 carries a base price of $40,355 ($45,170 as tested) with a 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty, a lifetime/unlimited miles powertrain warranty (for the original owner) and EPA fuel economy estimates of 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway.

Let's drive.

First Glance at the Dodge Ram Mega Cab Pickup Truck

I don't drive a pickup truck every day -- my regular beat is SUVs. My first impression of the Ram is that it is big. Really big. That big hood commands attention, and the Mega Cab retains interest.

Wearing the same truckish face that it has shown since 2003, the Ram 1500 presents a macho expression that leaves little doubt that it means business. Though the big crosshair grille is a little over-the-top, new designs from Nissan and Toyota, and the upcoming redesign of the Ford F-150, show that Dodge was on the right track with the Ram. What seemed a little cartoonish in 2003 now looks positively trendsetting.

Mega Cab takes the Crew Cab concept to a whole other level. Each side features two full-size doors, as big as you'd find on a full-size SUV. And this is no crossbreed, part SUV part pickup like the Ford Sport Trac or Chevrolet Avalanche.

No, this is a full size pickup with a 6'4" bed and 20'8" in total length. Check your parking space before you buy -- that's a long, long truck.

One place where the Ram shows its age is in its bed. Where most of the competition has gone to some kind of cargo management system, Ram still makes do with simple tie downs.

My test truck arrived with an optional ($245) drop-in bedliner, which was rather rough around the edges. Indeed, fit and finish around the truck is a little less than luxury level, especially where the bed meets the cab. I expected better for $40,000.

In the Mega Cab Truck Driver's Seat

Climbing up into the Ram's cab feels like climbing up into a Freightliner if you're used to driving a standard sedan. If you can afford to lose a little bit of the 7.4" of ground clearance, a set of running boards or step rails would be a great addition to your Ram. Grandma will sure appreciate it when you take her for a ride.

Once you're up in the cab, restrain the urge to yodel -- I tested, and there's no actual echo, despite the grand scale of the interior (143 cubic feet of passenger volume). The second row in the Ram Mega Cab is really spectacular. First of all, there's actually more leg room in the rear (44") than in the front seat (41"). There's also 67" of shoulder room, and 64.4" of hip room. That's plenty for three adults to sit comfortably -- and that's three actual adults. If that was all there was to it, I'd be impressed. But Ram adds great functionality on top of the sheer space. The 60/40 split bench seat easily folds flat, revealing a healthy 9 cubic feet of storage behind the seat.

Cleverly-placed cargo hooks and LATCH connectors on the back wall of the cab add to the package. There's also a handy concealed compartment in the floor behind the seat, a great place to put essential tools and other items out of the reach of prying eyes.

Up front, the seats are comfy and spacious. My test truck had the optional ($490) leather-trimmed bucket seats, as opposed to the standard bench seat. Even though the Laramie is the highest trim level on Ram, I found the dash and interior trim to be a little bit Spartan -- I guess I wanted a touch more SUV-style luxury.

On the Road in the Dodge Ram Mega Cab Pickup Truck

My test truck came with the great 5.7 liter HEMI V8 that has made Dodge proud for the past decade or so. The very impressive power figures (345 hp/375 lb-ft of torque) match up well with the five-speed automatic transmission, especially with four-wheel drive.

You're going to be filling up that 34 gallon gas tank frequently, especially if you take full advantage of Ram's payload and towing capacity. The truck is rated for nearly a full ton payload (1970 lbs), and comes equipped to tow up to 7300 lbs (up to 8300 lbs with added equipment). With a base curb weight of 6544 lbs (over 3 and a quarter tons!), Ram Mega Cab is mega indeed.

The downside to all that size is maneuverability. Ram's turning diameter is 49.7' -- way too big to turn around on a suburban street, and big enough to make the average parking lot a logistical nightmare. Forget about most urban parking garages -- with a 79" roofline and 80" width combined with that 20' length, you're better off looking for street parking. Have I mentioned that this is a big pickup truck?

For a light-duty pickup truck, Ram really packs in some heavy duty features, and not just in appearance. With an electric shift-on-the-fly part-time transfer case, a solid rear axle and impressive approach and departure angles (27.1 degrees/28.3 degrees), Ram is a credible off-pavement performer as well.

Ram Mega Cab's steering leaves something to be desired -- it is a little remote and delivers a somewhat loose connection with the road. You may call this "truck-like," but I found it a little disconcerting, especially on the highway.

Journey's End

For many of you, your pickup truck is a tool -- Dodge, more than most manufacturers, recognizes that fact. And they've put an interesting multi-tool together in the Ram 1500 Mega Cab. If you regularly carry a full load of adult passengers along with your cargo, you can hardly find a rougher, readier way to transport people and stuff together than the Mega Cab. If you can sacrifice some luxury features, you can save a bundle by choosing an SLT trim level Mega Cab instead of the Laramie -- you'll still get the same mechanicals, just fewer extras. If your Mega Cab will be doing double duty as a family grocery hauler and work truck, your family may appreciate the extra features.

They may even forget that they're in a pickup truck, and think they're in an SUV.

The competition is stiff in the full-size truck world. The big Kahuna is still the F-150, and 2009 will bring a redesigned model that's sure to send shock waves. If you really want the luxury, Ford is your truck. Chevy's Silverado/GMC's Sierra ride on the excellent GMT900 platform, maybe the best driving full-size pickup design out there. Nissan's Titan rivals Ram Mega Cab for size, and Toyota's Tundra is a very worthy competitor as well. It's hard to make a bad choice when it comes to full-size pickups nowadays.

If you choose a Ram 1500 Laramie Mega Cab 4x4, be prepared -- you'll be the one everyone calls on to drive when there's a big group. And don't be surprised if your passengers start to yodel. I'm sure there's an echo in there somewhere.

Disclosure: A review truck was provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.