(Ed. Note: The many design changes for the 4th Gen Ram 1500 were covered in detail in the March-April 2010 issue of Police Fleet Manager. Go to www.hendonpub.com, click Resources, and then Article Archives.) By a six month margin, Chrysler has become the first of the three automakers to offer a formal Special Service package for a pickup truck. It is based on the Ram 1500 (½-ton) 4x4 CrewCab, a true 4-door. (Ford just announced a Special Service package for their F-150 SuperCrew.)
In the past, the term Special Service has meant “begin with the lowest trim level, and start deleting features.” Seldom, if ever, did Special Service package mean add anything police-specific or even police-oriented. The Special Service package for the Ram is different. This is not just a rebadged work truck, or a content-deleted retail truck. It starts with the low, ST-trim level but then police-only components are added to the Special Service package.
Instead of the standard 160 amp alternator, the Special Service version uses a 220 amp alternator. The battery is also upgraded from 730 CCA to 800 CCA. This Ram has a certified speedometer. The Special Service Ram even has additional chassis and body welds.
Specifically for the Special Service package Ram, and the upcoming Special Service package Durango, Chrysler developed an external, auxiliary engine oil cooler for the 5.7L V8. The Ram carries a 5-year / 100K mile powertrain warranty. That specifically includes police use. The warranty even includes seals and gaskets. Big, Bad HEMI & 6-speed
The Special Service package Ram is based on the 390 hp 5.7L HEMI® V8. The Eagle version of this HEMI has both Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and Multi-Displacement System (MDS), which is cylinder deactivation. The 4.7L V8, even at 310 hp and even with the 6-speed trans, just doesn’t get it done for most general duty police work.
New for 2012, the 5.7L V8 is bolted to a 6-speed trans, the 65RFE. This wider selection of low end gears gives the new Ram better acceleration than the Ram with the 5-speed. The 6-speed version is almost a second faster to 100 mph than the 5-speed version of the same truck.
The new 6-speed also gives the Ram slightly better fuel economy. The Ram 4x4 5.7L HEMI V8 with 5-speed had mileage estimates of 13 mpg City / 17 mpg Hwy. The 2009 upgrade to the “Eagle” HEMI with VVT, MDS and Interactive Deceleration Fuel Shut Off (iDFSO) bumped the estimate to 13 mpg City / 18 Hwy. The 2012 upgrade to the 6-speed trans gave the fuel economy another bump to 13 mpg City / 19 Hwy.
In 2010, we put 1500 miles on a 5.7L HEMI V8 Ram 1500 4x4 Crew Cab in combinations of rural, suburban and urban use. We averaged 14.9 mpg. This time around, we put 1500 miles on basically the same truck, except for the new 6-speed, and in the same combinations of police duties. We averaged 15.3 mpg.
The Special Service package Ram is based on the 4x4 version with the electric, part-time, Gen2 transfer case. The 2WD version is not currently available with this package. At this point, Chrysler has no plans for a pursuit version of the Ram. They investigated a pursuit-capable, police package for the Ram (2WD) and dropped the project for a number of business reasons. Interior
Even though the Special Service package Ram is based on the lowest trim level, power windows, power door locks and power windows are standards. In fact, the interior was greatly upgraded for 2009 and does not look one bit “low trim.”
The Special Service package Ram uses bucket seats with an open center console and a column-mounted gear shifter. In fact, to develop this police-oriented truck, Chrysler cleverly started with the 40-20-40 retail truck seat and simply deleted the “20” center seat to make room for the police center console. The seats are 10-way adjustable (driver) and 6-way adjustable (passenger). Heavy-duty cloth is standard on the front seats, while the rear seats are vinyl.
Don’t worry that the Special Service seats are the retail seats. They have good side and bottom bolster support. The sculpting and seat back contour easily accepted a police duty belt. And the retail truck fabric is already heavy-duty. In fact, the same fabric in the retail Ram and Durango seats is used in the new-for-2012, police-specific seats for the Charger Pursuit.
A police-oriented truck, this Ram has a unique, police-specific headliner and dome light. The headliner is free of overhead storage compartments, overhead consoles or other obstructions. This allows headliner-mounted, in-car camera systems and other overhead upfit gear.
The driver information center display includes both total engine hours and engine idle hours. Developed as a police-use truck, the Special Service version will be immediately recognizable by the certified speedometer.
In Ram-speak, CrewCab means four full doors. The rear seat of the Ram CrewCab has 40.3-inches of legroom. That is exactly the same as the police Charger Pursuit. And the rear doors open 90 degrees for easier loading of prisoners.
The visibility from the driver’s seat is generally good. Visibility out the front, past the A-pillars and out the sides is excellent. The oversize, outside rear view mirrors are likewise excellent. Rear visibility, however, is not so good. The three prominent headrests over the rear seat block a great deal of the rear view, making blind spots low and near the truck – think urban and suburban traffic. The good news is that these obstacles are removable. We had all three headrests stored under the rear seat within 3 minutes of picking up the truck. Problem solved. RamBox
For the first time, the RamBox® is now available on the lowest trim level truck, and that means the police truck. The RamBox are storage compartments mounted between the inner and outer fenders of the bed, over the rear wheels. These bins do not take up any bed space. The compartments are both lockable and weatherproof, and they are drainable.
Prior to the RamBox, sealed and lockable storage was the number one unmet need for all pickup customers – regardless of the cab. Each side is large enough to hold a golf bag, for a total of 7.4 cubic feet of dry, lockable storage.
Very usable storage compartments are also under the rear seat. This storage area is large enough to serve as mounting locations for emergency and communications upfit components. Plain versus Chrome
Typical for a work truck, the police Ram has black bumpers, grille and fascia and argent painted steel wheels. A Chrome Appearance Group is available. This option includes chrome front and rear bumpers, a chrome grille surround and 17-inch, chrome-clad steel wheels. The entry-level trim truck looks so basic, stripped and plain on the outside, especially the black bumpers and argent wheels, the Chrome Appearance Group should really be considered.
The Special Service package Ram comes with 17-inch steel wheels and P265/70-series All-Season tires. A fleet-only option is LT275/70-series On/Off-Road tires…the right choice. The Chrome Appearance Package also boosts the steel wheel width from 7-inches to 8-inches. This wider wheel works perfectly with the bigger, tougher LT275/70R tires.
A Class IV trailer hitch receiver is an option. So are skid plates for the front suspension and transfer case. The Ram 4x4 gas a 9.0-inch ground clearance. The Protection Group includes twin front tow hooks and skid plates for the front suspension and 4x4 transfer case. This is a must-have option. Performance
So, how fast is it? Much faster than a Ford CVPI. This Ram 4x4 HEMI 6-speed Crew Cab hit 60 mph in a mere 7.0 seconds flat (compared to 8.6 seconds for the CVPI). The HEMI Ram reaches 100 mph in just 18.3 seconds (versus 23.0 seconds). This big 4x4 moves.
In normal driving, the Ram 4x4 handles okay. It is no Charger Pursuit, but the Ram is responsive and has minimal body roll. The 45.1-foot turning circle, curb-to-curb, reminds you that this is a long wheelbase, 4x4 pickup. At top speeds, the Ram handles like it is on rails – flat, smooth and steady – no wallow, no lifting, no wandering. It felt as confidence inspiring at 100 mph as it did at 55 mph.
This might be the time to say the Special Service package Ram is “not designed nor intended for high-speed emergency or pursuit driving” according the Chrysler Fleet. As such, this truck uses the retail top speed limiter – 108 mph. Frankly, we wish it were just a bit higher, perhaps 115 to 118 mph.