The 1994 Dodge Ram Club Cab received a lot of attention when it was released.
This new Ram 1500 pickup, decked out in the Limited trim package, is without question the most refined truck I’ve ever driven. It is loaded with technology, the interior is bank vault quiet, it goes like heck and it makes even Winnipeg’s notoriously horrendous streets seem as smooth as a billiard table.
This is one nice truck!
The funny thing is though, even after more than a week behind the wheel of this luxurious land yacht, no one has noticed it — not a single soul. Despite its behemoth proportions, even when towering over the vehicles around it at a stop light, it is as though the big Ram is invisible. All eyes remain forward in its presence. Not a single gawker. Even the usually talkative kid at the local Esso failed to make mention of the elephant at the pump.
It belies logic a newly designed pickup, with a price tag of more than $85,000, the latest and arguably greatest Chrysler truck to date, does so little to stand out visually from the crowd.
It wasn’t always this way for the mighty Ram.
Nearly 25 years ago, in December 1993, I spent a couple of weeks behind the wheel of another shiny new Ram pickup. The all-new 1994 Dodge Ram 1500.
I wasn’t testing vehicles for a living back then — far from it. I was a corrections officer with the Province of Manitoba and took a couple of weeks’ vacation to moonlight as a security guard at the paper mill in Kenora, Ont., which shut down every year for the holidays.
Although I had to be away from my family for Christmas, the money was good and the work was easy, so I jumped at the opportunity.
Before heading to Kenora I had orders to pick up the big Ram Club Cab 4x4 from a car rental agency downtown. The moment I laid eyes on it I remember thinking it was the coolest truck I’d ever seen.
The new Dodge had a massive grille and bulbous fenders which gave it a distinct big-rig appeal. It was unlike anything else on the market at the time.
It was visually stunning and elicited a reaction wherever it went.
Throughout my two weeks with that Ram rental countless folks commented on it. Some even went out of their way to get a closer look — I remember waiting for a train in Transcona before leaving town when a guy climbed out of his truck and walked a circle around my Ram to take a closer look at it. Not sure I’d react the same way nowadays, but back then 26-year-old me probably told him all about the new Ram and its myriad of features, which included air-conditioning, power windows, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, a power seat, these weird things called airbags and a front grille and fenders clearly designed for a Greek god.
The good people of Kenora were also intrigued by the new Ram. One evening, outside the local Subway, long before people posed for selfies, I spotted a local through the restaurant window who had pulled his older model Dodge truck beside mine in the parking lot and was apparently comparing the dimensions of the two trucks. When I walked out into the crisp night air we both agreed the new Ram was an absolute thing of beauty — he probably traded his Dodge in for a new one the next day.
Back then, when a newly-designed truck hit showrooms and streets it was a great big deal. Nowadays, not so much.
Not only are modern trucks updated far more frequently, the visual changes are seldom major.
This new Ram may be an absolute marvel of motordom, loaded with futuristic features we could have never dreamed of 25 years ago, but visually, if you ask me it looks just like all the other trucks on the road today — which isn’t as much a gripe for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as it is for auto manufacturers as a whole.
As far as my eyes are concerned, the new Ram looks like a Ford that Nissan built for Toyota and sent to GMC who opted to market it as a Ram.
Like I said, this new Ram is the most refined truck I’ve driven to date, it is comfortable, capable and certainly attractive. It is decent on fuel, runs like a stallion, has an amazing sound system and offers among the most intuitive navigation systems on the market.
It is also remarkably mundane, which is a real shame.