Trading Spaces

March 31, 2006
Filed under Trailer Reviews

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Some ideas are so profoundly simple you find yourself asking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
That may in fact be happening with automotive engineers after seeing the new Dodge Mega
Cab. Starting with the 160.5-inch wheelbase of the longbed model, Dodge engineers mounted
the standard shortbed and filled in the gap with extra cab space. Demand for full-size crew
cab pickups has rapidly increased since 2000. Many want the cargo capacity and towing
capability of a full-size truck combined with plenty of interior passenger space. As much
as I love full-size crew cabs, I’ve noticed that they could use some more interior storage
space to get things out of the way for passengers. I’ve also noticed that although they
have plenty of legroom, second-row passengers would be more comfortable on long trips if
they could recline the seats. That’s where the Dodge truck team focused this design –
increased interior storage and improved passenger comfort. The rear seats not only recline,
they fold down flat to accommodate interior cargo, which is easily loaded past a door that
opens wider and bigger than any other in the class. And when the seats are in use, there is
still plenty of storage room behind them. Available in 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (3/4-ton) and
3500 (one-ton) models, all 2006 Mega Cabs are built on the Ram heavy-duty platform, which
means they are ready-made to do some serious trailer towing. How serious? Try 15,900 pounds
of trailer weight for the 3500 2WD diesel with an automatic and a 4.10 axle (we tested the
3500 4WD Laramie). But BYOBC (bring your own brake controller) because Dodge hasn’t yet
provided an integrated system. You can tow up to 8,400 pounds with a 1500 4WD with the SLT
trim package and the 4.10:1 axle. The 2500 can tow 13,000 pounds if equipped with a diesel
engine, 2WD, the 4.10:1 axle and the SLT trim package. While the Mega Cab can haul, it is
not all brute strength and cargo space. It has some very sophisticated components to offer,
such as a first-row center business console that can store a laptop computer and features
fold-down dividers. Two up-front power sources, one located in the instrument panel and the
other in the center storage console, demonstrate an understanding that many use their truck
as a mobile office. To keep this rolling office from getting lost, the Mega Cab is
available with an easy-to-use DVD-based navigation radio system. The system includes a
5.8-inch full-color display and features an AM/FM stereo, a six-disc CD changer, MP3
playback and a navigation system all in one unit. Users can scroll through the menus and
icons with a joystick. The Mega Cab can also be equipped with a UConnect hands-free
communications system with Bluetooth technology. The system recognizes up to seven
different Bluetooth-equipped cellular phones and responds to voice commands, utilizing the
stereo system’s speakers and a microphone in the rearview mirror for hands-free
conversations. Speaking of stereo speakers, seven of them make up the optional 384-watt
Infinity sound system that can also be equipped with satellite radio. Rear-seat passengers
can enjoy a DVD entertainment system consisting of an overhead center-console-mounted DVD
player, a 7-inch LCD monitor, wireless remote control and two wireless headsets. In
addition to DVDs, the system will play CDs and MP3 audio discs. There are also plug-in
jacks to display video from a video camera, to connect video games and to play music
directly from an MP3 player. Passenger enjoyment of these entertaining features is enhanced
by the quietness of the Mega Cab even when it is equipped with the Cummins diesel engine.
Dodge engineers give credit to design changes made by Cummins, which should be welcomed by
drive-through-window operators everywhere. The Mega Cab comes standard with a six-speed
stick shift, and some will want the control it offers along with a low 6.29:1 first gear
that will see use only to get a big load moving. A five-speed automatic transmission is
also available. With 13.9-inch discs all the way around, the Mega Cab provides a short and
stable stop. Of course, the models with stiffer springs cornered better, but they did let
you know where the rough spots in the road were located. The suspension on the 3500 we
tested was smooth and stable, even with a sizable trailer in tow. The extra interior room
of the 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab can help family trips be smooth and stable as well. It’s
amazing what a little more room can do.

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