Comparison: 2009 Dodge Ram Vs. 2010 Toyota Tundra

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Pickup trucks have become an interesting anomaly in the automotive world. These vehicles, with a cab for people and a bed used for hauling or towing, they were originally built to do manual labor. No frills, no fun. Just the ability to start on a cold morning and work all day on the farm or construction site without issue.

Today though, things are radically different. Sure, trucks these days still promise to fulfill everything expected of them, but they are now much more civilized and comfortable, offering many luxuries found on more expensive cars.

But do the fundamentals still work? Are these two four-wheel-drive behemoths, the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab 4TRX and 2010 Toyota Tundra Double Cab, capable of working hard all day, then take the family out to dinner in the evening in comfort? I got to spent some time finding out.

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Both the Toyota and Dodge have a multitude of things going for them right out of the box. Each truck can be had in a nauseating array of sizes, powertrains and be built stripped to the bone or swathed in opulence, with various different engine sizes, transmissions, gear ratios, and combustion options (in regards to the Ram). Underneath the skin, both trucks have a fully boxed frame and feel capable both on and off the road.

For this test though, the Ram and Tundra have a gasoline-fed V8, four-wheel-drive, and the mid-level cabin with a four-door extended cabs. Both are within a hair’s width of each other from bumper to bumper, at 229 inches, as well as width and height. Each truck comes standard with power controls, air conditioning, cruise control, two rows of bench seating, a tow hitch and a bed liner.

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And that is where the similarities end. As both trucks, while matching in some respects, have a completely different feel inside, under the skin, and especially behind the wheel.

In the Dodge, engineers didn’t stray from the old ways: upright seating position, big windows, and simple dashboard ergonomics. The outside world is very visible in the Ram, which makes moving this big truck easier than expected. The dash is laid out in a simple, utilitarian way. Big rotary knobs, large-faced gauges and multiple storage places are found within and are very user-friendly. However, outside of the gauges, it is the typical Dodge dash, covered in awfully hard plastics that feel far too unsubstantial to be in a work truck. Cost-cutting continues when you look in places behind the rear seatback, where the edge of the trim and sound-deadening material is very visible.

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The Toyota is a complete 180, with a more car-like feeling. There’s less window in the Tundra and the dash and door sills sit higher on the beltline, wrapping around the interior around occupants. The seats are more welcoming than the Ram’s, and with a more design-oriented dashboard, this truck feel more like a Camry than a pick-up. Unfortunately, the Tundra follows the Ram in poor dash materials and is ever worse in regards to radio and HVAC controls, which are positioned too far away from the driver. Additionally, outward visibility has been compromised via the higher door sills, make the Tundra a bit.

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In regards to room, both trucks match each other with a very spacious with a slightly tight second row. Both rear benches can be folded up and out of the way for dry storage, and there are plenty of cupholders in both. In the Tundra, the rear seats have a touch more legroom, as well as more comfortably-raked seatbacks.

With its independent front and coil-spring rear suspension (no leaf springs found here), the Dodge glides over the pavement with appreciative comfort. Only large expansion joints cause a bit of rear end to hop since it still have a solid axle. Regardless, it is surprisingly civilized. It only gets better once you open the taps on the optional 390 horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and rip through five-speed automatic. I’ve never felt anything this large move so rapidly outside of a commerical airliner. Thanks to all that power, the Ram can carry up to 1900 lbs. in the bed and tow up to 10,450 lbs when properly equipped.

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The Tundra, on the other hand, feels exactly like any pick-up driver would expect. It does have a mostly complaint ride, but the rear end pops up far too easily while the front bobs and weaves like a drunk football player. Loading several hundred pounds of fertilizer certainly helped keep the truck connected to the road. Luckily, with Toyota’s mid-range 4.6-liter, DOHC V8 pumping out 310 horses, the Tundra never felt underpowered, and is capable of carrying more weight in the bed (up to 1,595 lbs.), but not quite as much in regards to towing (up to 8600 lbs. as equipped).

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The handling department is where the Toyota makes up some ground. Steering feel is meatier, with an acceptable amount of weight increase as steering angle progresses. The Tundra feels lower to the ground as well, giving the truck a more solid contact feel with the road. Maneuvering the Dodge is easy, as the light steering helps swing the truck around, but it is way too light and lifeless to really be anything other than an object to move the front wheel.

Braking is adequate for both trucks since both do come with four-wheel disks and ABS. With the Tundra feeling much heavier under distress braking. While the Toyota does stop well, the Dodge pulls up shorter, even with it’s knobby 17-inch Goodyears. The Toyota suffers in tight spots as well, as it feels very cumbersome in the local Kroger parking lot. The Dodge, on the other hand, feels surprisingly lithe and agile, even with a turning circle of 45 feet.

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Don’t worry, each company did not produce a wussified trucks in the slightest, whether off-roading or hauling loads in the bed, there are no issues.

Tearing up each truck off-road showed that even though both are a bit unwieldy because of their length, the Dodge felt much more agile than the Toyota. The lighter steering felt quicker in tight passes and the more flexible rear suspension helped the big truck pivot its wheels much easier, making sure the 17-inch Goodyear Wrangler were never off the ground. The four-wheel-drive system with the optional TRX4 off-road package (underbody skid plates, 3.92 rear-end gear, and a limited-slip differential) never faulted once and the tires never lost their grip. With 401 lb. ft of torque, the Ram effortlessly climbed, crawled and forded anything I threw at it.

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The Tundra, while just as capable, felt far larger and heavier than the Ram. Going up and over heaves in the ground or over rocks portrayed very top-heavy mannerisms. Comparing that to the Dodge, it made me feel very uneasy at times. It does come with a rear limited-slip, similar axle gearing and skid plates just like the Ram does, so it can take a beating without worry.

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In the end, there is a clean winner here. Old Faithful beats out the new guy in almost every category. More towing, more agile and more enjoyable off-road makes this an easy choice. But don’t fault the Toyota. They have made a good truck which is just as capable as the Dodge. It simply tries to hard to be both a truck and a car, and cannot pull it off. Dodge did not mess with a proven formula and came out the victor.

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Nicholas Borgia
Hello everyone! My name is Nick and I am a freelance journalist who is trying to make a mark in the automotive world. I try to learn as much as possible about vehicles on my own simply by reading, tinkering and asking far too many questions. The current car in my garage is a 2005 Mazda3 that is modified and is continually being worked on.
Nicholas Borgia

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Filed Under: Car ReviewsComparisonDodgeToyota


  • Game

    Why comparing a 4.7 liter Tundra to a Hemi 5.7 liter in this test?

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Nicholas Borgia

    It was what the manufacturers provided. They were close enough in most respects though to make it a worthwhile comparison.

  • Kris

    The Ram is a MUCH nicer truck. Plus, it is so much better looking than the ugly tundra…. which has HORRIBLE styling. I wouldn't trust the Tundra frame either as it's known to be very weak. Props to the Ram for being the best full size truck on the road… no contest.

    • pauly

      its ugly to you maybe…but i think the tundra is so much better looking…the ram is so ugly to me.

  • Gary

    the ram probably would have still been on top if they used the dodge 4.7 dodge f.t.w.

  • Zach

    If your comparing towing, hp, torque, payload and off road abilities i'm thinking you would compare the best the manufactures have to offer. Right? Try the 5.7L Tundra to the 5.7L Dodge and there would have been a much different out come. The 5.7L tundra has FASTER 0-60 times both loaded and unloaded than the dodge,(PROVEN) not to mention when properly equipped the double cab 5.7L tundra can tow 10,400lbs. Way more than the dodge.(PROVEN) The tundra tested also wasn't the the "off-road" model like the dodge was. You complain that the radio controls were to far away?…there also located on the steering wheel!

    Sure your gonna call this a fair test?… Please author respond and tell me how you think this was a fair test!

  • Zach

    In addition to a faulty test you didn't even get the facts correct, the 2010 model tundra has a 4.6L V8 with a tow cap of 8300lbs not a 4.7L V8 with a tow cap of 7800lbs. You are giving FALSE INFORMATION!

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Nicholas Borgia

    Zach, let me first apologize to you and to other readers for the wrong information. It was not done in any way to deceive readers. It will be corrected immediately.

    Second, my review was written with respect to the fact that these were vehicles provided to me at different times by each manufacturers. Yes, they are not totally matched spec for spec. However, regardless of a smaller engine size in the Tundra and the optional off-road package (of which some features like the LSD are also on the Tundra), I kept it as fair as possible by focusing on the attributes of both vehicles both on- and off-road, their interior package, and overall usability. I do admit that I am not a huge truck fan/aficiando and make no attempt to be an expert, but I attempted what I thought would be the best article for our base of readers.

    Finally, all of your "Proven" marks are noted, but a vehicle that may be able to tow more or has a faster sprint to 60 mph does not mean it is the better vehicle as a whole. There are A LOT more variables that were taken into consideration. If this was a test of pure power/towing capabilities, it may be different. But this article is to encompass both vehicle as a whole. Hence my comment on the poor location of the radio controls. They may be on the wheel, but those are suppose to be secondary to the primary controls and those were less than optimal.

    I hope this makes more sense to you Zach.

  • Zach

    I strongly appreciate you replying to my post and i do thank you for it. I just felt as though the test had a lot of variables that could have been improved upon. It seemed like you were comparing a mild level truck to the top of the line dodge could offer. I was shocked by the test because it went against the results of all others i had seen. I do understand you points however.

    Thanks,

    Zach

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Nicholas Borgia

    No problem. I have no problem having a conversation about something that may have some arguement points.

    My reasoning, more or less, is that these were two trucks, and the Ram was the better truck. The Tundra, while nice and a bit more comfortable, felt like it was trying too hard to be a lifted Camry with a bed on the back. Sure, today's truck is vastly more upscale than anything back in the "old days", but Tundra was trying to be too many things.

    And remember, when you read articles from us here at Automoblog or in your favorite magazine, they are still a subjective article. You'll have different options of the same vehicle simply because one writer has a different perspective than the other.

  • http://automoblog.net Game

    Hi there. Please compare a 2010 4.7 ram 1500 to a 2010 5.7 tundra? Let me know what truck win and write a article about it thanks.

  • Brian

    Why don't you redo the test, this time make it fair and compare the Tundra 5.7 TRD to the above mentioned Dodge. Your comparison above was a JOKE!

  • Nicholas Borgia

    Brian,

    Please explain why testing a Tundra with the more powerful engine would change. I can almost guarantee the Tundra would still ride the same, handle the same and have the same issues I saw with the truck I had. I doubt having the larger engine would change my choice.

    It seems as though people are missing the point of the article. I attempted to pick the better truck, the one that did everything a pickup was designed to do, the best. Sure, one has a smaller engine, but if everyone would reread the article, you would notice I did not penalize the Tundra for it.

    • shawn

      TRD Includes off-road-tuned suspension, Bilstein® shocks, unique 18-in. alloy wheels with P275/65R18 BFGoodrich tires oh and dont forget the toyotas rear view camera making it much easier to maneuver in parking lots along with front and rear sonar for those tight spaces and a much larger towing capacity of the trd with a 4.300 axel ratio with a 10.5 ring gear as opposed to the 4.100 of the smaller engine with the tow package – 6-Spd Automatic Trans W/Sequential Shift. not sure how you figure there would be no difference between the base model and TRD off road?

      please compare similar truck packages TRX,TRD

    • shawn

      also 18 inch wheel with more agressive tires, the- 6-Spd Automatic Trans W/Sequential Shift, a much larger towing capacity, 4.300 axel ratio with a 10.5 ring gear as opposed to the 4.100 in the smaller engine truck, and dont forget the rear view camera with front and rear sonar making it a much more maneuvarable truck in those tight parking spaces. not sure how you think there is no difference in the TRD off road from the base model toyota you tested? TRX should be compared to TRD, or two base models anything else would be disingenuous

  • Brian

    Nicholas Borgia

    “More towing, more agile and more enjoyable off-road makes this an easy choice. But don’t fault the Toyota. They have made a good truck which is just as capable as the Dodge”.

    The 5.7 TRD has a better payload and a higher tow weight, it also has a beefed up suspension.

    “The four-wheel-drive system with the optional TRX4 off-road package (underbody skid plates, 3.92 rear-end gear, and a limited-slip differential) never faulted once and the tires never lost their grip. With 401 lb. ft of torque, the Ram effortlessly climbed, crawled and forded anything I threw at it”.

    You’re comparing a truck with a high end off road package to a base model truck. The 5.7 Tundra TRD also has 401 Torque.

    “It only gets better once you open the taps on the optional 390 horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and rip through five-speed automatic. I’ve never felt anything this large move so rapidly outside of a commerical airliner. Thanks to all that power, the Ram can carry up to 1900 lbs. in the bed and tow up to 10,450 lbs when properly equipped”.

    You obviously have never driven a 5.7 L TRD.

  • Brian

    "I can almost guarantee the Tundra would still ride the same, handle the same and have the same issues I saw with the truck I had. I doubt having the larger engine would change my choice".

    It's not just because it has a larger engine, there are many upgrades from the base model Tundra (which you tested) to the 5.7 TRD. I feel you would have a totally different experience if you compared comparable vehicles.

    • shawn

      actually the ride would be completely different and more comparable to the dodge as the TRD model comes standard with an upgraded suspension package and more agressive tires which would change the ride quality and off road capability

  • shar

    you know, it just blows my mind that all of these people have the audacity to do nothing but complain. if you dont like the way the author writes the article, which is from HIS PERSPECTIVE, then maybe you people should DO IT YOURSELVES! The man has already explained more then once that the vehicles get provided to him! Hello! Men….

    • Brian

      Shar

      If the Author can’t provide an accurate review/comparison, then he shouldn’t have done it! Period!

  • matt

    I can tell none of you have actually done wrk with either truck you staight of specs and thats were you mess up at the dodge ram is by far a better truck than that tundra and the dodge is built better as far as towing goes put a 5.7 hemi against the 5.7 i force v8 n i bet you that hemi will out do it screw wht the author says or what company says i see it on the farm lands buddie dodge runs it than chevy runs it

    • Brian

      Matt

      Have you done work with both trucks? I personally own a Tundra 5.7 TRD and I use it for work. I am a logger and I put my Tundra through just about all the hell one can put a truck through. I have two co-workers that both envy my Tundra, one has a 2009 Silverado 1500 and the other a 2010 Ram 1500. So no, I'm not going just by specs and yes I have been around/worked with both trucks.

  • Steven

    Absolutely hilarious comparison article here; I realize I’m a few years late replying, but I purchased a 2010 Tundra about 6 months ago. I test-drove 7 trucks before settling on the Tundra. I even had Dodge/Ram salesmen tell me the Tundra is both the best truck for the money and the “better” truck when compared evenly across the board. I settled on the Tundra for a reason; it absolutely blew the others out of the water. The Dodge did come in a close second to me, but the mushy accelerator, delayed engine response (the Tundra is near-instantaneous) and overly-soft suspension (yes, this actually can be a bad thing) made it a fairly easy decision. Not to beat a dead horse, but you can’t compare apples to oranges and expect it to be a fair argument either way. It just doesn’t make sense, anyone who doesn’t see this is simply blind to what a “fair comparison” is.