More stories related to Chicago Auto Show Chrysler Group hopes to infect its competitors with a case of cab-size envy as it introduces its ’06 Dodge Ram Mega Cab pickup truck at the Chicago auto show.

Built off the Ram Heavy-Duty pickup chassis, the Mega Cab features a voluminous passenger cab, with class leading 44 ins. (112 cm) of rear legroom and a total of 145 cu.-ft. (4 cu.-m) of storage space.

The cab is stretched 20 ins. (50.8 cm) compared with the Dodge Ram Quad Cab, leaving just enough room for the 76-in. (193-cm) short bed.

Powered by either a standard 5.7L Hemi V-8 producing 345 hp at 5,400 rpm and 375 lb.-ft. (509 Nm) of torque at 4,200 rpm, or the optional 5.9L H.O. Cummins Turbo Diesel I-6 engine producing 325 hp at 2,900 rpm and 610 lb.-ft. (813 Nm) of torque at 1,600 rpm, the Mega Cab builds on Ram’s proven functionality.

’06 Dodge Ram Mega Cab

“We didn’t forgo any of the power and capability that we already enjoy with our Dodge Ram pickup trucks,” says Mike Donoughe, vice president-body-on-frame products, Chrysler Group.

“Dodge is building on our leadership position in the pickup truck market. We have the biggest cab on the planet, and it represents the most spacious and versatile pickup truck on the market today.”

Available in 1500, 2500 and 3500 models in either SLT or Laramie trim packages, the Mega Cab features refreshed exterior styling and interior treatment, which will be carried over to the entire ’06 Dodge Ram line.

“We coupled this vehicle with a new look for the front end of the vehicle,” says Chrysler design boss Trevor Creed. “It has even bigger headlamps than we have today, and we got rid of the snowdrifts, as we call them, underneath the headlamps.

“There’s a new grill, with a much bolder design, with a sort of angled shape on the bottom like we introduced on the Magnum.”

The rear doors were designed specifically for the Mega Cab and feature a conventional front-hinge that opens a full 88-degrees, creating a 34.5-in. (87.6-cm.) wide opening for ease in loading and unloading.

Inside, the Ram Mega Cab features reclining rear seats that tilt from 22- to 37-degrees, an industry-first for a pickup truck, the auto maker says. “We jokingly called this our Dodge Maybach, because I can recline the rear seats,” says Creed.

The instrument panel and gauge cluster are all new and, like the front-end exterior treatment, will be featured on Dodge’s full Ram pickup line for the ‘06 model year.

“We developed an all-new instrument panel for this vehicle, (which) does all the things we did on the Dakota and the Durango and applies them onto the Ram,” Creed says.

The rear seats feature a 60/40 split design and can be folded flat to create a level load floor. Flip-open bins concealed behind the rear seats can be used for storing tools and other items.

Chrysler will begin production of the ’06 Dodge Ram Mega Cab at its Saltillio, Mexico, assembly plant in the summer, with deliveries beginning in September or October.

kekelly@primediabusiness.com