Special Coverage

Auto Interiors Conference

Barack Obama should ditch his presidential limo for an ’09 Dodge Ram, because the redesigned pickup proclaims with jut-jawed American grit, “Yes we can!”

While it is flush with flair and boasts superior comfort, the new Ram gets the nod for best Popular-Priced Truck interior largely because it is a pickup, inside and out. The Ram’s spacious cab, available for the first time in crew configuration, is packed with inspired, easy-to-use features designed to help you git ’er done.

Consider the “cavernous” console, writes Ward’s Associate Editor James M. Amend. It’s among an abundance of right-sized, rubber-lined “nooks and crannies” that can safely accommodate cell phones, MP3 players and other weapons brandished by today’s road warrior.

The convenience of the double-deck glovebox only is outweighed by the proliferation of close-at-hand storage spaces in the well-appointed doors. But the functionality does not end with the front-row seating positions, not by a long shot.

The rear compartment features well-concealed in-floor bins that open and close neatly and feature plastic liners so they can double as ice buckets.

The rear seats fold up easily to reveal usable load floor and a pair of shallower storage cubbies, good for flashlights or emergency kits.

In an apparent break from the intransigence demonstrated previously by Detroit auto makers, rear passengers benefit from head restraints in all three seating positions. Better safe than sorry, especially when the back of your head would otherwise be half a nod from the rear glass.

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Then, of course, there is the driving experience.

Front and rear seats offer exceptional support, which portends improved comfort on long hauls. And the steering wheel’s ample girth, like the fist-friendly dimensions of the console-mounted shifter, inspires confidence.

Controls are well-placed, particularly Chrysler’s trademark audio toggles on the backside of the steering wheel’s cross-member. But we look forward to the planned evolution that will see the pesky cruise-control stalk recede in favor of a wheel-mounted device.

The Ram’s well-conceived styling only enhances all of the above. Color and grain complement each other, whereas the Ford F-150 – another top vote-getter in a very competitive category – was, in places, unsettling.

The new Ram makes the grade for every hard-working American – even a first-term president on the go.

emayne@wardsauto.com