The Dodge came a few months later and was nothing like the Toyota. It gave me no concerns on the windingest windy roads or the most condensed construction zones. It's not quite carlike, but on handling, the Ram certainly gives the old Sturgis Clan two-wheel-drive Silverado a run for its money.
Simple segment: Here's a segment that doesn't need all the gadgetry of passenger cars - neither tester came with steering-wheel controls for the radio, or accent lights around the cabin - yet the prices are higher than many well-equipped family sedans or some minivans.
But when you need to haul stuff, tow stuff, or get in touch with your inner Walmartian in any kind of weather, nothing else will do.
Inside: While the trucks lack some luxury items, they're certainly not Uncle Jesse's Ford F100 with springy vinyl seats, crank windows, and AM radio. Both trucks came with air-conditioning; AM-FM-Sirius-CD players; power windows; and comfortable, well-supported cloth seats.
Roominess in the two was a fair match. The backseats are less-than-ideal for long trips, but they've come a long way. Each also has a Crew version for more people, but at the expense of bed length.
On the road: The Hemi puts the Dodge Ram's acceleration on par with the Challenger's. It could really haul while it hauled.
The Toyota was no hot rod, but still provided respectable-enough oomph.
I would even try knocking it down an engine size, to the Tundra's 270-hp V6 or Dodge's 310-hp, 4.7-liter V8. (Dodge's V6 with 210 horses seems a little archaic.)
What a haul: Both the Dodge and the Toyota offer 5½- or 6½-foot beds and room for five or six people.
But the Tundra Double Cab does offer a full 8-foot bed for the serious hauler. Hauling advantage, Tundra.
Uphill climb: Both trucks excel at making you feel like king of the highway. The trade-off is scaling Mount FourByFour to get into the Driver's Seat. Better work on your squats, or get to know a knee surgeon.
Parking wars: I once owned a Dodge Dakota crew cab, and always found putting it into a parking space to be tricky, far beyond its size.
Enter the Dodge Ram 1500, and the straight-ahead parking problem is compounded by the Olympic-size engine compartment. Forget backup cameras; this thing needs a perimeter camera. In-town advantage, Tundra.
Tight squeeze: I purposely took both trucks down some of the narrowest streets in Phila- delphia. Both were equally scary. Watch those mirrors.
Cubbies: I moaned because the Tundra's small, smooth cellphone slot was forever launching my phone across the truck, and it can be a long walk from the Driver's Seat to the farthest reaches of the Crew Cab.
On the other hand, the Ram doesn't even have a cellphone slot.
The Tundra also offers a secondary glovebox with a door. The Ram has a shelf.
The six-seater Ram does win on armrest storage. The entire back of the middle seat is a place to hide your stuff. Storage advantage, Dodge Ram.
Fuel economy: The Tundra returned a respectable-for-its-size 18 m.p.g. during my tests. The Ram 1500 Hemi gets crowned the Driver's Seat All-Time Piggy (so far) at 16.8. Both traveled a mix of roads.
How they're built: The Toyota gets an overall dependability rating of "The best" from J.D. Power & Associates, which has no rating for the Dodge for recent years. But the Dodge gets a below-average mark from Consumer Reports.
In the end: It's tough to argue with the dependability of the Tundra, but its handling became simply tiring. Perhaps it just takes a more manly man to handle what Toyota offers. I'd go with the Dodge, even without Hemi hot-rodding.
I think the real lesson here, though, is that trucks come in more varieties than it might appear at first glance, and it's worth shopping around for what suits you best.
Contact Scott Sturgis at 215-854-2558 or email@example.com.