Our son is buying a new Ram truck this summer. The thing about the truck that he is most excited about is that it can be raised or lowered to five or six different heights. I understand that trucks should be higher for better clearance on rutted roads and fields and so on. But why this great number of gimmicky heights when really what they need to be doing is focusing on better gas mileage? Has everyone lost track of the need for fuel efficiency?
Actually, the five-heights capability is at least partly motivated by the desire to create better fuel efficiency. A truck will never be as fuel efficient as a small car, chiefly because it weighs hundreds of pounds more. But many other things factor into fuel efficiency, including number of inches off the ground (which impacts drag and aerodynamics).
So, the new Ram’s “normal” clearance is 8.7 inches above the road. It has an adjustable height that is 1.1 inches lower than that for more-fuel-efficient highway driving, and two off-road heights, 1.2 and 2 inches higher than the normal clearance. There’s also a really low height – 2 inches lower than normal, to make entering, exiting and loading the vehicle easier. The variable heights, plus some improvements to the engine and lighter materials, mean the new Ram gets 14 to 18 mpg city and 25 highway (depending on model). That’s much less than some SUVs, of course, but better than last year’s truck, which got 13-14 mpg in town and 19-20 highway, depending on model.
The recent question from a worried sister about a pregnant woman who intended to stop wearing her seatbelt after month five because she’d just be going on short outings prompted a firestorm of responses. Readers from all over the country shared their own close-to-home car-accident stories. Here’s one from a man in Washington: “I would like to tell the pregnant lady who doesn't want to wear a seatbelt that accidents can happen very close to home. In 2010, I drove two blocks from my (apartment) parking space and was broadsided in an intersection. My car was totaled. Accidents can happen on any road, not just on freeways.
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