The Dodge Ram SRT-10 is the first recipient of the Sport Truck Performance Truck of the Year award. If you ask why we're creating this new award, we could reply, "because we can." But there's more to it than that. As the truck market continues to be a hot profit center and the last bastion of rear-wheel drive performance, it's also getting more and more competitive, so we fully expect "halo" performance trucks to become common enough to warrant recognition of their efforts. And Dodge has built the quickest fullsize performance pickup ever. It tops the Lightning, the first truck worthy of the title, and raises the bar for this emerging factory-built niche market.

The '04 Dodge Ram SRT-10's formula is simple. First, use the Viper V-10 and its 500 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque backed with the Viper six-speed manual transmission to provide neck-snapping acceleration. Second, tune a suspension that'll handle the torque and the corners while providing a firm but comfortable ride. Next, give it brakes that'll save you from yourself and styling worthy of the engineering contained in the wrapper. And finally, step up in the audio department and put a system in the truck with the guts to race with the beast.

Yes, the formula for a factory hot-rod truck is simple, but executing the formula is anything but. And the Dodge PVO team deserves a standing ovation for its work on this truck. To prove the high-quality of the team's execution, our test Ram SRT-10 ripped from 0-60 mph in 5.37 seconds, while it rocketed through the quarter-mile in 13.12 seconds at 108 mph. It'd easily run a 12-second e.t. with a set of slicks, and we know of no other factory truck that'd be able to use a set of slicks right out of the box. We base this assertion on the consistency of the suspension and lack of axle hop on successive leaves at the dragstrip. The unique third shock over the axle differential controls the axle wrap perfectly.

With a claimed top speed of more than 150 mph, this truck recalibrates all expectations of a factory performance sport truck. Our tester ran as high as 145 mph and was still pulling, but we ran out of track before reaching terminal velocity. Not only is this truck blindingly quick, but it shreds corners like no other truck on the market. It slashed its way through the slalom course at 62.5 mph - the fastest we've ever tested - and in the cold-stop test hauled its 5,100-pound mass from 60-0 mph in just 138.83 feet with nearly fade-proof brakes. In fact, the brake fade score was better than the cold stop. No other truck in the test was able to duplicate that performance. In response to the Ram SRT-10, our hired hot-shoe and suspension whiz, John Hotchkis, was completely impressed, and with characteristic understatement, noted that this Dodge raises the sport truck game to a new level.

The '04 Dodge Ram SRT-10 is the ultimate performance pickup. In addition to its segment-smashing performance stats, it has a refined sport-styled interior equal to any sports sedan. Its seating is appropriately aggressive and seamlessly blends lateral support with comfort, and its thumpin' 500-watt audio system with a subwoofer is tuned to meet audiophile expectations. As one staffer noted, "I never wanted to get out of this truck. All you really need to know about this truck is that you can shift out of Third gear at 120 mph and you still have three gears left!" That should more than justify the opening MSRP of $45,000.

Sport Truck of the Year Score
Acceleration: 19.2 of 24 possible
Ride and Handling: 15.75 of 18 possible
Ergonomics/Style/Build Quality: 14.83 of 18 possible
Total: 49.78 of 60 possible
The Dodge Ram SRT-10 rocks. See above for details.

Likes:
* Awesome torque; easy to short shift around town
* Great grip all the time, thanks to 22s and Pirellis
* Great brakes; great seats; killer sounds; like the formula: 500hp/500-lb-ft/500 watts; cool push-button start

Dislikes:
* Shifter way too long; needs to be shortened for more positive Second-Third shifting
* Needs crossover pipe
* Lose the wing in favor of a tonneau with spoiler a l NASCAR Craftsman Truck