Ask Nathan: An Awesome Ram Dakota (Ram 1200) Rumor, AWD Sucks and OG Top Gear/Grand Tour Favorites?

Image: FCA/Stellantis

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • It looks like the Ram 1200 or Ram Dakota is going into production, right?
  • Why do you insist that AWD/4WD is the only way to go?
  • Who is your favorite host from Grand Tour or the OG Top Gear?

The first question comes from a fan who wants to know if the newest rumors about the Ram Dakota / Ram 1200 might have some merit.

Image via: Autoeveloution 2019

Q: (Via: Is it Ram Dakota or Ram 1200?

Thanks for answering my old email but now I’m going to bug you about the Ram 1200 or Ram Dakota! Saw some pictures of one testing online. Doesn’t look like its as big as a Ranger and I think I saw the rear end. That thing looks like its independent which means it probably front drive like the Maverick.

  • Juan TT

A: Yes, there HAS been some recent news about the Ram Dakota, or perhaps the Ram 1200?

You may have noticed, my weekly post has covered an increasing amount of small and midsize pickups. Lots of people are interested in every brand’s rumored future pickups. The one that keeps floating to the top is Ram, and the possible return of the Dakota. In May of 2020, we reported that Ram applied to trademark the Dakota name. Before that, during the days of FCA, the former leadership announced plans to build a midsize pickup of some sort.

Going back several years, we’ve seen a bunch of Fiat pickups disguised and testing on U.S. roads. Recently, a batch of photos similar to the ones taken back in 2019 shows off what appears to be a small pickup being tested by Stellantis.

The new news…

According to Motor Trend. Ram CEO Mike Koval Jr. said the American truck brand is currently working on a mid-size model that may be shown soon. “We can clinic it to see if it is the right truck,” he said, referencing a concept that will be shown during a dealer meeting next month in March. That means, some dealers will get an idea of what this pickup is all about.

Newest rumor: An “insider” recently stated that one of the possible powertrains could be a modified version of the unit used both in the Alfa Romeo Tonale and the upcoming Dodge Hornet. That powertrain could be plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) setup, which would make it unique. The PHEV system currently used in the Tonale has a 2-liter engine paired with an electric motor. That 121 horsepower electric motor is mounted on the rear axle. The 15.5-kWh battery could allow for a 30+ mile all electric range.

Absolutely nothing from this rumor can be substantiated.

Right now, we have photos, Motor Trend’s quote and a TON of speculation. That’s about it; however, it looks like the month of March 2023 may be highly revealing.

Stay tuned!

– N

The next question comes from a viewer who thinks we only prefer all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4×4) to two-wheel drive.

Q: (Via: Twitter@NathanAdlen) You guys make way to much fuss over AWD!

I live in Connecticut and get lots of snow. My two wheel drive Golf GTI Mark V has no problems with snow and ice with my snow tires. Yet you guys make such a big deal out of cars and trucks with AWD. It is useless and sucks gas while ruining tires! It is a sham and you guys are as bad as EV companies pushing the con that their cars are better for the environment.

– Unsubscribed

A: Please send me videos of your car traversing deep snow and off-road obstacles.

A low-slung, FWD car like a GTI pushing through deep snow can be challenging. I’ve done it, as have most of the TFL Studio’s team in one form or another. I even managed two winters in a FWD Nissan Leaf. It’s had. In certain environments, driving can be easier with all-wheel drive and/or four-wheel drive (4×4).

I say that because that’s why we cover these vehicles. Living in the Rocky Mountains, we encounter lots of difficult types of terrain – not to mention our off-road needs.

Yes, snow tires are ideal for winter conditions, and make FWD/RWD cars much safer to drive. We always suggest these types of tires to our viewers; however, having more tires pushing you along is important too. If you combine winter tires and AWD/4×4 drive systems, then getting out of nasty situations is easier. It just is pal.

If you watch our videos and feel we’re making too much of a big thing out of these AWD and 4×4 systems, it might be for the best that you’ve unsubscribed.

– N

The last comment comes from a fan who wants to know which (former) Top Gear presenter I like.

Q: Nathan! Do you have a favorite original Top Gear or Grand Tour host?

I’m not talking about those other guys. I mean Clarkson, May and Hammond? Do you have one you dislike? About three years ago I asked you this same question.

  • – Bio Bob

A: Yes I do.

I enjoy all three, as they are actual journalists who are downright entertaining. I’m a little irked with Richard Hammond, I think my wife likes looking at him. That sucks because I like his taste in cars – but his charisma… well I tend to watch GT episodes when I’m not around my spose.

Clarkson is definitely one of the driving forces behind both show’s success. The man is hilarious, and I’m not worried about him charming the Mrs. He also reminds me of my bitter, angry old uncle. That’s good and bad, I suppose.

All that being said, I like James May. I get a kick out of his humor and knowledge. Not only as a host for these shows, I like most of his other programs as well.

It sounds odd when I say it out loud.