2014 Ram 1500 (© Chrysler Group LLC)Click to enlarge picture

The Ram 1500 wins a coveted endorsement, a "Recommended" rating from Consumer Reports.

After a series of recalls that have called into question Chrysler's efforts to rebuild the company's reputation for quality and reliability, the automaker has finally gotten a much-needed endorsement.

Following a month in which more than 2 million different Chrysler products were recalled, the maker's new full-size truck, the Ram 1500, was named No. 1 in Consumer Reports magazine's latest pickup round-up, and given a coveted "Recommended" rating.

"The Ram 1500 is surprisingly luxurious and refined — but still fully capable of doing hard work when needed," said Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut. Continued interior and powertrain improvements make the Ram a particularly well-rounded choice," he said.

The news couldn't have come at a better time for Chrysler which last month reluctantly agreed to recall 1.2 million Jeeps that federal safety regulators alleged could catch fire in rear-end collisions. That was followed by a collection of five additional recalls impacting about 840,000 sedans, coupes, crossovers, SUVs and minivans.

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The recalls have raised doubts about the overall effectiveness of Sergio Marchionne's efforts to alter consumer perceptions of Chrysler quality, which has long been one of the company's biggest liabilities, according to outside analysts and third-party ratings.

But at least one Chrysler product now has the Consumer Reports imprimatur, an endorsement that typically carries significant weight with American automotive buyers.

The full-size pickup segment has long been dominated by Ford and Chevrolet but Ram — which was spun off from the Dodge division several years ago — has made a determined charge since parent Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. It has had more than three consecutive years of sales gains and has readily outpaced the overall U.S. automotive market recovery, picking up share at the expense of Chevrolet — as well as Toyota and Nissan, the only foreign competitors in the segment.

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One of every 10 vehicles sold in the U.S. are pickup trucks, and a surge in truck sales this year have helped all three of the Detroit makers boost their sales. That's particularly good news for the domestic industry's bottom line as full-size pickups have traditionally been among the industry's highest-profit products.

The new Ram 1500 got off to a good start in January when it was also named North American Truck of the Year by a panel of 50 U.S. and Canadian journalists.

The completely redesigned pickup got a lighter and stiffer frame, a revised interior with a new infotainment system, and updated powertrains. Consumer Reports tested a four-wheel-drive Ram 1500 Crew Cab, with the most popular engine option, the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 paired with a new and more efficient eight-speed automatic transmission. The combination delivers seamless power and still returns a class-leading 15 mpg overall in CR's own fuel economy tests, Consumer Reports noted.

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The Ram 1500 earned a 78-point overall road test score. Other tested full-size pickups included the Toyota Tundra and the Ford F-150, which landed a score of 68.

Consumer Reports is still evaluating the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks and won't announce its findings until later this summer. "First impressions are that the Silverado is a well-rounded and refined truck that will strongly challenge the Ram in our Ratings," the magazine noted.

Ford's F-150, meanwhile, will be redesigned for 2015.

While the Chevrolet Avalanche currently outscores the Ram by two points, Avalanche production ends with the 2013 model year.

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Prior versions of the Ram have met minimum reliability levels, something required to earn a Consumer Reports "Recommended" rating for the freshened Ram. The vehicle was required to perform well in CR's battery of tests, have average or better reliability in CR's Annual Auto Survey and perform well in government and industry crash tests, the magazine said.

The magazine also reported that the Ram delivers one of the best rides of any pickup, thanks to its unique coil spring rear suspension. It has a super-quiet, super-roomy crew cab, and the optional UConnect infotainment touch screen is one of the best in the business.

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On the downside, the step up to the cabin is very high, and — unlike some other pickups — the Ram's tailgate isn't damped or sprung, so it's heavier than that found on competitors.