Dodge Trucks and Cars For 1997
By Carey Russ
Dodge is the truck maker in the Chrysler family. Its full-sized Ram pickup has been a major success since its introduction in 1994, and brought style to pickups. It gets a little brother for 1997, as the midsized Dakota has been redesigned in the Ram image. Dodge also makes the Ram Van and Ram Wagon for full-sized van needs.
The Dodge Dakota has been a unique vehicle since the original was introduced in 1987. A little bigger than the compacts, and smaller than the full-sized trucks, it carved out its own niche. With the only available V8 engine in the small-truck class, it had its own following. But ten years is a long time, so the Dakota has been remade for 1997.
The second-generation Dakota has lost none of its uniqueness. It looks like, and is, the Ram's little brother. It still has the only available V8 engine in the compact class topping the widest choice of power in that class. It's still a little larger than the competition, and so has class-leading interior and pickup box space. Inside, it looks and feels like a car. There is no lack of safety features, with dual airbags and rear-wheel antilock brakes standard, and optional 4-wheel ABS.
There are Dakota models for all compact truck tastes. Regular cab with two bed lengths, extended cab, 2- or 4-wheel drive, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, 3.9-liter V6, or 5.2-liter V8 engines, 5-speed manual or 4- speed automatic transmissions, and a choice of axle rations ought to please just about anyone.
Since the current generation of Ram pickup went on sale in 1994, a record number of customers have driven the big trucks out of Dodge showrooms. There are now four assembly plants to keep up with demand. It is available in the usual pickup variations: regular or extended cab, 2- or 4-wheel drive, and three different weight ratings. Engines run from a 3.9-liter V6 to an 8-liter V10, and a 5.9-liter 6- cylinder diesel. The truck that brought style to pickups gets a variety of interior, exterior, and mechanical revisions depending on model.
Ram Van and Wagon
Dodge's full-sized van comes in Ram Wagon passenger and Ram Van freight models. Three weight ratings are available, and 2 different wheelbases. There are a variety of small improvements for 1997, and a compressed natural-gas engine is available on some larger models.