New Car Review

1994 DODGE 150 WAGON LE

by: BILL RUSS

Wagons have always played an important part in American history. Early on they brought settlers from the Eastern seaboard over the mountains and rivers, and through the desets and mountains to the West Coast. Whatever the route and destination, it was the wagon that moved the people and their possessions from where they were to where they wanted to be. Today it is still the wagon, in one form or another, that gets us and our possessions, be they our children, our luggage or ourselves, or any combination thereof from where we are to where we are going.

Modern wagons come in a variety of sizes and designs, from sub- compact to full-size. Up until 10 years ago the station wagon was the vehicle of choice for both suburban and city dwellers as the family multi-purpose vehicle. In the early eighties Chrysler developed the minivan, as a scaled down version of its 1970's best seller, the full-size Dodge Ram passenger van. When these totally new Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyagers made their debut in late 1983 they dramatically established a new market for family personal transportation.

The vehicle that started it all, the Ram Wagon, is alive and well, and, like its smaller cousins, is busy moving people and things personally and commercially all around the country. For 1994 it has benefited from a number of design, convenience and performance revisions and improvements.

APPEARANCE: The Dodge Ram 150 Wagon looks just like what it is; a full-size wagon. For 1994 design changes to its front give it a more aeordynamic look. The hood, grille, bumpers fenders, headlights, windshield and roofline are all new, and provide the Ram Wagon with a rounded frontal appearance. The LE package adds larger side mirrors, sunscreen glass, lower bodyside moldings and styled steel wheels, all of which adds a touch of class to its utilitarian styling.

COMFORT: With two captains chairs in front and two rows of bench seats in the rear, plus a large cargo area the Wagon provides comfortable seating for up to eight plus lots of room for luggage and gear. Wide doors and inside steps make it easy to get in and out. Interior appointments include a high capacity air conditioner and an upgrade AM/FM/cassette sound system. .The LE package adds power front widows and side mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control and an adjustable steering wheel. The interior trim is car-like with complete instrumentation, deluxe color-coordinated upholstery and plush carpeting

ROADABILITY: The driver's seat provides a commanding view of the road, and for a long, tall and heavy vehicle this Wagon is surprisingly agile in a wide variety of traffic conditions.. It's power steering is responsive, its updated suspension system provides a good all-purpose ride that suits a broad range of load conditons. Safety items include standard anti-lock disc/drum brakes, three-point seat belts on all outboard seats, with lap straps for those in the middle, plus excellent all-points vision.

PERFORMANCE: A Chrysler-built 5.2 liter, overhead valve, port fuel injected, Magnum V-8 engine developing 220 horsepower drives the rear wheels of the B150 Ram Wagon via a four-speed automatic transmission. A 1994 revision increases the V-8's torque to 290 foot pounds which adds significant pulling power. It can trailer up to 6,100 pounds, plus carry a payload of almost 1800 pounds. To provide improved performance and smoother operation while towing a trailer or carrying a full load, a manual override switch on the shifter can be used to lock out overdrive and reduce transmission "hunting" when driving in the mountains or climbing steeper grades.

SUGGESTIONS: Redesign dashboard to more clearly display speedometer and other instruments.in daylight driving conditons.. Add assist handles for easier access to rear seats.

ECONOMY: The EPA averages are 13 city/17 highway. My overall average was 13.9 mpg.

CONCLUSIONS: The Ram 150 is the smallest of Dodge's versatile full-size Van/Wagon series. It provides a comfortable and practical method of transportation for large families, carpools and small businesses. A sizeable number are used as mini-busses for transportation to and from airports. Also it is very adaptable to conversion to a very deluxe, custom outfitted method of transportaton. The Ram Wagon adequately demonstrates that there is a demand for large, roomy and versatile vehicles.

PRICE AS TESTED: $ 21,321 with LE package.

BASE PRICE: $ 16,486

SPECIFICATIONS:
1994 DODGE 150 WAGON LE

           
           Base Price              $16,486
           Price As Tested         $ 21,321
           Engine Type             V8, pushrod ohv, smpfi
           Engine Size             5.2 liter/318 cid
           Horsepower              220 @ 4400
           Torque (ft/lbs)         295 @ 3200
           Wheelbase/Length        110"/187"
           Transmission            four-speed automatic w/od
           Curb Weight             4340
           Pounds per Horsepower   20
           Fuel Capacity           35 gal.
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 oct)
           Tires                   Goodyear Invicta GL P235/75R15-XL
           Brakes                  anti-lock standard disc/drum
           Drive Train             front engine/rear drive     
           
                          PERFORMANCE
           
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,
             city/highway/observed      13/17/14.7
           0 to 60 mph                  12.8 sec
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                20.4 sec
           Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)    .48

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