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New Car Review


by Matt/Bob Hagin


SEE ALSO: Dodge Buyer's Guide


Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 25,285
Price As Tested                                    $ 30,920
Engine Type                OHV 2-valve 8.0 Liter V10 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                 488 cid/7994 cc
Horsepower                                   300 @ 4000 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               450 @ 2800 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  138.7"/71.5"/214.8"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     6105 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                    34 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                               LT245/75R16E OWL
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                        Six-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.48


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            18/24/17
0-60 MPH                                        9.5 seconds
Max. Payload                                   2,962 pounds
Max. towing capacity                          13,100 pounds
     * Multi-point fuel injection

(Matt Hagin tells his father Bob that if big is beautiful, this new Dodge Ram 4X4 is a knockout. His dad's practical response is that if he had to go somewhere in it with his road-tester sons, he is glad that he wouldn't have to crawl over the front seat to get in back.)

BOB - I was really pleased to find that Dodge is now making four- seater pickup trucks with four doors, Matt. In decades past, the pickup was in the realm of the practical cargo hauler for small businesses but it's now become the second, and sometimes the first, "car" in the family garage. When most of the makers went to extending the cab far enough into the bed area to put a small bench seat behind the driver, it was a minimal step in the right direction. Then many of them had a passenger-side third door which even better. But this Ram Quad Cab with front and rear doors on both sided is putting the pickup directly into the family car business. The hinges on the back doors are on the rear and there's no pillar between the front and rear doors which make for a huge opening when they are all open.

MATT - It's still a pretty tight fit back there, Dad, and I don't think that many families will be making cross-country trips in this machine. But if the family is into outdoor recreation, this big bruiser is just the ticket for carrying a 10-foot, fully equipped all-weather camper in its bed and dragging along a powerboat as well. I saw one set up that way in Trailer Life magazine last year. The 2500 model we had was powered by an 8.0 liter V10 engine that puts out 300 horses and a gargantuan 450 pounds/feet of torque. With that kind of pulling power, I can't think of any recreational areas that would even slow down this 4X4 much less stop it. Its load-carrying capacity is 2962 pounds and its towing rate is a whopping 13,100 pounds. There's also a couple of V8 engines available in the Ram Quad Cab and straight-six Cummins diesel.

BOB - Although the engines in this Ram and Dodge's Viper sports car are both V10s, they don't share many things except their technical dimensions. And while our test truck came with a four-speed automatic, the big Ram models can also be had with a stick-shift five-speed manual transmission in both two and four-wheel drive. There are some chassis differences in the two versions, however. The 4X2 has independent suspension up front while the 4X4 utilizes a live axle at both ends. In both cases, the brakes are discs in front with drums in back and an anti-lock brake system is available for the rear brakes on both.

MATT - When Dodge redesigned the Ram series back in 1994, it gave its pickups a "big-rig" look that set them apart from the competition. Since we last tested a Dodge Ram in 1996, there's been a redesign on the dash to make it more convenient to reach the switches and to read the instruments. Our rig had an optional sport appearance package which included body-colored trim pieces, optional Goodyear LT245/75R16E OWL all-terrain tires and fog lamps. On the road, the truck gives a firm ride and it's obvious that the front axle is solid. I still think I'd go for the 4X4 over the two-wheel drive since the extra traction is a big advantage in ice and snow.

BOB - I imagine it's also helpful when ski season is over and you boys have to pull your boat up slippery launch ramps. If a buyer is going to use a vehicle like this Ram as a recreational vehicle, it pays to get all the heavy duty bells-and-whistles rather than finding out down the road that it isn't quite up to the jobs it was bought for. Much as I hate to admit it, the optional Infinity stereo system with the CD player and the other slick sound stuff made traveling more enjoyable. I'm just glad that the extra $690 didn't have to come out of my pocket.

MATT - Dad, as modern trucks penetrate deeper and deeper into the automotive buyer's market, they have to get more and more car-like to satisfy customers who want sedan luxury along with truck versatility.

BOB - They've come a long was since the days that I had to drive a Dodge truck, Matt. The ones I drove also had power to all their wheels but they were khaki-colored and the only optional item was a machine gun turret behind the cab.