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Dodge Ram SLT 2WD Regular Cab (2002)

SEE ALSO: Dodge Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 16,955
     Price As Tested                                    $ 23,135
     Engine Type              SOHC 12-valve 4.7 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 287 cid/4701 cc
     Horsepower                                   240 @ 4800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               300 @ 3200 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  120.5"/79.9"/207.7"
     Transmission                              Five-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     4554 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  26.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          P245/70R17 all season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Three-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                 75 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            14/19/16
     0-60 MPH                                       12.0 seconds
     Maximum payload capacity                        1780 pounds
     Maximum towing capacity                         5800 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-point fuel injection

BRENDAN - Dodge says its trucks are built "Ram Tough" and reading up on the new 2002 Dodge Ram SLT Regular Cab pickup made me more aware and trusting of Dodge's claims. These are tough trucks that make their drivers feel like they can take on just about anything that stands in their way. The have masculine "big-rig" looks that has other truck- makers, both domestic and imported, playing catch-up with their own versions of "rugged" styling. The Ram series has two new, more powerful and more efficient engines for 2002. They are the all-new 3.7-liter Magnum V6 with 210 horsepower, which replaces the 175-hp, 3.9-liter version, and the 4.7-liter Magnum V8 with 235 horses that replaces the 230-horse, 5.2-liter powerplant of last year. The other engine Dodge offers is its big 5.9-liter V8 that puts out 245 ponies and a ton of torque. It's the only "old" engine that's back.

MIKELE - I love old Dodges, Bren. We had a lot of fun in our 1966 Dart slant-six and I'll bet that it will keep on running forever. Your Dad told me that in the old days, he had both a van and a pickup truck that used the slant-six. Dodge has put out a real beauty in this Ram SLT that we evaluated. Besides the new engine, it has an all-new automatic transmission that is not only quieter, but adds a lot of responsiveness. It's the only transmission in its class with a reverse gear ratio equal to its low gear ratio which I guess makes it easier to back up when it's out on truck jobs like construction sites. It also has a unique "second" 2nd gear ratio that comes in handy for difficult towing jobs when they involve climbing grades. Its suspension is improved for the new year, too. Dodge developed a better balance of ride, handling, and brake performance and I guess that was done to make it more acceptable by families that buy pickups as second "cars." It's a huge market now, so the more "civilized" a truck rides and handles, the more chance it has to be accepted as part of the family by Mom.

BRENDAN - The four-wheel drive model Dodge trucks have a new torsion bar independent front suspension for 2002 and both the two-wheel and four-wheel drive models have recalibrated steering ratios for better maneuverability and easier parking. And this year, the Ram SLT has disc brakes all around. The maximum towing rate has been boosted to 8600 pounds from the 7950 pounds that was its max last year. Your brother Tom would appreciate that for towing his ski boat. The Ram pickup cab size has been increased by three inches for 2002, which aids in rear storage and seat reclining ability. I'm a big guy, so a big cab like the one on the Ram allows me to avoid that knees-into-the-steering wheel feeling that I get from our own mini-pickup. The front seats on the Ram SLT has a 40/20/40 split, which allows it to be used as a three-across bench seat for three adults. With the center section down, it has lots of storage for the driver and a single passenger. The center-section portion of the seat also has an under-cushion compartment.

MIKELE - That would be perfect for us, Bren. Most folks store a lot of junk in their pickups. Leather seating can be had in the Ram SLT, but somehow I've always thought leather seats are out of place in a "regular guy" pickup. Drivers shorter than you can have an optional power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals as part of their Ram. It's not a problem for you, but us "regular" people appreciate niceties like that.

BRENDAN - The lines of the new Ram aren't all that different from the previous model, but I think it has an even bolder front end, with an in-your-face appearance that makes it look like a semi-truck is bearing down on you when you see it in your rear-view mirror. Ram set the bar for safety in the past with the first driver and passenger airbags in its segment, and for 2002 it is the first full-size pickup to offer side curtain airbags. It also has the largest brakes in its class, making it a safe truck with class and style.

MIKELE - I know where you're going with this one, Bren, and no, we don't need a newer, bigger pickup truck.