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New Car Review



During the past few years Dodge has developed some innovative automotive products. Among them are the powerful Viper roadster and the cab-forward LH-bodied Intrepid sedan. Joining in this product development program this year is its full-size Ram pickup truck. The new Ram is available in four trim levels, WS, ST, LT and SLT. The WS is the base work special, and each of the other trim levels are outfitted with an increasing array of appointments and conveniences. Several selections of drive- and power-train combinations are available to meet almost any work or recreation condition. Among the choices are two- or four-wheel drive, gasoline or diesel powered engines, as well as stick or automatic transmissions, and two box sizes. No matter the choice, the result is a macho power truck with a big-rig flair, one that would certainly appeal to Tim Allen of TV's popular "Home Improvement" show.

The 1994 Ram marks the vigorous return of Dodge to the full-size pickup truck market. It was conceived as a practical yet innovative alternative in this large market. Major efforts have been made to ensure that this Ram is a positive product improvement and not just a warm-up or "me too" makeover.

A long jaunt behind the wheel of the Magnum V8 powered 2500 ST left these impressions:

APPEARANCE: There's no doubt that the Ram pickup is a truck! It was purposely designed not to be a look-alike, but to resemble its big rig cousins as well as the historic Dodge Power Wagons of yore. Practical reasoning dominated the design criterion that resulted in a big bright grille, high hood and low fender design. This setup not only looks good, but it provides easy access for engine service. Its high sides are accented by wide fender flares, side rub strips and large side mirrors. The cab is big, with high wide- opening doors, tinted glass and a sliding rear window. Its shiny 16" wheels are shod with all-season tires.

COMFORT: A study of actual pickup truck use in the field went into the design of the Ram's large cab. The unique 40/20/40 split-bench seat has a wide fold-down "Business Center" storage compartment that can accommodate a lot of field gear and a lap-top computer. There are several built-in modular trays on the back panel for miscellaneous storage. Three-across seating is both roomy and comfortable. Inside decor is car-like with visible instruments and easy to use controls. The air-conditioner keeps the cabin cool and free of dust on unpaved back roads. The AM/FM/cassette radio picks up distant stations well, and provides a cabin full of good fidelity. Its eight-foot box is of one piece galvanized steel construction and is fitted with unique cargo tie-downs and specially designed recessed slots for bulkhead loading.

SAFETY: The Ram is the first full-size pickup to be fitted with a drivers' air bag. In addition it has three-point outboard seat belts, and side door impact beams. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are available.

ROADABILITY: Through the use of new technology, plus the experience learned from its Grand Cherokee production the Dodge Ram presents a predictable and a comfortable truck ride. The use of a special patented three-section high-strength frame contributes to stability. Suspension design techniques learned from Chrysler's sports utility vehicle add to ride smoothness. A wide-track stance and independent front suspension plus an anti-roll bar assist in the delivery excellent on-road car-style ride qualities. The three-quarter ton 2500 ST two-wheel drive is a little skittish when unladen, but with care does behave mannerly especially when fitted with the optional traction control.

PERFORMANCE: Of the 200 drivetrain combinations available from Dodge, our test 2500 Ram was outfitted with the Light Duty Magnum 5.9 liter V8, and mated to Chrysler's 46RH electronically controlled automatic transmission. This combination produces 230 horsepower and 330 foot-pounds of torque. It enables the 2500 4x2 Ram to haul up to 2800 pounds and tow 5,000 pounds. The 5.9 liter V8 engine is well-proven, and with its overhead valve, pushrod combination fueled by sequential multiport fuel injection it develops its torque early and over a wide range of rpms. Just right for hauling or towing.

CONCLUSION: Dodge has taken a lesson from the design of its passenger and sports cars and presented us with a full-size pickup with style. It purposely resembles a big rig, and can be had in a wide variety of powertrain and driveline combinations. The new Ram is at home on the range, on the job, or in suburbia.


	   Base Price              $  15,916
	   Price As Tested         $  21,405
	   Engine Type             V-8, ohv-pushrod, smpfi**
	   Engine Size             5.9 liter/360 cid   
	   Horsepower              230 @ 4000
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         330 @ 3200
	   Wheelbase/Length        135"/224"
	   Cargo Bed (L x W)       96" long x 64"/50" wide***
	   Transmission            four speed automatic w/od
	   Curb Weight             4700
	   Pounds per Horsepower   20
	   Fuel Capacity           35
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 oct)
	   Tire                    Michelin LTX 225/75R16 M+S    
	   Brake                   anti-lock optional    disc/drum    
	   Drive Train             front engine/rear drive
	   ** smpfi = sequential multiport fuel injection
	   *** box width = 64" max/50" between wheel houses
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      12/16/13.7
	   0 to 60 mph                  12.1 sec  
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                19.7 sec       
	   Towing Capacity              5,000 lbs
	   Payload                      2,800 lbs
	   Coefficient of drag (Cd)     .44