- Repair & Care
Light-duty versions of Dodge’s boldly styled full-size pickup trucks earned a fresh “big-rig” look for the 2002 model year. Two new option groups were added for 2003: an Off Road Group with offroad tires, skid plates and tow hooks, and a Work Special Group. A new Laramie model that replaced the previous SLT Plus joins the ST and SLT trim levels.Dodge’s Hemi V-8 engine generates 345 horsepower; it became available late in the 2003 model year. The 5.9-liter V-8 has been dropped. For 2004, automatic transmissions add a Tow/Haul mode and a navigation radio is available. A new electrically activated full-time four-wheel-drive system is available for the SLT and Laramie models. Dodge also has launched a hot new Ram SRT-10 that comes equipped with a 500-hp V-10 engine.
Quad Cab pickups have four, conventional, front-hinged doors. The rear doors open 85 degrees to ease access.All models have a chrome grille, while the Laramie trim gets body-colored bodyside moldings. A body-colored grille with chrome center billets goes on Rams with the Sport appearance group. Ram hoods have a pronounced crown that falls toward the front fenders.
Two engines are available. The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 produces 345 hp and 375 pounds-feet of torque. An optional Cummins 5.9-liter turbo-diesel inline-six comes in standard and high-output variants. Four transmissions — two manuals and two automatics — are offered.Ram 2500 pickups with the regular cab have an 8-foot cargo bed, ride a 140.5-inch wheelbase and measure 229.7 inches long overall. Quad Cab models come with either a 6.3- or 8-foot cargo bed and ride on a 140.5- or 160.5-inch wheelbase. All heavy-duty Ram models have a Sweptline (slab-sided) cargo-bed configuration. Payload capacities with the regular cab range from 2,350 to 3,240 pounds. Back to top
Easy to drive and steer, the Ram 1500 responds predictably to driver inputs. The 4x4 truck maneuvers capably and takes curves passably well at modest speeds. Three adults fit adequately in a regular cab when the immense center armrest/storage box is raised.
The Ram 2500 equipped with the Hemi engine sounds and feels like a muscle car when pushed, though it settles down quietly for ordinary use. Performance is this Ram’s strongest point, but it’s accompanied by a seriously lumpy ride over uneven pavement. Steering is confident for a full-size pickup, but the back wheels spin easily on wet pavement when there isn’t a load in back.
The Ram 2500’s long seat bottoms offer an easy-chair experience. Interior space is plentiful, especially in the Quad Cab configuration. Overall, the Ram 2500 doesn’t feel much like the usual heavy-duty pickup.
The performance that results from tromping on the gas in the Ram SRT-10 can only be described as awesome, shoving occupants back into the surprisingly comfortable seats regardless of whether the transmission is in the ideal gear or not. Yet the Ram SRT-10 can be driven modestly with ease.The SRT-10’s handling is much better than that of an ordinary pickup truck. This model maneuvers through curves that would make an ordinary pickup shudder in horror. Navigating the Hurst shifter through its six forward ratios is sheer delight. The ride is hardly gentle, but it isn’t bad considering the overall experience. Simply put, the Ram SRT-10 is about as close as you’re going to come to a true muscle-car experience from any modern vehicle.