The question around Dodge Division these days is: "If two doors are good, are four doors twice as good?"For the 1998 Dodge Ram Quad Cab pickup truck, the answer is, "Yes."Dodge's Ram Quad Cab is the first full-sized pickup to offer four doors. Previously the domain of passenger cars, the '98 Ram Quad Cab invades sedan territory with a pair of rear doors.These doors swing open away from the front doors. This creates a large, single, pillarless opening for easy access or cargo-loading from either side of the cab.The concept of rear doors that swing out and back from a central body point isn't new. Back in the 1930s, some passenger cars had rear swing-away doors for more convenient access to the rear seat.They were aptly termed "suicide" doors, for if they happened to open while the car was moving, the wind would catch them and pull them into a fully extended position. If you didn't have the sense to let go of the handle, you more than likely ended up out in the roadway.Dodge has built in a safety feature - interlocking the swing-aways with the front doors. The rear doors don't have handles, and a dual-locking system locks all four doors.The Ram Quad Cab is not just about doors. While access to the '98 Quad Cab may be the most obvious enhancement, it's not the pickup's only facet. Owners today want more than just a workhorse. They also want the horse to look good, ride comfortably and carry more.The Quad has been designed with new comfort and safety features that include illuminated power accessory switches, heated outside power mirrors that stay clear on winter days, a new instrument panel that is more modern-looking and easier to reach, and an ergonomically friendly cabin.A truck is a truck, but admittedly, the Ram Quad is a pretty attractive truck. Exterior corners are rounded for improved aerodynamics. The 1500 series has forged aluminum wheels. New body side mouldings enhance the appearance.Buying a truck tends to be somewhat of a build-your-own vehicle endeavor.For example, a Ram 1500 Quad Cam SLT with a 5.2-liter V-8 (318 cubic inch) has a suggested retail price of $19,890, and you go from there. Depending on the model - Ram 1500, Ram 2500, or Ram 3500 - you have a choice of 6.5- or 8-foot bed lengths, five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions, three gas and one diesel engine and payloads that run from 1,215 pounds to 4,551 pounds. All, however, have four doors.For those who like cylinders up ahead of them, the 2500 or 3500 Series is for you. Available is a 488- cubic-inch (8.0-liter) V-l0 that is the truck counterpart of the V-10 that powers the Dodge Viper sports car.This is a 20-valve motor that utilizes a single cam mounted in the block and a push rod/rocker arm valve train. For a truck where pulling power is of great importance, output is 300-horsepower and a whopping 440 foot-pounds of torque.That's good for not only uprooting tree stumps but pulling down the barn as well.For th e more conservative truckers, there is the 318- and 360-cubic-inch (5.9-liters) gas-burning V-8s.Both have been given 10 more horsepower, 230 horses for the 318, and 245 for the 360.Courtesy of a new cam, torque for the 360 has been increased to 335 foot-pounds, up from 330.For those who like an oil burner for power, the Quad has a 5.9-liter Cummins Diesel in-line 6 available. Displacing 369 cubic inches, the diesel matches the larger V-10 for torque at 440 foot-pounds. Horsepower is 215.Variety of sizesIn regard to size, all three series come in either short (138.7 inches) or long (154.7) wheelbases that match the short/long beds in the back.Overall length for both wheelbases is 214.8 inches.Just like full-sized passenger cars, the Quads are six-seaters in the conventional 3/3 seating arrangement.And just like better-class passenger cars, you can even get leatherseating and a woodgrain instrument panel bezel.The '98 Dodge Ram Quad Cab certainly is a quantum step forward from anything Dodge has done before, and expands the maker's position in the pickup-truck market into the 21st century.
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