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1994 DODGE RAM Review


For years, full-size pickup shoppers scrutinized Ford, Chevy and occasionally GMC and then said: "Oh yeah-doesn't Dodge make one too?"

That's changed-drastically. With its first truly complete pickup redesign in 22 years, Dodge has served notice to customers that its new offering is worthy of switching brands. It's obvious that Dodge was determined to stand out from its full-size Ford, Chevy and GMC competitors. It worked. You've seen the new Dodge Ram's styling before, but never on a pickup.

The low-profile, stepped-down front fenders and close-to-the-road headlamp, treatment make the new Dodge resemble a big ol' Kenworth or Peterbilt scaled down to the full-size pickup format. Precious it ain't. Different it is.

There's also an array of muscle choices under the hood that Ford, Chevy and GMC currently can't match. The 5.9-liter 230 horsepower Magnum V8 that propelled our test vehicle had power and torque to spare. Chrysler's tried-and-true 5.2-liter 220-hp V8 won't disappoint either. While there's a difference of only 10 hp, the bigger engine has an impressive increase of 100 pound-feet of torque. Up the line, there's an optional stump-pulling Cummins Diesel six rated at 175 hp and a whopping 420 lb.-ft. of torque and-watch out-a 300-hp V10 based on the Dodge Viper engine, scheduled for availability in 1995. To say this is Dodge's way of making a forceful entry into the full-size pickup fray is a gross understatement.


The interior is another major effort from Dodge to make the new Ram stand out from its full-size competition. Our test Ram 2500 greeted us with smooth instrumental panel contours and sweeping armrests that integrated perfectly with the door and the overall interior design scheme. We see nothing in here that reminds us of the last-generation pickups. While the influence is definitely truck-like, Chrysler designers took their cues from the advanced interior design found in the company's very successful and stylish LH sedans.

The Ram 2500's instrument cluster is housed beneath a gracefully curved padded dashtop and features a standard circular speedometer and analog oil pressure, fuel, coolant temperature and battery/voltmeter gauges. These are all easily readable through the steering wheel, which also houses an air bag - the first in any full-size pickup.

There's room for three really big adults up front with only a lap belt for the middle passenger but belts and shoulder harnesses for the driver and far-side passenger. Door-mounted courtesy lights are complemented by an overhead dome light as well as independently operated map lights.

About the only thing that isn't truly big about this new Ram 2500 is the glove compartment. But that's offset by a huge fold-down center console big enough to store and/or support a laptop computer or fax machine -a real convenience for workers who take the office on the road. There's also a second power receptacle next to the cigarette lighter to power or charge all that exotic equipment. Behind-the-seat storage is adequate and neatly compartmentalized and contains tire-changing equipment.

The standard seats on our test Ram 2500 were adequately contoured and offered a driver-side adjustable lumbar support that improved comfort some. We recommend one of Dodge's step-up seating options for a truck this nice, however.


The big-rig fender and headlamp treatments on our 1994 Dodge Ram 2500 are only part of the new face that Dodge has put on for the pickup market. The hood angles in gracefully to a distinctive grille set off by touches of honeycomb brass. The massive center-mount chrome front bumper is topped by a black vinyl step pad that integrates with a full width air dam underneath the bumper. Unusual contouring, big chrome side-view mirrors, flush-mounted, vinyl-covered door handles and a surprisingly good fit and finish present themselves in profile. Out back, a chrome step bumper is also protected with black vinyl step pads and has no less than three ball hitch holes in different sizes, each rubber-plugged when not in use.

The rear drop gate is supported by two steel cables and features a quick-release provision for easy removal.

The big, 8-foot cargo box offers two tie-down brackets on each wall and a two-tier loading design. It can be illuminated by twin halogen lamps mounted alongside the third taillight atop the rear cab wall. Taillight lenses are flush-mounted and impact-resistant, and they meld with amber wraparound side markers. We just wish Dodge had wrapped them a little farther around the side for even better visibility.


Our 1994 Dodge Ram 2500 ST 4x4 was outfitted with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, a four-speed heavy-duty automatic transmission, shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, an anti-spin differential and the 5.9-liter electronic fuel injection Dodge Magnum V8 mentioned earlier. Delivering 230 hp at 4000 rpm and 330 lb.-ft. of torque at 3200 rpm, it performed smoothly and impressively in all speed ranges. In a highway passing tryout, it took us from 50 mph to 70 mph-plus in a mere 10 seconds. It's EPA-rated at 11 city/ 15 highway, but that's about what you'd expect from a truck with this much size and power.

The optional four-wheel drive system offered two speed ranges, each of which engaged quickly and smoothly. Dodge says that there are about 200 different power train options with six engines, six transmissions, 2WD and 4WD choices and 49 front and rear wheel axle ratios.

Turning and sharp cornering proved a little harsh and unsettling in the 4WD mode. That's more an inherent characteristic of 4WD vehicles and not a flaw in this Dodge pickup's system. Dodge's optional four-wheel anti-lock braking system, however, earned nothing but superlatives, stopping sure, straight and steady every time we applied the pedal. On all road conditions, the Ram 2500 ST delivered a stiff but steady ride, little if any wind noise and sure but less than nimble handling.


Our Dodge Ram 2500 ST 4x4 also included an AM/FM stereo and air conditioning and carried an MSRP of $21,941. If you're in the market for a big pickup with standalone styling and standout performance, you may come to regard the price as a bona fide bargain. In an attempt to gain ground on Ford and Chevy in the full-size pickup race, Dodge may have moved right up front.

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