Stringent testing, real-world application, and good, old-fashioned fun make up the testing procedures during a 4x4 road test. As automotive journalists, we have an obligation to the readers of OFF-ROAD magazine to formulate and tally up all the information, then make an assessment about how well the truck actually performs.
This year, we will be including more in-depth evaluation procedures that include realistic, everyday applications from street to serious off-road excursions. Road trips are key for such evaluations as demonstrated in this issue, and in our trip to Pismo Beach, California, in a 2000 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 SLT.
Factory 4x4 Suspension
New from Dodge this year is a factory-designed and equipped off-road package for the Ram 1500. This package is only available on the Ram 1500 4x4 and Quad Cab short wheelbase models. The off-road package features a solid axle in the front with a four-arm link coil suspension system with 11 inches of wheel travel. The rear suspension is designed around a four-leaf longitudinal spring pack with a limited-slip differential in the rear to provide improved traction. All of this equates into more ground clearance and the capabilities to facilitate a larger tire and wheel size of LT275/70R17. Dodge improved on the steering as well. The low-speed steering agility is augmented through the use of a newly designed steering gear. This makes full-lock turns easier than ever.
Magnum Power - Yeah, Baby!
With 230 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, Dodge's V-8 Magnum offers loads of usable power for on and off-road situations. Magnum engines are known for their power and performance. Equipped with Sequential Multiport Fuel Injection (SMPI), the Magnum engine responds immediately to throttle response. The 318 ci powerplant also provides a flat torque curve that delivers awesome out-of-the-hole-power. Just as important as the intake system is the continuation of exiting the spent gases through a set of high-flow exhaust manifolds, combined with a tuned port exhaust configuration to complete a better breathing package.
In The Cockpit
Our test truck was equipped with the SLT package, which provides function and comfort with a 40/20/40 split bench seat with a center armrest console and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The SLT's trim and interior consists of a cloth headliner, carpet and floor mats, door trim panels, a cup holder that retracts into the dash, climate control, a passenger assist handle, coat hooks, digital displays and gauges, an extra power outlet for accessories, and an AM/FM stereo CD with a tape player.