First Impressions: Handsome!
When you take a long, hard look at the '03 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty 4x4, there's a lot to like. The 2500 is a big truck with large doors and windows and vast expanses of sheetmetal along its sides. It's big, but the Ram carries its size well. It's a handsome truck, sporting details such as the clear lens, projector-beam-style headlights, the various creases and character lines on the body, and the swept-back windshield and A-pillar. Our test truck was supplied with Bright Silver Metallic clearcoat paint and a host of options, including the Hemi engine backed by a five-speed automatic OD trans, a leather interior, full interior power accessories, a set of 4.10 cogs for the axles, and a limited-slip differential for the rear axle.
When the all-new Ram was in its design stage, it was widely known that Dodge executives had issued orders to carry on and enhance the unique front-end styling cues of the previous-generation Ram and to focus on building the boldest, most capable, and most durable heavy-duty truck Dodge had ever produced. After a quick look at the 2500 HD and an initial drive, we were stoked about this truck's potential. Obviously, the Dodge boys took their executive orders to heart and crafted the best truck to ever roll out of the Dodge factory.
Interior: A Well-Appointed CockpitThe Ram Heavy Duty's interior is a stylish and well-equipped place to do business. In regards to safety, the big Ram gives nothing away to the competition, as it's equipped with side curtain airbags and next-generation front airbags. Power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals were present on our truck, as were large exterior mirrors that can be folded flat for standard use or flipped upright and out for trailer towing.
Anyone familiar with the redesigned '02 Ram 1500 will find the 2500 Ram interior quite familiar. Both trucks feature best-in-class interior space and unique storage options that include hidden boxes under the rear seat. All four doors on the new Heavy-Duty models are now fullsize, and the rear doors open forward to an 85-degree angle. Bed length has been slightly reduced on Quad Cab Rams but remains a useable 6 feet, 3 inches in length. A long-bed option is available, offering an 8-foot bed on the standard-cab or Quad Cab Ram.
On our test truck, stylish medium-gray leather covered the seats and the steering wheel. Although the seats are spacious and multi-adjustable, thanks to the eight-way power adjustment option, the seats' bottom cushions were a bit firm. Maybe they'll loosen up as time goes by. Also, for sporting use, the seats could use more lateral support; there's an absence of any type of side bolster on the lower seat cushion, which makes for easy ingress and egress, but when the going gets rough, occupants can be subjected to a lot of lateral movement.
We really enjoyed the Infinity sound system with seven speakers. It's plenty powerful, pumps out an acceptable level of bass, and the in-dash CD player holds six discs. Also handy were the electrically adjustable control pedals, which move longitudinally and, in concert with the power adjustable seat, allow the big Ram's steering wheel/control pedals/seat combination to be adjusted for just about any human's comfort.
The center console is huge and can be folded down for an armrest/storage bin or flipped up for additional passenger seating space. The rear seat is hampered by an overly upright back cushion, so short-term use is the best plan. When the seat bottom is folded up, a cool folding metal floor flips down, providing a useable behind-seat storage area that isn't restricted by the rear seat foot wells.
Trim Levels And Optional Equipment: Well Equipped
The '03 Ram 2500 is available in three trim levels. The base ST includes air conditioning, an AM/FM cassette player, vinyl seats, and 17-inch-diameter steel wheels. Mid-level SLT models get a body-colored upper front fascia; a chromed grille; power, heated fold-away exterior mirrors; an overhead console (with outside temperature, compass, and trip computer); power windows with a one-touch-down driver window; A/C; front seat area carpeting; cloth seats; sun visors; a CD player; and chrome-plated 17-inch wheels. We tested a premium-trim Laramie model, which included A/C; foglamps; a chrome- and body-colored grille; body-colored side molding; a sliding rear window; dual-zone climate control; wood trim around the instrument panel; HomeLink; an auto-dimming rearview mirror; power adjustable pedals; a 240-watt Infinity sound system and a six-disc in-dash CD changer; leather-covered seats and steering wheel; and cast-aluminum 17-inch wheels with all-terrain BFGoodrich tires.