The rear leaf sprung suspension on the Ram is typical; that is, it's stiff when unloaded because the rear of the truck is set up to haul cargo. The front five-link is another story, as it's impressively smooth, well damped, and shows 9.9 inches of ground clearance. The coil springs have sensible spring rates, and the solid front axle belies its non-independent design by exhibiting excellent ride and handling characteristics, on- and off-road. The front and the rear suspension are controlled by gas-charged dampers. On the dirt, we'd prefer additional wheel/suspension travel, but we say that about every truck on the market.
Epilogue: We'll Take It!
DaimlerChrysler has a lot of faith in the build quality and reliability of the '03 Ram 2500; the company has given the Ram a 7-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty. DC claims its 2500 models were put through the harshest duty cycle engineers could design, including testing in negative 40-degree weather in the Arctic Circle, as well as during a 130-degree heat wave in Death Valley for the equivalent of 150,000 miles.
While our time with the Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 was limited to a couple of weeks, we really came to enjoy and respect the prowess of the big Ram. Especially noted was its nimble-on-its-tires trait, which made the truck seem smaller and lighter than it actually was. If there was a downside to the Hemi Ram, it was fuel mileage. It's a big truck, to be sure, and the Hemi connected to the throttle pedal was always asking to be turned loose, but 10.5 mpg in town and 11.8 mpg on the highway is tough, especially with today's rising fuel prices. Maybe with a new computer chip and a free-breathing intake and exhaust system, a Ram 2500 owner could have performance and acceptable mileage. Or maybe a lighter throttle foot would be the answer.
|Vehicle/make/model ||'03 Dodge Ram 2500 SLT Quad Cab |
|Engine ||5.7L Magnum Hemi V-8 |
|Transmission ||5-45RFE five-speed automatic Overdrive |
|Transfer case ||Two-speed, electronic shift-on-the-fly, 2.72:1 |
| ||Low-range gear ratio |
|Brakes ||Four-wheel disc with antilock |
|Stereo ||Infinity, six-disc CD player, seven speakers |
|Wheels ||17x8-inch cast aluminum |
|Tires ||265/70R17E BFGoodrich All-Terrain Radial |
|Axle gear ratio ||4.10 with rear limited-slip differential |
|Curb weight ||5,954 pounds |
|Horsepower/torque ||345 hp at 5,400 rpm/375 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm |