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Dodge has completely redesigned and re-engineered its Ram for the 2002 model year. This all-new pickup boasts levels of refinement and comfort that match those of the best trucks from General Motors and Ford. New designs from GM and Ford had put them ahead on this score, but that's all changed with the 2002 Dodge Ram. The new Ram offers a much smoother ride and a bigger, more comfortable, and more convenient cab.
Refinement doesn't mean the Dodge Ram has gone soft, however. This year's Ram offers improved towing and hauling capability, and more powerful, more efficient engines. This complete overhaul puts the Dodge back on solid ground with the half-ton pickups from Ford and GM.
The Ram's radical big-rig styling turned the pickup world upside down when it was introduced in 1994. It was a highly successful design, one that gave the Dodge pickups a look of power and capability. The bold styling also helped boost sales exponentially. So Dodge had no intention of turning away from the big horse-collar grille and Freightliner fenders when it redesigned the Ram, and the look established eight years ago has been maintained.
Though evolutionary in design, the sheet metal is indeed all new. Park a 2002 Ram next to a 2001 Ram and the differences are striking. The design has been extensively re-sculpted for reduced wind noise and better rainwater management. The new Ram looks sleek and refined compared with the previous model. The old one looks mashed down compared with the new one.
Few grilles are as instantly recognizable as the massive horse collar grille of the Ram. Even more massive this year, the grille distinguishes among trim levels: The horse collar is all chrome on the SLT model, with a gray honeycomb center. SLT+ features a body-color grille surround and chrome cross hairs. Sport trim includes a body-color surround and cross hairs with unique chrome billets in the center.
Moving rearward, the new Ram presents a more robust appearance than before with a broad, sloping hood and a pronounced crown that falls to the bold front fenders. A faster, raked-back windshield improves aerodynamics and water management, and gives the new Ram a more modern appearance. The leading edge of the front door overlaps the A-pillar, creating a smoother transition from the front of the cab to the side. Everything is smoother and more integrated. The big side mirrors, great for visibility, are now mounted on platforms to reduce wind noise, and a channel has been specially designed to keeps water off of the mirrors. An integrated air dam improves engine cooling and air conditioner performance.
Standard bed length is 6 feet, 3 inches, but an 8-foot bed is now available for both cab styles. That makes the Ram Quad Cab the only half-ton crew-cab pickup with an 8-foot bed. (By comparison, the Ford F-150 SuperCrew only comes with a 5.5-foot bed while the new Chevy Silverado 1500HD only comes with a 6.5-foot bed.) The 160.5-inch wheelbase for a Dodge Ram Quad Cab with an eight-foot bed is 20 inches longer than short-bed Quad Cab or long-bed regular cab models, which increases the turning diameter by 6 feet; but it's just 3 inches longer than Ford and Chevy long-bed extended-cab models. Regardless, Ram beds are fitted with boat cleats designed to handle 1,000 pounds each.
Rams sit pretty high off the ground, particularly the four-wheel-drive models. Tailgate load height is 35 inches on four-wheel-drive models, 33.6 inches on two-wheel-drive Rams. That's a bit much when trying to heave heavy gear aboard.
Ram interiors are completely redesigned for 2002. In fact, one of the biggest improvements offered by the new Ram is in the area of comfort.
That comfort starts with roominess. To increase roominess, Dodge stole 3 inches out of the bed and added more than 3 inches to the cab. So you sacrifice a little bed space for a lot more wiggle room.
Two cab styles are available: a regular cab and the four-door, six-passenger Quad Cab. (Club Cab extended-cab models are history; people stopped buying them when Dodge introduced its first Quad Cab in 1998.) Regular cab and Quad Cab offer identical roominess in the front seats. Dodge claims its regular cab offers the largest interior of any full-size regular cab pickup.
The cloth 40/20/40 split bench front seat in the Sport model is quite supportive, better than some of the seats we've seen recently in other brands. The optional leather seats are also comfortable and supportive during long drives. Three-point shoulder belts are used at all locations, including the rear center seat. Optional power adjustable pedals ($120) let shorter drivers adjust their seating position better so they aren't sitting so close to the airbag; it's a great, affordable option for two-driver families that offers significant comfort and safety benefits.
Pedals are adjustable so shorter drivers in the family can get comfortable without worrying about being too close to the airbag. (Side-curtain airbags are a $395 option.) Nice big mirrors make it easier to see what's behind. A big fold-down center armrest/console comes with adjustable dividers and a power outlet. White-faced instruments with turquoise numbers look sporty and trendy, but don't offer the legibility of traditional white-on-black designs, particularly at dusk. At night, the instruments are nicely illuminated in green.
The design of the audio system could be improved for ease of use. Sometimes you have to search for the right button to press. Setting a button for a station, for example, requires pressing a separate Set button, rather than just holding the button down. Sliding bass and treble controls are harder to adjust than knobs when bouncing around in a pickup truck. Optional steering wheel audio controls ($75) solve this with brilliantly designed buttons behind the steering wheel that are much easier to use than the awkward steering wheel controls found on GM's full-size trucks. Likewise, cruise controls on the steering wheel are easy to operate.
Otherwise, the center dash is a paradigm of convenience. Large heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) buttons can be operated while wearing gloves. A textured fabric is used for trim around the audio and HVAC controls, somewhat similar to what's found in Volkswagens, gives the center dash a nice look and feel. Just below the HVAC controls is a slot lined with a rubber mat that's perfect for a wallet or other small items. A big panel below that folds down with adjustable cup holders. Overhead is a console with an effective pair of map lights, a trip computer, a compartment for sunglasses, and a compass, which every self-respecting truck should have.
Regular cab models come fitted with a tray behind the seats big enough to hold a large bucket. Dodge even supplies the bucket, a tray designed to carry tools and such. Big hooks behind the seats are handy for hanging dry cleaning or plastic shopping bags so your groceries don't roll all over the place. There's even a hook just to the right of the center dash that's useful for hanging onto a couple of grocery bags; the Brits call these curry hooks.
The new Quad Cab is quite nice. About 80 percent of all Ram buyers will opt for the Quad Cab. It's easy to see why. The rear seat is roomy, with enough rake to the seatback to make it comfortable for two adults. Its size also makes the rear bench seat suitable for child safety seats. All three rear seating positions can accommodate child safety seats and are fitted with tether anchors.
A pleasant ride quality and a responsive engine characterize the driving experience. The 2002 Dodge Ram rides much more smoothly than last year's model.
A rigid new chassis has reduced vibration dramatically. Dodge used an increasingly popular manufacturing process called hydroforming to fashion the frame. Instead of having to weld a bunch of straight pieces together, Dodge uses ultra-high water pressure to form the frame in any shape needed. This highly rigid frame is arguably the most important aspect of this new pickup. It allowed Dodge engineers to redesign the Ram suspension and to tune it precisely, without having to work around a lot of chassis flex.
A new rack-and-pinion steering setup sharpens handling, and 17-inch wheels are standard. The result is better handling, a better ride, and a truck that feels much tighter. Handling and maneuverability were key goals of the Ram design team, according to Dodge, in an effort to help drivers avoid crashes. All Rams come standard with big four-wheel disc brakes that are smooth and easy to modulate. Dodge claims they are the largest brakes in the segment.
Pickup trucks don't seem to be getting any smaller. One of the first sensations of driving the Ram is awareness of its immense proportions. This truck feels big and tall, and its fenders seem to fill small country roads. The ride height of the Ram adds to this sensation. It's sometimes difficult to be sure exactly where your fenders are, so it's not the best truck for the timid. In this regard, the Ram is the opposite of the Toyota Tundra, which feels smaller and nimbler by comparison. The big Ram reminds us a bit of driving an off-road race truck. It handles reasonably well and powers through or over just about anything, but the tires aren't always precisely where you wanted them.
Most Ram buyers will get the new 4.7-liter V8, and it's the best choice unless you have good, specific reasons to order the 3.7-liter or 5.9-liter engine. The first thing I noticed about driving a Ram pickup with the 4.7-liter was its responsiveness. This truck feels very eager around town and on winding roads. It accelerates quickly onto freeways and has no trouble powering up grades. It's a smooth, sophisticated engine that always feels ready to go.
The 4.7-liter V8 and 3.7-liter V6 are overhead-cam designs, smaller and more efficient than the overhead-valve engines they replace. The 4.7-liter V8, for example, offers a 1 mpg improvement (13/17 mpg City/Highway for a 4WD automatic) over the 5.2-liter V8 engine it replaces; it revs higher and produces 240 horsepower, 10 more than the 5.2-liter, but torque has dropped by 5 foot-pounds to 295. In practical terms, this is splitting hairs. What you will notice is that the 4.7-liter engine feels smoother and more refined, emitting a pleasant American burble while underway. I really liked it. Likewise the transmission feels smooth and does a good job of keeping the engine in the power band.
The new 3.7-liter V6 is smooth and works just fine with the manual five-speed gearbox. It might be a good choice for someone who lives in the flatlands at relatively low altitudes and neither pulls trailers nor hauls heavy loads.
The 5.9-liter engine uses the older overhead-valve design; the 5.9-liter engine and transmission feel crude in comparison to the new 4.7-liter. The 5.9 will do a good job of towing, but on the road it doesn't feel noticeably more powerful than the 4.7.
Trailer towing capacities range from just 3150 pounds for a 3.7-liter V6 with 2WD manual transmission to 8650 for a 5.9-liter V8 with 2WD automatic and 3.92 rear axle ratio. A 4WD Ram with the 4.7-liter is rated to pull a 7,550-pound trailer with the 3.92 rear axle ratio. Those who need to pull trailers up to 8500 pounds will want to opt for the 5.9-liter engine. It delivers 245 horsepower and 335 pounds-feet of torque. The available 20-inch wheels reduce towing capacity by 1000 pounds.
Payloads range from a mere 1320 po
Dodge has done it again. Eight years after breaking the rules for pickups, Dodge has redesigned its Ram and reasserted itself as a top contender among full-size trucks. The 2002 Dodge Ram is stylish and highly capable. It's also comfortable.
Quad Cab models offer a brilliant combination of comfort and utility. And regular cab versions are far roomier than they used to be and are thoughtfully set up to accommodate gear behind the seat.
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2011 Dodge Ram 2500$29,896 | 65,197 mi
2011 Dodge Ram 2500$34,378 | 36,391 mi
2011 Dodge Ram 2500$38,986 | 23,330 mi
2011 Dodge Ram 2500$40,999 | 70,412 mi
2010 Dodge Ram 2500$44,999 | 33,465 mi
2009 Dodge Ram 2500$29,999 | 31,929 mi
2008 Dodge Ram 2500$26,950 | 79,040 mi
2007 Dodge Ram 2500$15,995 | 112,804 mi
2007 Dodge Ram 2500$26,988 | 126,817 mi
2007 Dodge Ram 2500$29,998 | 69,861 mi
2007 Dodge Ram 2500$32,999 | 115,239 mi
2007 Dodge Ram 2500$38,896 | 38,857 mi
2006 Dodge Ram 2500$13,987 | 141,863 mi
2006 Dodge Ram 2500$19,988 | 81,728 mi
2006 Dodge Ram 2500$20,968 | 53,861 mi
2006 Dodge Ram 2500$25,664 | 44,910 mi
2006 Dodge Ram 2500$25,988 | 91,068 mi
2006 Dodge Ram 2500$26,985 | 118,363 mi
2006 Dodge Ram 2500$28,999 | 77,878 mi
2005 Dodge Ram 2500$11,995 | no mileage
2005 Dodge Ram 2500$15,977 | 102,066 mi
2004 Dodge Ram 2500$17,871 | 171,259 mi
2004 Dodge Ram 2500$22,999 | 175,005 mi
2004 Dodge Ram 2500$27,588 | 28,664 mi
2004 Dodge Ram 2500$27,985 | 114,148 mi
2002 Dodge Ram 2500$19,999 | 141,000 mi
2001 Dodge Ram 2500$13,999 | 5 mi
2001 Dodge Ram 2500$18,555 | 49,771 mi