1995 DODGE RAM 1500 BASE
Used Truck - 1995 Dodge Ram 1500 Base in Sunnyvale, Tx
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1995 Dodge Ram 1500 ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
This ain’t no sippin’ truck.
Does styling sell something as utilitarian as a full size pickup? You know your response to that question better than we do, but the short answer seems to be a resounding 'yes.'
By way of proof, consider the Dodge Ram pickup. For almost two decades, the Ram toiled along virtually unchanged - and unnoticed - behind the Ford F-Series and the GM C/K series trucks, a distant third in the sales race.
But the 1994 model year brought an all-new, knock-your-socks-off Ram to Dodge showrooms - bigger inside than its rivals from Ford and General Motors, with an exterior design that said truck in capital letters.
Reaction to the Ram’s bold styling was, and still is, polar. There are those who even employ the word ugly to describe its appearance. But there are just as many who seem to think that this is how pickup trucks ought to look - enough people, in fact, to swamp dealers with orders.
For ’95, Dodge has added the Club Cab, an extended cab, to the mix, and now the Ram is in the thick of the fight for full-size pickup leadership. The only thing that might hold it back is the factory’s inability to meet the rising tide of demand.
Aside from quality, styling is really the only significant differentiator between American full-size pickups. Dodge, Ford and GM trucks all offer a broad variety of engines, drivetrains, trim levels, cab configurations, cargo boxes and load ratings.
With its bull nose and big, bright grille, the Ram looks more aggressive than its competitors, conjuring up a bygone era when 'trucks was trucks, buddy,' and the notion of lifestyle vehicles lay somewhere in the murky future.
This retro-styling approach seems to have struck a strongly responsive chord. Perhaps it’s because those attracted by the ‘50s exterior quickly learn that the look is only skin deep. Inside, there’s none of the cramped, back-breaking discomfort that went with gold ol’ American pickups; the Ram is as modern as any in this respect. But more on that later.
As noted, Rams, like all full-size pickups, come in a bewildering variety of models. It’s important to have a solid fix on what you expect your truck to do for you - hard work? Light work? All-around driving? A little of each? - before you visit a showroom
Our choice here was a top-of-the-line Ram 2500 Laramie SLT with the new Club Cab, an 8-ft. cargo box and Dodge’s massive 8.0-liter V10 engine. This is a lot of truck. At more than 20 ft. long with a gross vehicle-weight rating of 8800 lb., it’s probably more than most of us will ever need.
But it’s also a combination that’s unique among pickups. Although Ford and GM both offer big gasoline V8 engines of substantial power, the Dodge V10 is the guru of grunt among full-size pickups. You just can’t get more low-rpm power - the commodity we know as torque - than this big growler offers. It starts almost from the moment you insert the key and wake it up, building to a peak of 450 pound-feet at only 2400 rpm.
Torque is what you want for hauling or towing heavy loads, and this baby’s got more of it than the other guys.
The big news inside the ’95 Ram Club Cab ST and Laramie SLT is that there’s a folding rear bench seat behind the front seat. This is something that wasn’t available when the Ram lineup was introduced. And since the Ram already started with the roomiest standard cab in the business, the addition of the Club Cab creates an interior that feels vast.
However, even though Dodge rates the Ram Club Cab as a 6-passenger vehicle, rar-seat legroom is tight compared with midsize and full-size passenger cars, something that can be said for most extended cab trucks.
On the other hand, if what you’re planning to stow is stuff rather than people, the Club Cab’s extra space will obviously come in handy. It’s also worth noting that extended cabs are hot sellers, which could pay dividends at resale time.
Although front-passenger seating in the Ram LT and stripped-down Work Special models is a basic bench, our Laramie SLT had a 40/20/40 split bench up front, with seatback recliners for the outboard seating positions and a better grade of upholstery.
Our test truck included a number of convenience features that are extra-cost options in other models, including air conditioning, power windows and locks, cruise control, and an AM/FM stereo with cassette. It also had extra storage features, although storage is a strong point on all of the Rams. And like all the Ram pickups, it included a driver’s airbag and side-impact door beams.
Roominess adds up to comfort in any vehicle, and the Rams edge their competitors on this point. We also liked the high seating position that gives the driver and front-seat passengers a good view of what’s going on in traffic. However, shorter drivers may find that the Ram’s high hoodline makes it a little difficult to see immediately in front of the vehicle.
The Ram 2500 is a heavy-duty pickup designed to tow and haul heavy loads. As a result, its ride quality isn’t as comfortable as a Ram 1500, which has lower load limits. The difference lies largely in spring rates. Springs designed to accommodate heavier loads will produce a stiffer ride when the truck is empty, and the rear wheels are more likely to hop going over sharp bumps.
The ride smooths out once you’ve got a few hundred pounds of cargo in the truck bed. In our test vehicle, that load could be as much as 3285 lb.
Still, even though all-around ride quality has improved in the new Ram truck lineup, we think the Chevrolet/GMC pickup is still tops among full-size trucks in ride comfort.
Like all full-size workhorse trucks, our Ram’s handling was competent but deliberate. It takes almost four turns of the steering wheel to get the front wheels from extreme left to extreme right, and its turning circle is more than 51 ft. It’s not designed for rapid maneuvering and it refuses to be hurried. We were pleased with the performance of its 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, an option on all Ram models.
An aspect of this truck’s performance that was thoroughly impressive was its muscle. Closely related to the Dodge Viper sports car V10, the Ram’s V10 engine feels as though it would be well-suited to transporting entire buildings or towing battle tanks. It hardly seemed to notice the 5000-lb. trailer we hooked on behind.
This is the elemental force in pickup engines today. Although it doesn’t make the kind of gratifying grumble we associate with big American V8s, the Ram V10 is the new king of pickup power.
Potent as it may be, a Ram pickup with a V10 engine doesn’t make sense unless you’ve got a lot of heavy-duty work for it to do. It’s available only in the Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks, which aren’t as well-suited to all-around use as Dodge’s basic 1500 series.
However, Dodge also offers two very good V8 engines, as well as a 5.9-liter 60cylinder turbodiesel and the standard 3.9-liter V6 - plenty of engine choices and plenty of power.
One cautionary note: Response to the new Ram trucks has been exceptionally strong, and factory output lags demand by many thousands of units. If you special-order your truck, be prepared to wait several months. A better bet is to see what local dealers have in stock and find the Ram that most closely suits your needs.
Even if you have to compromise a bit, we bet you’ll love it.
5-speed manual overdrive
Optional: 4-speed automatic overdrive.
Warren, Michigan; Lago Alberto, Mexico; Saltillo, Mexico.A modest hallelujah for this big people mover.
You say the choir at your church is in open rebellion because the old church van has become too decrepit - and perhaps a little too holy - for occupancy by mortals?
They're saying, 'No new van, no Christmas carol sing-off.' Is that what's bothering you? Well lift up your hearts, brothers and sisters: Your Dodge dealer is prepared to solve thy problem.
Dodge, Ford and General Motors all offer full-size vans and window vans (known as wagons). But only Dodge offers one that's specially designated for church groups. It's called the Church Value package, and we're not sure whether it includes hymnals.
But it does seem clear that a big wagon capable of carrying up to 15 parishioners could just as easily transport the same number of non-parishioners. And we doubt your Dodge dealer will check your credentials or make you sing a few bars of Handel's Messiah before he'll sell you one.
The intriguing distinction of the Church Value package aside, Ram Wagons and Vans have a lot in common with their competitors from Ford and GM. They're big, rugged and can haul mass quantities - people, in the case of the wagon, cargo in the case of the van.
Distinctions, and they're subtle, lie in the area of powertrain choices, features, dealer proximity and how your local dealer stacks up in terms of service.
Thanks to a restyled front end, the Ram Wagon looks a little more contemporary than GM's big vans, Chevy Sportvan and GMC Rally Van. However, down there where it counts, it's pretty much the same van Dodge has been selling since 1971.
In a vehicle like this, there's something to be said for continuous development rather than sweeping redesigns.
Appearance counts, of course. That's why Dodge put a new rounded nose, with flush-mounted aero headlamps, on this van last year.
But functionality is the key in a big van, and over the course of the last 24 years the engineers at Dodge Truck have been quietly improving all aspects of their van's ability to get the job done.
The biggest of these improvements, one that also affects the Ram pickups, occurred a couple of years ago when all the Dodge truck engines were redesigned. The net result was a dramatic increase in power output across the board, which inspired a new marketing name. They're all Magnum engines now, and they generally match or exceed the performance of comparable engines from Ford and GM.
There is an exception, however. Ford and GM both offer big-block gasoline V8s and big diesel V8s in their vans, engines that expand load-carrying capacity and extend towing limits up to 10,000 lb.
The biggest of the Ram Wagon engines is a 5.9-liter V8, with 230 hp and 330 pound-feet of torque, providing a maximum towing limit of 9000 lb. But the big gasoline V8 engines from Ford and GM provide more muscle for really heavy jobs, and Dodge doesn't offer a diesel (advantages in durability and fuel economy) for its van family.
Dodge has simplified basic model designations for 1995 on a basis of load capabilities, and they're similar to the Ram pickup line. The standard Ram Wagon and Van is the 1500 series, powered by a 3.9-liter V6. Next is the 2500, with the 3.9 V6 as its standard engine and a 5.2-liter V8 available as an option.
The 3500 is the workhorse edition, with the 5.2-liter V8. Dodge also offers a compressed natural gas version of this same engine.
All '95 Ram Wagons come with 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) as standard equipment. The Vans are equipped with rear-wheel ABS, with 4-wheel ABS offered as an option. Other safety features include a driver's airbag and side-impact door beams.
Beyond these basics, there are essentially two trim levels - the base Wagon and the more comfortably furnished SLT - plus special packages. Besides the Church Value package, there's also a Family Value package - we're sure Dodge doesn't mean to suggest that the two are mutually exclusive - and a Tradesman package on the Van. As the name suggests, the Tradesman version is basically a commercial van, light on amenities and light on the buyer's checking account.
Like their competitors, the Ram Wagons can be ordered in a variety of seating setups to accommodate up to 15 folks. There's a choice between a traditional sliding side door or a hinged door.
There's also the same long laundry list of comfort and convenience options.
We didn't have a choir available to help us with our evaluation, so our test van was a 2500 SLT, with the 5.2-liter V8 and seating for eight.
Like its competitors, our Ram Wagon felt open and airy inside, a function of its big interior and many windows. Everyone gets a good look at the scenery, and the driver has a commanding view of what's going on ahead, thanks to the high seating position that goes with a full-size van.
Although Ford's big Econoline wagons have a much more contemporary appearance inside, the Ram Wagon has all the basics, and the control layout - though only average - shouldn't pose any operating problems once you're past the initial familiarization process.
A particularly nice touch in our test van was its center console. It had the requisite bins, cubbies and cupholders, plus a flat surface on top that could serve as a small table or mini writing desk. But we really liked its position. Instead of being between the front seats, it sat on top of the rear of the transmission, which made it much easier for the driver and front-seat passenger to reach. There was also a slide-out storage drawer built into the base of the front passenger's seat.
Speaking of tables, one option is a travel package that includes a dinette table.
Our test van had comfortable cloth-upholstered bucket seats in the front, with bench seats behind. The rear seats were removable, as they are in competing vans.
Big vans are essentially full-size pickups wearing cargo-container bodywork, and consequently their on-road behavior is trucklike.
The Ram Wagon is no exception to this generalization. It's elephantine by passenger-car standards, slightly above average compared with its competitors. Stiffer shock-absorber tuning, revised last year, helps keep body roll in check during cornering without too much compromise in ride quality, but handling distinctions in big vans are virtually academic. Easy-does-it applies across the board.
Like all big vans, the Ram Wagon has lots of power-steering assist - too much for good road feel, but welcome when you're trundling around in parking lots.
Our test van's V8 engine delivered acceptable performance, and we'd recommend it as a minimum for a vehicle this size. The 3.9-liter V6 delivers good power, but when curb weights start climbing north of 4000 lb. - a vehicle's weight before you start adding passengers or cargo - you want V8 torque to keep up with traffic.
Ram Wagons are solid, tough customers that can be expected to do a good job for a long time.
The Ram Wagon isn't quite as refined inside as the Ford vans, and it lacks the big V8 and diesel engine options available in the big vans from Ford, Chevy and GMC Truck.
But if absolute maximum towing and/or load-carrying capabilities aren't your top priority, the big Dodge certainly merits a look-see.
Its Magnum V8 engines compare favorably with the numbers from Ford and GM, there are plenty of civilizing add-ons available, and the pricing structure is attractive. We think the choir will be happy.