1996 DODGE RAM 1500 REG. CAB 6.5-FT. BED 4WD
Used Truck - 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 Reg. Cab 6.5-ft. Bed 4WD in Mesa, Az
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1996 Dodge Ram 1500 ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
The Clydesdale of pickup trucks.
You say you think a truck ain't a truck unless it looks like a truck? Well, you're not alone. Judging by the macho assertiveness of the full-size Ram pickup, the folks at Dodge seem to think so, too.
When the Ram was introduced in 1994 it set the truck business on its collective ear; here was a pickup that looked like it was styled by the same people who design long-haul big rigs. With its bold snout and distinctive front fenders, the Dodge Ram (even its name sounds like a tough-guy product), was the epitome of the he-man look.
As it turned out, it became so popular that one of the biggest problems facing early customers was simply finding one in the preferred trim, equipment level and color. In the 1995 model year, Dodge added a Club Cab body, with seating for six. For 1996 there are refinements in powertrains and detail changes in features and trim.
Contributing to the Ram's macho image is the availability of the gorilla-like V10 engine, with 8.0 liters, 300 hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. To drive a Ram with the V10 is to develop whole new perspective on pickup truck power, and the Ram V10 upped the stakes at the upper end of the pickup power struggle.
In answer, General Motors improved the output of its big 7.4-liter V8 and Ford is readying a V10 of its own. But even with those two new choices, the Dodge V10 will remain the biggest and strongest engine available to pickup truck buyers this year.
Most Ram pickups will be powered by something other than the V10, however, and Dodge offers a wide range of good performers--a base 3.9-liter V6 with 170 hp, a 5.2-liter V8 with 220 hp, a 5.9-liter V8 with 230 hp and 330 lb.-ft. of torque (this makes a very good trailer-towing choice), and then there's the Cummins turbodiesel, a 5.9-liter 6-cyl. that makes fair horsepower and a mountain of low-speed torque--440 lb.-ft. at only 1600 rpm. The Cummins is noisy and rough and we suggest you choose it only if you really, really gotta have it, because the V10 is cheaper, stronger and smoother.
If you sort it out by 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive, regular cab or Club Cab, short or long cargo box and engine choice, there are 68 possible iterations of the Dodge Ram pickup--and that doesn't include your choice of four trim levels, manual or automatic transmission, options and colors.
There are three 'duty' levels; 1500 for lighter duty, 2500 for medium duty, 3500 for heavy duty. For this review we had a 1500 Club Cab in Sport trim; ours was powered by the 5.2-liter V8, had a 5-speed manual transmission and 2wd, and the short cargo bed (6.5 ft.). Its curb weight was 4529 lb. and its rated towing capacity was 4600 lbs.
While there are versions of the Ram that are of a more heavy duty nature (depending upon engine and chassis, maximum towing capacity can go as high as 13,300 lb!), our test vehicle represented the kind of truck a lot of people will buy.
Ours had a base price of $17,851, but was outfitted with options that brought the bottom line to $23,798. The Laramie SLT Advantage Package #23G includes premium decor, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control, tilt wheel, AM/FM/cassette stereo, tachometer, larger tires, chrome wheels and other convenience features.
The Sport Appearance Package adds body color front bumper and grille, raised white letter tires and fog lamps. The trailer package features a travel convenience group, antilock brakes (at $500, a worthwhile option), limited-slip differential (another worthwhile choice, for only $257), CD player with Premium Infinity sound system, and other little touches and other luxury items. All in all, a pretty nice truck, even if it did include some extra-cost options many buyers can do without.
Output of the 5.2-liter V8 is 220 hp at 4400 rpm and an ample 300 lb.-ft. of torque at 3200 rpm, so there's plenty of punch for whatever load or trailer might be in this truck's future. Fuel economy, as rated by the EPA, was 14 city, 19 highway, but it would probably beat those figures in a steady highway cruise under light load. Driveability around town or at highway speeds was predictable, with the generous torque providing good, smooth acceleration.
The Dodge Ram has independent front suspension on 2wd models, but the 4wd versions have a solid, live front axle. We think the ride quality is better with 2wd and the independent suspension, so if you'll be driving mostly on pavement and don't need 4wd we'd recommend saving the additional expense and weight and giving yourself a better ride in the bargain.
One place the Ram really shines is inside. From its introduction over two years ago the Ram brought features to the truck market that were simply unavailable previously.
The interior is exceptionally roomy, with lots of head and legroom, and particularly generous shoulder and hip room. There are storage spaces almost everywhere, with big map pockets in the doors, a recessed tray in the top of the instrument panel, a handy shelf in front of the passenger and a large glove box with an additional shelf inside. Especially noteworthy is the innovative center armrest. Folded up, it's a seat back for the center passenger. Down, it forms a writing surface on the lid, or lift the lid to reveal compartmented storage for pencils, a clipboard, tape cassettes, coins, sunglasses--you name it. It's one of the singularly great features available on any truck in the market.
In the rear of the Club Cab is more good news. Even though the back seat won't be as comfortable as in a full-size 6-passenger sedan, it's better than in other extended cab pickups. The seatback isn't quite so close to vertical as in some of the competition, and both upper and lower cushions are larger; the result is a seat upon which three people can actually consider riding for more than just a trip around the corner. For additional utility the seat bottom cushion folds up and out of the way. But, unfortunately, the floor under the rear seat isn't flat or level, so it's not as convenient for loading toolboxes, an ice chest, or big, rectangular luggage. A flat floor in the rear would have been nice.
An important consideration with any interior is how well it contributes to the ease of the driving task, and the Dodge Ram scores well on this point. The instrument panel layout is logical and modern, controls are easy to reach and operate and instruments and other information sources are clearly visible. And, another thing people will like; typical for Chrysler products, the Ram has great cupholders.
As trucks go, the Ram is OK in the ride department, and the lighter-duty 1500 series will ride better than the heavier-duty 2500 and 3500 models, which have stiffer rear springs. Also, due to the nature of a truck, it will ride better loaded than when empty. And the big interior means lots of stretch-out room up front, so the end result is plenty of sun-up to sun-down comfort.
Handling is predictable and sure, if certainly not nimble; even the 1500 with the short cargo box is a big vehicle. The wheelbase is 138.7 in. and the turning circle eats up nearly 47 ft.; pick the larger cargo box and both the wheelbase and turning circle will increase to even greater distances. Although it's bit ponderous around town, the Ram feels right at home at highway cruise, where its relentless inertia and length will keep it headed straight where you point it.
That kind of stability and long-haul comfort are among the major reasons people like to drive trucks, where trips are measured not so much by miles covered as by county lines crossed.
Buying a truck obviously isn't a decision to take lightly. If you're coming from a car, you need to weigh carefully all the pros and cons of what you'll be giving up and what you'll be getting. If you've owned other trucks, you'll know what to look for and there's a very good chance you'll find a lot to like in the Dodge Ram.
The Ram offers an extensive range of engines (including the biggest available anywhere), a very roomy interior and a host of innovative and useful features. Choose the Club Cab edition, and you also get one of the nicest back seats for your passengers.
And with any version of the Ram, you'll be driving the most aggressive pickup truck styling on the road.
For many buyers, this is as close as you'll ever come to owning a Peterbilt.
Dodge City, MI; St. Louis, MO; Mexico.
Options As Tested
4-wheel ABS, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/cassette sound system, power driver's seat, power windows, power locks, cruise control, tachometer, tilt steering wheel, illuminated vanity mirrors, chrome wheels, fog lamps, Sport Appearance Package, trailer towing package, limited slip differential.
1500 Club Cab Sport.A passenger van built to truck standards.
The full-size Dodge Ram Wagon passenger van is among the oldest vehicles on the American car and truck market, having first hit the showrooms in time for the 1971 model year. A quarter of a century later, the Dodge full-size passenger van is still plugging away, in the same size and shape as the original 1971 model, but with about a million product improvements baked in.
Like the Ford and Chevrolet full-size vans, the Dodge Ram Wagon offers significantly greater passenger space, load-carrying ability and towing capacity than any front-drive minivan can manage, with a base 3.9-liter six, an optional 5.2- or a 5.9-liter V-8 engine available for serious hauling. Though no diesel is offered, Dodge does have a compressed natural gas (CNG) version of the 5.2-liter V-8 engine for specialized users.
The Dodge Ram Wagon is offered on two different wheelbases, a 109.6 shortie and a 127.6-inch platform, as well as a Maxi version that adds a 26-inch body extension to the long-wheelbase truck for 15-passenger hauling. Front suspension is upper- and lower- arm with coil springs, with conventional load-carrying leaf springs at the rear and stabilizer bars at both ends. While the Dodge uses welded steel unitbody construction instead of body-on-frame construction like the Ford and Chevrolet vans, it's not in any sense flimsy or weak. This is a stout, commercially oriented passenger van built to truck, rather than minivan standards.
The Ram Wagon we drove for this test was the Maxi Wagon 3500--the heaviest version available--with an extended body and seating for 15 persons (like the other full-size vans, this one has removable seats for even greater flexibility). It was powered by the Dodge 5.9-liter V-8 engine, with a 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission and the $3700 SLT package of optional equipment. Fifteen items in all, it included rear air conditioning, all the usual power assists, a premium sound system, sunscreen glass, an engine cover storage console and a handful of lesser items that taken together made the van a whole lot more hospitable. The package, plus $500 for ABS, $270 for the engine, $180 for a rear defroster and $308 for a CD player, pumped the price from $23,789 to $29,051 including destination. A big number, yes, but how much would you expect to pay for a hotel on wheels?
The 5.9-liter V-8 engine, at 235 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque, pulls heavy loads without a grumble and gets you onto the Interstate quickly and safely, even though it's a bit rough and raucous. The variable-ratio power steering is a bit ropy and vague, and the ride tends to be harsh when you're driving a heavy duty van unladen. We found the ABS brakes reassuringly powerful and fade-free.
Still, the Dodge Ram Wagon has a good reputation for durability and value, one that's been earned year by year for over 25 years now, and that can't be ignored.
Options As Tested
ABS, SLT package, rear air conditioning, speed control, tilt wheel, clearcoat paint, chrome rear step bumper, power windows, locks and mirrors, engine cover console, remote keyless illuminated entry system, AM/FM cassette premium sound system, SLT appearance package, 5.9-liter V-8 engine, CD player.
Ram Van Maxi Wagon 3500 SLT.