Hard to believe it;s already been eight years since Dodge created a nasty controversy. OK, controversy might be a slight fighting word, but things were getting pretty ugly, nevertheless. Why, you ask? It was due almost entirely to the front end of its all-new Ram. Some called it intimidating, others called it flat-out cool. It was loved, it was hated, but either way, people were attacking the risky style like a monkey on a cupcake. Dealers couldn;t keep it on the lot. Owners couldn;t wait to modify it. It was a smash. And now comes the all-new Ram for 2002.
The fullsize has enjoyed a solid-axle existence, but now comes a torsion-bar independent front setup that has been mated to rack-and-pinion steering. Out back are the familiar leaf springs, but they've grown by 3 inches to eliminate wheelhop. Four-corner disc brakes and ABS round out the package. Bigger meat is also on tap for the redesign, with the standard rubber being P245/70R17 with 17-inch steel wheels, and P275/55R20s with 20-inch cast-aluminum rims as the option.
Other news-making changes include additional engines: a 3.7L Magnum V-6 (taking over for the 3.9L V-6) that makes 212 horses--37 more than the departing mill--and a 4.7L V-8 (which replaces the 5.2L V-8), which makes 235 ponies. A new automatic transmission also appears, the 45RFE, which can claim a Reverse gear ratio that's equal to the low gear ratio, as well as an alternate Second gear for towing. Speaking of towing, it and payload are up for the Ram: The maximum towing for the Quad Cab jumps from 7,500 pounds to 8,350 pounds, and payload increases from 1,610 pounds to 1,770 pounds. The numbers on the Regular Cab are 8,860 and 2,530 for towing and payload, bouncing up 655 pounds and 270 pounds, respectively.
Since we mentioned the Quad Cab, we'll also tell you that it has switched from a clam design to front-hinged, conventional-type doors, and the cab has become more roomy for the head, shoulders, legs, hips, and other body parts. This was of course accomplished by chopping the bed, which went from 6'6 to 6'3. The only other model offered, the Regular Cab, has also grown more spacious for 2002. Besides the bonus interior space, the Ram's innards feature a new instrument panel with white gauges and an electronic-shift transfer-case dial (on the four-by, natch).
Dodge says that production of the current 2500 and 3500 models will continue for one more model year, then all-new versions will debut in 2003. Those will be heavy-duty trucks.