Did we mention it’s the HEMI!?
Truck manufacturers are in the unenviable position of having to not only overcome market competition but also what I would interpret as stronger than usual brand loyalty. Case in point. Our tire supplier, Cheap Thrills (No kidding, it’s their real name), employs three individuals all who drive trucks. The three manufacturers represented are Dodge, Ford, and GM. These three guys could not be further divided on the brand of the best North American truck manufacturer. Listening to their banter, it’s evident that arguments are rarely related to truck performance, rather to brand loyalty. Let’s face it; the degree of refinement found in today’s truck is on par with some icons of automotive luxury. You want to play dirty? No problem because the Ram likes to get dirty.
This brings us to the first meeting with the Hemi. Very few will argue the sheer presence of this Ram 2500 SLT. This is one imposing truck. The front view represents an evolution of the first generation ‘Big Rig’ look. It’s still all business, but now a little rounder and smoother. The new Ram is by no means wimpy, just more refined. Our SLT model came enhanced with fog lights, bed liner, chrome clad wheels and killer red pain.
When you talk ‘truck talk’, you talk engines. The Ram 2500 comes equipped with some decent credentials, none other than the legendary Hemi. In the muscle car era, the Hemi powerplants were synonymous with brute strength and awesome power. They ruled the streets and drag strips across North America. A modern interpretation finds its way into the 2500 in the form of 5.7 – Liter Hemi Magnum V8 – standard under the hood of every Dodge Ram Heavy-Duty. The famous hemispherical combustion chambers and unique two spark plugs per cylinder design help this beast crank out 345 HP @ 5400 RPM and 375 pound-feet of torque @ 4400 RPM. And those are some impressive numbers when the pedal hits the metal. Heavy-Duty trucks are not designed for the drag strip, rather spending their time in commercial & industrial applications. However, step on the accelerator of this heavy hauler and one is reminded of the racing heritage of this engine. Welcome back Hemi.
Transmission, Steering, and Suspension
So we have a more than capable powerplant. But even the best quarterback requires a competent team to keep him in the game. Engineers learned from the Ram 1500 in the area of safety, ride, and handling. By expanding their knowledge, the Dodge team was able to create a Heavy-Duty truck with precise steering and a comfortable ride without compromising its primary purpose – this is a work truck and not a grocery getter. Since the majority of Heavy-Duty Rams are ordered with four-wheel drive, it’s the trucks off-road performance that really shines. Our tester was equipped with a conventional manual shift transfer case. The electronic shift unit is standard on the Laramie models. The four-wheel drive front axle is all-new but retains beam construction. All-new rear axle contributes to a best-in-class payload rating (GVWR) of up to 12,000 lbs. The optional 5-speed automatic transmission performed very well, executing smooth yet powerful shifts. With overdrive in the ‘On’ position, this engine is hardly working at highway speeds.
Front suspension on our tester is a refined version of the five-link, coil spring suspension with beam axle used on the previous series Dodge Ram Heavy-Duty. A link-type sway bar and heavy-duty tubular shock absorbers are standard. The rear suspension is equipped with new, three-inch longer leaf springs. We were very impressed with the trucks ride performance both on and off-road. The improved suspension tuning is perhaps the result of an extensively hydro-formed frame. One of the stiffest ever on a pick-up truck. While I enjoyed the big truck ride, the truck did receive a few complaints of harshness over a long distance from my 6-month pregnant wife. The only other complaint related to the step-in height. A truck this tall should be equipped with standard running boards to ease access for the vertically challenged.
Brand loyalty aside, we absolutely fell in love with the new Dodge Ram 2500. We like the ‘tuff boy’ look and gained an appreciation for its off-road capability. The interior is functional and certainly improved over past Dodge attempts, but what makes this truck an absolute hit is what you don’t see. The Hemi powerplant is simply addictive. Mash the throttle and this big truck will propel you to 100 km/h in a scant 8+ seconds! Did we mention this is a ¾ ton Heavy-Duty truck? We for one are glad to see the Hemi back in circulation. Close your eyes for a second and imagine the Hemi in a crossover vehicle*.
At this year’s Detroit Auto show, Dodge introduced the Dodge Magnum SRT-8. This bigger-than-life all-wheel drive sport tourer features:
- 20” wheels.
- Big fender flares.
- Whipple Supercharged 5.7 Liter Hemi V8.
- This option is good for 430 Hp & 480 lb-ft of Torque.
- Super-car performance: 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds & ¼ mile in 13.4 seconds!
Expect heavy influence from Mercedes. We’re told to look forward to a new standard of refinement in fit & finish, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive, independent suspension and rack & pinion steering. Think of it as a Chrysler styled Mercedes with a Hemi powerplant.
This bad boy is almost certain for arrival in 2004 ½. Must we wait that long?
Dodge Truck Ram Quad Cab 2500 SLT – 4X4
|Base suggested retail price (Canadian):||$37,980.00|
|Price as Tested:||$39,295.00|
|Engine Type:||5.7 Liter Hemi Magnum OHV, SIMPI V-8|
|Peak Horsepower:||345@5400 rpm|
|Peak Torque:||374@4400 rpm|
|Estimated Curb Weight:||5984 lbs|
|Mileage:||Why ask. It’s a Hemi!|