New & Used Dodge Ram 2500: In Depth
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The Dodge Ram line of trucks is iconic these days, but before 1981, they didn't even exist--though both Dodge and the Ram emblem did, separately. In fact, the Ram emblem was first placed on the hood of a Dodge in 1933.
For details on the latest Ram trucks, visit our 2014 Ram 1500 pickup review.
Dodge's Ram truck was born in 1981, however, running until 1993 in its first generation. These first-generation trucks were simple, utilitarian affairs that modern truck buyers would hardly recognize. Nevertheless, the Ram's reputation for tough, simple style and working ruggedness was earned in this period. Available as a D100 (later D150), D250, or D350 (the latter two models reflecting the equivalent of today's 2500 and 3500 lines), the original Ram used a wide variety of engines, and was available in many cab/bed combinations.
The second-generation Ram trucks advanced the range considerably, bringing updates to styling, powertrains, and capability--as well as the arrival of the current naming scheme: the Dodge 1500, 2500, and 3500. The Ram 2500, as pickup nomenclature suggests, was a three-quarter ton truck, available in either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.
In 1998, the Ram truck line launched the first extended pickup cab with rear access doors, dubbed the Quad Cab. Most 2500s were Quad Cab models paired with the six-foot bed (or "box"). This made the 2500 a large, heavy-duty truck surpassed in the Dodge Ram range only by the one-ton 3500. Second-generation Rams were built from 1993-2002 in heavy-duty form. A wide range of V-8 and V-10 gasoline engines and in-line six-cylinder Cummins diesel engines were offered over the second-generation Ram 2500's model run, ranging up to 300 horsepower and more than 500 pound-feet of torque.
The Ram 2500's third generation arrived in 2002, bringing with it a new range of HEMI V-8 engines, Cummins diesels, and large-displacement V-10s. These engines, coupled with heavy-duty transmissions, gave the Dodge Ram 2500 the powertrains necessary to haul immense loads either in the bed or on the trailer hitch. Upgraded axles and beefier chassis construction gave the Ram the structural load-bearing strength to match its powertrains.
In 2010, the fourth-generation Ram truck arrived, and with it, dramatic new exterior styling. Again, a wide range of cab, bed, and powertrain options were available, and while the Ram 1500 model saw a number of more car-like (or SUV-like) changes to its suspension and cab options, the Ram 2500 and heavier-duty Ram 3500 continued on with dedicated truck layouts under the skin.
Along with the launch of the new Ram pickups came the spinoff of the Ram brand from Dodge. Rather than simply being a model name under the Dodge brand, Ram Trucks is now its own brand, so each fourth-generation model is properly called only by its Ram brand name and numeric model number, i.e., Ram 2500.
The fourth-generation Ram 2500 continues to the present, with a new 6.7-liter Cummins I-6 diesel joining the range in 2013, and a 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 coming for 2014. The standard base engine in the Ram 2500 is the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, rated at 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Together with the Ram Heavy Duty chassis, including high-strength steel construction, hydroformed main rails, and fully boxed rear rails, the Ram 2500 is capable of towing up to 17,970 pounds when properly configured. Despite this massive tow rating, as of 2014, the Ram 2500 has joined the Ram 1500 in using a five-link coil spring rear suspension instead of the previous leaf-spring setup. A rear air suspension system is also available, offering improved ride and load-leveling capability.