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2003 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty Truck - Off-Road Insider

Posted in Features on November 1, 2002
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With the popularity of the '02 Dodge Ram, it seems only natural that DaimlerChrysler would also make a strong play for the burgeoning heavy-duty market with an all-new 2500 and 3500 Ram Heavy Duty.

"The heavy-duty truck market has grown 34 percent since 1996, with 1-ton (2500) and 3/4-ton (3500) trucks accounting for 31 percent of the large truck market. Ram 2500s and 3500s now account for a third of overall Ram sales, and with the '03 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500, we are poised to increase those numbers significantly," said Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Division.

Interestingly, the '03 3500 Ram will be available with a single rear- wheel option, so those who don't need - or don't want - the wide-track dual rear wheels can opt out. Julow also ran some sales numbers by us, and they were surprising. About 75 percent of its Ram 2500s and 3500s are diesel powered, and approximately 70 percent are 4x4 models.

A powerful engine is a hallmark of Dodge Heavy Duty trucks, and the '03 Ram HD is no exception. The base engine for the 2500 and 3500 series is the new 5.7L Hemi Magnum, which produces 345 hp at 5,600 rpm and 365 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. Dodge's popular Viper-like Magnum V-10 is back, using 8.0Ls to pump out 450 lb-ft or torque at 2,800 rpm.

The real power player is the next-generation Cummins Turbo Diesel, which churns out an amazing 555 lb-ft of torque and has a lifespan of 350,000 miles before requiring a rebuild.

As with the Ram 1500, the Ram Heavy Duty trucks uses framerails manufactured with a hydro-forming process, which uses pressurized liquid to shape the box-section side rails, eliminating the traditional welded box side rails, which is a time-consuming and expensive process. Although the 2WD 2500/3500 HD Rams use rack-and-pinion steering, the 4x4 models retain a recirculating ball steering design, albeit with a quick 13.4:1 ratio and special internal components designed to reduce gear friction.

There are two T-cases available on the Ram HD: a conventional manual-shift model and a new electric shift version. Both cases use a Low gear ratio of 2.72. Ram buyers also get to choose from a dizzying array of manual and automatic transmissions. There's a manual five-speed Overdrive with a 5.61 First gear (gas or diesel engines); a manual six-speed Overdrive with a 5.63 First gear (diesel only); an automatic five-speed Overdrive with a 3.00 First gear (gas engine only); an automatic four-speed with Overdrive, and a 2.45 First gear (diesel only).

If you're an old-school wheeler who believes an IFS 4x4 isn't a real truck, then you'll be pleased to note that the Rammer 2500 and 3500 4x4s are equipped with a solid front axle. Following the lead of the previous-generation Ram 1500, the straight axle is suspended by coil springs and moves through its travel positioned by a five-link system. The front suspension also includes an antisway bar and specially valved dampers, while the rear suspension - common to both 2WD and 4WD trucks - uses new, 3-inch longer leaf packs.

Dodge has really gone all-out with safety, convenience, and performance features not previously found on any of the heavy-duty trucks on the market. Dodge boasts the first use of side-curtain airbags on a truck (there are also driver and passenger frontal airbags); the big Ram is the first heavy-duty truck to include power-adjustable control pedals; there's standard ABS; the wheels are 17-inches in diameter; and the four-wheel disc brake rotors are 13.9-inches-in-diameter (front and rear), the largest in the HD class.

We really like the concept of the new Heavy Duty Ram, especially the single rear-wheel option on the 3500 and the straight front axle, both of which would make an excellent platform for a lifted, tall-tire truck that's truly heavy duty. Check the options list for either the Cummins Turbo Diesel or Magnum V-10 gas-burner and that stylish short bed/Club Cab body, and you have the makings of a Super Duty killer.

Vehicle : '03 {{{Dodge Ram 2500}}}/3500
Body style : Regular Cab long bed, Quad Cab short bed, Quad
    Cab long bed
Engines : 5.7L Hemi Magnum V-8, OHV, two-valves-per-cylinder,
    roller cam and lifters, sequential multi-port EFI,
    cast-iron block with aluminum heads, 9.6:1
    compression ration, 345 hp at 5,{{{600}}} rpm, 365 lb-ft
    of torque at 4,400 rpm.
    8.0L Magnum V-10, OHV, two-valves-per-cylinder,
    roller cam and lifters, sequential multi-port EFI,
    cast-iron block and cylinder heads, 8.6:1 compression
    ratio, 305 hp at 4,000 rpm, 450 lb-ft of torque at
    2,800 rpm.
    5.9L Cummins Turbo Diesel I-6, OHV, four-valves-per-
    cylinder, turbocharger, intercooler, electronic
    common-rail EFI, cast-iron block and cylinder head,
    17.2:1 compression ratio, 305 hp at 2,{{{900}}} rpm
    (high-output 49-state engine with manual trans.),
    555 lb-ft of torque at 1,400 rpm (high-output engine
    with manual trans.)
Transmission : Five-speed manual Overdrive, six-speed manual
    Overdrive, five-speed automatic Overdrive, four-
    speed automatic Overdrive.
Suspension : Front 2WD: IFS, upper and lower control arms, coil
    springs, antisway bar, gas-charged dampers.
    Front 4WD: Live axle, Quadra-Link, five-link system
    with four longitudinal links and track bar, coil
    springs, antisway bar, gas-charged dampers.
    Rear 2WD and 4WD: Live axle, longitudinal leaf
    spring packs, gas-charged dampers, auxiliary springs
    on 3500.
Brakes : 13.9-inch diameter discs with twin-piston calipers
    (frontand rear), four-wheel ABS

Ford's '04 Explorer gets Electronic Throttle-Control SystemFord Motor Company has made a bold statement with its '04 Explorer in regards to electronic engine control by installing the first-ever drive-by-wire system to be used on a truck. Designed to enhance throttle feel as well as fuel economy, Ford's Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) will be standard equipment on both the 4.0L V-6 and the 4.6L V-8 engines.

The key to the Explorer's drive-by-wire throttle is Ford's advanced Powertrain Control Module (PCM) and Electric Controller Area Network (ECAN), which work together to seamlessly respond to the driver's throttle input, delivering power and highly responsive off-idle throttle response.

Ford claims the ETC system will increase the Explorer's fuel mileage by approximately five percent; the popular SUV will also receive a number of high-tech upgrades intended to reduce internal engine friction and parasitic power loss, such as coated pistons, an electronic returnless fuel system, synthetic rear axle lube, and an advanced Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system.

Chevrolet and Ford Trucks Rated High in Rollover Risk Two popular trucks from General Motors and Ford Motor Company have been rated by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as having a low resistance to rollover during certain types of single-vehicle crashes.

The Chevrolet Avalanche and the 4x4 version of the Ford SuperCrew received a rating of two stars out of a possible four in standard NHTSA rollover resistance ratings, meaning both four-door trucks have a 30 to 40 percent risk of rollover when driven in a manner consistent with crash avoidance, according to the NHTSA.

Two SUVs, the two-door Ford Explorer and the Land RoverDiscovery, also received two-star ratings in the controversial government test, which is opposed by the Big Three automakers. The NHTSA ratings are based on a computer analysis of a vehicle's track width, height, center of gravity, wheelbase, weight, and other dimensions, and don't involve actual driving tests. Most late-model trucks and SUVs are rated two or three stars by the NHTSA.

2nd Annual
State 2 State Cruise
It's back, and it's bigger, better, and badder than last year's event. Yes, the 2nd Annual State 2 State Cruise is upon us. Brought to you by the World's Leading Truck Publication as well as several title sponsors, including Dealer's Sport Truck & Automotive, Gibson Performance Exhaust Systems, Line-X, AIM Industries, Stylin' Concepts, Autobahn Wholesale, Godfather Customs, Stull Industries, and Boyd Coddington Wheels. Mark your calendars for October 18, 2002, for this exciting cruise to Phoenix in anticipation of the weekend's festivities at Firebird Raceway for the Truckin' Nationals. This year's event promises even more trucks and SUVs, a lot more door prizes, and a chance to win a custom flame paintjob by renowned painter Steve Van Demon. In addition to numerous stops for open houses at several of the leading custom truck manufacturers and shops, there will also be plenty of exciting photo opportunities during the cruise from the editors of magazines such as Truckin', Sport Truck, Mini Truckin', Truckin's SUV, Custom Classic Trucks, and OFF-ROAD.

Just as we did last year, the event will kick off from Dealer's Sport Truck & Automotive in Los Alamitos, California, with breakfast sponsored by Krispy Kreme. We will travel to our scheduled stops at Boyd Coddington Wheels in La Habra, Gibson Performance Exhaust Systems in Corona, and American Products Corporation (APC) in Riverside, all in California. We will cruise from there to a scheduled lunch stop at In-N-Out Burgers, sponsored by MagnaCharger, and then continue to Phoenix, with an after-party scheduled to take place at AIM Industries in Mesa, Arizona. The big news for this year's event, and something you will want to take part in, is a scheduled poker run. Cards will be distributed at each stop along the way, so it is important not to miss any of the scheduled stops along the cruise. However, keep checking back until the event actually takes place, since there are sure to be more sponsors added as well as several more stops for numerous photo opportunities. This is a great way to be seen with the editors of the Primedia Truck Group, hang out with and meet your fellow truckers, and take part in a great truck cruise.

There will be a registration fee of $10, which includes a T-shirt by Steady, three meals, an after-party, and goodie bags loaded with merchandise. For more information on the 2nd Annual Truckin' State 2 State Cruise and to sign up, please contact: Amber Pierce, marketing coordinator, (714) 939-2580.

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