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2002 Dodge Ram and More Off Road Truck News - Insider

Posted in News on May 1, 2001
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The '02 Dodge Ram:
Stylish Sheetmetal, Major Suspension Changes Highlight the Second Generation of DaimlerChrysler's Big, Bad Hauler

You have to admire the bold attitude of DaimlerChrysler's Dodge division. The official Dodge press materials, describing the '02 Ram, made mention of the Ram's past - and present - appearance by referring to its Love It/Hate It styling, stating that the Ram will "continue to be bold, and make the market follow."

Whatever you think of the big Ram's new look, you will agree it is distinctive and impossible to miss, on or off road. Building on a successful following for the '94-'01 Ram, DaimlerChrysler identified several key goals for the '02 Ram, including keeping the same basic formula as the previous Ram and not simply making a copy; to take risks with the Ram's styling and proportions; to give Ram owners more reasons to drive their trucks more often; to offer potential Ram buyers features and models they didn't know they wanted; to strive for improvement in every segment of the new truck, and to never design a component or feature "...because that's how we did it on the previous Ram."

Changes in appearance abound on the '02 Ram. Its bold new exterior sheetmetal is more stylish and more aerodynamic than on previous Ram trucks. Incredibly, the Ram's signature grille, already a dominant point on the truck's nose, is even larger for 2002. Ram SLT models get a gray honeycomb grille insert with a chromed shell; Sport models are equipped with a body-colored grille split by a chromed billet center bar. The windshield is raked rearward more than the '01 Ram. Four circular headlights are said to provide a brighter light than previous Rams.

Interestingly, Dodge shortened the cargo box and lengthened the cab - 3 inches in each case. The bed's length is what Dodge designers consider optimal - it has a 6-foot, 3-inch overall length and can still handle a full payload. The additional length given to the Ram's cab means there are 3 more inches of rearward seat travel, and that makes the standard-cab Ram a leader in legroom among regular-cab trucks. The interior sports adjustable control pedals and optional heated leather seats; the doors are equipped with high-strength steel beams; side airbag curtains are an option.

The Ram's mechanicals are no less impressive. Gone is the solid front axle with multi-link; an all-new IFS - on both 2WD and 4WD trucks - delivers 8-1/2 inches of suspension travel; the framerails are hydroformed and 400 percent stronger in torsional stiffness and 150 percent stronger laterally, and a rack-and-pinion steering system replaces the recirculating ball design. Four-wheel disc brakes are standard, as are 17-inch wheels and tires. The 4.7L Magnum V-8 replaces the 5.2L engine and is more powerful for 2002, pumping out 245 hp. The 5.9L Magnum V-8 returns for 2002; all the engines can be backed with an optional limited-slip-equipped rear axle with available 3.92 gear ratio.

We don't know about you, but the redesigned '02 Ram has really peaked our off-road interests. We're working on getting a Ram for a full-on road test, and we'll report our impressions in an upcoming issue. Until then, here are a few images of the '02 Dodge Ram 1500.

What the ...?!? A Caddy In OFF-ROAD Magazine?
Frankly, we can't remember if an honest-to-goodness Cadillac truck has ever appeared in the pages of this magazine. That's why it was such a shock to be notified by the General that the 2002-model lineup will include an Escalade EXT - a Sport Utility Truck that's a cross between an SUV and a pickup truck. The new Escalade EXT is actually an upscale version of Chevrolet's SUT - the Avalanche.

With its chiseled styling, the EXT is clearly intended for the Caddy buyer. In its standard body and interior configuration, the EXT offers a roomy, five-passenger cabin followed by a short 5-foot, 3-inch-long bed. When additional cargo room is required, the EXT's Midgate - a composite panel separating the cab from the bed - can be removed, thus extending the bed's length to 8 feet, 1 inch.

Cadillac's decision to build a luxury SUT was based on the luxury carmaker's research, which found that 23 percent of Cadillac households were home to a fullsize pickup equipped with upscale accessories, such as leather-equipped interiors, top-of-the-line trim packages, and so on. The research signaled to Caddy executives that a luxury sport utility truck was ideal for Cadillac owners with an eye for trucks and a need for classy dependability.

Getting to the technical details on the Escalade, the EXT will be powered by an LQ9 V-8, also known as the Vortec 6000, which spits out gobs of power: 345hp at 5,200 rpm and 380 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The small-block is backed by a 4L60E HD (heavy-duty) electronic transmission, coupled to an all-wheel-drive system that sends 32 percent of the engine's torque to the front wheels and 62 percent to the rear axle; 17x7.5-inch-diameter, seven-spoke cast-alloy wheels and 265/70R17 Goodyear all-season tires put all of that brute force to the ground.

In appearance, the Caddy's nose is dominated by the jewel-like look of sparkling halogen headlights, halogen foglights, and recessed tow hooks. The three exterior colors for the XLT are Pewter, Sable Black, and a pearlescent, tri-coat premium finish dubbed White Diamond.

Cadillac has high hopes for the EXT; its unique appearance and technically advanced powertrain seem ideally suited to ensure success in both the sales and performance arenas.

News And Notes
A bill has been introduced into the Utah legislature that would allow the fair and reasonable use of suspension lifts and large wheels and tires based on a formula involving a truck's gross vehicle weight rating. H.B. 49 provides for useful performance-enhancing suspension modifications to provide clearance for on- or off-road activity, to accommodate heavy loads, to allow the use of large tires and wheels, and to ford streams and rivers. H.B. 49 would not allow mods that create an unusual mismatch between vehicles' bumper heights; H.B. 49 would accommodate increases in tire and wheel size by allowing body lifts.

An anti-hobbyist bill (H.B. 9) has been reintroduced into the Vermont legislature that would amend the definition of junkyard to remove the current requirement that a junkyard may be regulated only if it is used in connection with a business. H.B. 9 would expand the definition to include any place of outdoor storage of four or more junk motor vehicles that are visible from a public highway.

More bad news from the Vermont legislature: The bill, H.B. 15, has been introduced to provide funds for a statewide program to crush motor vehicles. H.B. 15 requires that portable vehicle crushers be dispatched to various locations within Vermont to accept vehicles for crushing.

Not to be outdone, the anti-fun crowd in Nebraska has reintroduced a bill (L.B. 345) that would prohibit the use of any fuel-booster systems - such as nitrous oxide - on motor vehicles operated within the state. The bill would prohibit any device or fuel enhancer that allows a motor vehicle to exceed the capacity or to operate at speeds in excess of its original design. Taken literally, this bill could also ban the use of superchargers or turbochargers. Worst of all, L.B. 345 would allow law enforcement personnel to determine at what speed any vehicle was originally designed to operate.

A Federal government mandate, which calls for the installation of tire pressure monitors on all new vehicles, is encountering considerable opposition. The new vehicle equipment law - a direct result of the Firestone/Ford fiasco - requires automakers to install tire pressure monitors on all new production cars and trucks within three years. Representatives from GM, DaimlerChrysler, and Ford are concerned that the suppliers of the pressure monitoring devices won't be able to keep up with demand for the monitors, which would place the automakers in a position of non-compliance.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, a coalition of groups within the U. S. and Canada, has announced plans to conduct low-speed braking tests on altered-height vehicles. The braking test will be conducted on a '92 Ford F-150 with an OE suspension, and the results will be charted. Then larger tires, a suspension lift, and a body lift will be installed, after which the braking tests will be repeated. The AAMVA will use the test results to determine whether more comprehensive braking tests are needed to verify the effect of an altered suspension and larger tires and wheels on a vehicle's braking performance.

SPECIFICATIONS
Make/model {{{Cadillac}}} '02 {{{Escalade}}} EXT
Body configuration Five- or two-passenger cab, changeable bed length
Engine : 366ci Vortec {{{6000}}} V-8; cast-iron block with aluminum cylinder heads; coil-on-plug ignition; OHV/two-valves-per-cylinder valvetrain; 10:1 compression ratio
Driveline Front longitudinal engine/all-wheel drive; 3.73 final drive ratio
Chassis/suspension StabiliTrak with ABS; road-sensing suspension; gas-charged,
mono-tube dampers; front and rear antisway bars; 14:1 steering ratio; front suspension: upper and lower A-arms with coil springs; Rear suspension: solid axle with five locating links and coil springs; Brakes: 12.01-inch-diameter front disc rotors, 13-inch-diameter rear disc rotors; Frame: fully boxed ladder-type frame
Dimensions 5,752-lb curb weight; 8.6 inches ground clearance; weight
distribution: 52 percent (front); 48 percent (rear);
130-in wheelbase
Capacities 30.9-gal fuel tank; 6.0L oil capacity; 8,000-lb towing capacity
Performance 12-mpg (city); 16-mpg (highway) fuel economy; 16.5-sec,
1¼4-mile elapsed time at 87.1 mph; 108-mph top speed;
0-to-60 acceleration: 8.41 sec; 60-to-0 braking: 158 ft

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