On the road with...
The New Dodge 1500
It's official and it's here, the new '02 Dodge Ram 1500 11/42-ton pickup. We showed you a first look in our June '01 issue (Drivelines), but we didn't get to testdrive these all-new trucks until recently. These new Rams have been redesigned completely inside, outside, and underneath, while still looking like the "big rig" Dodge we are familiar with.
The most important body changes are the four full doors that are now available, and we jumped in and out of them on a road trip and liked them immensely (they open a full 85 degrees in the rear). Gone are the awkward clamshell doors that are in the way of each other. Interior room and comfort were pleasing on our ride and drive, as were handling and power. In fact, we'd opt for the big 5.9L Magnum V-8 regardless of other packages. It just seemed to pull smoothly and with authority.
Our major concern is, of course, the independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. Dodge touts these as giving the new Ram a "carlike ride and handling," where we wondered if that was necessarily a good thing. The front axle is a 205mm HD, similar to the Durango or Dakota, but beefier, and while the steering knuckle and upper control arm are cast aluminum, the lower arm is big and beefy steel.
Still, the truck rode like a dream with precise steering and handled well both on and off the road. We can't wait to do a more involved test and see how the IFS works in the real world we put rigs through, but judging from Dodge's history, it should be quite a capable truck.
A few of the other neat items we noticed were adjustable pedals (cool!), a 3-inch-shorter cargo box, and a 911/44 rear axle for good durability. Only the 3.55 and 3.90 ratios are offered, so towing and fuel economy should be in the right range. Oh yeah, 17-inch rims are standard, and 20-inchers are an option. We don't think we'll be jumping on that bandwagon soon, but it should be a good seller.
Look for a complete test of this new Dodge Ram in our 4x4 of the Year test, which will hit newsstands a few issues from now.-Rick Pw
How would you like to build your own rig? Oh, wait! You already have. Do you have an ARB on it? What about a Ramsey winch? Some Swampers? OK, what about building one that you can totally thrash and not worry about fixing? 4x4 EVO 2, a brand-new video game phenomenon produced by Terminal Reality, involves selecting and customizing your own 4x4 race rig, racing it, and winning prize money. Multiple angles (cockpit, dash, TV camera, and so on), insane terrain, and video visions of killer rigs give the game a real-life edge. The game's vehicles were modeled after real project vehicles like the Nissan Xterra, Jeep Wrangler, and Dodge Ram. The all-new, off-road, reality-based game will be available in November. To get your game go to www.rockstargames.com.
Organizing a 4x4 or Off-Road Event?
Organizing a 4x4 or off-road event? If you are, we'd like to know. Send the info, including who's putting it together and a contact phone number to email@example.com or to 4-Wheel & Off-Road, Drivelines Calendar, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. Remember that we do need the details like where it's going to be, when it's going to happen, what kind of event it is (trail ride, mud run, show, or anything else involving fun and four-wheeling) and a name/number for a person who can give us more info.
Coolest Reading Place Contest Winners
"Not exactly your average freeway driving," Jack Raudy of the Blue Ribbon Coalition reported as Walter Kress and Terry Ledin traversed the rocks on the Fordycee Creek Trail in the high Sierras. On their recent trip, Kress and Ledin enjoyed a day of four-wheeling fun.