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1999 4x4 of the Year: Dodge Ram Quad Cab

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 1999
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Photographers: 4-Wheel & Off-Road Staff

Dodge Ram Quad Cab

•Phenomenal amount of torque at any rpm
•Great limited slip
•Beefy drivetrain and powertrain

•Weak driveshaft flange
•Diesel noise
•Front-bumper appearance and cheesy Sport decals

Oh, boy, if ever there was a vehicle to replace the weekly Viagra ingest-fest, it was the Quad Cab. From its macho 5.9L Cummins turbodiesel engine, NV4500 tranny, and NP241 transfer case to its muy macho Dana 60 front and Dana 80 rear axles, this was the truck to make the chest hairs curly.

For the first few days of our testing, you'd have been hard-pressed to find someone who didn't think Dodge might swing a win. The pickup was surprisingly comfortable and stable on the highway, and it had a plush, roomy interior. Its lower-than-low First gear, extreme ground clearance, and taut limited slip had it grunting over every rock, no sweat-it landed one point behind the Jeep in crawl scores. The Quad Cab shortbed concept as well as the factory bedliner with cupholders were called flat-out cool, while the durable five-speed transmission was well suited to the diesel. But then the Dodge broke.

As the torque monster pulled itself up the same hillclimb as the competition, the mighty strengths quickly pointed out the surprising weakness as the ears snapped off the output yoke on the front of the transfer case, immediately making it difficult to name a two-wheel-drive truck 4x4 of the Year. But this wasn't the only dimmer of its shining light-before its fateful climb, there was miserable nosediving and fishtailing on the bouncy fire roads. The very compliant suspension soaked up those bumps well, but damping was something it struggled with on pavement. In addition, having the heaviest engine known to mankind did not exactly let it glide, landing it in a tie with the Ford F-350 and a pinch ahead of the Mercedes on sand.

The $4,625 diesel forced the four-door to second-from-the-bottom braking and quarter-mile acceleration, and while it was greatly improved over the previous 16-valver and really quiet for a diesel, it was still a diesel, which hurt the Dodge in the noise-level section. Other ouches included its size, which, while fine on the highway, was cumbersome while weaving through street traffic. Yet the Dodge Ram pulled like a tractor and screamed up the onramps. We could start out in Second gear, and it never puttered out hitting highway hills in Fifth gear.

Bottom line
A heavy-duty pickup with loads of torque, good gearing, and a comfortable cab.


Manufacturer Dodge
Model Ram 2500HD Quad Cab Sport
Base Price $24,950
Price as Tested $36,775
Options as Tested Customer Preferred Package 26G (SLT
Decor Group; tilt steering column; speed control; power windows and locks; air conditioning; Light Group; carpet floor covering; front floormats; instrument cluster with tach; 16x6 1/2 chrome wheels; and passenger-heated, foldaway mirrors); Sport Appearance Group (front and rear body-colored bumpers; body-colored grille; halogen lamps; foglamps; and LT245/75-R16E tires); Leather Interior Group (40/20/40 front seat; eight-way power seat; illuminated vanity visor; and overhead console with trip computer); four-wheel ABS; anti-spin differential; 5.9L Cummins 24-valve diesel (136-amp alternator; 750-amp battery; heavy-duty engine cooling; transfer case skidplate; and engine-block heater); sliding rear window; remote keyless entry; clearance lamps; Infinity AM/FM/cassette/CD; and under-rail bedliner.

Type Inline-six diesel
Displacement (liters/cubic inches) 5.9/359
Bore & Stroke (inches) 4.02x4.72
Compression Ratio 17.5:1
Induction Type High-pressure direct injection
Fuel Requirement/Capacity (gallons) Diesel/34
SAE Peak Horsepower 230 @ 2,700 rpm
SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft) 450 @ 1,600 rpm

Type Five-speed manual
Model NV4500HD
Ratios First: 5.61:1; Second: 3.04:1; Third: 1.67:1;
Fourth: 1.00:1; Fifth: 0.75:1; Reverse: 5.06:1

Transfer Case
Type Part-time two-speed
Model NV241HD
Low-Range Ratio 2.72:1

Front Type Dana 60
Rear Type Dana 80
Hubs Automatic
Ratio 4.10:1

Front Quadra-Link leading arms, track bar
Rear Longitudinal 60-inch leaf springs

Type Variable power-assist
Turns Lock-to-Lock/Ratio 3.7/17.5:1
Turning Radius (feet) 47.5-52.3

Size (inches) 16x6 1/2
Material Chrome

Size LT245/75R16
Brand Michelin LTX M/S

Brake System
Front 12-inch vented discs
Rear 13-inch drums

Advertised GVWR (pounds) 8,800

As Tested (mpg) 16.57

Standing 1/4-mile (seconds @ mph) 19.02 @ 74.94

60-0 mph (feet) 140.06

Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase 138.75
Overall Length 226.5
Overall Width 91.5
Overall Height 75.5
Front/Rear Track 70.25/68
Front/Rear Overhang 25.25/30
Minimum Front Ground Clearance 7 .75

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