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2004 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Review - Long-Term Update

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on February 1, 2005
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With the ever-increasing horsepower ratings of today's new trucks, it's nice to see a manufacturer that cares about long-term dependability too. It's said truck buyers typically own their vehicles longer than car buyers, and we'd like to see that trend continue. Converse to the ever-rising price of oil, it's good to find a truck that when driven in a normal fashion can average 15 mpg or more. It's even better to learn that the same truck can potentially see more than 350,000 miles before the underlying surfaces of the cylinder head require a looking at.

Dodge made the right move when it picked the medium-duty Cummins engine for its light truck segment. With gobs of torque on tap, the grades of our nation's highways must be offended when a diesel-powered Ram glides effortlessly past its timberlines, towing everything from carnival rides to cement trailers. With ours, we've pulled the project Teal-J Jeep, a friend's 30-foot weekend warrior, and our art director's '67 Mustang street/strip car. All we can think to say when behind the wheel while towing is, "Bring it on," or "So whatcha' gonna do about it?" as we pass confidently in the fast lane.

With just over 9,000 miles on the odometer now, we've decided to send our beloved Ram back east to our Midwest bureau, where the cold winter weather will challenge the truck's block heater, and the snow-covered roads will challenge the heavy truck's traction abilities.

Lacking a limited-slip rear differential, our Ram is less than impressive in the dirt. We found the truck's stiff suspension much better suited for paved roads. The Michelin LTX A/S LT265/70R17 tires on our Ram don't offer much for traction on the trail but seem to stop the beast very well on wet pavement.

On the road the big Ram is a dominating presence-a good thing when battling it out in heavy traffic, not so good when attempting to park at the supermarket. The suspension is a little too stiff for unloaded road trips, and the standard rearview mirrors do a marginal job of keeping the driver informed. We sure would have liked to have the optional towing mirrors on our Ram.

The 600 lb-ft of adrenaline-pumping torque is hard to ignore. The quieter-running powerplant gets pretty acceptable mileage too. The automatic transmission is well mated to the diesel and has no problem holding top gear, even on long and grueling uphill grades.

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 9050
Average mpg: 14.4
Best tank mpg: 16.7
Worst tank mpg: 8.5 (towing)
Oil consumed (qts.): 0
Stucks to date: 0

Oil Change: $57.88
Dealership scan of check engine light: Under warranty

Six Words Describing The Ram 2500:
* Large
* Powerful
* Lumbering
* Heavy
* Simple
* Solid

What We Like Most:
The Ram is quite possibly the best tow rig available today. With acceptable road manners and a decent sticker price, it's hard to top the 2500's value, dollar for dollar.

What We Dislike Most:
We wish our Ram had been equipped with some form of off-road package. Unfortunately, we try to avoid dirt when driving the Ram.

Logbook Quotes:
* "Well crafted interior."
* "Tracks nicely when towing."
* "Even hauling a cab-over camper, this truck gets 14.1 mpg."

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