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2004 Dodge Ram 2500 Review - Long-Term Update

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on July 1, 2005
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It's hard not to gush about our Cummins-powered Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Laramie 4x4 Quad Cab-although its name could be a tad shorter. Since the last report, our Ram has continued to be the picture of reliability, and it posted its best tank mpg thus far. You'll recall from our previous report that we re-assigned our Ram from the bustling Four Wheeler World Headquarters in Los Angeles to our middle-of-nowhere Midwest Bureau in Illinois, where it has been in the throes of a long-lasting Midwest winter. It has also been a road warrior in every sense of the word, pounding ground and trail in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Kentucky.

Sawicki Dodge in Freeport, Illinois, has performed our Ram's scheduled maintenance since it has been in the Midwest, and we've been very happy with the experience. From what we've seen, Sawicki's technicians are thorough, and as a bonus, the dealership offers a loaner car so we don't have to sit around during service visits.

One simple lesson we've been reminded of during our time with the Ram is the importance of adhering to the manufacturer's recommended tire-pressure ratings. After airing down for a trail jaunt somewhere along the line, our Rams tires were reinflated to 55 psi, which translated to a very rough ride. After getting fed up with it, one day we dug around in the glovebox until we found the recommended tire-pressure chart that comes with the vehicle from the factory. It took a while to decipher, but we eventually learned that for a vehicle equipped as ours it recommends a pressure of 50 psi in the front tires and 40 psi in the rear tires. Correcting the pressure resulted in a ride far better than we had been experiencing, and way better than we anticipated out of a 3/4-ton truck. Problem solved.

We try not to think about it, but our time with the Ram is drawing to a close. Many adventures lie between now and then however, so we'll keep you informed.

The center stack houses the radio, HVAC controls and four-wheel-drive selector knob. All of these controls are simple and straightforward in operation. One of the benefits of the dash-mounted four-wheel-drive selector knob over a floor-mounted shifter is that it creates ample legroom for a center front seat passenger, making the Ram a true six-passenger truck.

Previous report: Feb. '05, May '05
Base price: $31,375
Price as tested: $44,105
Four-wheel-drive system: Rotary knob-controlled electric-shift two-speed transfer case

Miles to date: 21,454
Miles since last report: 5,771
Average mpg (this report): 16.2
Test best tank mpg: 18.4
Test worst tank mpg: 13.4 (unladen), 8.5 (towing)

18,000-mile service: Oil and filter change; chassis lube; tire rotation; 27-point inspection; front-end alignment
Cost: $134.32
Problem areas (this report): None

Hot: The Ram's all-new power recirculating ball steering, which is quick and precise. Part of this is due to its fast 13.4:1 ratio, which Dodge says is the quickest steering ratio in the industry. The Ram turns lock-to-lock in only 2.75 turns. We've found this to be a great asset when backing with a trailer. When maneuvering in tight quarters it makes the Ram feel smaller than it is.
Not: The towing button on the shift lever is too big and it's easily bumped when shifting, which activates or deactivates the towing mode; rear seat passengers have complained that the seat back is too straight; the dash-mounted flip-down cup holder latch is lame, and it occasionally chooses to flip down at will, or it doesn't want to latch at all.

* "This truck is really tight-no squeaks or rattles."
* "Overall a great package."
* "Needs a limited-slip or locker with all of this Cummins power."

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