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2004 Dodge Ram 2500 Review

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on January 1, 2006
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It's hard to believe that a year has passed since this Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 Quad Cab SLT showed up at our door with only 58 miles on the odometer. We were stoked about the Ram being in the Four Wheeler fold for several reasons-most importantly because of its redesigned high-pressure common-rail-injection High Output 5.9L Cummins diesel engine and its new commercial-quality 48RE automatic transmission.

The Cummins-powered Ram 2500 really earns its keep when put to work. Not only does the engine offer mind-bending power, the truck is extremely easy to drive, thanks to a stiff hydroformed frame, precise power recirculating-ball steering system, five-link coil-spring front suspension and beefy leaf-spring rear suspension.

Since our last report, the Ram has been on an unbelievable series of adventures. From its assigned location at our Midwest Bureau in Illinois it has hauled us to a variety of places including Minnesota and Ohio. The latter trip was to tow a Jayco off-highway foldout camper to our Midwest Bureau for testing. The biggest trip by far though was the thrash back to Los Angeles to return the Ram to the DaimlerChrysler fleet. This June trip was punctuated by snowed-shut roads in Wyoming, which forced us to 'wheel the Ram through a canyon north of Cheyenne to skirt the closed section of highway.

We were surprised when three days before we were to leave Illinois for California, the left axleshaft U-joint began clicking, indicating impending failure. We were even more surprised when our usual dealer nonchalantly told us that they wouldn't get the part for a week. We were freakin' out at this dilemma and we hit the phone. With that said, we have to give major props to the eager-to-please team at Bryden Motors in Beloit, Wisconsin and Assistant Service Manager Aaron Herring for not only having the part in stock, but squeezing us into their service schedule at the last minute so we could begin our 2,500-mile trip on schedule.

So with this, we conclude our long-term test of the Ram 2500. Our yearlong experience has left a positive impression on us, and we can honestly say that the Cummins-powered Ram 2500 is a truck we'd spend our money on. Turns out, the Ram is a powerful animal with a surprising amount of manners.

REPORT: 4 of 4
Previous reports: Feb. '05, Jul. '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: 31,187
Miles since last report: 9,733
Average mpg: 16.5
Best tank (mpg): 18.7
Worst tank (mpg): 13.4 (unladen), 8.5 (towing)

21,000-mile service: Oil and filter change; chassis lube; tire rotation; 27-point inspectionCost: $76.92
28,000-mile service: Oil and filter change; chassis lube; tire rotation; 27-point inspection, Cost: $74.80
Problem areas: Axleshaft U-joint (warranty); battery ambient temperature sensor (warranty)

Hot: The Cummins 600 diesel engine is an honest-to-goodness torque animal that excels when towing or hauling heavy loads-and it's very quiet; very good fuel mileage; the transmission is a wonder of engineering, offering solid, predictive shifts and rock-solid reliability; confidence-inspiring largest-in-class brakes offer excellent results; gobs and gobs of interior storage.
Not: Ours wasn't ordered with a rear limited-slip (our bad) which, when coupled with all of the engine torque, resulted in lots of on-road wheelspin and awful off-highway traction; the interior is way too plasticky; the front of the driver's door rubs on the weatherstrip, causing premature wear; high failure rate of battery temperature sensor which trips the "check engine" light.

* "The dual leather combination on the seat backs causes extra sweat-not good."
* "The engine feels strong and it pulls hard on acceleration."
* "This truck has so much power, it's easy to forget you're towing."

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