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2002 Dodge Ram 1500 - Drivelines

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

Game Boy
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 frazierw@emapusa.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.

Llash Van Raden of Roselle, Illinois, bombs through wakes and pages at the same time. The waterproof August issue survived the waterspray and now resides in Van Raden's collection. There are many uses for the pages of 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine. Here are a few: Use it as a coaster, for bait and tackle, to swat gnats, or to create origami swans.

Junkyard Wars
Thanksgiving dinner won't be the same ol', same ol' this year. Junkyard Wars will be airing its season finale during Thanksgiving week on The Learning Channel (TLC). The "Mega Wars" battle pitted U.S., U.K., and Russian teams against one another to compete for the title of Junkyard Warlord, a trophy made of junk, and bragging rights. Their challenge? To build a killer off-road rig that could race on a dry lakebed, tackle a gnarly hillclimb, and amphib its way across a lake. Jason Bunch of Tri-County Gear, Barry McGarraugh, Joe Ruggles, and Matt Swain made up team USA. The grown men played in their toybox junkyard for 20 hours of build time, and then went to the desert for a little bit of race time. Bragging rights begin as soon as the show airs Thanksgiving week. Check your local listings for TLC's Junkyard Wars "Mega War" season finale.

Campfire Talk
Are you into the F-150? Automotive News reported that Ford might expand its Norfolk, Virginia, plant. The $375 million, 350,000-square-foot expansion will allow Ford to increase production of standard and specialty F-150 models.

Have you seen the Jeep Liberty? What do you think about it? E-mail frazierw@emapusa .com. We'll publish the results of our survey in an upcoming Drivelines.

Subaru has recalled '95-'99 Legacy sedans due to faulty front springs. Subaru says that the paint used on the Legacy springs may corrode with road salt contact, thus causing the spring to break. The recall involves vehicles in states where road salt is used. If you live in such a state and own a Legacy, check with Subaru of America at 800/SUBARU3 or contact your local dealer.

Plans, plans, and more plans. Automotive News reported a collaboration between DaimlerChrysler and Caterpillar in a diesel engine project where Cat will build diesel engines for DC's Freightliner commercial trucks. Plans have yet to be decided on for the medium duty versions.

Former Chrysler Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has a new job at GM as vice chairman of product development. The deal, Reuters detailed, will give Lutz an opportunity to breathe new life into the auto manufacturer. Lutz, known for developing Chrysler's line of products, has agreed to a three-year commitment. "I'm taking this job because it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity-the opportunity to help in the ongoing rebuilding of not just an American icon, but a global icon," Lutz said.

Recalls in just-auto.com news. Roughly 216,000 '97-'01 Dodge Dakota, Ram, and Durango models have a potential problem with the driver-side airbag. Contact your local Dodge dealer if you own one of these vehicles.

Sierra Treasure Hunters four-wheel-drive club hosted Disabled Sports USA for a four-by-fun day in the High Sierras. With a grant from the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission, a new statewide partnership has been formed between the California Association of Four-Wheel Drive Clubs Safety and Education Foundation and Disabled Sports USA. This partnership created an opportunity to expose a wide variety of individuals to the sport, while offering new and unique experiences to learn safe and responsible operation of off-highway vehicles. For more information on Disabled Sports USA four-wheel-drive trips you can contact them at 530/581-4161. And for four-wheel-drive enthusiasts who would like to volunteer at these events please call 530/221-1949.

You Know You're a Gearhead (or Off-Roader) When...This time the letters came pouring in from our loyal readers. Here's what you guys had to say:*...you can tell if your vehicle will pass emissions by smelling the exhaust.*...a trashbag for your seat is the only real top your jeep has.*...your trophy mantle consists of broken four-wheel components from your trail victories.Sam Arneson
by e-mail

*My daughter's name is Carissa Joy (C.J.) and we started with the initials, then found names to fit.Mike Carpenter
by e-mail

*...you have to build another garage just to hold all your parts and have enough clearance to fit your truck inside.*...you spend more money on your vehicle than you do fixing up your home.*...the greasy hand marks on your sandwich you're eating for lunch adds a little flavor. Who says ketchup is better?*...the only time your four-wheel drive gets washed is when it rains or the wife makes you wash it before you go to church.*...your wife complains, saying that you love your vehicles more than you do her.Jeffery Shafferby e-mail

*...when you see a tire on the road or trail you can identify it by the tread and not the name on the sidewall.*...your favorite movie line is, "Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads."*...It takes you all day to go 3 miles and you're not in L.A.*...your wife refers to your 4x4 as "your significant other."*...your first aid kit consists of a can of beer and a tube of grease.Anthony Jacksonby e-mail

Anthony Williamson e-mailed us more than 50 ways you can tell how involved you are in this sport we call 'wheeling. Anthony, are you taking any medication? Here's an excerpt from his list:*Your screen names sounds more like a truck than a person.*"Dana" is no longer a woman.*You're offended when anyone asks, "Is that four-wheel drive?"*The idea of being called "2 big" is desirable.*You long for the smell of mud burning off an exhaust pipe.*You pull all-nighters under a rusty frame getting ready for a rally.*You dream not about if, but when, you can get that 460 or Dana 60.*Your idea of fun consists of replacing front wheel bearings in the dark during a thunderstorm.*You've spent nine hours crawling over a trail for 40 miles to get someplace that would have taken you an hour if you'd stayed on the highway.*Your neighbor knows the ins and outs of off-roading even though he drives a BMW.*Eating isn't as important as getting parts.*You sit at work drawing plans for a four-link suspension.*You try to climb all of the snow piles in the Wal-Mart parking lot.*"ABS" doesn't relate to your stomach; it relates to your brakes.*Your spouse swears they'll bury you in your truck because "there's no way that rust bucket is staying around after you're dead."

See Virtually Everything at SEMA!
Hold on for the ride. You're going to this year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Oct. 30-Nov. 2. Log onto www.4wheeloffroad.com and you'll be directed to a special SEMA 2001 Web site where the world of SEMA will unfold. The sights, the sounds, the excitement and more than 620,000 square feet of automotive aftermarket vendors at the largest trade show in the world. The action includes vehicle launches, tricked-out project vehicles, and the hottest new high-performance parts.

Even now, before the show, you can log on for a schedule of events, to preview information, and to see which companies we'll be spotlighting. Once the show begins, we'll take you directly to the show floor with coverage including video clips, product spotlights, a gallery of the show's most awesome vehicles, and news and interviews from the movers and shakers of the automotive aftermarket.

Don't miss the products, personalities, and high-octane happenings at the SEMA Show 2001. The SEMA show site will also link you to your favorite manufacturers and retailers for direct access to information on featured products.

Look for special post-SEMA Show coverage in the pages of 4-Wheel & Off-Road's Mar. '02 issue.

We're Breaking Down the Walls of the SEMA Show and Taking You There Almost Live!

Calendar of Events
Oct. 19-22 Death Valley II, Death Valley, CA. Information: 949/645-7733, www.eco4wd.com.

Oct. 26-28 Halloween Trail Ride, Barkcamp State Park, OH. Information: 330/798-0454, www.ec4wda.org.

Oct. 26-28 3rd Moab Jeep Jamboree, Moab, UT. Information: 530/333-4777, www.jeepjamboreeusa.com.

Oct. 26-28 TRUXPO Truck Tour, Richmond International Speedway, Richmond, VA. Information: 904/255-8785, www.truxpotrucktour.com.

Nov. 2-4 Big Bend Bash, Terlingua, TX. Information: 800/556-2801.

Nov. 2-4 Chili Poker Run, AZ. Information: 602/258-4294.

Nov. 2-13 Copper Canyon With the Coyote, Copper Canyon, Mexico. Information: 949/645-7733, www.eco4wd.com.

Nov. 3 Utah 4WD Association Fall Trail Ride, UT. Information: 801/963-1913.

Nov. 3 Hump & Bump Trail Ride, Las Vegas, NV. Information: 702/792-2613.

Nov. 8-11 SCORE Racing Baja 2000, Baja, Mexico. Information: 818/225-8402.

Nov. 9-11 Warn National Rock Crawling Championship, Las Cruces, NM. Information: 800/556-2801, www.sports-in-the-rough.com.

Nov. 9-11 Military Battle of Big Ben, Terlingua, TX. Information: 800/556-2801.

Nov. 9-11 Cal 4 Panamint Valley Days, Ridgecrest, CA. Information: 800/494-3866, www.cal4wheel.com.

Nov. 9-11 Desert Splash, AZ. Information: 520/258-4294.

Nov. 10 Back Country Cruizers, Hurricane, UT. Information: 435/635-0165.

Nov. 10-11 6th Annual Desert Splash, Parker, AZ. Information: 929/669-6104.

Nov. 17-18 Sons of Thunder 4 Wheelers, Rock House Canyon, CA. Information: 949/830-8254.

Nov. 23-25 Ramsey Rocks Poteau, Poteau, OK. Information: 800/556-2801, www.sports-in-the-rough.com.

Nov. 23-25 Thanksgiving Weekend at Glamis, Imperial Sand Dunes, Brawley, CA. Information: www.glamisonline.com.

Nov. 23-25 Ramsey Rocks Poteau, Poteau, OK. Information: 800/556-2801, www.sports-in-the-rough.com.

Nov. 25-Dec. 5 Rainforest Challenge of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Information: 603/7660-2211, e-mail jawee@pcjaring.my.

Nov. 30-Dec. 2 Best in the Desert Races, Las Vegas, NV. Information: 702/457-5775.

The Trail Keepers FoundationThe Trail Keepers Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and preserving multi-use recreational trails on public and private lands. The Ohio based foundation facilitates land use by collaborating with private landowners, public land managers, and trail users to assist them in maintaining trails and educating users. Moneys are raised via membership, fund-raisers, permit fees, donations, and government grants to allow responsible users access to trails. As a public charity, landowners can make a tax-deductible recreational use donation of their land to the Trail Keepers Foundation. The landowner allows Trail Keepers to have recreational access to their land. The trail is then maintained/managed by Trail Keepers. For more details on Trail Keepers or how to keep trails open, please see www.trailkeepers.org or call 513/469-6500.

A Who's Who of the 4x4 Community
Friends of the Oceano Dunes
The Friends of Oceano Dunes is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation in California. This corporation is comprised of citizens and business representatives who enjoy the benefits of public access and usage of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (ODSVRA). Their objective is to unite the many people who enjoy the Oceano Dunes in a cohesive organization that can promote and reinforce responsible recreation. The organization is developing a large network of "friends" and is collecting donations to accomplish the cause. They support all forms of responsible recreation and work to ensure continued access to the ODSVRA. For more information on anything Oceano, check out www.oceanodunes.org or call Friends of the Oceano Dunes at 800/42-CORVA, ext.215.

If you are a 4x4 club/nonprofit organization/association/foundation that would like to inform our readers about who you are, please drop us a line describing your agency, what you're all about, and contact information. E-mail info to frazierw@emapusa.com or mail to Drivelines, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.