RAM vehicles trace their origins to the first Dodge trucks that appeared on American roads more than 100 years ago. In 1981, Dodge introduced the RAM line of pickups. So, for almost three decades, the combined Dodge RAM name was a common sight as Chrysler worked to hold its own against Ford and General Motors.
But things changed for the 2010 model year. A company reorganization led to Dodge splitting off to focus on passenger cars (sedans, coupes, minivans, and SUVs) and the new RAM division dedicated to trucks (pickups and work vans). So while the Dodge brand is no longer officially connected with RAM trucks, it’s natural for some to still pair the names. And that’s OK, especially when searching for Dodge RAM trucks for sale near you.
As the 1980s debuted, Chrysler head Lee Iacocca felt the need to reinvigorate the Dodge truck line. On top of an all-new design, the RAM name got added to the mix. The ram’s head logo symbolized Dodge’s new offering and is still used today to represent the standalone RAM brand. This was when pickups became more and more popular as daily drivers, not just as work vehicles (the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet C/K had already been duking it out).
Dodge RAM trucks used either the “D” for two-wheel-drive models or “W” for those with four-wheel-drive. A series of three digits would identify the truck’s capacity: 150 for half-ton, 250 for three-quarters of a ton, and 350 for one ton. So, a D150 was a half-ton truck with two-wheel drive, while a W350 signified a one-ton pickup with all-wheel drive.
For the first generation of Dodge RAM pickups, power plants were the venerable 3.7-liter slant-six with 95 horsepower, a mid-range 5.2-liter V-8 making 140 horsepower, and the top-dog 5.9-liter V-8 with 140 horsepower. To put things in perspective, the MSRP for the least expensive RAM truck in 1981 was $6,085. The starting price for a new RAM 1500 today is $35,900! Of course, you can save a few bucks and go for the RAM 1500 Classic at $29,515.
For the past forty years or so, Chrysler had a knack for pulling a rabbit out of the hat regarding company-saving vehicles. The K-car (Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant) of the 1980s helped the company turn around from near bankruptcy. This was followed by the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans that launched a new category and transformed driveways across America. And cars like Dodge Viper (1991) helped showcase company brands as distinctive and still relevant.
This spirit of innovation led to the unique looks of the second generation of Dodge RAM pickups. Already under development in the mid-1980s, the second-gen RAM lineup started out as a boxy rehash of existing designs. But Chrysler exec Bob Lutz scrapped the initial concept in favor of something more unique.
When a radically new RAM pickup appeared, jaws dropped at the 1993 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Embracing a front end more akin to a semi-truck (a tapered hood and broad front fenders), the truck would break company sales records when it debuted for the 1994 model year. MotorTrend’s Truck of the Year Award didn’t hurt either. By 1999, Dodge sold 400,000 RAM trucks that year. The unique design lives on in current models as well.
Buyers could choose from a traditional range of V-6 and V-8 engines, but the availability of a six-cylinder Cummins turbo-Diesel and a gas-powered 8.0-liter V-10 offered appealing options for many. Model designations included the 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (three-quarter-ton), and the 3500 (one-ton with a dual configuration).
A 1998 refresh included the introduction of the Quad Cab body style, the first two-row pickup with four doors (two standard doors and two smaller rear access doors). Other features, like heated leather seats, were added later, further cementing the idea that a truck could handle family-hauling duties and still get the job done on the worksite.
Dodge released the next RAM pickup for the 2002 model year. While still carrying over much of the “big-rig” look, the streamlined body panels helped modernize the truck, and the larger upright grille added to its imposing appearance. Due to production hiccups with the 5.7-liter V-8, the old body style carried over for the 2500 and 3500 models. For 2003, the heavy-duty RAMs got the full makeover as well, including an all-new frame and suspension.
The engine choices included the usual cast of characters, including the 5.7-Liter Hemi (2003 and later) and a pair of Cummins Diesels. But perhaps the most interesting was someone’s bonkers idea of stuffing a Viper V-10 engine in a Dodge truck. What the Dodge RAM SRT-10 lacked in practicality got overshadowed by its performance, thanks to 510 horsepower and 535 lb-ft of torque.
The RAM pickup underwent a facelift for 2006, mainly consisting of a reworked front end with a new grille and headlights. This was also when Dodge introduced the Mega Cab. Almost two feet longer in cabin size, these RAM versions featured four full-sized doors and room for six with reclining rear seats. A RAM Mega Cab is easy to spot; just look for the very wide C pillars behind the back doors.
The 2009 model year marks the last one for the Dodge RAM pick-up as the new RAM division kicked off a year later. This RAM included crisper styling, a revised suspension, and a new Hemi option. The grille becomes more prominent with additional height and a slightly forward-angled orientation. This new look gives the RAM a more menacing appearance.
The odd-looking Mega Cab gets dropped for 1500 (but remains for the heavy-duty 2500/3500 models) in favor of a more conventional-looking crew cab arrangement. Among the most significant changes was the introduction of the Rambox storage system. Integrated into the cargo bed’s sidewalls, Rambox allowed for securable and easy-to-access storage.
As 2013 rolls around, RAM pickups get a facelift with a new front end and available halogen headlights. And taking a cue from Ford’s success with high-end F-150 trims (like the King Ranch), RAM introduces a deluxe Laramie Longhorn Limited (someone in the RAM marketing department must have liked the letter L). But other trims, including the all-work Tradesman, continue.
Taking more hints from Ford (this time, we’re talking about the F-150 Raptor), the company introduces the 2016 RAM 1500 Rebel with a taller ride height, trail-tuned suspension, and off-road tires. The massive blacked-out grille with a large “RAM” centerpiece was hard to miss. And while not as performance-oriented as the Raptor, the 395 horsepower from the optional 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 was no slouch. But, RAM had another trick up its sleeve as it showed a TRX super-truck concept that same year at the Texas State Fair.
The fourth-generation soldiered on for a few more years with trims reaching a mind-numbering 11 variants. Diesel options include a six-cylinder powerplant for 1500 with 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. A Cummins Diesel for the 2500/3500 series offered (depending on model and year) up to 385 horsepower and a stump-pulling 930 lb-ft of torque.
As mentioned earlier, the previous (fourth) generation of the RAM continues as the 1500 Classic. It’s a way of giving RAM bragging rights as the least expensive full-size pickup on the market (especially against the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado). In fifth-gen form, the 2019 RAM pickup debuts with a modern front end with available LED lighting and sculpted body panels for a not-too-muscular look.
Choose from a crew cab or Quad Cab (select models) for 1500. A regular cab (select models), crew cab, or Mega Cab (select models) is available for the heavy-duty RAM 2500 and 3500 models.
For RAM 1500 power, the base engine is the trusty 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with a mild-hybrid system for improved fuel economy and better towing ability. A 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque is an upgrade (there’s a mild-hybrid version with the same output specs). RAM 1500s are also available with a 3.0-liter turbo-Diesel making 260 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque.
Standard power for the RAM 2500 and 3500 starts with a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 making 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. Optional is a reworked Cummins turbo-Diesel with 400 horsepower and a whopping 1,000 lb-ft of torque.
Unlike previous generations when there was some manual transmission availability (depending on model and powertrain), the latest RAMs (including the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500) are strictly automatic transmission.
We couldn’t forget about the RAM 1500 TRX super-truck; it’s a standout pickup like no other. We cover the TRX in full detail here, but it’s worth mentioning its impressive credentials. This truck results from the Big Three’s never-ending battle to one-up each other. In this case, RAM decided to take on the Ford F-150 Raptor. And, at least when it comes to straight-line performance, won.
Let’s get the numbers out of the way. Underneath the hood of this beast is a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 making 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. That means a 0-60 mph run can happen in less than 4.5 seconds and a quarter-mile time of only 12.9 seconds. These are impressive stats for just about any vehicle, but even more so when considering that the TRX weighs 6,000 pounds and is 19 feet long.
Of course, the four-wheel-drive system and custom-tuned suspension mean the TRX can hold its own off the pavement. Plus, the standard Goodyear 35-inch tires help this pickup traverse up to 32 inches of water.
Truck shoppers travel far and wide to visit our convenient dealership in Sykesville, Maryland. Here, you’ll not only find a vast selection of premium pre-owned RAM pickups and Used RAM Promaster vans but a team of knowledgeable professionals. Our mission is to make your buying experience effortless and enjoyable (yes, we like the letter E, as in excellent). Contact us today to schedule a test drive. And for the ultimate convenience, we offer 100% online shopping, including various delivery options. We’re your used RAM dealer in Maryland and beyond.
Posted Monday, March 21, 2022