What's New for 2002
Just about everything on the truck has undergone a complete redesign with improvements in safety, passenger comfort and handling.
Although the last version (1994-2001) Ram pickup was a big success for Dodge, after seven years, Dodge felt it was time to revamp the Ram again. But it didn't want to screw up the success it had with the last generation by changing it too radically. In fact, it took the distinctive styling cues from last year's Ram and made them even more pronounced. Case in point: the grille, which is now even larger.
Other cosmetic changes include jewel-like light clusters front and rear and the biggest standard wheel and tire combination on a light-duty full-size pickup. And we mean big; even the ST two-wheeler comes with 245/70R17s. And on Sport models, massive 20-inch alloy wheels wear 275/55R20 rubber.
Ram 1500s will be available in two cab styles (regular and Quad), two bed lengths (6.3 feet and 8 feet) and three trim levels (base ST, mid-level SLT, luxury SLT Plus). Additionally, a Sport package will be optional on the SLT and SLT Plus.
Realizing that most folks don't often fill up their pickup's bed to full capacity, Dodge wisely took 3 inches from the standard bed length (now 6 feet 3 inches) and added it to the passenger compartment. In essence, this design allows the new Ram Quad Cab to have the expansive passenger room of a crew cab while keeping the truck's overall length nearly the same as last year's Quad Cab, which was really an extended-cab pickup with smallish rear-hinged rear doors. To improve access to the rear compartment, the 2002 Quad Cab's conventional rear doors open up nearly 90 degrees. And just so every potential customer's needs are met, an 8-foot bed is available.
The Ram ST comes with air conditioning, AM/FM/cassette stereo, a 40/20/40-split front seat and a huge fold-down center armrest with a storage bin. Stepping up to the SLT adds cruise control; larger (265/70R17) tires; chrome wheels; cloth seating; an overhead console with trip computer; and power windows, locks and mirrors. And for those who want their pickup to emulate a luxury car, there is the SLT Plus, which adds the following to the SLT: leather seating, heated driver and passenger seats, power driver (and passenger on Quad Cab) seat, HomeLink transmitter system, a 240-watt 11-speaker sound system (with a CD player and steering wheel-mounted controls), keyless entry/anti-theft system, four-wheel antilock brakes and alloy wheels. Sport models feature a monotone paint scheme along with the special grille and 20-inch wheels mentioned above.
Two of the Ram 1500's three engines are new: a 3.7-liter V6 with 215 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque and a 4.7-liter V8 that produces 235 horses and 295 lb-ft. Only the 2WD Regular Cab Rams come with the V6, all others have the 4.7-liter V8. The 4.7-liter engine has actually been around since 1999, when it debuted in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but it is new to the Ram. Returning is the 5.9-liter V8 with 245 ponies and 335 lb-ft of twist. The 5.9, however, is dated and down on power and fuel economy compared to the top engine choices for comparable Ford and GM pickups.
A five-speed manual is standard on the two smaller engines, with a four-speed automatic optional and standard on the 5.9. A properly equipped Regular Cab can tow up to 8,860 pounds, and a Quad Cab can pull up to 8,350 pounds. Payload capacity stands at 2,530 and 1,770 pounds, respectively.
Beefy, fully boxed side frame rails make the Ram's platform extremely rigid which optimizes handling and helps eliminate potential squeaks and rattles. All 2002 Ram 1500s have an independent front suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. At more than 13 inches in diameter, the brakes are the biggest in the class. A rear antilock system is standard on ST and SLT. The SLT Plus comes with four-wheel antilock brakes, which are optional on the other models. Dodge brings some breakthrough safety features to the full-size pickup segment with the 2002 model. Side curtain airbags are optional on all Rams. The front center seat in the Regular Cab and the rear center seat on the Quad Cab get three-point seatbelts. And optional on the SLT and SLT Plus are power adjustable pedals (though Ford had this first), which allow shorter folk to get a comfortable driving position without having to sit too close to the steering wheel.
With the new Ram 1500, Dodge has a well-rounded truck that's able to work harder than its predecessor while delivering superior ride, handling and safety characteristics.