What's New for 2001
Electronic cruise control is now offered for the Cummings turbodiesel models with a manual transmission, improved braking systems with standard ABS come on all 2500 and 3500 Rams, two new exterior colors debut, and child seat anchors are mounted on the rear of the cab. A high-output Cummings turbodiesel model, with a six-speed transmission, 245 horsepower and 505 ft-lbs. of torque, is offered in addition to a slightly improved 235-horsepower/460 ft-lbs. version, available with a manual or automatic tranny.
The Dodge boys must have known they had a winner on their hands the second they unveiled their bold Ram pickup in 1994. The risky love-it-or-hate-it styling turned nearly every head, and brought Dodge plenty of attention as a result.
The Ram comes in Regular, Club, and Quad Cab half-, three-quarter- and one-ton configurations, and all are equipped with Magnum power, be it modest or mammoth. There's a practical-and-it-feels-that-way 3.9-liter V6 that makes 175 horsepower, and at the other extreme, heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 pickups can growl with an 8.0-liter V10, good for 310 horsepower (305 for California). Tucked in between for good measure is a 245-horse, 5.9-liter V8 and a 5.2-liter V8 worth 230 horsepower. Two versions of the macho 5.9-liter, 24-valve inline-six turbodiesel are available if you like loads of torque, low maintenance, and the overly loud clatter of a diesel, plus have an extra five grand to spend. We've heard that 2002 will bring an aluminum-block 3.7-liter V6 based on the popular Grand Cherokee 4.7-liter V8, and there's also talk of 5.7-liter and 6.1-liter V8s.
The Regular Cab has bench seating for three, while the Club Cab can cram three both front and rear, although access to the rear for storage and seating is difficult. With the Quad Cab, rear-access doors on either side of the cab make that easier, yet they're not separate full-size doors like on the new Dakota Quad Cab. Inside, the Ram is fully modernized, with ergonomics that match the utility of the rest of the truck. The controls are properly placed and completely functional.
Automatic transmission shifts are firm, but not harsh, and the column-mounted shifter operates easily. The manual transmissions are simple to shift and the gates are perfectly spaced. The half-ton's manual tranny is a five-speed with overdrive, while the three-quarter and one-ton reap the rewards of a much beefier transmission that has a granny-low first gear for getting going while hauling a heavy load. New for 2001 is a six-speed manual transmission mated to a more powerful Cummins turbodiesel that makes 245 horsepower and an earth-shaking 505 ft-lbs. of torque.
Although it's a bulky vehicle, the Ram is surprisingly agile and reasonably surefooted, but think twice before making any quick maneuvers. Ride and handling are so competent you almost forget you're in a full-size pickup, except if you're in an unloaded three-quarter or one-ton, in which case you'll be reminded over every bump in the road.
Yes, it's a full-size truck, but it does extremely well on trails and other off-road excursions. Dodge is well aware of the Ram's capabilities, so much so that they offer a Ram Off-Road 4x4 model specifically for challenging Mother Nature. Regular and Quad Cab short-bed 1500 four-wheel drives can take advantage of this off-road package that includes heavier-duty equipment, such as a limited slip, a recalibrated suspension for extra ground clearance, all-terrain tires, and steering gear designed for low speeds.
We've found the Ram's brakes lacking, but this year Dodge beefed up the stoppers with standard dual-piston calipers and four-wheel antilock disc brakes on 2500 and 3500 models. This should see the Ram through until the redesigned model arrives, likely in 2002.