What's New for 2000
Minor changes come with the 2000 model year, including hood-mounted windshield-washer nozzles and chrome-clad wheels. Sealing has been improved to reduce noise and keep out the weather, and Ram vans get a six-speaker audio system as standard equipment.
Dodge's full-size vans and wagons haven't changed all that much despite nearly three decades of existence. Squint your eyes and the latest big Rams could almost be mistaken for the 1971 models. But this does not matter to Dodge fans. Chrysler hasn't yet found a need to change the brawny trucks in order to keep up with rivals from Ford and General Motors.
Despite the lack of a ground-up redesign, one-third of the components were all-new in 1998, including the instrument panel and brakes; in addition, the suspension was re-tuned and the body panels were transformed. So for 2000, only minor refinements were needed.
First, let's break down the Dodge lineup: There's a cargo van, a passenger wagon and a conversion van (built by factory-approved conversion specialists). The convert comes in three lengths and three load ranges, while the van and wagon are offered in four levels-a 1500, a 2500, a 3500 and a 3500 Maxi wagon. That last one has a payload of up to 4,245 pounds and standard seating for 15 passengers.
The base engine in the 1500 and 2500 series is a 3.9-liter V6, but most buyers would be better off an optional V8, either a 5.2-liter or a 5.9-liter. With 295 foot-pound of torque on tap, the 5.2-liter yields a rewarding combination of strength and economy, but no Ram vehicle ranks miserly at the gas pump. For demanding applications, your best bet might very well be the 5.9-liter, which packs 335 foot-pounds of twisting force. To compensate for thirsty engine choices, there's a 32-gallon gas tank on the 109-inch wheelbase vans and wagons, and a 35-gallon tank on all other models. The V6 is hooked to an automatic three-speed transmission, and both V8s are attached to an automatic four-speed. The van and the wagon have rear-wheel antilock braking, although four-wheel is optional on both.
And if you're a tradesman, you'll appreciate the equipment packages available, including ones with shelving (with three sets of four-tiered shelving units), a ladder rack (a slide-down rack) or a shelving/ladder-rack combo (you guessed it, equipped with both features). The conversion van can be outfitted with a variety of high-tech goodies, including a video player, a TV monitor and game-ready electronics, and the rear passengers can have their own air conditioning and power seating. Also, a wheelchair lift can be added and the roofline easily raised for the physically challenged, according to Dodge.
The Dodge Ram van has remained virtually the same for 30 years, as has its value, in-demand conveniences and practical price. As they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.