Used 2003 Dodge Ram Pickup 2500 Regular Cab Review

The latest maxi-brute to hit the streets and local construction yards. It's tough and mean, but also has a sensitive side. We're impressed.




what's new

Dodge redid its Ram 1500 full-size truck for 2002. For 2003, the heavies -- the 2500 and 3500 -- get their day in the sun. Along with the new Ram styling, these trucks receive more powerful engines, increased towing capacities, improved handling characteristics and additional safety equipment.

vehicle overview

Armed with new powertrains, massive tow and payload capacities, updated Ram styling and plenty of features, the all-new 2003 Dodge Ram heavy-duty pickups should be quite attractive to commercial users, as well as serious consumers.

Starting things off are two new engines. The first is 5.7-liter V8. Called "Hemi Magnum," it marks the return of Chrysler's legendary Hemi engine name after a 32-year absence in Chrysler production cars. This new V8 is standard in both Rams and features a hemispherical combustion chamber (hence the name Hemi). It makes 345 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, more than GM's 6.0-liter V8. The other new motivator is a high-output Cummins turbo diesel. This 5.9-liter inline six puts out 305 hp and a towering 555 lb-ft of torque. The high-output Cummins is optional in the 2500 and 3500, as are last year's 8.0-liter gas V10 and regular Cummins turbo diesel. A variety of transmissions are available (including a new five-speed automatic), as is manually or electronically controlled 4WD. Four-wheel-drive trucks will have a live front axle, as opposed to the Ram 1500's independent front suspension.

Regular and four-door Quad Cab body styles are available. For the first time, a two-wheeled rear-axle 3500 is available, providing an intermediate step in payload capacity between the 2500 and 3500 dually. Thanks to an exceptionally stiff frame and a new rear axle, towing and hauling capacities are quite high. A Ram 3500 dually with the HO Cummins has a 12,000-pound max payload (GVWR) rating and 23,000-pound tow rating (GCWR).

Dodge says it created a new duty cycle aimed directly at commercial customers, testing the new Ram in conditions ranging from -40 to 130 degrees F and running the equivalent of 150,000 miles at 95 percent of their maximum towing and payload ratings. Safety is also enhanced with the new truck, thanks to features like side curtain airbags, power adjustable pedals and seatbelt pre-tensioners. ABS is standard.

For those who like trucks, these new heavies should serve as well, or perhaps even better, than the current offerings from Ford and Chevy. Look for the Ram 2500 and 3500 to be on dealer lots in the latter part of 2002.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.