Used 1997 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 Extended Cab Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

No major changes for 1997. Refinements include available leather seating and woodgrain trim on SLT models, optional remote keyless entry, and standard deep-tinted quarter glass on Club Cab models. Also available is a combination CD/cassette stereo. Fresh interior and exterior colors sum up the changes this year.

Vehicle overview

The Dodge boys had to know they had a winner when their bold Ram Pickup debuted for 1994. Few trucks have turned as many heads, or prompted so much comment. Whether decked out in Sport trim or wearing conventional chrome on its chest-thumping grille, this is macho mentality sculpted in steel. Under the hood, the goods range from modest to mammoth. For the practical-minded, there's a mild-mannered 3.9-liter V6; or, a Cummins diesel whose throbbing note and power make a guy want to grab his Stetson and haul on out.

Those who'd like a little more muscle have a pair of V8s to choose from. Whoa! You're still not satisfied? Like TV's Tim the Tool Man, you want "more power?" Say no more. Just check the option list and you can barrel homeward with an 8.0-liter V10, blasting out 295 horses, and a locomotivelike 450 pound-feet of torque. The Magnum V10 is available only in heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 series pickups.

This year finds four new exterior colors and two new interior colors available, as well as a Sport Plus upgrade for the Sport Appearance Group which includes 17-inch wheels and tires, sport-tuned exhaust, refined suspension, and a 5.9-liter V8. One first-season criticism centered on space. Only the regular cab was available, seating three on a bench. Dodge claimed its cab was the most spacious in the industry, but that was little consolation to potential buyers who needed to carry extra people. Last year, Dodge introduced a Club Cab that seats six adults, even if access to the rear isn't so easy. For 1997, Club Cab models receive standard rear quarter window glass, and 2500 models can be equipped with a Snow Plow Prep Package.

Inside, the Ram Pickup is totally truck, as you face a flat, upright dashboard (but a steering wheel that contains an airbag). With any engine, tromping the gas produces a reassuring roar -- a reverberation of vitality. Otherwise, it's fairly quiet. Ride and handling are so competent that you almost forget you're in a full-size pickup, though occupants will notice plenty of bumps. Visibility is great, and controls are excellent. Automatic-transmission shifts are firm, but not harsh, and the column-mounted gearshift operates easily. For such a large and bulky vehicle, the Ram Pickup is surprisingly agile and reasonably surefooted, but think twice before making any quick maneuvers.

Ram Pickup livability is improved this year. Order SLT trim, and you ca opt for leather seats and woodgrain interior trim. Remote keyless entry is newly optional, and includes illuminated entry lighting. A new combination CD and cassette playing stereo ensures that audiophiles can maximize utilization of their music collection.

More than 800,000 Ram Pickups went to customers during the first three years of production. Demand is still strong, and Chrysler recently opened a new plant to keep the supply lines full. Curiosity has tapered off, but when pickup owners think about a new truck, they can hardly help wondering whether a Ram lies in their future.

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.