Used 1998 Dodge Ram Wagon Van Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1998

A minor redesign this year includes better build quality. Of note are the appearance of dual airbags in the revised dash and upgrades to the brakes, front doors and sound system. The V8 engines have also been relocated forward to reduce the size of the central "hump" in the cabin.

Vehicle overview

Dodge's full-size vans and wagons haven't changed all that much through nearly three decades of existence. Squint your eyes and focus away from the front end (which was redesigned for 1998), and the latest big Rams could almost be mistaken for 1971 models. Does that matter to their fans? Not in the least. Dodge's brawny haulers have earned an enviable reputation over the years, proving their worth against rivals from Ford and General Motors. Like those makes, Dodge offers a bewildering selection of models, in three capacities with payloads as great as 4,264 pounds -- not to mention the dazzlingly long list of options to be considered. Wagons can be equipped to carry as many as 15 passengers.

Dual airbags are now standard, and all Rams have rear-wheel antilock braking (four-wheel on the Wagons). Base engine in the 1500 and 2500 series is a 3.9-liter V6, but most buyers would be better off with a V8 (standard in the 3500 series). With 295 pound-feet of torque on tap, the 5.2-liter V8 yields a rewarding combination of strength and economy, but no Ram vehicle ranks miserly at the gas pump.

For demanding applications, whether in cargo-carrying or passenger-seating, the 5.9-liter V8, packing 330 pound-feet of twisting force, might be a better bet. To compensate for thirsty engine choices, Dodge includes a 35-gallon gas tank on all Ram Vans and Wagons.

New this year is an entire one-third of the components. Most noticeable is an updated front end, a less intrusive forward position for the V8 engines, and improved brakes. The interior gets dual airbags in a revised dash, and a better sound system.

Plenty of RV converters turn out fancied-up variants of the Dodge Ram, but even the stock models can be fitted with a few comforts and conveniences to make driving pleasant, if not exactly posh. Wagons can have a power driver seat, for instance, and you can even get a CD player with a graphic equalizer and Infinity speakers. An upscale SLT Wagon Package includes cupholders, seat map pockets and cloth trim panels. Standard gear includes dual side doors, tinted windows, power steering and a front stabilizer bar.

We find the Ram Van and Wagon to be packed full of value and think that they are a reasonable alternative to the full-size offerings from Ford and Chevy for those on a strict budget. When searching in this market segment, price is often the only thing separating somewhat unequal competitors.

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.