Used 1999 Dodge Ram Wagon Van Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1999

Seat track travel has increased substantially, and the remote keyless entry has been improved. For fleet customers, Ram Vans and Wagons have an available 5.2-liter Compressed Natural Gas V8 engine.

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 last year), and the latest big Rams could almost be mistaken for 1971 models. But this does not matter to Dodge fans. 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.

All Rams have rear-wheel antilock braking (four-wheel on the wagons). The 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 335 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.

In 1998, Ram Vans and Wagons were redesigned to catch up with some of the technology that has appeared since the vehicles were introduced decades ago. One-third of the components were new, including a new instrument panel, retuned suspension, new brakes, and transformed body panels. Most noticeable is an updated front end, and a less intrusive forward position for the V8 engines. This year, changes are few. The seat travel has been increased by 32 percent, and the remote keyless entry is improved. For fleet customers, a 5.2-liter Compressed Natural Gas V8 engine is available, which substantially reduces emissions.

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.