Large pickup truck; Built in USA, Mexico
  • ext. cab long bed
  • ext. cab short bed
  • reg. cab long bed
  • reg. cab short bed
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,400 – $6,000*

1996 Dodge Ram 1500 4WD Club Cab extended cab

1995 Dodge Ram 2500 Club Cab extended cab

1994 Dodge Ram Laramie 2500 regular cab

1994 Dodge Ram interior

1994 Dodge Ram engine

  • Acceleration (V8, V10)
  • Optional 4-wheel antilock brakes
  • Interior room
  • Cargo and towing ability
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Fuel economy
  • Noise
  • Ride

All told, the impressive Ram is as accommodating and refined as any Ford or General Motors rival. Even if you’re leaning toward another brand, it’s a good idea to test-drive a Ram before buying any full-size pickup.


After 22 years in its former form, Dodge shelved its full-size pickup design in favor of a bold new Ram. Not only did the new Ram hold a driver-side airbag, it could be equipped with a V10 engine, developing 300 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. Initially sold only with a regular-cab body, the Ram came with a short or long cargo box, 2- or 4-wheel drive, in three series: 1500 (1/2-ton), 2500 (3/4-ton), and 3500 (one-ton), the latter with dual rear wheels. Short-bed Rams had a 118.7-inch wheelbase and 6.5-foot cargo bed. Long-bed models rode a 134.7-inch wheelbase with 8-foot bed. Dodge claimed to have the largest interior of any regular-cab pickup–an extended Club Cab didn’t arrive untill late in 1994. Lowest-priced Ram was the Work Special 1500. Higher-cost versions were named LT, ST, and Laramie SLT. Rear-wheel antilock braking was standard; 4-wheel ABS optional on 1500 and 2500 models, operating in both 2WD and 4WD. A 3-place bench seat was standard; 40/20/40 split bench optional, including a “business console.” Except for the available V10, engines were carried over from the previous generation: V6, three V8s, and a turbodiesel inline six.

Yearly Updates

1995 Ram Pickup
The late arriving Club Cabs had a 138.7-inch wheelbase and 6.5-foot cargo bed, or a 154.7-inch wheelbase with an 8-foot bed. They were equipped at ST level, with the Laramie SLT their only major option package. The Club Cab’s 3-place rear bench seat can be folded against the rear of the cab for extra cargo room.
1996 Ram Pickup
A new extra-cost Camper Special suspension package for heavy-duty models gave Rams extra towing and hauling capacity. Cummins turbodiesel engines gained power.
1997 Ram Pickup
Minor changes to interior trim and convenience features were made for 1997, along with a slight power boost for the 5.9-liter V8. The engine shifts from 230 to 235 horsepower. Club Cab (extended cab) models get dark tinted glass for the rear quarter window and optional sliding rear window.
1998 Ram Pickup
Dodge added the Quad Cab for 1998. It was the industry’s first full-size 4-door [ickup. Also new was a passenger-side airbag that could be disabled.
1999 Ram Pickup
Changes for ’99 included a rotary headlamp switch (replacing a push/pull knob), a new overhead console, and one-touch power down for power driver windows. The Sport appearance group received quad headlamps and a new front bumper, fascia, and grille.
2000 Ram Pickup
A new Off Road Group brought increased ground clearance and wheel travel to short-bed, regular-cab, and Quad Cab 4WD Rams. It included 17-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential, tow hooks, skid plates, and other heavy-duty equipment. A new SLT Plus luxury package, optional on Quad Cabs, included power heated leather seats, a CD player with steering-wheel audio controls, and keyless entry with a security alarm. All models now had a standard tachometer and underhood light.
2001 Ram Pickup
No significant changes were made for 2001.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

Rams came with any of five engines. A 3.9-liter V6 making 175 horsepower (170 bhp in ’96) went into 1500-series models. A 220-horsepower, 5.2-liter V8 went into 4x4s and 2500-series Rams, and was optional in 1500-series. A 230-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 was standard in 3500-series, optional in others. A Cummins-engineered 5.9-liter inline 6-cylinder turbocharged diesel could be installed in 2500- and 3500-series Rams. Turbodiesels made 175 horsepower with manual shift, or 160 with automatic (215/180 horsepower in 1996). The 8.0-liter V10 delivered 300 horsepower. A 5-speed manual gearbox and 4-speed automatic transmission were available. Ram 4x4s used on-demand, part-time 4WD (not for dry pavement), with automatic-locking hubs and shift-on-the-fly capability.

Turbodiesel ohv I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.9/360
Engine HP 160-215
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 420-440
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.9/239
Engine HP 170-175
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 230
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.2/318
Engine HP 220
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.9/360
Engine HP 230-235
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 330
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohv V10
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 8.0/488
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 440-450
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Acceleration is more than adequate with the 5.2-liter V8, which delivered average fuel economy of 14.4 mpg. We don’t recommend a V6 for heavy-duty work. A burly Cummins turbodiesel is also available, but not too many folks really need that much pull. You don’t get neck-snapping pickup with the V10, but it does propel the Ram with more authority than any V8, and generates less noise than expected. Gas mileage is dismal, however: just 10 mpg in mostly city travel. A turbodiesel delivered 14.6 mpg, but is slower in standing-start acceleration than a gas engine, and idles as roughly as a big rig.

Even with a base suspension, a Ram 1500 can get bouncy over dips and bumps when the bed is empty. Turns may be taken with good grip and balance, and gusty crosswinds have little effect on directional stability. Ride quality in a 2500-series is undeniably stiff. Four-wheel antilock braking brings this pickup to a halt with fine control. Engine and road noise are modest for a truck, but wind roar around front roof pillars is a problem.

Space is ample for three-across seating. The cab has plenty of space behind the seat, making it possible to recline seatbacks–a rarity in full-size pickups. The seatback center folds into an armrest that doubles as a compartmented console. Opening the large padded lid to gain access to the compartments, however, is not so easy while driving. Three can sit abreast in the back of a Club Cab, but the seat cushion is too short to offer real thigh support, and rear leg room is no better than in a compact car.

Gauges are plainly marked; controls near at hand and logical. Three simple knobs operate the climate control. Most controls are lit at night. A slide-out holder is big enough to carry two 16-ounce beverage containers, but it obstructs the radio controls when in use.


Model Tested: 1996 Dodge Ram Pickup 5.2-liter ext. cab

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 2
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 3
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
Cargo Room - 2


Value - 5

Total: 34


ext. cab long bed
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
154.7 244.0 79.4 71.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
5151 35.0 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.2 39.4 41.0 31.6
ext. cab short bed
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
138.7 224.0 79.4 71.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
3915 26.0 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.2 39.4 41.0 31.6
reg. cab long bed
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
134.7 224.1 79.4 71.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
5340 35.0 3
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.2 NA 41.0 NA
reg. cab short bed
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
118.7 204.1 79.4 71.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
2372 26.0 3
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.2 NA 41.0 NA
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Ram 1500 reg. cab short bed


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 87
Injury 66
Theft 154

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: If the air conditioner gradually stops cooling and/or the airflow from the vents decreases, the computer (PCM) may not be sending a signal to the compressor clutch relay to cycle off, which causes the A/C evaporator to freeze up. (1994-95)
Automatic transmission
Description: If the transmission will not engage when first started, chances are the torque converter is draining down. A check valve in the fluid line leading to the transmission cooler will fix the problem. (1994)
Automatic transmission
Description: If the transmission won’t upshift in cool weather, it is probably due to defective cast iron seal rings in the governor drive. (1994)
Brake wear
Description: Premature front brake pad wear can be limited by installing larger wheel cylinders for the rear brakes. (1994-96)
Description: ABS system fails due to battery acid dripping onto the ABS control module and wiring. (1998-03)
Climate control
Description: If blower motor draws too much current through ignition switch, a relay kit may need to be installed. (1994-96)
Engine misfire
Description: Use of other than Cummins-approved oil filters may cause engine damage. (1989-01 diesel)
Engine mounts
Description: Seeming engine surge caused by torque converter locking and unlocking at steady speed near 50 mph is due to defective throttle position sensor or corroded connectors. (1994-02)
Manual transmission
Description: High shift effort on 5-speed manual transmission may be remedied with a replacement shift shaft lever and shift detent plunger. (1999-2000)
Suspension noise
Description: A rattle or clunk from the front can often be traced to the sway bar links where they attach to the sway bar. (1994-95)
Transmission leak
Description: Automatic transmission fluid leaks from the speed sensor in the transmission. (1994)
Vehicle noise
Description: Replacing the torque shaft spring can eliminate rattling or vibrations on the floor pan. (2000-01)

Recall History

Description: Component within passenger-side seatbelt-buckle assembly shatters, causing belt to release.
Description: Seatback-release-latch lever might remain in released position.
1994 BR1500/2500 w/no rear bumpers
Description: Does not meet rear-impact test requirements, and increases the risk of fuel spill.
1994 4WD
Description: Front suspension attachment to axle may not be adequately tightened; can cause axle vibration.
Description: While making a turn, extra keys in keyring can lodge in holes in back of steering wheel.
1994-95 2500/3500
Description: Front spring/shock towers on certain trucks can crack and eventually separate from vehicle frame.
Description: Lower steering shaft can separate from upper shaft if the retaining plastic pins and metal clip break; can result in loss of vehicle control.
1994-96 w/gasoline engine
Description: Valve on fuel tank can allow fuel to leak onto ground; could result in fire.
Description: Ignition switch and wiring on certain trucks could overheat.
1994-96 w/diesel
Description: The throttle cable could unravel (fray) or break, resulting in a loss of throttle control.
Description: Under certain high-load conditions, fluid line could separate from transmission; fluid may then spray onto exhaust manifold.
Description: Secondary hood-latch rod can bind and prevent engagement.
1994-99 w/V10 engine, manual transmission, 4WD
Description: Under sustained maximum load, while driving up steep grade in 4WD low range in hot ambient conditions, hydraulic clutch line temperature can become excessive and possibly rupture.
1995-96 w/diesel engine
Description: Vacuum hose may deteriorate and partially collapse, possibly reducing power-brake assist.
1996 w/6800- or 9000-pound GVW rating
Description: Tire/wheel specification information on certification label indicates smaller tire than is required.
1997 w/diesel engine
Description: Exhaust pipe may contact, or be too near, dash-panel silencer pad, causing smoldering and igniting of adjacent materials.
Description: Sound-deadening material inside the steering wheel could become detached from the cover and housing causing the driver-airbag system to become disabled. The airbag-warning lamp will illuminate on the instrument panel.
Description: Brake-rotor material strength on some trucks is not sufficient, causing hub fatigue fracture that can result in crack propagation and, ultimately, in wheel separation.
Description: Front-seatbelt buckles were not properly riveted to support strap.
1998 w/V10 or heavy-duty 5.9-liter gas V8
Description: Exhaust-system heat-shield attaching screw is too close to fuel line, which can rub against the screw, possibly causing fuel leakage.
1998 w/5.9-liter diesel engine
Description: Low-pressure supply tube between filter and high-pressure pump can fracture, allowing fuel to leak.
1998 w/5.9-liter diesel engine
Description: Intermittent high engine-idle condition can occur, due to malfunction of vehicle speed sensor.
Description: Bolts used to attach cab and core support to frame may have been improperly hardened; can allow cab to separate from frame.
1998-00 w/optional trailer hitch
Description: Trailer-hitch side brackets may lack sufficient strength, and could fatigue and fracture in area where hitch mounts to frame.
Description: On vehicles that have ABS and an aftermarket battery, there is a risk of battery leakage, which may short circuit the system and cause a fire. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: Underbody hydraulic clutch line heat shield on some trucks is too short, allowing line material to be directly exposed to exhaust temperatures.
Description: The front-seatbelt retractor does not comply with the requirements of the standard. If the retractor does not work properly, it will not adequately protect occupants in the event of a crash.
Description: Welds at right lower control-arm bracket to axle-tube attachment on a few trucks may have inadequate fatigue life; could result in separation.
Description: During full-lock turns, it is possible for the tire or wheel to contact the brake hose/ABS sensor wire assembly. Continued contact can result in wire damage and/or a hole in the brake line and reduced braking effectiveness.
Description: Some of the owner’s manuals for these vehicles are missing instructions for properly attaching a child restraint system’s tether strap to the tether anchorage.
2001 Quad Cab w/camper
Description: Spacer plate could lead to deformation of the upper spring plate during assembly of the axle to the vehicle, resulting in a soft joint and possible loss of vehicle control.
Description: Sound deadener in the steering wheel could interfere with the clockspring ribbon and illuminate the airbag light on the instrument panel. Dealers will replace affected clockspring assemblies.
Description: Road salt, water and other debris can cause a short in the power-seat connector, which may result in a vehicle fire. Owners will receive instructions for removing the circuit breaker from the fuse panel.
Description: Improper lug nut torque could allow a wheel to loosen. Dealers will inspect affected vehicles.
Description: Some owner’s manuals are missing instructions for installing child seats. Owners will be provided with an addendum to the owners manual.
Description: Upper control arm nuts may break causing separation of brake lines. Dealers will replace upper control arm bolts and nuts in affected vehicles.
Description: Wire connection to alternator can loosen and cause a vehicle fire. Dealers will inspect connection and reposition affected wires.
2001-2002 Ram van with automatic transmission
Description: The transmission lever may potentially be shifted out of park with the key removed and without depressing the brake pedal, or the key may be removed when the shifter is not in park which fails to comply with Federal regulations. Dealers will replace the gearshift blocker and bracket assembly.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.