1981-1993: The "D" trucks
The first-generation Ram trucks, introduced for 1981, kept the previous generation's model designations: "D" meant rear wheel drive while the "W" Power Ram meant four wheel drive. Like other domestic makers, Dodge used 150 to mean a half-ton truck, 250 to indicate a ¾-ton, and 350 for one-tons. Standard cab, "Club" extended cab, and crew cab versions were offered along with 6.5 ft and 8 ft bed lengths and "Utiline" and "Sweptline" styled boxes. Externally, the first-generation Rams were face lifted versions of the previous generation Dodge D Series pickups (known as the Adventurer) dating back to 1972 with wraparound taillights and square headlights.
100 models were added for 1984, replacing the previous "Miser" trim on low-output manual transmission Slant-6 trucks. A "Ram-Trac" shift-on-the-fly transfer case was added for 1985, and both the crew cab and Utiline flared bed were dropped for 1986. Also for 1986, a new cross-hair grille appeared. The 5.2 L engine received electronic fuel injection for 1988.
The engines were updated for 1989. The Slant-6 was dropped in favor of a 3.9 L fuel injected V6 with 25% more power. The 5.9 L V8 also received fuel injection that year for 20 hp (15 kW) more power. Rear anti-lock brakes were also made standard.
The Ram 100 models were renamed "150S" for 1990, and the exterior was redesigned the next year. The engines wore the "Magnum" name for 1992 and 1993 with much higher output.
The D Series trucks sold poorly compared to the Ford F-Series and the General Motors C/K trucks, with just under 100,000 units sold most years of their production.
B-Series Cummins arrives
A Cummins turbo-diesel option was added for big (400 ft.lbf / 542 Nm) torque needs. This engine, part of the Cummins B Series, is the largest straight-6 engine ever produced for a passenger vehicle. These early B Series engines have been known to go 350,000 miles before their first overhaul.
The Ram line was redesigned for 1994 and was an instant hit. It featured a semi truck-look front end with separate fenders and an over sized grille; but it was the 8.0 L V10 engine and its 450 ft.lbf (610 Nm) of torque that was noticed by serious users. Models were now the 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (¾-ton), and 3500 (one-ton).
A natural gas version of the 5.2 L engine debuted for 1995. In 1998, Dodge introduced the "Quad-Cab", which used rear-hinged pillar less doors in the back for a wide cab opening. The Cummins ISB engine, introduced in 1999, was an unusual multi-valve pushrod engine.
The redesigned 1994 Ram was a tremendous sales success, with sales rocketing from 100,000 units in 1993 to 240,000 in 1994, 280,000 in 1995, and nearly 400,000 in 1996. Sales of this generation peaked at just over 400,000 in 1999 before declining against the redesigned Ford and GM trucks. By 2001, the Ram was back to 350,000 sales.
Years Engine Power
1994-2001 3.9 L Magnum V6 175 hp (131 kW)
1994-2001 5.2 L Magnum V8 220 hp (164 kW)
1994-1997 5.9 L Magnum V8 230 hp (172 kW)
1994-1995 5.9 L Cummins B5.9 12-valve Diesel I6 175 hp (131 kW)
1994-2001 8.0 L Ram Tough V10 300 hp (224 kW)
1996-1998 5.9 L Cummins B5.9 12-valve Diesel I6 215 hp (160 kW)
1998-2001 5.9 L Magnum V8 250 hp (186 kW)
1999-2001 5.9 L Cummins ISB 24-valve Diesel I6 230 hp (172 kW)
2002 to 2005: The 'DR' Trucks
The third-generation Ram debuted for 2002. This represented a major update including all new frame, suspension, power teams, interiors, and sheet metal. It included an even larger grille, and special models kept interest up as most competitors had adopted the Ram's separate-fender look. The Cummins ISB Diesel was on the Ward's 10 Best Engines list for 2004. The four wheel drive light duty trucks (1500 series) lost their live axles in trade for an independent front suspension, but the heavy duty (2500 and 3500 series) retained the live axles for maximum durability and load capacity.
The redesigned DR trucks reignited sales, with 400,000 sold in 2002 and nearly 450,000 sold in 2003, a new high point for the Ram name. At the same time, both Ford and GM trucks were declining from a 2001 peak over 900,000 to the 850,000 area. But the Ram's sales could not keep up with the eleventh-generation F-150 and the strong Nissan Titan in 2004 and 2005, with 400,543 Rams sold that year. The Toyota Tundra had never posed much of a threat, but a much larger 2007 model may erode Dodge sales further.
2005 Dodge Ram SRT-10 - This version is a regular or quad-cab body with the Dodge Viper's V10 engine, massive Pirelli 22" rimmed tires, custom lowered suspension, unique bucket seats, full body kit, and a spoiler. The 2004 version was available only in a single cab with a 6 speed manual transmission with a Hurst shifter. For 2005, Dodge debuted a Quad Cab version of the Viper V10 powered truck. It now has a 48RE four speed auto transmission that was taken from the Heavy Duty Rams with the Cummins engine. In 2004, the truck won the Guinness record of "World's Fastest Production Pickup Truck" of 154.587mph (247,3 km/h).
Power Wagon - Introduced for 2005, the Power Wagon comes with the 5.7 L new Hemi engine, locking differentials, disconnecting anti-roll bars, over sized off-road tires and a winch.
Daytona - Introduced for 2005, the Ram Daytona features 20 in chrome wheels, custom paint, the Hemi engine, and a tall rear spoiler reminiscent of the famous Dodge Charger Daytona from the late 1960's.
Rumble Bee - The Rumble Bee edition was mainly a trim package on the Hemi Ram. It was only available on regular cab/short-box pickups and included lower body cladding, a hood scoop, and a specially-trimmed interior. On the rear of the box was a stripe with a "Rumble Bee" picture, meant to be reminiscent of the Super Bee.
Dodge announced a mild hybrid version of the Ram, dubbed the Contractor's Special, in 2003. However, the schedule for delivery slipped as Dodge backed away from the vehicle. The press currently reports that the hybrid Ram will be available only for fleet purchasers and will not enter mass production. It offered an AC electrical outlet panel for running an entire job site worth of power tools.
Model Years Engine Power/Torque
1500 2002-2005 3.7 L PowerTech V6 215 hp/235 ft·lbf
2002-2005 4.7 L Magnum V8 235 hp/300 ft·lbf
2002 5.9 L Magnum V8 245 hp/415lb-lbf
2003-2005 5.7 L (346 in³) Hemi V8 345 hp/375 ft·lbf
2002-2005 5.9 L Cummins ISB Diesel I6 325 hp/610 ft·lbf
SRT-10 2004-2005 8.3 L Viper V10 V10 500 hp/525 ft-lbf
2006 to date: The "DR/DH" Refresh
The 2006 Dodge Ram is an updated version of the previous generation. One notable version is the Mega Cab, featuring a 6-foot cargo box and 20 inches of extra cab space, allowing seating for six with rear recliners. Also, a full screen mapping in-dash navigation system is now an option.
Another change for 2006 will be the availability of Chrysler's Multi-Displacement System on the Hemi V8 engine in the Ram.