1994-2001 Dodge Ram pickup trucks: the first of the “big rig Rams”
In 1993, Dodge had 7% of the market share for pickups, and nearly half of those had Cummins diesels; some buyers said they weren’t buying a Dodge, but a Cummins with a Dodge wrapped around it.
Suddenly, Dodge dropped a bombshell — the 1994 Dodge Ram. Its styling was new and different, with a clean look that mimicked heavy trucks; it was more aerodynamic, and had much better designed interiors than competitors. It also boasted the highest chassis load and tow ratings in the industry. Dodge’s full-size-pickup market share tripled in just a few years.
The new Dodge Ram pickup had a long list of industry firsts, with the roomiest standard cab, first reclining seats in a regular cab pickup, and the longest seat track travel.
The Magnum engines had more horsepower and torque than competitors ’ engines, and in midyear, they were joined by a V-10 producing 300 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. The new Ram also had the first factory-installed power take-off adapter on a 4x2 truck with an automatic transmission; and the best-in-class Cummins turbodiesel continued.
Decor groups started out with the base LT model, with a WS (Work Special) available on 1500 pickups only. All pickups could get the ST group, and all models could get the Laramie SLT.
Originally, the new Ram, coded Phoenix, was to have been far more conventional. According to a retired Chrysler engineer, there were few Dodge truck engineers left from the company’s “truck prime,” and many people in the Dodge truck group were inexperienced or “political appointments;” with low market share and seemingly low performance, the group was reportedly a “dumping ground” for unwanted employees.
It all changed with Francois Castaing and Bob Lutz restarted the project (coded T300) from scratch. Everything was examined deeply — including suspensions. Engineer Bob Sheaves wrote:
I caught a lot of flack about that suspension design when it was first shown to upper management. No one ever thought about the L/R (shows you a bit about how much management really knew about the worldwide industry). I had 15 different vehicles for competitive analysis available during the development of BR’s 4x4 suspension. The only reason the link/coil was used was that it proved to be cheaper and performed better than the leaf spring setup I designed.
Although the independent designs (there were 27 different combinations of independent designs evaluated, but only two built, as I remember, a coil-over-shock and a torsion-bar sprung design) in general, performed better on road and a few performed better off road, cost was the determining factor, vs. the performance gains.
Hotchkiss suspensions, especially in front drive/steer applications, are hard to control for all the vehicle dynamic inputs. Spring deflection and lateral twist are especially hard to predict, due to various loading by different people. For example, I know a landscaper who has two 1991 WD 3/4 ton pickups with the Cummins that are regularly loaded to gross vehicle weight. In this application, with the Hotchkiss suspension’s lateral compliance, under highway-speed lane changes, the steering has a great deal of bump-induced change to the steering angle, leading to wandering and imprecise steering. With the over-constrained 5 link coil suspension on the BR, this effect is minimized.
The problem with over-constrained link coil is “head toss” when lightly loaded. If the track bar (sometimes called a panhard rod), which is the lateral link performing the over constraint, and the steering drag link is at some angle other than parallel to the ground plane, lateral movement of the axle is a problem. This is why, when the 1994 Ram was lightly loaded (particularly the one-ton version), there is a bump-induced lateral input to the driver that some people find uncomfortable (side to side head “snapping” movement) that is also present in various Jeeps (XJ, ZJ, KJ), etc., due to the arc of movement of the track bar and motion of the axle towards the right side of the vehicle (brake bias to one side is also an issue, but that’s another story).
1994-2001 Ram Engines
See this separate 1994-2001 Ram transmissions page.
The straight-six Cummins intercooled, turbocharged “B” series diesel had a cast iron block and head, and used high-pressure mechanical direct injection with 2 overhead valves per cylinder with roller followers and hydraulic lifters. After a midyear 1998 change, the engine used high-pressure electronically-controlled direct injection with four valves per cylinder.
Other choices were all overhead valve gasoline engines with two valves per cylinder, roller followers, and hydraulic lifters, using sequential fuel injection (regular fuel) and made of cast iron (block and heads); all were in the same “LA” family. The standard alternator was 75 amps — 90 amps with a/c, and 120 amps with special packages (trailer towing, snow-plow, etc).
The new rectangular filter element had 75% more dust capacity than the previous Ram pickup, so the replacement interval was increased from 30,000 miles to 45,000 miles.
The new V10 engine, seemingly a 360 with two cylinders tacked on, was actually designed for new technologies such as distributorless ignition. Dodge V10 truck engine page. (In 1997, the V10 was downrated somewhat for California).
|1994 numbers||3.9 V6||5.2 V8||5.9 V8||V10||Diesel - Stick||Diesel - Auto|
|Horsepower||175 bhp @4800||220 hp @ 4400||230 hp @ 4000||300 bhp@ 4000||175 bhp @ 2500||160 bhp @2500|
|Torque||230 lb-ft @ 3200||300 lb-ft @ 3200||330 lb-ft@ 3200||450 lb-ft@2400||420 lb-ft@ 1600||400 lb-ft@ 1750|
|Redline||5250 rpm||5250 rpm||5250 rpm||4750 rpm||3000 rpm||3000 rpm|
|Battery (std)||600 (750 opt)||600 (750 opt)||600 (750 opt)||750||Dual 750||Dual 750|
In 1995, the Cummins diesel was boosted to 430 lb-ft with the manual transmission; it got another power boost in 1996, and another in mid-year 1998. The 360 went up to 235 hp / 330 lb-ft in 1997 — 245 hp and 335 lb-ft with the Sport Group. The Magnum V8 engines were moderately boosted in power after 1997; the 5.9 was boosted again in 1999 to 245 hp (250 hp with Sport Group) and 345 lb-ft of torque with the Sport Group.
|Diesel - Stick
|Diesel - Auto
|Horsepower||230 hp @ 4400||235-245 hp @ 4000||310 bhp@ 4000||215 bhp @ 2600||180 bhp @2600|
|Torque||300 lb-ft @ 3200||335 lb-ft@ 3200||450 lb-ft@2400||440 lb-ft@ 1600||420 lb-ft@ 1750|
|Redline||5250 rpm||5250 rpm||4750 rpm||3000 rpm||3000 rpm|
|Battery (std)||600 (750 opt)||600 (750 opt)||750||Dual 750||Dual 750|
Both V8s were the most powerful engines in their class in 1994. A heavier duty 5.9 liter (360) engine was used in the 3500, with a broader torque curve. With the 5.9 liter V8, the 1994 Ram could outrun and outclimb all other comparably-equipped trucks with manual transmissions.
On the 5.2-liter (318) V-8 engine, a revised camshaft broadened the torque curve, for up to 30 lb-ft more torque below 3200 rpm; the new cam cut valvetrain noise. The broader torque curve permitted the use of a 3.21 axle ratio on some Ram pickups and Dakotas for better fuel economy.
A new throttle cam contour on the V6 and V8 engines provided a smooth off-idle transition thanks to a long effective lever arm at idle (which shortened as the throttle opened further).
The 3.9-liter V6 engine, with a new throttle body, cam, oil pan, and air cleaner, had the highest horsepower of any V6 in a full-size pickup truck.
All 1994 Dodge Ram pickup gasoline engines had returnless, multi-point fuel injection system (this had been launched on the 5.9-liter Magnum V-8 in 1993). The returnless system was exclusive to Dodge trucks, and worked by putting the fuel regulator into the fuel tank, rather than under the hood. This kept fuel cooler, and eliminated parts and leak potential. The computer figured out a correction factor for the difference between the fuel rail and pump, and altered fuel injector behavior to compensate for transitory pressure drops.
The catalytic converter on light duty pickups heated up more quickly, because it was mounted only 12 inches behind the engine. Exhaust pipes were reduced from 2.25-inches to 2.0-inches in diameter to reduce heat loss, without any effect on performance. Heavy-duty (8800 pounds GVWR and heavier) 5.9 and 8.0-liter Ram pickup engines had separate catalytic converters for each cylinder bank; each had its own oxygen sensor.
The 1994 Ram pickup had the first OEM power take-off adapter on a 2WD truck with automatic transmissions in the US; optional on all 3500 models and on 2500 models with Cummins Turbo-Diesel or V-10 engines, it enabled 2WD customers to install aftermarket PTO units easily. The adapter was derived from a 4WD transfer case and operated from the cab, operating with or without power to the rear axle.
Provision for PTO mounting was standard on NV 4500 and NV 4500 HD manual transmissions and 4WD models with NV 241 HD transfer cases.
The new Rams were built in Warren, Michigan (Dodge City plant), and in Lago Alberto, Mexico (1500 with short bed only); rear-drive curb weights ran from 3,958 pounds to 5,906 pounds (Ram 3500 diesel with 10,500 pound gross vehicle weight rating). Payloads ranged from 1,889 pounds to 4,900 pounds (on the 3500 with the V10). With four wheel drive, weights ranged from 4,517 pounds to 6,325 pounds, with payloads from 1,721 to 4,886 pounds. Chassis cab models could have much higher payloads - ranging to 11,000 GVWR for the 3500.
Axle, driveshaft, transfer cases
A rear axle with full-floating hubs was used on 1994 Ram models with Cummins and V10 engines combining the Model 80 center section (ring and pinion gears, differential, bearings and housing) with lighter Model 70 tubes, shafts and hubs. That kept torque capacity, while cutting weight. Other 1994 Ram pickup axles carried over.
A new one-piece aluminum-graphite drive shaft was used on 134-inch wheelbase Ram 1500 2WD models with automatic transmissions, cutting weight by 20 pounds. A 4-inch aluminum tube was wrapped with graphite fibers to provide strength (without the fibers, the one-piece shaft would not be possible).
Four wheel drive models used a part-time, synchronized transfer case - NV231, NV241, or NV241HD - which had four wheel drive low and neutral modes along with rear wheel drive and high-gear four wheel drive. The low-range ratio was 2.72 and there was no center differential. Minimum ground clearance was at least 8.2 inches on 1500, at least 8.6 inches on 2500, and at least 9.8 inches on 3500.
The NV 231 HD transfer case was used on Ram 1500. This was a strengthened version of a transfer case already used on the Dakota. It had a larger main shaft and a wider chain and sprockets for greater durability than the Dakota unit. It was lighter and shifted more smoothly than the transfer case used in the previous 150 model.
The NV 241 transfer case was standard on Ram 2500 trucks. This was a modified version of the transfer case used for both D150 and D250 models on the previous Ram pickup. Changes were limited to the new housing and shifter mechanism.
The new NV 241 HD transfer case was standard on all Ram 3500 models and on 2500 models with 8800-pound GVWR, optional on the 2500 model with 7500 pound GVWR. Shifting was easier due to a larger synchronizer, and it was 58 pounds lighter than its predecessor. For durability, it had a wider chain and sprockets than the NV 241 transfer case to accept the heavier weight of the 3500 trucks.
Steering and brakes
All the Rams used a Hotchkiss drive; a ladder type frame held up a double-wall steel pickup box. Rear drive models used upper and lower A arms with coil springs, tubular shocks, and stabilizer bar (on some models, with a tubular axle, Quadra link leading arms, and track bar) up front; the four wheel drive models used a live axle with Quadra link leading arms, track bar, coil springs, stabilizer bar, and tubular shocks up front. But used longitudinal leaf-springs with gas-charged shocks in back. Turning circles ranged from 40.6 inches all the way to 52.7 inches, on either rear or four wheel drive models.
|Front||11.6 x 1.25||12.5 x 1.5||12.5 x 1.5|
|Rear||11.0 x 2.0||13.0 x 2.5||13.0 x 3.5|
|Swept area||538.8 sq in||676.4 sq in||761.8 sq in|
Vented disc brakes were used in front and antilock drum brakes in back, with a 10.25 inch tandem diaphragm vacuum power assist.
Only part-time four-wheel drive was available; a front axle disconnect system cut friction in two-wheel drive mode. All had a low-4x4 gear.
In 1994, the Ram 3500 pickup was the only one-ton truck to have a front axle disconnect system. All transfer cases were made by New Venture Gear and had new housings which placed the shifter within easy reach of the driver.
Ram pickup truck body structure
Hood panels were hemmed on three sides; to avoid visible spot welds, an adhesive was the primary way to hold the inner and outer panels.
The hood-and-grille assembly was counterbalanced by torsion springs, which pivoted on a four-bar linkage to clear the hood and windshield wipers when opened.
The radiator closure panel included hydroformed upper and lower cross bars, forming the tubes in an external die using high pressure water; it was the first body-in-white application of hydroforming in the US automotive industry, and it cut weight by around 4 pounds. The upper tubular section was removable to allow the Cummins diesel to be removed.
A full roof inner panel contributed to roof strength and overall cab stiffness. Doors were the largest in the industry. A hem joint held the inner and outer panels together. Door beams of high strength, roll-formed steel helped protected occupants from side impact collisions. One-piece side panels assured consistency of door fit, and supported the shoulder belt turning loops and door strikers.
Boxed cab sills were open at the bottom for drainage, for occasional operation in water up to 20 inches deep. Heat-expandable plastic baffles placed in the bases of the door pillars to block noise transmission also blocked the entry of water and did not absorb water, thus preventing corrosion.
The pickup box featured:
- Indentations to hold 2x8s for an upper load floor
- Vertical beads in the sides to for wood-panel separators
- Stake pockets with rope tie-down holes
- Front cargo tie-down rings recessed in the box floor, concealed by a snap-in plastic cover and attached to the structural front box support rail
- Rear cargo tie-down rings at the base of the tailgate pillars
- A one-piece floor of high-strength, dent-resistant steel
The tailgate exterior surface was a one-piece stamping — removable, with provision for a screw attachment to the right pivot to reduce the possibility of theft. The recessed release handle had the same feel and action as the door handles. An optional protector of black TPO plastic was screwed to the top of the tailgate. The tailgate opening was 58.7 inches wide - sufficient for most sliding campers but less than the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) recommended minimum of 60.5 inches; a running change in early 1994 increased the opening to 60.5 inches.
On 3500 models, which have standard dual rear wheels, RIM poly-urea wheelhouse extensions were bolted to the outside of the box.
The periphery of the Ram Pickup grille was molded ABS plastic, painted or chrome plated depending on the model; a honeycomb grille texture of high impact TPO plastic was heat-staked to the outer molding. The texture was resistant to impact by stones and other flying objects. The grille was cantilevered from the hood, and was strong enough to act as a handle when closing the hood. Edges of the periphery were smooth for "friendly" contact with hands. Black paint was applied by an electro-coating process.
A clear acrylic ram's head medallion was molded into the back surface of the grille and painted silver. The portion of the back surface that conformed to the grille was textured and painted black.
The Ram Pickup with Laramie SLT decor group included adhesive-bonded cab and box side moldings of extruded PVC and a tailgate applique. All moldings, nameplates and appliques were adhesive-bonded to the body after painting to prevent corrosion.
The 1994 Dodge Ram pickup used a high-strength steel face bar in front with molded plastic upper and lower fascias; the upper fascia also served as a step pad. With Laramie SLT decor, molded plastic sight shields were inserted in the air openings of the chrome bumper. An air dam reduced airflow under the truck for improved fuel economy on all 1500 models (optional on 2500 and 3500). Both fascias and air dam were molded-in-color TPO plastic, black on top, gray on bottom.
The optional rear step bumper was the lightest and strongest unit in the industry — 5 pounds lighter than the next lightest competitive bumper, but able to support 500 pounds of trailer tongue load and pull a 5,000 pound trailer. The bumper had a one-piece stamped steel face with an integrated reinforcement tube. A standard-size hitch ball mounting hole in the center was flanked by two holes for alternate devices. The inner surface and the reinforcement tube were electro-coat painted to prevent corrosion. The bumper included molded black plastic step pads with a textured surface.
Glass, paint, corrosion protection
All glass on the Ram Pickup was tinted and 0.156 in. (4 mm) thick - a balance among strength, weight and noise blocking capability.
The windshield was adhesive-bonded and flush with the surrounding sheet metal for low wind noise; a narrow black plastic molding covered the exposed edges of the glass. The windshield extended below the park position of the windshield wipers to reduce buffeting air flow and noise in the passenger compartment.
The rear window was adhesive-bonded for a tight seal; it also added structural strength to the roof. The Ram pickup sliding rear window used solar control glass.
All exterior sheet metal, including the roof, was galvanized or galvannealed. Bodies built at Dodge City were primed by the full-immersion E-coat process; all closed body sections had access openings to allow the corrosion-resistant E-coat primer to reach deep into crevices. Bodies built at Lago Alberto, Mexico had spray primer in the cavities. Enclosed areas also received a wax-type corrosion protection spray coating after the finish paint. Underbodies built at Lago Alberto also received a corrosion protection spray coating. All boxes were E-coated.
Anti-chip coating was added to the lower third of the body to protect against stone damage. An exterior color coating of acrylic enamel was topped by an acrylic clear-coat for a lifetime high gloss finish and chip resistance. The clear-coat paint system was refined to increase its resistance to airborne chemicals. The frame assembly was dipped in hot wax to inhibit corrosion.
The steering and suspension systems offered two years of showroom-appearance protection and life-of-vehicle functional protection against corrosion-related failures. Corrosion protection was applied to every component throughout the system. For example, rear springs had zinc inter-liners between the leaves, zinc-rich primer on each leaf and a finish coat of paint.
Heat, vent, air conditioning
Rotary controls for mode, fan speed and temperature were easy to reach and operate. In Floor mode, 10-15% of the air flowed through the defroster ducts. In Floor-Defrost mode the flow was equally divided. In Defrost mode, 80% of the flow was to the windshield. Air flows to the side-window demisters in the Floor, FloorDefrost, and Defrost modes. For balanced comfort in B-Level mode, air flow was 30°F cooler at the panel outlets than it was at the floor. Rotating the temperature control beyond its lowest temperature position closed a damper to prevent outside air from entering the passenger compartment but allowed air to be recirculated inside the cab by the fan if desired. This allowed faster cooling in hot weather. The a/c compressor automatically went on with defrost when the outside temperature was over 45° F (7°C) to prevent window fogging and keep the system lubricated. The ventilation system included air exhausters in the body lock pillars to promote flow through ventilation.
Both heater-only and heater/air conditioner systems used a common housing in the passenger compartment. This housing held the heater core, air conditioning evaporator, the temperature and mode control doors and their actuators and the molded plastic fan. It was connected to the defroster ducts and instrument panel ducts for air distribution.
The Dodge Ram air conditioner cooled faster under all circumstances than competitive systems. In high temperature laboratory testing, the time required to reach an acceptable comfort level was 30% less than with the closest competitor, the result of the 20% higher air flow and a large high-performance plate and evaporator. The seven-piston swash plate-driven compressor was smooth and quiet, and a "piccolo tube" condenser also enhanced performance. Refrigerant expansion was controlled by an orifice tube inserted in the condenser outlet line, which was simpler and more reliable than a thermal expansion valve. Evaporator freeze-up was prevented by a clutch cycling switch that monitored evaporator suction pressure.
For reliability, hose use was limited to locations where flexibility was required; an aluminum tube connected the evaporator to the condenser. In-line quick-connect couplings with O-ring seals at the evaporator and condenser allowed component removal for service while assuring a reliable seal.
Mirrors, glass, and doors
Dual, black 6x9-inch manual outside mirrors were standard. Their housings were impact resistant plastic molded in color to reduce appearance deterioration caused by corrosion and abrasion. They attached at the lower front corner of the side windows (the" sail" area) but stood out from the body on curved tubular mounts. They were hinged to fold against the glass. Each hinge had a memory - a spring detent - making it easy to restore the mirror to its normal position after folding.
Optional chromed 6x9-inch power mirrors were also hinged to fold against the glass. Dual motors positioned each mirror head within a fixed housing. The joystick control had a large knob for easy operation with gloved fingers.
The doors were reinforced to assure steady mirrors while going offroad. Optional low-mount trailer towing mirrors had 7x10-inch heads in bright stainless steel housings, attached by four stainless steel legs bolted to the door support.
The Dodge Ram Pickup had low window cranking effort thanks to tight tolerances and flocked glass runs that eliminated rubber to glass contact. A unique glass run, inserted in a channel in the door, minimized wind noise; along the top and front, the run had a small sealing lip that was completely concealed. Along the rear of the opening an exposed torsional lip on the run closed over the glass as it rolls up, assuring a good seal and providing a smooth transition to the sheet metal to minimize wind noise.
Cross arm regulators positioned the glass in both manual and power windows. A proprietary power window motor and regulator were quiet and included cushioned stops.
Ram Pickup doors were the largest in the industry; sturdy spring-loaded cam and roller door checks had two positions for easier handling. To reduce closing effort, hinge geometry caused the doors to move downward when closing, and the door check cam profile caused the check spring to aid closing. Door check mechanisms was known for effectiveness but also for high cost and weight; on the Ram pickup, it was packaged within the upper hinge, reducing both weight and cost. The spring was Teflon®-coated to reduce noise and the hinges, which were the strongest ever tested by the supplier, had Teflon-coated pivot bushings to reduce friction and noise.
Flush-mounted outside door handles and housing assemblies provided room for gloved hand operation. Linkage geometry made the handle easy and convenient to pull out. When released, the handle sealed against the housing to prevent the entry of water and noise. The handle and its housing were molded in black only, of a reinforced proprietary plastic material that was weather resistant.
The inside door handle pivoted upward and inward at an angle that follows natural elbow movement for comfort and convenience. The door was opened or closed from inside with a pull cup recessed into the arm rest.
Door latches were introduced in 1991 on corporate minivans and further refined for quiet operation in 1993. They were world-class in smooth, quiet operation and low effort. With power door locks, the latches included integral locking motors. Effort to unlock the doors with the key was low because the key did not turn the lock motor.
Door sealing features assured that the Ram pickup had the lowest wind noise of all full size pickups. A body-mounted bulb-type primary seal, which encircled the door opening, kept out water and wind. A unique double-bulb secondary seal filled the gap between the door edge and cab along the windshield pillar and door header to reduces wind noise. The double-bulb seal was more effective than lip-type secondary seals used on cars.
Wipers had airfoil blades to maintain contact at highway speeds. The motor, linkage, and wiper arms was attached to a tubular frame that was mounted in the cowl plenum chamber through four rubber to minimize noise, and position the blades on the windshield for good visibility.
Dual fluidic washer nozzles mounted on the cowl give full glass coverage for rapid cleaning with less fluid than other systems. Fluidic nozzles provided a spray that oscillated rapidly across the wiped area. Because coverage was determined by aerodynamics, nozzle position and nozzle pattern height and width were designed using wind tunnel data.
Cutting noise, vibration, and harshness
The best NVH reduction features of competitive vehicles were combined with improvements by Chrysler engineers. Box-section front frame rails increased structural stiffness; the dash panel, floor pan and cab back panel had extensive structural ribbing (others used this technique sparingly). A back panel reinforcement controlled "boom" and low-frequency noise in the cab. Large low-durometer rubber mounts isolated the cab from noise and vibration. The mounts were located outboard of the frame to reduce cab roll relative to the frame while maintaining the low rate for isolation.
Bushing-type elastomeric front engine mounts on the Ram pickup were tuned to use the engine mass as a dynamic damper for ride motions, making the Ram the only full-size pickup truck to use the engine mounts this way. The mass of the engine oscillating on its mounts dynamically canceled front suspension oscillations, allowing a smoother ride without loss of control. The mounts were widely spaced to control engine movement when the suspension bottomed out over hard bumps. Voids allowed low-amplitude engine oscillation, while the cylindrical construction controlled engine movement when the suspension bottomed out. The large volume and low durometer of the rubber provided effective isolation from engine vibrations with exceptional durability, especially off-road.
With the 3.9-liter V-6, the rear mount included a molded-in "rate plate" that altered the lateral-to-vertical ratio of the mount's rate so that it would provide damping of lateral vibration inherent in the engine.
- The engine side of the dash panel was covered by a fiberglass and vinyl barrier contoured to the dash with the largest coverage area in the industry.
- The passenger side of the dash was covered with an insulating foam pad with vinyl facing. With diesel engines the foam density was increased.
- An insulating pad of molded fiberglass was attached to the hood. With Cummins diesel engine the insulator was thicker and denser. Both had a fabric facing and sealed edges for appearance.
- A foam insulating pad was attached to the engine side of the cowl plenum with Cummins diesel engine only.
- A heavy layer of asphalt mastic was baked onto the floor pan.
- Optional carpeting was backed by a layer of asphalt mastic.
- An insulating pad was placed under both standard vinyl mat floor covering and optional carpeting.
- Molded foam pads are placed behind the cowl side trim panels.
Aerodynamically, the 1994 Ram would not be beaten at Dodge until the 2009 models edged them out; their drag coefficient was 0.44, with a frontal area of 34.49 square feet on all models for rear wheel drive, and 0.48 with 35.34 square feet of front area on four wheel drive. Two examples of aerodynamic methods of cutting wind noise were:
- A flange at the front edge of the box blocked the upward flow of airborne noise behind the cab .
- A dual-bulb secondary seal filled the gap between the door edge and body along the windshield pillar and door header to cut out wind noise.
Windshield, windshield pillar, and door glass changes reduced wind noise to the lowest level in the industry.
Heat expandable plastic noise baffles were placed in door hinge pillars, windshield pillars and door lock pillars. They expanded when heated in the paint oven to block these noise transmission noise paths. EPDM rubber "stuffers" were inserted between front fenders and cowl sides aft of the front wheel openings. They prevented interior noise caused by air rushing over the door faces.
1994 Dodge Ram Body
The 1994 Ram pickup had the largest cab with the best interior accommodations for its occupants. Accommodation meant comfort -lack of fatigue - and convenience - ease of reach and effort. The Ram pickup cab provided seating accommodation for 95% of the US adult population, exceeding all other pickup trucks in accommodation for both large and small people. Accommodations were as follows:
|Shoulder room||66.3 (1684)|
|Seat to cab back||3.8 - 13.2|
|Seat track travel||7.5|
The Ram interior had extra storage space behind the seat, a more comfortable standard seat and a more reclined seat back than was possible with smaller cabs. The innovative 40-20-40 front seat included a folding combination "business center" and armrest with space for a laptop computer, a portable cellular telephone, cassette tapes, and miscellaneous items. Also available was an innovative behind-the-seat storage system that included clip-on bins, a retention net held by bungee cords and a full-width, floor mounted tray with dividers. The instrument panel included the following convenience features:
- A dual-opening retractable mug and cup holder with flexible lips that retained containers from 5 to 44 ounces. The cup holder was high in the panel and close to the driver for easy access without looking away from the road.
- An open storage box was above the glove compartment. A rubber mat with a lip at the front edge prevented objects from sliding out and dampens noise from objects inside.
- A depression in the top of the panel, also above the glove compartment, provided a resting place for small items.
- Gloved-hand clearance was provided for the cup holder and ash tray and all controls.
The steering column lower cover acted as a knee bolster. Though it acted as a restraint during collisions, it provided ample clearance for driver entry, exit and pedal operation.
Standard instrumentation on the Ram pickup included an electrically-driven (no cable) speedometer and odometer with trip odometer, and electrical gauges for oil pressure, coolant temperature, electrical system voltage and fuel level. A premium instrument cluster (in Laramie SLT decor group and standard with diesel) included a tachometer, low fuel warning light and low washer fluid level indicator light.
A message center below the heating, ventilating and air conditioning controls on the Ram pickup instrument panel had warning lamps that indicated "Water In Fuel" (diesel engine), "Wait To Start" (diesel engine), and "Transmission Temperature."
Two overhead consoles were optional; both included two courtesy and reading lamps. Pressing the hinged lens of each lamp turned the lamp on. The base console included a single storage pocket; with the Laramie SL T decor group, the overhead console included an electronic compass and outside temperature display unit instead.
Ram pickup pedals pivoted on a rigid magnesium die casting that also supported the steering column. This common mounting assured precise control of pedal height and lateral position. Pedal position, comfort and convenience were established through human factors engineering. Each pedal had sufficient room for a driver with large work boots. Height difference between brake and accelerator was small for convenient operation. The accelerator pedal lever ratio and geometry provided the most comfortable foot position, travel arc and overall feel in the class.
The steering wheel size, position and angle were determined using human factors engineering. Round horn buttons were located on the steering wheel spokes for easy access. A rubber isolated easy-slide double-D coupling between the steering column and steering gear quietly and snugly allowed for small amounts of relative motion between frame and cab.
Switches aligned along the base of the steering wheel operate the optional automatic speed control system. Each switch key had a raised, ribbed edge to indicate the appropriate actuation point. Each switch had a subtle end-of-travel detent to indicate that action had occurred.
The ignition switch and lock on the steering column include a "halo" lamp ring around the key cylinder for easy location at night. The halo lamp was "on" briefly after the driver's door was opened.
A bench seat with hinged back was standard. The cushion was also deep for thigh support. A unique 40-20-40 seat configuration was optional, with three trim materials. The 40% sections were independently adjustable and had manual recliners. The driver's seat had a four-position manual lumbar support. Outboard seat backs were wider than passenger car bucket seat backs to accommodate larger drivers. A driver-only six-way power seat track was optional with the Laramie SLT decor group.
Both outboard seats provided easy access to the storage area behind the seats. Lifting the latch on the back of the seat released both the back latch and the track latch. This let the back fold and the cushion slide forward in one motion. Lifting the seat track adjusting lever freed the cushion to return to its prior position.
The back of the center seat folded down to form an arm rest that also served as a cover for the unique "business center" storage area. Compartments were provided for a notebook computer, a cellular phone, cassette tapes, and other items.
Each seat had a urethane foam cushion resting on a wire mat suspended by springs. Firmness of the foam and flexibility of the seat suspension was based on bench mark cushion and back configurations determined by extensive jury ride and drive evaluations of competitive vehicles. Seat styling was also developed from these benchmarks.
The Laramie SLT headliner was foam-backed premium, plush fabric. The Laramie SLT decor group also included a grab handle on the passenger-side roof rail. The standard headliner featured a Foss® covering (a proprietary non-woven fabric) over molded urethane foam for appearance that was superior to competitive vinyl headliners.
The Laramie SLT decor group included full-coverage mass-backed floor carpeting and vinyl carpet protection mats. Mass-backing was a heavy asphalt mastic material that was highly effective at damping vibration and blocking road noise. The standard trim had a full-coverage" animal hide" grained vinyl floor mat.
The inside rear view mirror was 12 inches wide for good visibility. It included manually-operated prismatic nighttime dimming.
The Laramie SLT cab back had a carpet-covered molded plastic trim panel that supported a unique storage system. Two removable, interchangeable bins could be hung in four possible locations on slotted vertical tracks attached to the trim panel. A net retained by bungee cords stretched between track slots or formed the slotted tracks to other slots in a full width floor-mounted storage tray. The floor tray had two fixed dividers and was molded of black ABS plastic.
Two battery ratings - 600 A and 750 A - were used; both had Group 27 cases. Dual batteries were standard with the Cummins Turbo Diesel engine; these lasted longer and were easier to recharge than the single battery used previously, and made it possible to use a smaller, lighter starter.
The headlight lenses were made of high-impact polycarbonate plastic, with the look of glass. The housing had shielded vent tubes at the top and bottom, which permitted moisture to escape but prevented the entry of rain or road splash. Headlight aiming screws were accessible from the front. An optional two-element cargo lamp was combined with the center, high-mounted stop light, recessed into the back of the cab above the rear window.
The power locks could be set by a dealer or owner to automatically lock when the vehicle reached 16 mph (but were not shipped with that feature on.)
A power distribution center on the left fender side shield included cartridge fuses to protect major power distribution circuits, and relays for underhood power equipment. Its location minimized voltage drops and made locating relays for service easy. A label inside the latching cover identified the relays and fuses.
The fuse block was located just inboard of the left end of the instrument panel, behind the panel surface. The location cut wire length to instrument panel electrical components. The fuse block included a snap-in retainer that was installed in the cavity for the IOD (ignition off draw) fuse, allowing the fuse to remain in its regular location when disconnected. A fuse puller was clipped to the fuse block and a label on the back of the cover identified the fuses. Three spare fuses were also attached to the fuse block cover.
The instrument panel structure included a trough for the wiring harness to protect the wiring and reduce the possibility of buzzes, squeaks, and rattles. Powered components throughout the vehicle had direct connections rather than "pig tails" for high reliability.
Wire harnesses were routed over smooth surfaces or in structural formations and held in place with plastic clips wherever possible to protect them against damage. Plastic troughs and grommets protected the harnesses from rough surfaces and sharp edges. To minimize the potential for damage and make both installation and service easy, most wiring was placed outside body cavities.
A body wiring harness rear take-out was standard on 3500 models and included with the Trailer Tow Group to simplify conventional or "fifth-wheel" trailer hook ups. The harness included a frame ground to support trailer tow wiring connections which frequently specified this form of ground.
Rear suspensions had longitudinal leaf springs, tubular shock absorbers, and a solid axle, with 60-inch springs - six inches longer than the previous Ram pickup to reduce stress, allowing a lower rate for a better ride, while cutting spring "wind up" for a smoother "launch" feel.
A flat (low camber) spring configuration lowered the rear roll center to increase cornering stability. Tension-type rear shackles controlled shake. Large front eye bushings absorbed impacts to reduce ride harshness. On models over 8800 pounds GVWR, the springs were 0.5 in. wider than on the previous Ram pickup to reduce stress, allowing a lower rate for a better ride while maintaining durability. Standard tubular shock absorbers with a 30 millimeter bore and 34 millimeter reservoir tube provided consistent ride control on rough surfaces and lasted longer than competitive standard shock absorbers. Heavy-duty shock absorbers with a 35 millimeter bore were optional.
Rear wheel drive Ram pickups had a wide track and refined independent front suspension with coil springs and a standard anti-roll bar. Heavy-duty shock absorbers with a 30-mm bore and an oversized reservoir tube provided ride control on rough surfaces and lasted longer than competitive standard shock absorbers. Heavier shock absorbers with a 35-mm bore were optional with some 2500 models and all 3500 models. The suspension was conventional in concept for high reliability and durability but included the following refinements:
- Suspension travel was 8 in. for a smooth ride on bumpy surfaces.
- Long radius control arms and a tall steering knuckle cut camber and toe changes during ride motions.
- A raised roll center improved steering response and reduced sway during cornering.
- Upper control arms were inclined to the rear to minimize front suspension dive during braking.
- The cast iron steering knuckle rode between large, durable ball joints.
- The steering knuckle included a pressed-in forged steel spindle for long wear.
- Scrub radius (offset between the steering ax was and the center of the tire contact patch) was small to increase wheel bearing life, gave better handling response and enhance braking stability.
- Shock absorber and spring lever arm ratios were large to improve ride control.
- Wide base control arms reduced shake and transverse frame loads.
- Wide base control arms also reduced noise and harshness by allowing softer upper and lower control arm pivot bushings to cushion longitudinal wheel travel over impact bumps.
- The link-type anti-roll bar had Teflon-lined bushings for smooth consistent operation and long life.
- Micro-cellular urethane front suspension jounce bumpers begin working early in jounce travel and had a rising rate that contributes to handling and reduces harshness when "bottoming out."
- Bushing-type variable rate front engine mounts are tuned to use the engine mass as a dynamic damper for ride motions.
The 3500 cab and chassis used the same front suspension as 4x4 models, but had a straight tubular axle instead of a drive axle.
4x4 front suspensions
The 4x4 models used a solid axle with link-coil suspension and a standard anti-roll bar; four parallel leading links positioned the axle longitudinally while a track bar provided lateral location. A link-type sway bar and heavy-duty tubular shock absorbers were standard. The link-coil suspension was more durable and less complex than independent systems, had less tire wear because tire camber did not change during ride motions, and had an excellent ride comparable to independent systems on the road, while far superior to them off the road. Ride control was high due to wide-mounted coil springs and shocks, and there was over 7.5 inches of ride travel balanced between jounce and rebound. The system had more dynamic ground clearance than independent systems, with less rebound friction than a leaf spring suspension to help keep the wheels on the ground in off-road operation and a lower rate than leaf springs for a smooth ride.
Bushing-type variable rate front engine mounts were tuned to use the engine mass as a dynamic damper for ride motions.
Steering, wheels, tires, and brakes
Variable ratio power steering and low turning-torque tie-rod ends aided Dodge Ram maneuverability for 2WD and 4WD models with 6010, 6400 and 7500-pound GVWR's. The overall ratio was 16:1 on center and 13:1 at the ends of travel. With higher capacities, a 17.5:1 ratios was used. Compression-type lower ball joints on 2WD models provided lower steering effort and better steering returnability than tension joints.
Sixteen-inch center-pilot wheels were standard on all Ram pickup models; they provided better balance and less run-out than unpiloted wheels. Sixteen-inch wheels provided better ride and handling, more ground clearance, and more room for brakes. Chrome-plated, full-face steel wheels were available exclusively on 1500 and 2500 models of the Ram pickup; the Ram 2500 was the only 3/4-ton full-size pickup to offer them as original equipment.
Sixteen-inch "P-metric" tires, with passenger car tread design but constructed to light truck specifications, were standard on Ram pickup 1500 2WD models - the first pickup trucks to have them - improving gas mileage, cornering, feel, and braking. Allseason, all-terrain and OWL (Outline White Letter)" image" tires were available in all load ranges.
Brakes were designed for best in class feel, stopping ability, heat resistance, and durability, with standard sliding caliper front disc brakes and dual servo rear brakes on all models. Front brakes used slider single piston calipers; the sliders protected against contamination and corrosion. Rotors, drums, and power brake boosters were larger and (except for the booster) thicker than on the previous generation. A quick take-up booster and master cylinder assembly, similar to one first introduced on the Viper sports car, responded immediately to pedal movement. The systems were self-adjusting; and lining materials had no asbestos. Steering knuckles on 2WD models had integral brake caliper anchors for simplicity and low weight.
Rear-wheel anti-lock brakes were standard and carried over from 1993. A single sensor on the differential housing was used for both rear brakes. The Ram offered optional four-wheel antilock disk brakes as well, on 1500 and 2500 models with both rear wheel drive and four wheel rive; these used separate speed sensors at each front wheel as well as the single rear sensor.
Cross-flow aluminum radiators with plastic end tanks cooled all Ram pickup V -6 and V-8 engines; the lightweight aluminum radiators were unique among full-size pickup trucks. Varying requirements are met with different core thicknesses; the face area was kept the same.
V10 and diesel engines used copper-brass radiators, and needed no heavy duty package to cool at their maximum tow rating on a 4% grade at 45 mph. Leak prevention was enhanced by the use of machined water pump hose connections and radiator nipple pop-off beads.
New snap-on fittings improved the reliability and durability of transmission cooler line connections and were easier to remove and reconnect. A completed connection was both audible and visible to the installer. Auxiliary air-to-oil transmission coolers supplemented the in-radiator cooler when heavy-duty transmission cooling was specified.
Cooling fans were still driven off the engine crankshaft by a serpentine belt accessory drive. Fans "idled" at about 1000 rpm unless more speed was required, courtesy of a bi-metal temperature sensor which controlled a valve which altered the flow of a viscous material in the fan connector.
The jack was stored under the seat on all models. On the Laramie SLT decor group, the tire changing tools were placed in the floor-mounted storage tray and retained by a Velcro® strap. With other decor groups, the tools were clamped to the floor behind the seat.
A driver's air bag and instrument panel knee bolster supplemental restraint system was standard on all 1994 Dodge Ram pickups, making them the first and only pickup trucks to provide a standard a driver's air bag on all models.
The airbag was made of a porous fabric first introduced on the LH cars; it had just one small opening for deflation, and controlled porosity let the inflating gas disperse evenly through the bag. This porous fabric also permitted a trimmer steering wheel housing than the neoprene-coated material used in previous systems because it was less bulky. The gas generator for the Ram Pickup air bag was smaller and lighter than on other Chrysler air bags, also contributing to a less bulky steering wheel module.
Dodge Ram Changes, 1995-2000
In 1995, the Club Cab, with front and folding rear seats, an extended frame, and swing-out quarter windows, was added as customer tastes started to move towards big cabs. An illuminated overdrive lockout switch and new Infinity CD stereo with equalizer was added to the options. A warning chime replaced the buzzer in the light group.
Late in 1995, Dodge added fog lights to the sport package, made four-wheel antilock brakes optional on Ram 3500, and started selling a compressed natural gas (CNG) 5.2 liter V8 engine. After the model year launch, torque on the manual-transmission diesel was increased by 10 pound-feet.
1996 brought an increase in diesel power and torque, electronically-governed automatic transmissions, sequential fuel injection for the V10 (with no change in power ratings but better gas mileage and lower emissions), new wheels for SLT and Sport models, CD controls added to the cassette stereo with equalizer, cruise control switches with an On light, and yellow underhood service point identification. Less visible were a switch to the JTEC powertrain computer, which brought OBD II on-board diagnostics to all powertrains. Finally, late in the year, a camper suspension package was added, and EGR was deleted from all gas engines (this occurred late in the year for the 5.9 liter V8).
In 1997, Dodge happily announced that its Rams were rated #1 in Strategic Vision’s Total Quality Index for the second year in a row. New features included electrocoat frame paint, optional remote keyless entry, new leather seats with woodgrain interior (on SLT), a Sport Plus upgrade package with refined suspension, different wheels and tires, 360 engine, and sport exhaust, rear cupholders added to one SLT seat package, stereo upgrades (including a combined CD/cassette unit), a new sliding rear window, new interior and exterior colors, a standard rear stabilizer bar and auxiliary spring coupled with an improved frame and wiring on the 3500 cab and chassis, and a snow-plow prep group optional on 2500 Club Cab with 360. The diesel’s throttle control system was refined and hydraulic power brake booster was added. In 1997, Dodge Ram sales moved to 350,000 units, 12% of the total United States market and 19% of the American full-sized pickup segment - more than double the 1993 Ram’s market share.
In 1998, the Quad Cab™ body style was the first extended-cab pickup truck in the industry to feature four doors. Midyear in 1998, next-generation front airbags were introduced; a passenger side airbag switch was added; a removable storage module was added underneath the Quad Cab rear seats; and the Cummins turbodiesel was upgraded with more powerful. The Dodge Ram pickup was nearing the end of its first "big-rig" series, but it was still gaining in popularity as factories churned out more and more of the new pickups and Ford and GM scrambled to match them. The combination of user-friendly interiors, high capacity chassis, powerful Magnum engines (with "gassers" from the 3.9 liter V6 to the 8.0 liter V10 -- all based on the ancient LA V8 family -- and the Cummins straight-six turbodiesel), and better than usual ride and handling all made the Ram the pickup to get, for those who didn't just head to their usual dealer out of habit. The automatic transmissions proved to be a problem in many of these pickups, unfortunately, but it was not nearly as bad as the 1989 Ultradrive debacle. The new Ram had taken Dodge from selling 90,000 full-size pickups a year in 1992 - a 6% market share - to a whopping 383,960 in 1996, good for a 19% market share. For 1998, the main change was a completely new interior package that absorbed more sound, while better chassis tuning cut vibration.
According to engineer “JTE,” the 1998 Quad Cab’s “suicide doors were designed to access the rear seat without having to mess with existing floors, roofs, frames, shafts, lines etc. After the Quad Cab proved popular, a few forward thinkers proposed extending the cab and shortening the cargo box 100mm to provide for a b pillar swing. An A/B buck was built with B pillar swing on one side and c pillar swing on the other, shown all over, loved by everyone. We even brought in a dirt bike to check fit, hence the term 6’ box became ‘short box’ so we could salvage components common to the 140” wheelbase.” This “true four door” was launched as part of the 2002 refresh.
In 1999, four-wheel antilock brakes were made standard on the Ram 3500; and the Sport Appearance Group was upgraded (it included the front bumper, front fascia, grille, and quad headlamps). Redesigned overhead consoles with and without a trip computer were added; power windows were upgraded; the headlamps were moved to a rotary switch; the JTEC computer was upgraded for added diagnostic capabilities; the odometer and trip odometer were switched to a digital system; and radio controls could be added to the steering wheel.
1999 was the fifth consecutive year the Dodge Ram was named the "Most Appealing Full-Size Pickup" by J.D Power and Associates.
In 2000, with the next generation on its way, the all important Dodge pickup lost the Ram 1500 Club Cab with eight foot box, and the Ram 2500 Club Cab models; there were new trailer towing mirrors (folding, flag mounted) and new colors. Inside, the SLT+ group with Quad Cab models got unique leather seats and numerous creature comforts including steering-wheel radio controls, four wheel antilock brakes, aluminum wheels, trip computer, and heated seats.
On all models, the tachometer, low-washer-fluid light, and underhood lamp became standard. Front suspension and steering was modified to improve ride, directional stability and steering precision; the Ram 2500 and 3500 rear suspensions were modified for better ride quality when loaded.
The new Rams stopped better with a new brake system that used dual-piston front calipers and a quick response vacuum booster; quicker heavy-duty two wheel drive steering gear helped steering, too. New tires were used on various models, with 3500 getting larger tires and optional chrome plated wheels.
A new off-road group was set up for the Ram 1500 4x4 with short wheelbase, using a unique suspension, limited slip differential, heavy duty components, skid plates, tow hooks, fog lamps, 4.10 axles, and different tires and wheels.
Finally, in 2001, the company added electronic cruise control to the manual-transmission diesel, made four-wheel antilock disk brakes (with dual-piston rear calipers and electronic variable brake proportioning) standard on Ram 2500 and Ram 3500. Dimensional graphics were added to the tailgate, and child seat anchors were added to the cab back panels. Diesels went up to 245 horsepower and 505 lb-ft of torque with a new six-speed manual transmission, or, with the four-speed automatic and five-speed manual, 235 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.
1994-2001 Dodge Ram specifications and such
Safety was augmented by a standard driver air bag, side door beams, and optional four-wheel anti-lock brakes.
These were taken from the year 2000 as a representative year. The NV series were New Venture manual transmissions with five forward speeds (3500/4500) or six forward speeds (NV5600); they were synchronized in all gears. The other transmissions were automatics with four speeds (including overdrive), hydraulically controlled with electronically controlled governor, overdrive, overdrive lockout, and torque converter clutch. All automatics required a special ATF+3 transmission fluid.
Both the NV231 and NV241 transfer cases were part-time, synchronized, with 2WD, 4WD high, 4WD low, and neutral operating ranges, and a low-range ratio of 2.72:1. They had no center differential.
Dimensions and capacities
For 2000, short beds were available only with the Ram 1500 and quad cab Ram 2500. 4x4 wheelbases were .3 inches shorter than rear drive models. Club Cab was only available on Ram 1500.
|Short bed||Long bed|
|Bed length||6.5 feet||8 feet|
|Wheelbase, reg. cab||119||135|
|Wheelbase, Quad/Club cabs||139||155|
|Length, regular cab||204||224|
|Length, extended cab||224||244|
|Gas tank capacity||26 gal||44 gal|
Interior accommodations varied only by cab type: regular cabs had less seat travel and recliner range, but identical dimensions otherwise, while Club Cab and Quad Cab had rear seats.