Dodges full-size vans are entering their final season on the market. DaimlerChrysler announced in 2000 that no more Ram Vans or Wagons would be manufactured. The full-size models then earned a reprieve, but only into the 2003 calendar year. In fact, the passenger-carrying Ram Wagons are now extinct, leaving only the cargo-hauling Ram Vans available to buyers. The Ram Van is essentially unchanged for 2003, except for new 16-inch wheels. Vans had been outselling Wagons by a considerable margin.
When they expire, a direct replacement will not be produced. But DaimlerChrysler has begun to market the new full-size Dodge Sprinter and Freightliner Sprinter commercial vans.
Ram Vans come in three sizes and three capacity ratings: 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (three-quarter-ton) and 3500 (one-ton). Dodge also uses the Ram name for its masculine-looking full-size pickup trucks, which are offered in the same three series.
Unlike full-size competitors from Chevrolet, Ford and GMC, the Ram Vans have unibody construction. DaimlerChrysler says this yields greater cargo space and payload capacity than the separate body-on-frame design that its rivals use. Many Ram Vans are used as conversion vans or are sold to the disabled under DaimlerChryslers Automobility Program.
The regular-length Ram Van 1500 rides a 109.3-inch wheelbase and measures 192.6 inches long overall. Ram Van 1500s with a 127.2-inch wheelbase are available in one of two lengths: 208.5 inches or 234.5 inches for the Maxi Van. The bodies of the Maxi Van models extend an extra 26 inches beyond the back wheels.
Vans in the 2500 and 3500 series are available only with the longer, 127.2-inch wheelbase and in one of two lengths: 208.5 inches or 234.5 inches for the Maxi Van. The bodies of the Maxi Van models extend an extra 26 inches beyond the back wheels.
Twin doors on the right side of the vehicle and dual rear doors are standard for all Ram Vans. A single back door and a sliding side door are optional.
Intended mainly for cargo hauling or conversion use, Ram Vans have only two vinyl-upholstered front seats, and the passenger seat can be removed. Cloth upholstery is optional. A cassette stereo is standard, and a CD player is optional; the radio can be removed entirely.
The 1500s cargo volume is 200 cubic feet for the short-wheelbase model. Cargo capacity for all Ram vans measures 238.9 cubic feet for the regular, longer-wheelbase version and 294.6 cubic feet for the Maxi Van. Tilt steering is standard on all models.
Dodge can supply special equipment for commercial applications, such as a Tradesman Group that includes a ladder rack, shelving and partitions.
Under the Hood
A 175-horsepower, 3.9-liter V-6 engine or a 225-hp, 5.2-liter V-8 can be installed in the 1500 series. Extended-wheelbase 1500 vans can be equipped with a 5.9-liter V-8 that generates 245 hp. A three-speed-automatic transmission is used with the V-6 engine, and V-8 models team with a four-speed automatic. Ram Van 1500s can tow between 4,150 and 8,200 pounds depending on the series, wheelbase and engine.
All heavy-duty Ram Vans have V-8 engines. The 5.2-liter produces 225 horsepower, while the 5.9-liter engine develops 245 hp. Dodge also offers a version of the 5.2-liter that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). Each V-8 model teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Ram Van 2500 and 3500s can tow between 7,600 and 8,600 pounds depending on the wheelbase and engine.
On all Ram Vans, standard antilock brakes act only on the rear wheels, but four-wheel ABS is optional. Front seat belt pretensioners and front airbags are installed. Side-impact airbags are not available.