InteriorProbably the most significant and recognizable changes for those familiar with the current Ram can be found inside the cab. In both the regular cab and Quad Cab, the interiors have been lengthened by 3 inches. This was accomplished by taking 3 inches from the bed length and adding it to the cab. Preliminary literature claims that with this change the truck "remains essentially the same length as the previous model." We checked that out against the 2001 Quad Cab specs and found that "essentially the same length" means that the new Quad Cab has an overall length of 227.7, which is 3.6 inches longer than the old model. If the engineers traded bed length for cab space, we haven't figured out where that extra 3.6 inches comes from. Likewise, the regular cab sports an extra 3 inches in overall length, although the listed specifications show a box-length decrease of 5 inches from the old model. Go figure.

Whatever the case, the new Ram has more interior space than its predecessor, providing more passenger room and interior hauling space. Another noticeable update is the new instrument panel, which features bright white gauges for better visibility. Cool options include a dual-zone climate-control system, heated leather seats on the SLT+ model, and optional power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals for a more custom driver fit.

Engineers also addressed some safety concerns. Front and rear side-curtain air bags are available, and the rear seat of the Quad Cab is bigger and comes with lap-and-shoulder belts in all three seating positions-allowing more accommodations for child safety seats and boosters. The center seat position on the Regular Cab also has lap-and-shoulder belts.

DrivetrainFor 2002, the 1500 series trucks continues to boast three engine options-one V6 and two V8s. The hard-hitting 5.9L Magnum is still in the lineup, but the 3.9L V6 and 5.2L V8 engines have been displaced by all-new powerplants.

Economy-minded buyers will like the new 3.7L Magnum, which replaces the old 3.9L, for the simple reason that there are no sacrifices by going with a smaller displacement. The new V6 delivers 210 hp (at 5200 rpm) and 230 ft-lb of torque (at 4000 rpm est.), with a fuel economy of 16/21 (manual) and 16/20 (automatic). That's 35 more horsepower, the same torque, and one mpg better fuel economy in city driving than the 3.9L.

The new 4.7L Magnum gives only a slight horsepower improvement over the 5.2L it replaces, delivering 235 hp (at 4800 rpm) compared to 230 hp for the 5.2L. The smaller engine does go backwards in torque rating. With its 295 ft-lb of torque (at 3200 rpm), the 4.7 has 5 ft-lb less torque at the same rpm than the 5.2L. Fuel economy is only slightly better in the various 2WD/4WD/manual/automatic configurations. Unfortunately, the rumored new Hemi V8 will not be part of this year's model lineup.

Only one change has been made to the transmission. The NV3500 five-speed continues to be the base manual tranny for the two smallest Magnums, but the 42RE automatic is now replaced with the new-to-the-Ram 45RE four-speed auto, which is purported to be a quieter and more responsive slush box. The 45RE is also the only tranny in its class with a Reverse-gear ratio equal to the low-gear ratio, and an alternate Second-gear ratio which kicks in when needed for extreme towing, hauling and steep grade climbing. Trucks with the 5.9L Magnum can still be optioned with the 46RE four-speed automatic. For 4WD models, the manual NV 241 manual shift or NV 243 electric-shift transfer cases are the two choices.