Platform EnhancementsFor 2002 the Ram has also undergone some slight changes to improve safety, ride quality, and capabilities. A lot of engineering, for example, has gone into the frame. The front structure is now made through the hydroforming process which GM has been exploiting in their pickup and SUV lines, and has been designed to be stronger and better able to absorb impact forces, thereby offering increased passenger protection during collisions. In back, the frame has been additionally reinforced to maintain better crash integrity.

On the handling side, new steering ratios are aimed at helping maneuverability and steering ease. Engineers also revisited the braking system and, according to the company, have integrated the largest four-wheel disc brakes available in this truck segment. Four-wheel-drive models get a new torsion bar independent front suspension, while the traditional rear leaf springs have been lengthened by 3 inches for reduced wheel hop and added durability. Ground clearance comes in at a healthy 9.5 inches, with suspension travel increased by half an inch over the previous Ram, to 8.5 inches. Seventeen-inch wheels and tires are standard, but for those who want some truly impressive rolling stock, a 20-inch wheel/tire combo will be offered.

Performance And ConclusionSo what do all of these changes mean in the real world? We're not able to give you any quarter-mile numbers at this time, but from the "work mule" point of view, the 2002 Ram has a leg up on its predecessor. Both payload and towing capacities are up in the 1500 series. The Quad Cab towing capacity jumps from 7,650 pounds to 8,350 pounds, with a payload increase from 1,567 pounds to 1,750 pounds. The regular cab's towing capacity goes from 7,950 pounds to 8,660 pounds. Each model features increases in Gross Combined Weight (GCW) and Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Plenty of Mopar grit to tote boats, campers, engine blocks, show cars...you get the picture.

The original Ram design was one that gave truck buyers and owners a chance to have something different. In keeping with the Dodge: Different motif, the 2002 remake, though not as radically different as its first-generation predecessor, will continue to stand alone in an ever-increasing pack of competitors in its marketplace.