Test: 2000 Dodge Ram 1500 Sport SLT by
When we were
expecting the latest Road Test truck and were told it was going
to be a Dodge Ram, well we naturally assumed it had to be an extended
cab 4x4 probably loaded to the top with the latest trim and equipment.
Well, we guessed wrong but were in for a great surprise because
we tend to get a little spoiled these days when it comes to pickup
trucks. A 2000 Dodge Ram 1500 Sport showed up on our doorsteps with
a standard cab, manual transmission (yes you heard us, M-A-N-U-A-L)
and 5.2 Liter Magnum V8.
Of course you
know that there has never been so much choice in the marketplace
or a better time to buy when it comes to truck configurations these
days. There is a truck out there for every type of purpose, business
or lifestyle. You can have a standard cab - which is increasingly
rare, extended cab, four door extended cab, crew cab short bed,
crew cab long bed, dual rear wheel... you get the picture. We definitely
like choice but sometimes it pays to go back to the basics to again
learn to appreciate just how lucky we are with all of the choices
In a way its
kind of ironic that the Dodge Ram we tested made us feel we were
going back to the basics because you can point back to just a few
years ago when the 1994 Ram
was introduced and made the rest of the industry take note
trucks didn't have to be boring boxes anymore. The 1994 Dodge Ram
started a revolution in looks and features across the board that
continues to this day and shows no appearance of stopping anytime
soon. Our 2000 Dodge Ram just made the revolution that much more
apparent to us.
It looms out
from the middle of the console - one tall, long shift lever. When
you first see that shifter in this Ram one of two emotions comes
to mind - fear and loathing because you have never driven, or rarely
drive, a stick or sheer joy at the fact that in front of you is
a direct connection to a V8 engine.
manual transmissions are pretty rare in full size trucks and diminishing
each year as automatics increasingly become standard equipment.
With a manual transmission the driver has complete control over
gear selection and how much power is transferred to the rear wheels.
In the rainy San Francisco winter this was helpful in driving during
wet conditions or in making prompt departures from
in dry ones. Manual transmissions also make driving more fun. Some
of us do drive vehicles other than pickup trucks and when we do
we like them to have sticks if possible. And there is nothing like
the feeling of exhilaration that comes from driving a stick up San
Francisco's infamous hills knowing that you have battled gravity
to fight another day. Bring it on!
gear shifter itself was quite easy to use and reach. Shifts were
clean and crisp with only very occasional gear hunting. The only
gripe about the shifter was that Dodge should have wrapped the boot
at the bottom in leather, like the steering wheel, or vinyl rather
than the rubbery 'pyramid' that made the SLT package look cheapened.
A few dollars extra would have gone a long way towards improving
the interior appearance.
cab pickup, like the manual transmission, is also exceedingly rare
today. What once used to make up around 70% of all truck sales now
makes up less than 30%. Our Ram, with its long gear shift and 40/20/40
bench seating, could accommodate no more than two adults comfortably
and any attempt to sandwich an adult in the middle was quickly struck
down by the unfortunate candidate for the middle seat.
of reclining travel and cloth material made the seats quite comfortable
to use on long and short drives.
the seats was the Ram's famous storage bin. Big enough to
easily swallow a laptop and peripherals the bin also served
as a handy armrest and was easily stowed when not needed.
the bench seating the Ram offered adequate space to store
tools and other assorted items in the bins that hang from
the back of the cab. Though no longer class leading, we used
the back space to easily fit a folded 'Val-Pack' with suits
and clothing for the trip to the airport for the Chicago Auto
panel and HVAC controls were
and nicely arranged but appear a bit dated when compared to
full size trucks from the competition. Night driving revealed
easy to read instrumentation.
serious complaint about the interior was a leak that developed
after a night of intense rain. One of the gaskets around the
windshield was not properly seated which created some pretty
good wetness in the floor on the passenger side and even some
water in the glove box. Definitely not expected on a 2000
On the outside,
even with two wheel drive and a short bed, the Dodge Ram was still
quite imposing and continues to lead the pack in looks. Its aggressive
front end has worn quite well in the years since its introduction.
Blue Pearl paint job and 16"x7" cast aluminum wheels suited
the 1500 Sport Appearance Group package well. The Sport Appearance
Group package is an option with the SLT trim and includes additional
paint colors, body-color front and rear bumpers, a black grille
with body color trim, fog lights, Sport decals and aluminum wheels.
The bed of
the truck, though not used for any heavy hauling while we had it,
was large enough to potentially handle just about anything we could
throw at it.
Dodge Ram 1500 Sport SLT came with the 5.2L Magnum V8.
Generating 230 horsepower and 300 ft-lb. of torque. This
engine also featured Dodge's sequential multi-point fuel
injection (SMPI) for improved throttle response. Mated
to the manual transmission we found that even in first
we had a broad range of power
torque to call upon at any time. This is one fine little
V8 for scooting around in a short bed, standard cab,
two wheel drive truck.
5.2 Liter engine is rated to tow up to a GVWR - the
maximum allowable combined weight of loaded truck and
trailer - of 6,400 pounds. It includes the weight of
passengers, cargo and fuel in the truck and cargo in
expected in a truck of this size with a short bed and
cab, the ride - even on relatively smooth roads - could
get bumpy and harsh at times. You should not buy this
truck thinking that you will get the same style ride
as the extended cab 2 wheel drive version but at a bargain
price. You get what you pay for. But overall, even on
long drives, there was not much driver fatigue from
the manual transmission, wide power range in first gear
and generous torque standing starts could be a lot of
fun. It was no problem quickly hitting highway speeds
faster than almost any other truck we have been in.
mileage averaged just over 15 mpg for combined highway
and city driving. Considering the mixed conditions we
had the mileage was slightly better than we expected.
Dodge Ram Sport 1500 is the perfect third vehicle for a family
with kids or primary driver for those in a two or single person
perfectly suited to those with an active lifestyle on a budget
the 1500 makes
not only trips to Home Depot easy, but for those side trips
to the lake with a few jet skis or a small boat your perfect
truck has arrived.
Dodge Ram 1500 Sport
Price: $16,675 Price
as Tested: $20,120
as Tested Includes: Customer Preferred Package 23G - SLT
Decor, Air Conditioning, Power Windows and Locks, Speed Control,
Light Group, Floor Mats, 16x7.0 Cast Aluminum Wheels ($3000);
Sport Appearance Group - Front Bumper Body Color, Rear Bumper
Body Color, Headlamps, Fog Lamps, Halogen Headlights ($505);
5.2L SMPI V8 Engine ($590); California Emissions (No Charge);
Destination Charge ($650); California Bonus Discount (-$600);
Customer Preferred Discount (-$700)