2002 SEMA Preview: Performance West Group Supercharged Dodge Ram Hemi
By: Harvey Schwartz Posted: 10-23-02 00:00
© 2002 PickupTruck.com, Harvey Schwartz Automotive Photography

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Back in the early 1990's Dodge made it's first effort to join Ford and GM in the booming full-size pickup truck marketplace. Ford was selling over 600,000 F-Series a year and GM was second with the Silverado/Sierra twins combining for over 450,000 in sales. The Dodge Ram was a distant third with only 75,000 to 80,000 units selling each year.

Dodge wanted a larger share of this rich market and decided to put more time and money into engineering and designing a new generation of full-size pickup trucks that would change the face of the marketplace.

The new generation Dodge Ram 1500 came with bold new looks, best-in-class roominess, comfort and safety. You had a choice of the 5.2-liter V8 making about 220hp, a 5.9-liter V8 making 245hp and the behemoth 8.0-liter V10 from the Dodge Viper but detuned to 300hp with 440-lb.ft. of torque.

By the late 1990's sales increased significantly to over 300,000 units but still Dodge lagged far behind.

In 2002 Dodge introduced its second generation Ram 1500 with even bolder 'big-rig' styling, more interior room with 4-real doors, a refined independent front suspension on 2WD models for a smoother ride plus the first rack & pinion steering system for sharper handling. The 5.2-liter was now replaced with the 4.7-liter V8 making 235hp. These engines were 'old school' and couldn't keep up with the power generated by Ford's 5.4-liter Triton V8 at 265hp, and GM's 6.0-liter Vortec V8 making 300hp, offered on their light-duty pickups.

In 2003 the new Dodge Ram Heavy Duty puts an end to the this deficiency by reaching back into its muscle car heyday of the 1970's and re-engineering the Hemi-head V8 engine and offering it in their new lineup of heavy duty pickup trucks.

This new Hemi V8 engine is a technological marvel with the free breathing hemispherical combustion chamber cylinder head design, two spark plugs per cylinder and aluminum head. It displaces 5.7-liters and includes a long list of features such as overhead camshafts, electronic fuel injection and the latest in engine management software. The Hemi V8 now pumps out 345hp at 5,400rpm with 375-lb.ft. of torque at 4,200rpm - that's more horsepower than any gasoline powered V8 from Ford or General Motors. The Hemi is topped only by Ford's 6.8-liter V10 and GM's 8.1-liter V8 in available torque but the Hemi weighs considerably less and gets better fuel mileage. If you need more torque you can order the Ram heavy duty with the new 5.9-liter Cummins common-rail inline 6-cylinder, turbo-diesel with 250hp/460lb.ft. of torque or the high-output version with 305hp/555lb.ft. of torque.

Dodge has finally closed the circle begun in the early 1990's and can now boost best in class styling, horsepower/torque, handling, ride quality, brakes, 17in. tires/wheels, interior comfort and safety, along with a 7-year/70,000mi. warranty.

Look for the 345hp hemi V8 engine to make its appearance in the light-duty Ram 1500 in next model year.

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