The 2013 Ram 1500 is may be stealing the headlines lately with its class-leading 25 mpg from the new HFE model, a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and Pentastar V-6. But a little less than two decades ago, the 1994 Ram also made a big impression on journalists and the motoring public for its bold mini-big-rig look. Although many considered the styling controversial at the time, the new design took the Ram from a has-been to a major player in the fullsize truck segment overnight.
Second Generation: 1994-2002
Powertrains on the new 1994 models were largely carryover from the old-timey looking 1993 model, but just about everything else was all-new. The dropped fenders and prominent grille made the Ram stand out from anything else on the road. The design theme continues on current Ram trucks, and can be seen as influencing some competitors' designs, such as the second-generation Toyota Tundra and the oversized grille on the Ford Super Duty. The base V-6 at the time was a 3.9-liter producing 175 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque mated to a four-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy ratings on the V-6 were an unremarkable 15 city and 19 highway. Adjusted for today's testing protocol, the figures drop further to 14 city, 17 highway. The 5.2-liter Magnum V-8, which produced 220 hp and 300 lb-ft achieved 13 city, 17 highway at the time.
Third Generation: 2002-2008
The big news for the third-generation Ram was the (re)introduction of the Hemi V-8 engine. Although it shared no parts in common with its historic namesake, the new engine did follow its predecessor's practice of placing the spark plugs on top of the cylinder head with the leads going through the top of the valve cover. The new Hemi had twin spark plugs, meaning you'd need 16 of them for a proper tune-up.
The new engine produced a healthy 1 hp per cubic inch, making 345 hp and 375 lb-ft from its 345 cubic inches, or 5.7 liters. A new 3.7-liter overhead-cam Magnum V-6 producing 210 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque served as the new base powerplant. Adjusted fuel economy on the V-6 was slightly better than its predecessor at 15 city, 19 highway. The much more powerful Hemi achieved 13 city, 17 highway, nearly matching the economy of the previous-generation V-6 with nearly double the power.
2013 Ram 1500
Not technically an all-new model, the 2013 Ram 1500 is about as comprehensive a refresh as you can get. The 2013 completely obliterates the V-6 model's spotty history by bringing both class-leading V-6 horsepower and fuel economy, bringing 305 hp and 18 city, 25 highway mpg on the HFE model. Thank that model's eight-speed transmission, tonneau cover, and auto stop-start system. Ram has not yet released fuel economy figures for the 2013 model equipped with the eight-speed and Hemi V-8, but says to expect as much as a 10 percent improvement over the 2012 model.
More power with better mileage is a trend we can all get behind. What do you think of the evolution of the Ram 1500's powertrains and fuel efficiency?