Underneath that familiar sheetmetal is a boxed frame with hydroformed rails, stiffened for HD service. The trucks wear standard 17-inch wheels and tires all around, with 13.9-inch vented front disc and 13.9-inch rear disc brakes, as well as front and rear ABS. A dual-rate vacuum booster that debuted in 2002 on the 1500 Ram bolsters stopping ability at high brake pedal loads. All models are built on two wheelbases - 140.5 and 160.5 inches - by using the same wheelbase for the short-box Quad Cab or long-box regular cab options. For the first time, the 3500 model will be offered in a single-rear-wheel version as an intermediate step in payload capacity.
Two-wheel-drive models feature a new rack-and-pinion-type steering system, while four-wheel-drive trucks benefit from a redesigned quick-ratio recirculating ball system. Both 2wd and 4wd models share a similar rear suspension with three-inch-longer leaf springs than on the 2002 trucks for reduced spring stress. Up front, four-wheel-drive trucks get a refined version of the five-link coil-spring suspension with beam axle from the previous-generation Heavy Duty, while two-wheel-drive models receive a new suspension geometry that delivers consistent camber, caster, and toe patterns throughout the full range of travel. A front link-type anti-roll bar and front and rear heavy-duty tubular shocks are standard.
The all-new 2003 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty make a significant advance over the workhorses they replace. Ford and GM have had great success the last couple years with their heavy-duty pickups; Dodge will be back in the game, stronger than ever when production begins in the summer of 2002.