Aside from regularly scheduled maintenance, the only dealer visit the Ram had was a trip to fix a driver-side interior grab handle that came loose. The stance of the 3/4-ton 4x4 required most of our editors to rely on the grab handle and steering wheel to hoist themselves into the driver's seat during every entrance. While certainly not a problem for us, that could become an issue for larger and heavier regular users. In the time since we first noticed this, we've been told by DaimlerChrysler representatives that the torque specs have been changed for a tighter fit. We had no other mechanical problems with our Ram.

In general, our staff praised the Ram for its capable power, throaty exhaust tone, attractive big-rig styling, refined and tow-friendly five-speed transmission, and trouble-free service record. It would be a shame to see it go, if it weren't for the fact we know a bigger Hemi (at 6.1 liters) with over 400 horsepower is on the way for the next Ram HD. We expect that to be a pretty good hauler as well. TT

2003 Dodge Ram 2500 HD Hemi
Base price $30,305
Price as tested $38,895
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD, 4-door, 5-pass
Engine 5.7L OHV 16-valve V-8
HP @ rpm 345 @ 5400
Torque @ rpm 375 @ 4400
Transmission 5-speed automatic
0-60 mph, sec 8.1
EPA mpg Not rated
Miles 19,487
Observed average, mpg 12.2
Observed worst, mpg 8.2
Observed best, mpg 14.0
Average distance per fill-up 344
Average cost per gallon $1.66
Average cost per fill-up $36.63
Number of services 3
Overall service cost $210.07
Problem areas Loose interior grab handle