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Autotrader’s 20th Anniversary: RAM 1500/2500

To commemorate’s 20th Anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most-searched new cars on the site and compared the current versions to their 20-year-old former selves. Ironically, the only passenger cars to make the list are two high-performance coupes, with not a single sedan or hatchback making the cut.

Number 4: RAM 1500/2500 Pickup

Formerly known as the Dodge RAM, the half-ton RAM 1500 pickup and RAM 2500/3500 heavy-duty pickups have always taken a back seat in sales to the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado. However, when it comes to styling, innovation and powertrains, RAM has consistently been a thorn in Ford and Chevy’s side dating back to the early 1990s, when Dodge first launched its big-rig design theme. Stylistically, the RAM is the most distinctive of the Big Three’s trucks, and even the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan can’t quite measure up. From its massive grille treatment to its rich paint colors to its amazingly sumptuous interiors, aesthetically the RAM is a clear winner. But pickup buyers don’t buy a truck solely based on its looks, which is why RAM also pushes the envelope in the areas of towing, payload, engine choices and cabin size.

The RAM pickup line distinguishes itself from other trucks by offering its 1500 model with a powerful yet efficient diesel engine good for 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. Gasoline-powered options include a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque and a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 rated at 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. The HD models can be outfitted with the 5.7-liter Hemi or a more powerful 6.4-liter Hemi V8 good for 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. At the top of the RAM powertrain team is the mighty 6.7-liter Cummins inline 6-cylinder turbodiesel. Horsepower and torque figures vary for this engine depending on the transmission and chassis, but at its most powerful the Cummins engine develops 385 horsepower and a staggering 900 lb-ft of torque. The RAM’s tow rating for the 1500 model is around 10,700 pounds, while a properly equipped 2500/3500 using a fifth wheel can haul up to 31,210 pounds.

RAM’s trucks also impress with numerous trims and configurations, including a Mega Cab model that knows no equal. Trims include the most basic Tradesman work truck, the Express, Lonestar and Big Horn midlevel models, the custom-looking Sport and Night, the luxurious Laramie Longhorn and Limited plus the off-road-ready Rebel. On top of all these, there are number of special edition trims with additional styling and features designed to make the RAM pickup visually pop.

1997 Dodge RAM Pickup

Just four years before the third Millennium, Mike Tyson was suspended for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear, Japan’s Maglev bullet train set a new speed record at 280 mph, and John Denver lost his life in plane crash. On the truck front, the 1997 Dodge RAM was three years into a successful comeback, ushered in by the radically-styled 1994 RAM pickup. In 1997, the Dodge RAM line offered a number of engines, including a 3.9-liter V6, 5.7-liter and 5.9-liter V8s and a Cummins 5.9-liter turbodiesel. The most impressive engine offering, however, was a massive 8.0-liter Magnum V10 borrowed from the Dodge Viper, producing 300 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. At the time, the RAM boasted the best tow ratings and payload of any full-size truck,

Although the RAM’s design was revolutionary both from a design perspective and with its interior cabin upgrades, quality for these models was sometimes spotty, and sales reached their peak in 1996 at around 480,000 units.

Other Notable Accomplishments at Chrysler in 1997

Just one year before the fateful merger between Daimler and Chrysler, the company released the hot-rod-inspired Plymouth Prowler. Although the public loved its daring looks, budget constraints saddled the car with the 3.5-liter V6 and automatic transmission from the LH sedan, a decision that alienated most hot-rodders.

Read more about the 10 most-searched cars on Autotrader:

#1: Ford F-Series
#2: Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
#3: Jeep Wrangler
#4: RAM 1500/2500
#5: Chevrolet Camaro
#6: Toyota Tacoma
#7: Ford Mustang
#8: Jeep Grand Cherokee
#9: Chevrolet Tahoe
#10: Toyota Tundra

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Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo is a longtime contributor who started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2002 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He’s well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to translate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations. Joe has worked for a number of outlets as... Read More about Joe Tralongo

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