• 1980 - 2003 Dodge Ram D-Series

The final generation of the legendary D Series was rebadged as the Dodge Ram when Lee lacooca took charge of the Chrysler Corporation.

The Dodge Ram D Series was sold until 1993 when it was replaced by a completely redesigned Ram which shortly after became one of the best sold pickups in US.

The D Series range included three models, namely the D-150, D-250 and D-350. The vehicles were available with both single and double cabs with either short or long beds. Power options included a wide range of engines with the base unit being a 3.9 liter, followed by 5.2 and 5.9 liter V8s.

  • 1980 - 2003 Dodge Ram D-Series
  • Year:
    1980- 2003
  • Make:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    180 @ 4500
  • Torque @ RPM:
    195 @ 3500
  • Top Speed:
    56 mph


1980 - 2003 Dodge Ram D-Series Exterior
- image 469738

The Dodge Ram D Series looked like a classic American pickup. Everyone will agree that the robust design was a perfect match for its utilitarian character, but it was anything but charming.

The front featured a robust grille that was flanked by a set of rectangular headlights which came with shiny polished edges. The turning lights served as a base for the main lights, but they looked dull, and enhanced the dated look of the vehicle. The metallic bumper had also a pretty agricultural style but it seemed fairly solid.

The body panels were dull, but Dodge added a side crease to break up the monotony. The hood wasn’t sloped like other pickup trucks, so the front road visibility was a bit limited. The side windows however were pretty big and offered a wide angle of visibility.

Around the back there was a wide opening tailgate flanked by two vertically mounted taillights. Unfortunately, the rear bumper was simple, without any integrated foot step to help you climb into the tray.


1980 - 2003 Dodge Ram D-Series Exterior
- image 469740

Even for the 90s, the Dodge’s interior looked a bit dated compared to its rivals. Most of the plastics were hard as a rock and there were also some uninspired wood inserts around the instrument panel and on the steering wheel. The overdrive button was conveniently mounted in the dash on a flimsy plastic panel.

The instrument panel and the center stack were part of the same block, but this layout enhanced the dated feel of the cabin.

Fortunately the old school gauges were fairly easy to read and most of the controls were placed within easy reach. The buttons and switches were also pretty big and could’ve been used even with gloves on. Though the air conditioner requires seven buttons to operate, which is a bit deceiving.

The pedals were also placed pretty ergonomically, but the tilt three spoke steering wheel was a bit intrusive. The cloth-covered bench seat was comfortable, but completely devoid of lateral support.
There was also no armrest available which is sad, as all other rivals were offered with this comfort feature in standard guise. Moreover there were also no cup holders available. The Dodge Ram D-Series’ road visibility wasn’t as good as Ford or GM’s pickups but it was pretty reasonable.

Engines and performance

1980 - 2003 Dodge Ram D-Series Exterior
- image 469741

The pickup’s entry level engine had a displacement of 3.9 liter V6 and developed 180 hp and 195 lbft. of torque. The Dodge Ram D Series was also available with two V8 units which had 5.2 and 5.9 liter displacements.

The 5.2 liter developed 230 hp and was the strongest unit in its class, as neither Ford nor Chevy’s V8s were able to offer better performances.

Both V8 units offered enough punch to keep the vehicle nimble around the city and also offered a pretty relaxed drive on the highway.

However, the engines will start to show their raspy voice every time you put some heavy load at the back and their performances will also drop slightly. Though, they’ve still remained the best in the business.

The Dodge Ram D Series was offered with either manual and automatic transmissions and both of them worked pretty well and were at par with what you’d usually find in the segment.

Ride and handling

1980 - 2003 Dodge Ram D-Series Exterior
- image 469743

Unlike its main rivals from Ford and GM, the Dodge Ram D Series had a pretty rugged suspension and was less comfortable over road bumps. Though, the Dodge Ram D 150 used to appeal to those looking for a genuine truck feel.

When loaded the Dodge’s ride felt similarly harsh and the truck bounced considerably over uneven terrain. Moreover, when transporting heavy weights the front nose will raise a bit revealing a small issue in the configuration of the rear leaf suspensions.

On the other hand, you’ll be impressed by Dodge’s braking system which consists of front discs and rear drums complete with rear antilock brakes. The steering was average without being something to rave about, but not disastrous either.


1980 - 2003 Dodge Ram D-Series Exterior
- image 469744

Compared to Ford or GM’s pickups the Dodge Ram D Series is more rugged and better suited for utilitarian purposes. The cabin was highly utilitarian and the materials and plastics were part of the third class, being perfectly suited for tough jobs.

The V8 engines are perfectly qualified for the task of lugging a loaded Ram and you won’t have any complains about them.

The ride however, was a bit harsh even when the bed was fully loaded, but the breaking power was part of the first class.

About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments
Truck Finder: