1996 Dodge Ram 1500 ST
1996 Dodge Ram 1500 ST

Dodge was just an also-ran in light truck sales prior to 1994 and a long way behind both Ford and General Motors. In fact, if not for the popularity of the optional Cummins Diesel engine it probably would have been a dot on the horizon.

Trucks were viewed as pull-ers and haul-ers by the auto makers and styling wasn’t very important. The 1994 Dodge Ram changed that, it had style with a capital “S”. A trend setting muscle-truck appearance with sculptured fenders and a prominent grille – the new Dodge Ram was an immediate hit with truck buyers.

Initially, only available with a regular size cab, the Ram came in two or four-wheel-drive versions and in 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (three-quarter-ton) and 3500 (one-ton) sizes. The trim levels offered were LT, ST and the well-appointed Laramie SLT.

Inside, the Dodge Ram has the kind of comfort and convenience features normally associated with passenger cars. It’s a more spacious cab than the competition and it has unique features such as the 40/20/40 bench-seat with a fold-down centre seatback that’s also a large storage box or an armrest, plus a modular storage system behind the seat.

The Magnum series of gasoline engine choices were a 3.6-litre V6, a 5.2-litre V8, a 5.9-litre V8 and an 8-litre V10. The venerable 5.9-litre inline 6-cylinder turbo diesel engine option supplied by Cummins can pump-out an awesome 542 N-m (400 lb.-ft) of torque. When properly equipped the Ram 2500 has a maximum towing capacity of 6,169 kg (13,600 lb.).

Extended cab versions with a rear seat, called a Club Cab, were added for the 1995 model year and the Cummins diesel got a power boost in ’96. By then demand was outpacing production so Dodge added the St Louis production plant in ’97, bringing the number of plants producing Ram pickups to four and potential capacity to 450,000 units. A new “Super Sport Truck” package was also offered in ’97.

There were two recalls affecting all trucks made during the period of this review. Under high load operating conditions the transmission fluid temperature may exceed the melting point of the plastic oil cooler connections, on gasoline powered vehicles only. The second was for a hydraulic clutch line that may rupture under certain heavy-duty applications, in 4 x 4 pickups equipped with the V10 engine.

Ram trucks made from 1994 to ’96 may suck charcoal into the engine from a canister in the evaporative emissions system. A fuel tank mounted rollover valve may also leak under certain conditions and should be replaced with a float type valve.

A loss of steering control could happen if plastic pins and a metal clip that holds the steering column lower shaft should snap on trucks made in 1994 and ’95. A restraining sleeve should be added to the steering column intermediate shaft. The absence of an internal oil check valve may cause the brake booster vacuum hose to deteriorate and limit power assist, on some trucks made in ’95 and ’96.

An exhaust pipe may contact sound-deadening material and cause it to smoulder, in trucks made in ’97, and the 3.9 litre engine may have an improperly calibrated powertrain control module (PCM) that causes an increase in the levels of carbon monoxide (co) emissions.

The Dodge truck revival is quite remarkable. People tend to love or hate this trend setting design, but Dodge quickly discovered that polarised opinions can be a good thing. As long as a sizeable number fit into the “love” category, you’ve got a winner.

Used Dodge Ram Pickup Prices (August 2000)

Year Model Price today* Price new
1994 1500 ST 4×2 V8 $9,000 to $12,000 (+$1,000) $18,935
1995 1500 ST 4×2 V8 $10,800 to $13,800 (+$1,500) $21,555
1996 1500 ST 4×2 V8 $12,000 to $15,000 (+$1,500) $22,787
1997 1500 ST 4×2 V8 $14,200 to $17,200 (+$2,000) $25,204
* For turbo diesel option add amount in brackets

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

Connect with Autos.ca