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by Steve Siler

Dodge Ram
2003 Dodge Ram

Back in 1994, the Ram saved Dodge. And no, we're not talking about the mountain sheep, the Dodge division's hood ornament nor Dodge's forgettable full-size van (all of which are also called "Ram"). We're talking about the mighty, blunt-nosed, big-rig-esque pickup that finally gave Ford and Chevy something to think about. In 2003, the Ram is bigger and better than ever, with even bolder styling, more interior bells and whistles than ever and big-engine power to match its macho looks.

First, the looks. It doesn't get meaner than this. That huge grille gets slower drivers out of the way as if you had sirens mounted to the roof of the cab. The fenders swell over the wheels in a very deliberate show of force. In all, it's a handsome, if fearsome look. And we love it.

Inside, there is an abundance of space, all of which is well utilized. Instead of offering standard, extended and crew cab models like everyone else, Dodge offers only standard and Quad Cab models. The Quad Cabs feature conventional rear doors that are a bit shorter than crew cab doors, but that open to a back seat so spacious that you end up wondering why one would need that extra length anyway. Those seats also fold forward to make the area the mobile equivalent of a huge steamer trunk.

This year marks the return of the Hemi V-8 engine for Dodge. The patented technology made Dodge famous during the musclecar era and is back for truck (and soon car) use today. There is also a V-6, a V-10, another V-8 and a quiet new turbodeisel engine available. All except the V-6 are excellent companions for towing, so break out the speedboat and have some truckin' fun this summer.