Ram had literally appeared a square box since the mid 70's, so in 1994 it was time for a change- in the sheetmetal anyways. American pickup trucks have often been about leaving 'well enough' alone- an idea that perhaps Dodge took more seriously than others.
The fuel-injected powerplants introduced from 1988 were carried on into the new generation. Called "Magnum" engines, they came in a 3.9 litre V6 and two V8's of 5.2 and 5.9 litres displacement. As always, the V6 is adequate for light duty, the 5.2 litre engine is the most common and reliable, and the 5.9 drinks like a fish but is ideal for owners intending to participate in frequent heavy towing.
Due to their low-tech, carryover roots, these engines are known for tearing through a tank of fuel like a twister through a redneck trailer park. "But they're very reliable and easy to work on", according to used truck sales rep and enthusiast Mike Babij. "The 318 or 5.2 litre V8 isn't the most powerful engine, but it lasts and lasts" he says.
These engines come bolted to a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic in either two or four wheel drive models. The manual offered low gearing, making it a good match for towing or stump-pulling. They had minimal problems and were generally worry free.
The automatic was a different story. If used heavily, numerous problems could occur- most of which resulting in the need for a rebuild. If you're looking for a used model, make sure the transmission is in good working order. If you don't know when it's last fluid change was, you'd better plan on having one performed.
An interesting transmission-related recall was issued to replace a connector which could be melted by the temperature of the transmission fluid in certain situations. Should this happen, the resulting fluid spray onto the exhaust manifold could cause a fire. Other common problems include clunking suspension components, a faulty ABS control module, poor longevity of front brakes, the manual shifter lever and a defective throttle position sensor.