Dodge Ram Sport Pickup (1999)

 

There is one word that immediately enters your mind, when you first see the Dodge Ram Pickup: humongous. And yellow. Okay, ours was school-bus yellow, and yours doesnt have to be. But, the overwhelming sensation is certainly "huge."

Dodge Ram Sport Pickup(1999)The '99 Dodge Ram is big-- man, is it big! The passenger's- side door is so far away from the driver that its almost out of sight. To fully grasp how big a vehicle this is, consider this fact: Tthere is a console between the front seats, that is literally about 14 inches wide.

Doug runs into Dodge Ram Sport PickupIn addition to being rather long and very wide, the Dodge Ram is also very high off the ground-- which makes it appear even larger than it is. We wish the Ram were four or five inches narrower thinner and a bit lower, which would make it a heck of a lot easier to get into. With no running board on the Ram, you'll need to get a running start to get into the cab. {C} To make matters worse, there's no handle on the driver's- side door, so you need to grab ahold of the steering wheel, pull... and pray that your inseam doesnt split. Plan on wrecking a pair or two of trousers a week, if you drive this truck on a regular basis.

Driving Experience

Once you manage to hoist yourself into it, however, the driving experience in the Ram Sport is very, very nice. It really grew on us. It's a very pleasant vehicle to drive, with a powerful engine, a very smooth transmission, and a relatively quiet ride with not much engine or road noise. The 5.9 liter, Magnum V-8 engine used in the Ram Sport is Chrysler's old push-rod style V8. Because of the large engine size, and the hugeness of this truck, the Dodge Ram Sport does have (how do we put this politely?) severe gas- mileage "challenges issues." You can almost see the gas gauge go down as you drive. The EPA fuel rating is 16 miles per gallon on the highway, and 12 mpg around town. Toss anything in the bed, and you're getting dangerously close to single digits-- pretty sad, really, for 1999.

The handling is excellent for a truck-- it tracks straight, doesnt wander on the highway, and has surprisingly flat cornering, and good braking. The Ram Sport has a somewhat bumpy ride on uneven road surfaces. Why? Simple. Trucks need to have pretty long springs. If you're going to haul a ton of chicken manure in the bed, the springs are going to compress... but you still need them to act as springs, and not bottom out. What does this mean? It means that when those springs are not loaded down, the vehicle will have a tendency to bounce. Dont like that? Dont buy a pick up truck.

We would expect the Dodge Ram to be excellent in snow or off- road conditions. Remember, however, that the Dodge Ram is not all- wheel drive, but rather four- wheel drive, which should be used only for getting out of poor- traction situations and in actual snow-- never on dry pavement., and never at normal highway speeds-- even if it is snowing.

Interior

Dodge Ram Sport Pickup-3The Dodge Ram is exceptionally well equipped in the accouterments department, with several unique touches that we liked. First of all, there's a storage unit built into the middle of the dash, about the size of typical glove compartment, which that folds down and reveals two very large, impressive, large, adjustable cup holders. The cup holders themselves have an arm that cuddles your cup, and can hold any sized cup, from a petite espresso cup to a supersized monster- gulp slurpee. In Bbetween the seats, Dodge has designed an enormous console, which has more than enough room for the half-dozen Big Mac's you're probably eating for breakfast if you own this truck.

Here's what really surprised us, though: the Dodge Ram Sport has cushy, leather seats, both front and rear. What is the world coming to, when pickups get this comfortable?! The seats are very large, and leave plenty of room to move for even the widest of American posteriors. The seats do end a little bit prematurely, and as a result they are lacking a bit of support under the knees.

We found the back seats to be comfortable, but small, and we sure wouldn't want to ride in them for any length of time. Room for passengers in the rear is tight, but still better than most pickups. The rear seats fold up, providing a fair amount of interior storage space. Like many new pickups, Dodge has added rear doors to get access to the back seats-- a stroke of genius, and perhaps the best change to come to pickups in years.

Ergonomics

The ergonomics are fine in the Dodge Ram Sport, with everything located exactly where one would expect it. The dashboard on the Dodge Ram Sport is nice and simple-- a far cry from so many vehicles we've been driving recently, and pretty refreshing. There are no fancy, confusing controls-- a dial for the heat, a dial for the fan... and a few other dials, knobs and gauges. Perfect!

Visibility is good, with windows all around the cab. Like an increasing number of new cars these days, because of the curve at the front of the hood, it's difficult to tell precisely where the front of the truck is when youre driving. The large side- view mirrors (which include defrosters, by the way) are great for visibility, but not so great for trying to fit into a parking garage. We bet that Dodge will be selling a lot of replacement mirrors for this vehicle!

We felt particularly safe in this car. Come to think of it, we felt invulnerable in the Ram Sport, thanks to its immense size-- which, in itself, is a pretty nice safety feature in itself. Even if you're only four feet, eleven... you'll still have a commanding view of the road!

Maintenance

The Dodge Ram should prove easy to service. Like all pickups, there's enough room in the engine compartment for two engines. The 5.9- liter Magnum engine is old technology, but it's also a proven workhorse. We expect the overall costs of parts and servicing to be about average.

Reliability

Unfortunately, the particular Dodge Ram that we tested did started to develop a number of small, squeaky rattles and shakes when driving over bumps. That doesn't bode well, considering that our test vehicle had a measly 2,000 miles on it. To be fair to Dodge, however, were not sure if that was unique to the Ram that we tested, or if its actually an omen for the general quality of this vehicle.

styling

We think the Dodge Ram Sport actually looks pretty cool... except, that is, for the hideously bright yellow color of the one we tested, which caused passersby to come us to us and say things like, "Hey, nice color there, bub." (You know what? We were never sure if they were serious, or not.) Except for other pick up owners, the reaction was the same from everyone: what is that HUGE, ugly thing?! Other pickup owners, on the other hand, appear to actually lust over this truck. Tommy drove past a couple of guys from the public works department in Our Fair City... and then watched as they practically fell off their shovels, they were following this truck so closely. By the way, the front end of the truck has that testosterone-influenced, Freightliner look that all the Dodge trucks have now.

Other trucks in this class that you might want to consider include any other large pickups-- most notably Ford's F series, the Chevy Silverado and perhaps the new Toyota Tundra.

Overall comments

Given the sport designation, the leather seats, and the school- bus- yellow color, we suspect that the Ram Sport will be marketed as a pleasure truck-- a truck for people who want a big, cool truck. With this level of trim, this is a cruising vehicle, more than a work truck, although Dougie Berman did move a ton of rocks in it and reported no problems-- with the truck... his back on the other hand...

So, is this a good deal? No. But its not a worse deal than other big, popular, loaded pick up trucks these days. These vehicles are huge profit centers for car companies right now, so if you want to be in on the trend, youll have to pony up.

The cars.com target price for the model we drove is $29,505, which includes the sport trim package and the Laramie SLT package.

We'd recommend the Dodge Ram Sport for someone who's having a midlife crisis and wants to have a comfortable version of the "big truck" experience. Or any suburban or rural auto mechanics, who might be looking for a nice vehicle with which to tow his boat.

View cars.com model report on this vehicle.


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