’03-’07 Dodge Ram 2500
Price Range: $14,000 to $25,000 Mileage Range: 80,000 to 190,000 miles
Every truck guy has heard of the 5.9L Cummins, and it’s the primary reason older Dodge 3⁄4-tons continue to bring in so much money. The legendary inline-six mill is highly renowned for its anvil-like construction, fuel efficiency, and mountainmoving torque. The version found in ’03-’07 Dodge Ram 2500s was the quietest and most powerful 5.9L ever produced, thanks in large part to its Bosch common-rail injection system and 24-valve cylinder head. Depending on the model year you’re looking at, peak torque is available as low as 1,400 rpm. If you’ve got big loads to move, this is your mule.
The ’03-’07 (third-generation) Rams are light-years ahead of the ’94-’02 (second-generation) trucks they replaced. The paint holds up better to the elements, the interiors are more spacious, and the ride quality is better. Four-wheel-drive 2500 models come with an AAM 925 solid front axle and the overkill AAM 1150 in the rear—both of which hardly ever experience any major failures. The only real area of concern with these trucks lies in the automatic transmission option. If you like rowing your own gears, you’ll be fine, as both the NV5600 and G56 manuals are hard to beat in terms of reliability. But when it comes to the 48RE, it’s simply outmatched by the abundance of low-end torque turned out by the 5.9L Cummins. If you must have an auto, leave the programmer on the shelf, as the 48RE won’t tolerate any added power being sent through it for very long.
<| Throughout the history of Cummins-powered Dodge trucks, Chrysler has struggled to get an automatic transmission to live behind the huge torque of the inline-six—and it’s no different in the ’03-’07 Rams. Even at the stock power level, the fourspeed 48RE can be damaged by the Cummins, namely under heavy load conditions. If you’re adamant about finding an auto, it’s a good idea to address the 48RE’S lack of line pressure with an upgraded valvebody and replace the factory torque converter with a stronger aftermarket version. Also refrain from adding a programmer. These trucks make plenty of power in stock form and those extra ponies running around under the hood won’t be worth it if you smoke the transmission.
<- The same robust architecture that was employed in the earlier 5.9L powerplants—the engine that effectively saved Dodge’s heavy-duty truck line back in ’89—lives on in the Cummins that powers the ’03-’07 Rams. In addition to its Bosch high-pressure common-rail injection system making it a real powerhouse, the common-rail 5.9L Cummins offers quiet, clean, and efficient operation. If you’ve got a heavy load behind you, a Cummins-powered ’03-’07 Ram will be the most fuel efficient option from the Big Three. Simply put, the Cummins was intended for hard work, and it excels at it. fw