’03-’07 Dodge Ram 2500

Price Range: $14,000 to $25,000 Mileage Range: 80,000 to 190,000 miles

Four Wheeler - - Feature -

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

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