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|Class||Full Size SUV|
|Body Style||3-Door Wagon|
|Transmissions|| 3-Speed Manual, RWD/4WD|
4-Speed Manual, RWD/4WD
5-Speed Manual, RWD/4WD
3-Speed Automatic, RWD/4WD
4-Speed Automatic, RWD/4WD
|Engines|| 3.7L (225 cid) I6 (1975-1980)|
5.2L (318 cid) V8 (1974-1993)
5.9L (360 cid) V8 (1974-1993)
6.6L (400 cid) V8 (1974-1978)
7.2L (440 cid) V8 (1974-1978)
The Dodge Ramcharger was Dodge's second (Town Wagon being the first) full-size SUV, introduced in 1974 as Chrysler's answer to the Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy. It was naturally based on the D-series pickup truck (later known as the Ram), but its wheelbase was much shorter. Legend has it that the Ramcharger was originally to be named Rhino. The Ramcharger was discontinued after 1993 after being in production for 20 model years.
Here's a quick rundown:
1974 models were 4x4 only, but a 2wd model debuted in 1975. Naturally, it shared the D-series truck's mechanicals and styling cues. Base engine on the 4x4 was the 5.2L (318) 2bbl V8, and that would remain the base engine throughout the Ramcharger's production. The 3.7L (225 cid) Slant-6 was the base engine on the 2wd models until 1981. Optional was the 5.9L (360) 4bbl V8. 6.6L (400) and 7.2L (440) 4-bbl big-block V8s would be an option until the end of 1978 - after that, the 360 was the largest engine choice. Transmission choices would be a 3- and 4-speed manual, with a 3-speed automatic optional. Like the Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy twins, the Ramcharger had a fully removable roof in either soft-top or hard-top form.
The Ramcharger would soldier on throughout the 1970s with minimal change. It would gain more competition in 1978 when Ford moved the Bronco upmarket to the full-size F-series pickup chassis, becoming a true competitor. The Jeep Cherokee and International Scout had both become forces to be reckoned with by that time as well.
Stacked quad headlights became standard on upper-level models in 1979, while base models still retained the older-style round dual units. The Plymouth Trailduster would be cancelled after the 1980 model year. In 1981, all models recieved dual rectangular headlights and the taillights still wrapped around like the previous units, but they were now more square - and the reverse lights were now at the bottom instead of the top. Dashboards were all new and modernized, and would remain the same until the end of 1993. Ramchargers would also lose their removeable tops (they all became hardtops), the tailgate became a one-piece hatch, and the rear quarter glass now extended to the roof. All options mirrored the Ram pickup's - what was an option on the Ram was also pretty much optional on the Ramcharger as well.
Throughout the 1980s, the Ramcharger recieved minor body trim updates such as new grilles and rims, but remained pretty much the same, as did the Ram pickup. In 1988, the 5.2L (318) received fuel injection, giving the 318 a horsepower boost to 170. In 1989, the 5.9L (360) also received fuel injection, and its rating rose to 190. A 4-speed automatic overdrive became optional in 1989 also (mandatory on 2WD models). It should be noted that the 5.9L I6 Cummins turbo-diesel engine that debuted as an option on the 3/4 and 1-ton Ram pickups this year is never offered on the Ramcharger.
1990 models got a 100 MPH speedometer (up from 85 MPH) and the rest of the dash got slightly revised graphics, but 1991 brought significant changes to the Ramcharger, not the least of which was a new larger grille with the now-standard crosshatch design and a new parking light design, but regrettably the Ramcharger lost its ram hood ornament. In the rear, the bumper was redesigned. 3-speed automatics were discontinued this year. In 1992, the 318 got a significant horsepower boost to 230 (the 360 still remained at 190), and a 5-speed manual transmission became an option for the 4WD models.
For its final model year (1993), the 360 also got a horsepower boost to 230, but it had significantly more torque than the 318. It is believed that all 1993 Ramchargers had 4-speed automatic transmissions. The Ram pickup was completely redesigned in 1994, but the Ramcharger was not redesigned along with it. There has been no direct successor to the Ramcharger, although a 3-door SUV variation of the new Ram was briefly made for Mexico and not sold in the U.S.