Dodge Ramcharger

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Dodge Ramcharger
Plymouth Trailduster
ManufacturerChrysler Corporation
SuccessorDodge Durango
ClassFull-size SUV
Body style(s)2-door SUV
PlatformFront engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
ManualsService Manual
First generation
Dodge Ramcharger
Also calledPlymouth Trailduster (1974-1981)
PlatformChrysler AD platform
Engine(s)225 CID I6
5.2L V8
5.9L V8
440 CID V8
Transmission(s)4-speed manual
3-speed TorqueFlite automatic
RelatedDodge D Series
Dodge Ram
Second generation
Second generation Dodge Ramcharger
Production1982-1993 (1988-1996 In Mexico)
PlatformChrysler AD platform
Transmission(s)3-speed automatic
4-speed manual
Wheelbase106.0 in (2692 mm)
Length1988-1990: 184.6 in (4689 mm)
1991-93: 188.0 in (4775 mm)
Width79.5 in (2019 mm)
Height1988-1990 2WD: 69.7 in (1770 mm)
1988-1990 4WD: 73.1 in (1857 mm)
1991-93 4WD: 74.1 in (1882 mm)
1991-93 2WD: 70.6 in (1793 mm)
RelatedDodge Ram
Third generation
Mexican-market Dodge Ramcharger
AssemblySaltillo, Coahuila, Mexico
PlatformChrysler BE platform
Engine(s)5.2L V8
5.9L V8
Transmission(s)4-speed automatic
4-speed manual
RelatedDodge Ram

The Dodge Ramcharger was a large sport utility vehicle built by Dodge from 1974 to 1993, and based on a shortened-wheelbase version of the Dodge D Series/Ram pickup truck chassis. A Plymouth version, named the Trailduster and offered from 1974 to 1981, was Plymouth's only SUV.

First and second generations

The Ramcharger was primarily produced as a two-door, full-time four wheel drive vehicle, although a two wheel drive version was available starting in 1975. During development, it was known as the "Rhino". [1]1974 through 1980 models have a removable hard top, although dealer-installed soft tops were available. The first year model differs from the others in that its door pillars are attached to a removable roof.

Like many vehicles, the Ramcharger was used in rallying, although its use was very limited. It did have some success, as demonstrated by achieving first place at Sno*Drift in 1975. In 1978 and 1979 the 360's horsepower was bumped up to 195hp.1978 was the last year for the 440,which by then only put out 215 horsepower (160 kW).


The vehicle was usually powered by a Chrysler LA engine, the most common being the 318 CID (5.2 L) V8. Optional was the 360 CID (5.9 L) and even big-block B series 400 CID (6.6 L) and RB 440 CID (7.2 L) were offered in the early years. The 318 gained throttle-body fuel injection in 1988 and the 360 followed in 1989. Power output for the TBI 318 was 230 horsepower (170 kW) and 280 lb (130 kg)-ft of torque. The TBI 360 had 240 hp (180 kW) and 283 to 295 ft·lbf (400 N·m). In 1992 the multiport fuel injected Magnum 318 was the standard engine while the LA 360 with TBI was still offered. In 1993 the Magnum 360 replaced the LA engine version.

Many manual transmissions were offered throughout the years, starting with the A-230 three-speed and ending with the A-535 five-speed in 1992. The NP435 "granny gear" 4 speed was the most common in 4WD models. In 1988 the clutch was converted from a mechanical linkage to a hydraulic system. Automatic transmission models had the Chrysler Loadflite TF-727A or B until, in 1991, it was replaced with the A-500/A-518 four-speed.

A full-time four-wheel drive NP-203 transfer case was standard until 1980, when it was replaced with the part-time NP-208. This was supplanted by the NP-241 in 1988.

Axles were Dana 44 front and 9 1/4" rear. Full time 4WD models (1974-1979) were equipped with the full time version of the Dana 44 that had no provision for locking hubs and had a front wheel bearing design with a somewhat dubious reputation. In 1980 when the part time 4WD system was introduced, the front Dana 44 was equipped with a more conventional front wheel bearing design and automatic locking hubs. Late in the 1984 model year the Dana 44 was switched to a CAD (Center Axle Disconnect) version. The CAD Dana 44 was vacuum actuated by a switch on the transfer case and powered by engine vacuum. The CAD Dana 44 was carried on until the end of Ramcharger production in 1993. Limited slip differentials were available for the 9 1/4" rear axle. It should also be noted that the full time 4WD versions used a 5 on 4 1/2" wheel bolt circle and the part time models used a 5 on 5 1/2" bolt circle.

Third generation

In 1999, a new Ramcharger was produced in Mexico based on the second generation Ram pickup. It was not marketed for the U.S., however, and the model never enjoyed the sales of the first generation Ramcharger. Powered by the 5.9 liter (360 CID) Magnum V8, it was discontinued around 2004. One of the most interesting features of this generation was a small folding seat in the cargo area, facing sideways, not a full-sized seat, making it uncomfortable for long trips. The rear hatch door was borrowed from 1996-2000 model Dodge Caravan. Why the Mexican-market Ramcharger was not marketed in the U.S. -- DaimlerChrysler had two profitable mid-sized SUVs (Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango) -- was probably because the SUV market was favoring 4 or 5-door SUVs as opposed to 2-doors. Two-door SUV sales have been declining, to which GM ended production of its 2-door Tahoe and Yukon. Also having been based on the larger, full-size Ram platform the third generation hurt Chrysler's [CAFE] rating (of even the light trucks) to the point where it was uneconomical to offer it for sale in the United States.

See also


  1. Off-Road Adventures, June 2007: page 90