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2003 Dodge Ram Van 3500

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2003 Dodge Ram Van 3500 Review

A respected van is in its final year before retirement.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2003 Dodge Ram Van 3500 is ending a long run as the automakers go to people and cargo hauler. Dodge is taking a decidedly different approach to the van concept with the Ram Van’s replacement, the European styled Sprinter. Along with the Ford E-Series, Chevy Express and GMC Savana, it's a classic American van and offers plenty of power and torque for towing and hauling jobs. For its final year, it's intended for passengers only; buyers needing a work van or cargo hauler should look at other options.

The Range

Body Styles: van
Engines: 5.2-liter V-8
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Ram Van 3500 Maxi

What's New

The 2003 Dodge Ram Van 3500 gets an upgrade to 16-inch wheels but sees no other changes as it rides off into the automobile sunset.

Exterior

The 2003 Dodge Ram Van 3500 is available in the base or conversion trim. Either trim can be a standard van or a Maxi van, but both types use the same three door setup with a rear barn door. It's only available in the 127.2-inch wheelbase and in one of two overall lengths: 208.5 inches or 234.5 inches for the Maxi Van as the bodies of these models extend an extra 26 inches beyond the back wheels. The base trim offers intermittent wipers, 16-inch steel wheels, auxiliary transmission fluid cooler, and front wheel independent suspension. The Conversion trim doesn’t affect the standard exterior features list. Stand-alone options for both models include limited slip differential, a security system, engine block heater, rear window defroster, trailer hitch receiver and power door mirrors. It really isn’t about style or flair; its basic design and simple lines give the appearance in a truly pure and simple form.

Interior

The 2003 Dodge Ram Van 3500 is rather sparse and comes stripped down to be outfitted to suit its specific purpose. The vinyl seats can be ordered with cloth. The passenger seat can be removed although there’s no option for bench seats to haul passengers with. Cargo capacity is 238.9 cubic feet or 294.6 cubic feet for the Maxi Van version.

The 2003 Dodge Ram Van 3500 Standard features include power steering and an AM/FM stereo with cassette and two speakers. Options available are power windows, a power driver seat, cd player, air-conditioning, rear HVAC, cruise control, remote keyless entry, and tilt steering wheel.

Performance & Handling

The 2003 Dodge Ram Van 3500 is powered by a 5.2-liter V-8 engine that produces 225 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The optional 5.9-liter, V-8 engine makes 245 horsepower. Also available is a version of the 5.2-liter that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). A four-speed-automatic transmission is the sole gearbox. All models are rear drive only. Towing capacity runs from 7600 and 8600 pounds depending on how a particular model is equipped. Because of the high torque output, it can tow or haul big loads without being strained. While not exactly quick, the 3500 handles most traffic situations satisfactorily.

The 2003 Dodge Ram Van 3500 handles like a truck, but the steering is uncommunicative, body lean is quite noticeable with the grip being the saving grace; it's adequate in most conditions. Braking is above average for a bigger vehicle and even better with the four-wheel anti-lock brakes option. Ride quality is unfortunately one of the worst in this class. Noise level is another area where it falls behind others in this segment. Because of the noise and the low ride quality, long trips can be decidedly uncomfortable.

Safety

The 2003 Dodge Ram Van 3500 offers some of the basics for standard safety equipment including dual front impact airbags, anti-lock brake system for the rear brakes only, passenger airbag deactivation switch, child seat anchors, front seatbelt pretensioners and electronic brake force distribution. Four-wheel anti-lock brake system is optional, but side-impact airbags are not available.

EPA Fuel Economy

Dodge Ram Van 3500 Maxi: 13/15 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Cargo space

You Won't Like

  • Fuel economy
  • Ride
  • Steering and handling

Sum Up

A respected van is in its final year before retirement.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • GMC Savana
  • Chevrolet Express
  • Ford E-Series
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