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Ram 1500 Engines: Overview Guide

Ram 1500 Engines: Overview Guide

They’re big, they’re strong, and they power one of the poster boys of the American work truck. For decades now the Dodge Ram 1500 has been a go to for the working man and enthusiast alike. Perhaps it’s the looks, but we all know it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. Not everyone is going to buy a brand new Ram truck; in fact, just as many as those who are buying a new Ram are buying older models. Why wouldn’t they? For the past two decades they’ve done more than prove themselves as sturdy and reliable trucks that can handle anything thrown at them. We’re going to take a look at each one of the engines that live in Rams all the way back to the model year 2002. For specs we will look at the peak year. We will then break down each one and what makes it special. This will help you understand a little more as to what makes Rams great American trucks.

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More grunt is usually preferable in all situations, work sites, towing, off-road, and even in on-road emergency maneuvers. Modifying your Ram's engine can be as simple as a cold air intake or as complicated as a methanol injection system. Make sure to pick a place to start that's relative to your mechanical skill.

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Ram 1500 Engine Overview: 3.6 Liter V6

  • Gas powered
  • 6 Cylinders
  • 215 hp @ 5,200 RPM
  • 235 lbs/ft torque @ 4,000 RPM
  • 2002-2012

Starting with the runt of the litter, the 3.6-liter engine is the lowest powered engine Ram trucks have seen since 2002. The point of this engine was to get from point A to point B in an economical manner.

It served as the base line engine up until the year 2012, when it was replaced by the more powerful 3.7-liter Pentastar engine.

This engine doesn’t see much support from the automotive aftermarket. This means it pretty much is what it is. You might be able to squeeze a little more juice out of it with a tuner and a cold air intake, but nothing worth writing home about.

This isn’t the point of owning this kind of engine. It’s about reliability and fuel economy; the 3.6 delivered well within its realm.

Ram 1500 Engine Overview: 4.7 Liter V8

  • Gas powered
  • 8 Cylinder
  • 310 hp @ 5,650 RPM
  • 330 lbs/ft torque @ 3,950 RPM
  • 2002-2013

For over 10 years,the 4.7 liter served as the entry level V8 for the half-ton platform. While delivering a moderate amount of horsepower and torque, it was the perfect compromise between the power of the larger V8s and the fuel economy of the V6s. 

Over its lifespan the 4.7 saw minor changes to increase power and performance along the way, but hardly anything to reinvent the platform. Surprisingly enough, unlike the V6, this engine has a pretty decent level of modifications available from the aftermarket.

One of the most common upgrades guys like to make to these engines in order to make a ton of power is to add a centrifugal supercharger. With just a few pounds of boost, these engines can jump another 100 horsepower, and suddenly you’re in the big leagues.

Aftermarket cams and other goodies are ready to go right off the shelves for these engines, and you could really dial in the performance level with one. Reaching for crazy amounts of power would be difficult and likely dangerous since the 4.7 wasn’t really designed to make massive numbers.

Ram 1500 Engine Overview: 5.9 Liter V8

  • Gas powered
  • 8 Cylinder
  • 245 hp @ 4,000 RPM
  • 335 ft/lbs torque @ 3,200 RPM
  • 2002

The 5.9 Magnum – need we say more? Based on the LA bloc platform from the late 1960s, this engine has heritage written all over it.

Chrysler small blocks have been on the front line of performance and workmanship for nearly 50 years now, and they continue to deliver to this day without even so much as flinching.

If you are the lucky owner of one of these motors you know how far you can push this thing and not bat an eye at its capabilities. For their time these were the powerhouse of the Ram as it was the biggest kid on the block.

Aftermarket support is nearly limitless for this platform, meaning you can really build it to do whatever your heart desires. Known for burning oil along with few other typical classic Chrysler engine issues, it does have its limitations, but it’s the small price you pay for an undisputed lightweight title.

Ram 1500 Engine Overview: 8.3 Liter SRT-10

  • Gas Powered
  • 10 Cylinder
  • 510 hp @ 5600 RPM
  • 525 lbs/ft torque @ 4,200 RPM
  • 2004-2005

Dodge was never afraid to break out the big guns. They always knew how to make America smile. When the company released the SRT-10 Dodge Ram that was powered by none other than the Viper 8.3 Liter V10, everyone with a cold beer in their hand at Uncle Bill’s BBQ grinned from ear to ear.

This was and still is the most powerful engine to come in a Ram 1500 to this day. 
This bad boy was about burning rubber and flybys that left everyone with their jaw on the floor. It’s a Viper V10, so you know very well that if 510 horses weren’t enough, you could easily work it over for more if so desired.

It only had a 2-year run, and that’s probably directly tied to the Viper being temporarily discontinued for a year right about the same time as these were pulled from the shelf.

If this says anything about the company as a whole it’s they know how to boogie; who knows – maybe they’ll have to outdo themselves on this one and stuff a Hellcat engine in a late model Ram. That’s not likely, but it’d surely be cool.

Ram 1500 Engine Overview: 5.7 Liter Hemi V8

  • Gas powered
  • 8 Cylinders
  • 395 hp @ 5,600 RPM
  • 410 lbs/ft @ 3,950 RPM
  • 2003-Current

In 2003 Dodge stopped the world with the rebirth of what was likely the most iconic name in the automotive world; they brought back the Hemi. It may not have been The Elephant 426, but in a world that was just allowing production engines to begin peaking over 300 horsepower for the first time in a few decades, it broke the pavement on arrival.

Shortly after its introduction to the truck world, it did become a performance standard for Chrysler sports cars as well. Naturally, hot rodders had an absolute ball with this engine and use it as the Mopar response to Chevy’s LS craze.

It’s very possible to make crazy horsepower with this engine, and the parts to do so are all over the place. Ram still offers these engines as the only V8 option for their latest models and there is no end in sight for this generation Hemi.

Ram 1500 Engine Overview: 3.7 Liter V6

  • Gas powered
  • 6 Cylinders
  • 305 hp @ 6,350 RPM
  • 269 lbs/ft @ 4,175 RPM
  • 2013-Current

As mentioned, the 3.7 Pentastar is the latest listing of entry-level engines for the half-ton Rams. This engine is a major step up over the earlier 3.6, but it’s on the same level when it comes to the intended purpose.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this V6 is it produces over 300 horsepower. No, it’s not as powerful as the Hemi but there’s a lot less to lose when looking for the model that has the best fuel economy.

Ram 1500 Engine Overview: 3.0 Liter V6 EcoDiesel

  • Diesel powered
  • 6 Cylinders
  • 240 hp @ 3,600 RPM
  • 420 lbs/ft @ 2,000 RPM
  • Introduced in 2014

So, who’s the new guy on the block? It’s no secret diesel powered engines are taking the work truck world by storm. Modern technology is amazing and allows for the production of smaller and smaller diesel engines practical for day-to-day use.

Ford boldly lead the division to this place, and naturally Chrysler would answer. Their answer is the Ecoboost V6.

Yes 3.0 liters does seem small for a V6 platform, but the numbers show they are on the right track with this design. The Ecoboost V6 has just been put into production, and has yet to build the proper following.

But as time will likely tell, this is sure to be yet another engineering masterpiece created by the legendary Chrysler Corporation.

More Engine Guides:

Fitment includes: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT10, SLT, ST, Laramie, Sport, SXT, TRX, TRX4, RT, LaramieLonghorn, Tradesman, Express, HFE, Rebel, Longhorn, LoneStar, Outdoorsman, Limited, BigHorn