Trucks: 2008 Dodge chassis cab trucks

Bigger is better on Dodge’s new Ram Chassis Cab commercial trucks. Dodge engineered the new Class 4 and 5 conventional trucks with what it says are several class-leading attributes, including the largest standard fuel tank, largest brake rotors, largest caliper pistons and best-in-class first-gear launch for maximum acceleration on vehicle takeoff. At the same time, Dodge included an “upfit-friendliness” rear body as a primary truck theme to reduce costs for both body-builders and contractors.

These commercial-grade trucks will be offered in a variety of configurations, including 4-by-2, 4-by-4 and dual-rear-wheel versions in both regular and Quad cab models. Maximum gross vehicle weight ratings for 4500 models is 16,500 pounds. Dodge 5500 Chassis Cab models weigh in at a maximum of 19,500 pounds. The gross combined weight rating for both models is 26,000 pounds.

Combination for durability on and off the road
Standard power for both the 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs comes from a 305-horsepower Cummins diesel engine. The diesel churns out 610 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm for outstanding acceleration and trailer towing performance. Dodge has made the 6.7-liter powerplant cleaner for 2008 with the addition of B5 biodiesel compatibility and compliance with 2007 federal diesel engine emissions regulations. The engine features a life-to-major-overhaul rating of 350,000 miles.

You can spec two transmissions with new Chassis Cab models: A six-speed automatic or manual, both which feature full PTO capability. An available electronic-shift transfer case eases four-wheel-drive engagement and a factory-installed exhaust brake boosts safety while helping extend brake life. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard on both models.

Both two- and four-wheel drive models feature a recirculating ball steering system that Dodge says provides precise response and an on-center steering feel with lower internal friction. The system is enhanced further by improved power steering lines that improve truck handling in all road conditions. Solid-beam front and rear axles, a five-link coil-spring front suspension with beam axle, front and rear link-type sway bars and heavy-duty tubular shock absorbers are standard and help further stabilize the truck in both on- and off-road driving conditions. The rear suspension on both two- and four-wheel-drive models features standard, two-stage leaf springs for greater load carrying capability.

Body-optimized frame eases upfitting demands
Because these 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cab trucks are designed to work in a wide array of vocational applications, Dodge engineers paid special attention to their rear body configurations and mounting capability. This design emphasis manifests itself in the trucks’ flat, clean frame rails, which feature industry-standard 34-inch frame rail spacing to allow them to accept virtually any upfit application.

All chassis components are now located below the frame’s upper surface to ease aftermarket body installations. Bolt-on and riveted-on exhaust hanger brackets are optimally situated for easier body modification. Likewise, the one-piece C-channel frame, shear-plate and u-bolt access along the frame and shear plate mounting locations are all identified along the frame to make body installations quicker and easier. Additionally, the fuel filler line is routed through the frame and an optional mid-body-mounted fuel tank frees up more space behind the rear axle for special upfit applications.

Fuel and brake lines are routed together on the left side of the frame, which also has clearance for rear-exhaust pipes. All frame electrical connections feature three-fused battery feeds routed into the cab and on to the rear of the chassis. All upfitter wire circuits and electrical schematics are logically grouped and easily identified in the trucks’ body builder guide.

Additional storage space both in the cab and under the floor
Dodge feels it has one of the most recognizable trucks on the market today, and the Ram Chassis Cab exterior styling cues reflect this belief. Borrowing heavily on its Ram pickup, the Chassis Cabs’ feature a big truck look and feel exemplified by Ram’s trademark crosshair grill and large headlamps. The trucks’ wide stance is further accentuated by standard, twin 7-by-10-inch trailer tow mirrors.

Ram Chassis Cab trucks will be offered in three distinct trim levels: base ST, mid-level SLT and top-of-the-line Laramie packages. All trim levels feature an easy-to-navigate instrument panel, large, user-friendly center stack and large, over-sized seats. Bucket seats with leather trim are available as an option.

Quad Cab model trucks can seat six passengers and feature four standard doors and 60/40 folding rear seats. The seat cushions fold up to create a tall storage area stretching from the cab floor to the ceiling. An optional floor section under the back seats opens to form a flat-load storage space with additional storage space located in the foot wells.