2004 Dodge 2500 Quad Cab
With Cummins diesel power and an automatic transmission,
Dodge’s 2500 Quad Cab is a breeze to drive and it pulls more than its own weight.
When you hear the rattle of a diesel engine coming down the street, it’s no big leap to imagine a massive vehicle that picks up your garbage or something with dual rear wheels and a fifth-wheel horse trailer behind it.
That’s the reputation of a diesel, and it isn’t unearned. Each of the Big Three makes a four-door diesel “dually” for serious towing duty, and they all can be a bit wieldy for daily driving. In other words, if your trailer is big enough to require a big dually diesel truck, you may need a smaller vehicle for commuting.
Dodge’s 3500 Quad Cab is a good example—a superb tow vehicle, but quite large for parking at the grocery store. After we tested it we wondered what its 2500 Quad Cab would be like, with the same great Cummins engine, but with single rear wheels and an automatic transmission.
It still pulls the big loads, but you don’t have to put your coffee down to shift and the single rear wheels let you enter a drive-through with the confidence that you’ll be able to exit.
Without a trailer clamped to the receiver, the truck exhibited a firm ride, stiff even, but that’s to be expected in a 1-ton truck. Bumpy corners tended to upset the chassis a little, but the stiff hydroformed frame rails—the stiffest Dodge has ever offered—kept that vibration from transmitting throughout the cabin.
Even the diesel engine presented little sacrifice in terms of around-town drivability. Initial tip-in was gradual and easy to modulate. It accelerated well, taking right around 9 seconds to hit 60 mph and it had lots of acceleration left at all but lofty freeway speeds. DaimlerChrysler engineers also did an admirable job of keeping engine noises out of the cabin.
With a trailer in tow, the ride improved quite a bit, because the tongue weight dampened the stiffness of the five-leaf rear springs. On the freeway, the truck cruised along at 65 mph at 1,800 rpm and pulled an 8,000-pound trailer up a 7-percent grade without any significant loss of speed. Yes, the boat and trailer slowed it down, but not so much that we couldn’t pass tractor trailers on the gradient.
We absolutely loved the truck’s brakes, which came as no surprise. We loved them in the 3500 Quad Cab. They offered up mammoth power, with no loss of the precise feel that inspires confidence when pulling a big load. Hydraulically boosted, the four-wheel discs worked exceptionally well in antilock mode. Full-on panic stops brought the truck to a halt right-by-God now. Even if you were already firmly on the pedal, standing on it harder seemed to make the system work even better. Gradual stops produced slight tire chatter, but the system worked quietly and the truck always remained north-south in its lane.
The seats were quite comfortable, even during long drives. We also liked the ergonomics and found it easy to drive. One complaint was that we would have preferred the cupholders be closer, perhaps in the fold-down armrest rather than in the dash.
Other staffers preferred them in their dashboard location and, in fairness, to put the cupholders in the armrest would mean sacrificing a genuinely good armrest. It’s just cavernous, with a 12-volt power outlet and three flip-down dividers that allow you to customize the compartment to fit your storage needs. To give you an idea of its size, when it’s folded up, it forms the backrest for a front-seat middle passenger.
There is also room for three in the rear seat, three adults, even. If you need that room for cargo, the seat cushions fold up and back, and corrugated steel panels fold out to form a flat load floor. The panels split 60/40, just like the seats. What’s more, there is a built-in stowage compartment in the rear floor behind the driver. Jack stowage is in the same compartment on the passenger side.
Another thing we liked about the interior is the blessed absence of cheesy plastic woodgrain panels. In their place on the dashboard and door panels were faux aluminum panels. They were still plastic, but they looked so much better than fake wood and were a welcomed improvement.
Other improvements for 2004 include the use of high-pressure common rail, which not only reduced the smoke emitted from the chimney-size tailpipe, but it also made the engine quieter on the outside. Dodge touts the truck’s 350,000-mile overhaul interval, a figure it arrived at through testing the engines in temperatures from minus 40 degrees to 130 degrees Fahrenheit for the equivalent of 150,000 miles at 95 percent “on-the-job abuse level.”
However, the engine offers enough spunk that you don’t have to stand on it everywhere you go. It even offered respectable fuel efficiency, delivering a solid 15 mpg throughout our weeklong test.
Capable of pulling up to 13,300 pounds of boat and trailer, Dodge’s 2500 Quad Cab strikes the delicate balance between the truck you need for towing on weekends and the truck you don’t mind driving to the dry cleaners. No small task.
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City... NA mpg
Highway... NA mpg
0-60 towing... seconds
40-60 towing... seconds
0-60 non-towing... 8.97 seconds
40-60 non-towing... 5.05 seconds
Engine... 5.9-liter inline six-cylinder Cummins turbodiesel
Horsepower... 305 @ 2,900 rpm
Torque... 555 pound-feet @ 1,400 rpm
Compression ratio... 17.2:1
Transmission... four-speed electronic automatic
Axle ratio... XXXX:1
Fuel capacity... 34 gal.
Tire size... LT265-70R-17
Brakes... Four-wheel disc with four-wheel antilock
Suspension... Front: coils with five-link live axle; Rear: five-leaf on live axle.
Tow rating... 13,300 lbs.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating... 9,000 lbs.
Gross Combined Weight Rating... 20,000 lbs.
Overall length... 227.7"
Maximum width... 79.9"
Curb weight... 6,554 lbs.
Price as tested... $44,245
Formula 271 FAS3Tech
Web site... www.dodge.com
Customer service... 800-423-6343