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Introduced for 2011, Ram was a new brand name for what were formerly known as Dodge Ram trucks. In the past, Dodge pickup trucks, as well as full-size vans and wagons, were known by the Ram model name.
Ram has quite a history under the Dodge nameplate, though only for the past three decades on full-size pickups. Dodge became part of Chrysler Corporation in 1928, introducing a pickup truck the next year. By 1933, ram's-head ornaments topped the hoods of Dodge trucks, but the Ram name was not used until much later.
During the 1970s, Dodge pickups were known as "D" trucks (for rear-wheel drive) or "W" (four-wheel drive). Dodge launched a Ramcharger wagon in 1974. In 1981, Dodge introduced the Ram identification, for the compact Ram 50 as well as full-size pickups. Big pickups came in three classes: 150 (half-ton capacity), 250 (three-quarter ton), and 350 (one-ton). Each three-digit number followed a "D" or "W" prefix. Not until 1994 did the numerical designations change to the current form (1500, 2500, and 3500), as the prefixes disappeared.
Dodge redesigned its full-size pickups dramatically for 1994, giving them a "semi" look up front, with a massive grille. Toughness was a prime characteristic. During Press Day at the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Robert Lutz-then president of Chrysler-arranged to drop a new Ram pickup onto the stage, startling the audience of journalists.
One of the first modifications to that second-generation Dodge Ram was the addition of an SRT-10 edition, fitted with an 8-liter V-10 engine. "Hemi" V-8s remained available for owners who didn't need quite that much power. After Dodge redesigned the Ram again for 2002, the SRT-10 held a 500-horsepower V-10 engine, claiming to be the fastest pickup in the world.
Another redesign for 2009 gave the Dodge Ram a fresh look and a bit more available power. By then, engine choices included a 215-horsepower V-6, a 310-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8, and the 390-horsepower modern-day "Hemi" V-8.
Adopting Ram as the new brand name for 2011 wasn't accompanied by dramatic changes in the trucks themselves. New off-road, sporty, and workhorse trim levels and option packages were offered. Choices included ST, SLT, and Laramie trims (as before), joined by sporty R/T and Sport editions. Customers could also specify a Tradesman or Express variant, or an Outdoorsman with an off-road suspension.
Model designations changed for 2012, to ST, SLT, Sport, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn. Big Horn and Lone Star variants also were offered, along with the Express and Tradesman. All along, Ram pickups have given buyers a breathtaking number of choices: rear-drive or four-wheel drive, two cargo bed lengths, three cab types, and the three engine possibilities. Today, Ram uses the laid-back, deep-voiced words of actor Sam Elliott to express Ram-tough virtues.