The Dodge Ramcharger was Chrysler’s first full-size sport-utility vehicle made to compete with the Chevrolet Blazer. During its development, Chrysler considered calling it Rhino. Ramchargers for the U.S. market were manufactured from 1974 to 1993 while those offered in Mexico started production in 1986 and lasted until 2001.
1974: The early Ramchargers
The first-generation Ramcharger rode on a short-wheelbase pickup truck chassis and was launched with a standard four wheel drive. It was basically a pickup truck with extended cab and a short bed, which could be covered by a cap or hard top especially designed for it. Initially, the Ramcharger only came with a standard front driver seat; all other seats were offered as an option.
An SE package was offered in 1975, offering carpet, deluxe bucket seats, cosmetic additions, and many other additional features. That same year, Dodge also offered a rear-wheel-drive Ramcharger with an independent coil spring front suspension.
Nothing much changed for the 1976 Ramcharger except for a re-engineered suspension to improve handling on- and off-road. For 1977, the Ramcharger got a new grille and rectangular parking lights. A year after, it got new bucket seats. And to welcome the new decade, the 1980 Ramcharger offered a part-time four-wheel-drive system.
1981: Redesigned Dodge Ramcharger
For the 1981 model year, the non-removable top made the Ramcharger a modern SUV. Chrysler added a Royal SE package with more options and convenience features to meet the demands of buyers looking for an upscale SUV. In 1983, this Dodge SUV received more standard equipment including radial tires, maintenance-free battery, 35-gallon fuel tank, new front bumpers, as well as automatic locking hubs on all four-wheel-drive models.
In 1985, the four-wheel-drive system got an upgrade, allowing drivers to shift into four-wheel drive and back at speeds of up to 55 mph without a need to stop just to unlock the front hubs.
1988: Dodge Ramcharger D/W100
It was in 1988 when the Ramcharger D/W100 was introduced to be a value leader like the Ram 100 and Power Ram 100 pickups. It was also during this year when the 318 received fuel injection (one injector per throttle body) and the standard hydraulic lifters were replaced with a roller hydraulic lifter.
In 1989, the standard wheel became 15 inches and the engine got some updates. For 1990 model year, the Ramcharger continued to be sold in four trim levels—D100, D150, W100, and W150. The D models were rear wheel drive while the W models were 4x4; 100 stood for 318 or 5.2 engine while 150 was for the 360 or 5.9 power plant.
1993: The last Dodge Ramcharger models for the U.S. market
The last Ramchargers sold in the U.S. market got standard four-speed automatic tranny and the industry’s highest towing rating during that time—7,500 lbs. Among the standard features were full gauges, front stabilizer bar, power disc brakes, rear wheel antilock brakes, and dual exterior mirrors.