Originally created 06/18/04

Viper V-10 revs up '04 Dodge Ram



The 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10 is an awesome piece of machinery.

From its neck-snapping torque and engine roar to its stylized body and 22-inch wheels, it's a provocative cross between a pickup and a sports car.

This version of light-duty Ram with a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $45,510 holds a Guinness world record for fastest production pickup.

The SRT-10 averaged 154.6 miles an hour on a closed course and driven by a race car driver in a Guinness record-setting exercise earlier this year.

The 8.3-liter, overhead valve V-10 in the SRT-10 comes from the Dodge Viper sports car and packs the same 500 horsepower and 525 foot-pounds of torque at 4,200 rpm that the two-seat Viper does.

Only a manual transmission is offered in the SRT-10 - it's a six-speed with a Hurst shifter. And the truck is rear-wheel drive. No four-wheel drive model is available.

It took some getting used to the firm feel of the clutch pedal in the SRT-10 test vehicle. A driver can't have weak left leg muscles here.

Even a light touch on the accelerator pedal brings the engine roar immediately. Power comes on quickly but not quite instantaneously.

I had to work to drive this truck smoothly. If I didn't concentrate, the SRT-10 jumped forward abruptly as I'd start up from stop signs and red lights, and this kind of jerky behavior can get tiring.

Unless a driver's eye is on the 160-mph speedometer regularly, it's difficult to determine just how fast the truck is going.

The SRT-10 weighs 5,150 pounds, about 1,740 pounds more than the Viper. But the heaviness of this truck doesn't seem to lessen the engine performance.

The weight and V-10 sure penalize fuel economy, however.

I'd fill up a quarter of the SRT-10's 26-gallon tank - with premium fuel of course - and it would provide only enough mileage for a couple of errands around town.

The federal government's fuel economy rating for the SRT-10 is a meager 9 miles a gallon in city driving and 15 mpg on the highway.

I'm sure there's road noise from the big, 22-inch, Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires, but I didn't notice. The delightful and nonstop engine sounds drowned out any road or wind noise in the test SRT-10.

The immediate impression of the ride, even going just a block down the street, is how stiff this truck feels.

Even mild road imperfections come through with some stiff vibration to passengers, so riders have an intimate sense of the road surface all the time.

This Ram has been lowered 1 inch in the front and 2.5 inches in the back. There are new front and rear strut assemblies, shorter and stiffer performance springs, a rear sway bar and Bilstein mono-tube shock absorbers.

Brakes also are modified for maximum stopping power, since this truck has so much more power than the other Ram trucks have.

The rack-and-pinion power steering feels surprisingly light in this pickup and tracks well.

Outside, the SRT-10 looks like a customized race Ram and is available in only three paint colors: red, black and silver.

There's a custom-look fascia in front that incorporates fog lights and NASCAR racing-inspired brake cooling ducts.

At the back, the SRT-10 has a spoiler that sort of looks like a brace atop the tailgate. It adds a sporty flair and is functional, too, because it reduces both lift and drag.

Inside, the well-bolstered, leather-trimmed seats are wide and comfortable.

Silver-colored accents highlight the interior, and the driver starts the SRT-10 by pressing a racing-style, bright red, "engine start" button on the dashboard.

SPECS

THE VEHICLE: 2004 Dodge SRT-10, a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, two-passenger, full-size pickup

BASE PRICE: $22,425 for RAM 1500 SLT regular cab 4X2

DESTINATION CHARGE: $850

PRICE AS TESTED: $45,510

ENGINE: 8.3-liter, overhead valve, 90-degree V-10

EPA MILEAGE: 9 mpg city, 15 mpg highway

TOP SPEED: 150 mph

LENGTH: 211.6 inches

WHEELBASE: 120.5 inches

CURB WEIGHT: 5,150 pounds

BUILT IN: Mexico

OPTIONS INCLUDE: Quick-order package SRT-10 (includes V-10, six-speed manual transmission, Hurst shifter, power bulge hood, rear spoiler, dual-zone air conditioning, dual exhaust