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Dodge 5.9 engine. Why don't people like them?

badrammanbadramman Posts: 61
edited May 2015 in Dodge
Everybody says the 360 is "ancient" or a "old chunk of pig iron". Why? Is Ford and Chevy motors that much better?
I own a 96 2500 Ram with the 5.9 and must say it gets the job done. I've hauled 2 tons of firewood (enough to compress the springs all the way to the stops and then I hooked the trailer up!) on more than one occasion and have hauled an enclosed 4 man snowmobile trailer from PA to Maine. Sure it won't win any races and the gas mileage isn't great, but so what. It's a truck and it keeps coming back for more. Does everybody think the new Hemi will be any better on gas. WAKE UP! Sure it'll have more ponies but that's about it. I'm tired of everybody busting on the 360. It's served Dodge well all these years.
One more thing, if it's so bad. Why do you see more Rams on the road then Chevy or Ford combined?
Thanks for letting me vent

See Also: Adding HP to a 5.9 Magnum engine


  • I agree the 360 is a good motor.I think the only reason they get ragged on is Chryslers engine management controls or lack of compared to GM and that clouds the issue.I just picked up a 2001 a few weeks ago,so far so good.
  • txyank1txyank1 Posts: 1,010
    away from Dodge was the lousy gas mileage and lower hp compared to GM. I don't haul or tow so I'm more into hp than torque. I had comsidered a Dakota QC with the 4.7 but it's still a little behind on mpg. Then I recently read an article in one of the truck mags about the 5.9 and how all the normal things we do, like air filters, free-flowing exhaust, computer upgrades etc. just don't get the results on the 5.9 that they do on other engines. Like Ford and GM (or even Chryslers own 4.7). I agree it'ds been a good, reliable engine, albeit a thirsty one.
  • jcmdiejcmdie Posts: 595
    The 5.9 is a very dependable engine. It's biggest complaint is fuel economy and the second biggest is that it rated at a lower horsepower than Chevy 5.3 or Ford 5.4.
  • The 360 is the best small block engine ever put into a light duty truck...there I said it now we can brace for the carnage. The reason people don't like it is because it doesn't put up the peak numbers. Most people don't know or care that it will clobber any current small block on low end torque and horsepower,below 3000 rpm. And most of these guys who are so proud of their big horsepower numbers don't look at their tach enough to realize that 99% of their driving is below 3000 rpm.
    Probably one of the biggest reasons Dodge trucks are slower in the quarter mile than Fords and Chevy's is because they are substantially heavier. Of coarse you don't see that published in the magazine too often.
  • OHC designed powerplant. Some of the GM OHV pushrods get better mleage than the FOMOCO OHC's. I've lampooned the 360 in prior posts to effect a lively rebuttal however deep down this old man respects the 360 Dodge Aspen Poleeece motor. All kidding aside, give me a '79 LIL RED EXPRESS with a 360 and THERMO-QUAD and the ultra loud side pipes going up the side of the cab that rendered your 8-tracker player useless and i will have a great big smile on my face. Lots of aftermarket items to turn a Dakota 5.9 R/T into a low ET performer. I would mill the heads .030 to raise compression ratio to 9.5 or 10:1 and have the engine computer re-programmed to eliminate the spark knock using 87 octane fuel and enjoy myself at the street races. Dodge is working out the issues with the DOHC Hemi. Also watch out, caution is in order, the GM snail division may begin cracking out the 485HP Silverado SS

    Regards to all

    Babyboomer hotrodder

    PS Reviewing prior road test in TRUCK TREND and Sport Truck mags, the Ram 2500 5.9 with less horsepower than the other domestics performed on par when loaded or unloaded All 3 trucks did very well except maybe in MPG, besides it is not an economy vehicle, you want economy go to junk yard buy a '69 Chevy Nova 6 cyl for $300, rebuild the engine for $200 and drive it 10 years getting 16-17 mpg. Lot cheaper than a new ECHO, HYBRID, Honda...
  • lariat1lariat1 Posts: 461
    Well said moparmad. I dont know about it being the best small block but the 360 is one tough [non-permissible content removed] motor. I have a 2001 with the 360 and I love the low end torque thie engine has. You talked about the new engines and their lack of low end grunt, my buddy and I proved it one day he has a 2000 GMC with the 5.3 and we were street light drag racing. We found that from one light to the next the ram was quicker, if there was 2 lights he would catch up and 3 lights he would pass me.
  • I meant to say it was one of the best smallblocks ever,but I didn't feel like changing it after I noticed my mistake.
    I have rebuilt a 360,a friends 350 Chevy,and a cousins 302 Ford. I can honestly say that by looking at the bare blocks alone you can easily see the difference,I'll bet I could pick up that 302 block and throw it.
    It is interesting to me that few people would dare to put down the 340 but the 340 and 360 are both LA engines and share many parts. The first year of the 360 was the last year of the 340,and the 360 actually outpowered the vaunted 340. The 360 to me is the small block equivalent of the 400. The 400 has a huge bore and relatively short stroke,and when built correctly will outpower a 440,but like the 360 it was born too late and received a smog choked reputation. Mopar Muscle magazine calls the 400 apropriately...The Great Underachiever.
  • txyank1txyank1 Posts: 1,010
    My Dad had a '59 Fury. I know it had a 4bbl carb and dual exhaust and could break the rear tires loose when kicked down at 35-40 mph. I'm thinking it was not the 318 but can't remember for sure. Don't know that a 318 could do that.
  • eharri3eharri3 Posts: 645
    And you'll see... the reason I and many others dislike the 5.9 is that it manages to do so much less than any competitor while guzzling much more fuel in the process.

    As an example, take GM's, 6.0. With something like 300 horsepower and over 360 lb-ft on tap you'd think it must be a monster motor, something like 6.5 or 7 liters, but it displaces just 1/10th of a liter more in fuel than the dodge. Ford's 5.4 makes 260 horses and 350 pounds of torque at an VERY low RPM, slightly edging out the Dodge in both numbers. Is the 360 an awesome motor? Absolutely. Is it a very competetive motor in today's field of full sized pickups? Nope. Times change, and when competitors are offering more output and better mileage it's just not good enough. Maybe the 5.7 hemi will be just as much of a guzzler, but hopefully it'll have a higher power out put to show for it. Right now, Dodge really isn't competetive, forcing customers to choose between a motor that is less sophisticated than the competition or a smaller 4.7 liter V8, which according to one article I recently read can't maintain more than 70 mph on a slight grade in this big heavy truck.
  • Ok I can see your perspective. I don't have any info on the new HEMI(does anybody?), I was just saying that though 360 isn't exactly a hi-tech motor it more than gets the job done. I know that for as much gas it drinks it could use a few more ponies.

    I was wondering about the 4.7, but a guy in the other forum *Dodge Ram 2002 unveiled* just bought one and he loves it. Check it out. I think his name is "tavgard"
  • lariat1lariat1 Posts: 461
    Personally I like the non high tech 360. It is nice to look in the engine compartment and SEE the spark plugs and be able to replace them without taking the engine apart. Also I have yet to be dissapointed about the gas mileage I consistently get 18 mpg on the highway and 14-15 mixed city and highway, which is better than my old 97 F-150 with the 4.6 V8 ever got 16mpg highway was the norm for that truck.
  • The latest numbers I have seen on the 5.7 Hemi were in Mopar Muscle and were reported to be 320 horsepower and 375 footpounds of torque.
    I realize the 360 is behind other engines in technology,but it is not as far behind as many would have you think. Personally I think 40 years of proven service is worth alot more to me than having the latest barely proven technology. My '96 Ram got 18 mpg with its 360 automatic,it was a 4X4 and fully loaded. I think mileage has more to do with driving location and habits,than if you have the latest in engine design or not. Funny thing is being a carpenter about 98% of everyone I know owns trucks,and my Dodge would destroy nearly everyone of their trucks in a stoplight to stoplight encounter,and I proved it numerous times. From 0-40 the 360 gives an impressive surge off the line that many of these new fangled mini V8's can't muster. Sure it runs out of breath on the top end,but it is a truck,if Ya just want to drag race my weapon of choice is my '70 Cuda,but I don't think too many trucks would want a piece of that.
  • I'll run anybody's stock Ford or Chevy truck, normally aspirated, big block or small block, in the 1/4 mile against my pure stock 5.9 Dodge. It's more then just peak horsepower, it's the entire torqe curve that's really important. Torque is the only thing that accelerates the truck, so the area under the torque curve is what really matters. Yeh my 5.9 is a gas hog, but I pretty much just drive around town with a short 3 mile commute. My 5.9 gets about 11-12 under these conditions which is exactly what my 95 Grand Cherokee with the 4.0 got. Even my 40+ mpg highway neon only got 24 in the same conditions but that double mileage only saves me at most $200 a year in gas. The newer OHC motors were built not to improve power but to improve emissions and mileage. If those things are you primary concern then there are probably better motors for you out there then the 5.9. I also disagree with the post that the 5.9 doesn't respond well to mods, the 5.9 is about the most detuned and restricted motor from the factory out there, most of the OHC motors have quite a bit of tweaking from the factory. The upgraded computer that gives the 5.9 more of a performance tune is good for about 20 HP, not bad for $300 and 5 minutes work.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Posts: 1,352
  • lariat1lariat1 Posts: 461
    I have a 360 in my Ram I will say the engine is awsome and I love all the power but it is definetely not a race engine. It is slow revving but it has lots of low end grunt which makes great 0-60 times but if you want to race you need a aquicker revving engine and a flat torque curve like the chevy engines. The 5.9 is a great engine for pulling trailers or hauling heavy loads down the highway not racing. If you want to race go buy a car.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    My 5.9 will run the 1/4 mile in 14.7 at 92mph and it's 100% as delivered from the factory. There's only 1 other pickup, normally aspirated, stock, out there that can match that time and it ain't no Chevy or Ford, It's a Dodge with the 4.7. The 5.9 does have a very flat torque curve, mine is above 320 ft-lbs from 1000 rpm to 4500 rpm. It delivers over 310 ft-lbs peak to the rear tires and 215 HP to the tires as well. My truck was $18250 new and given the difference in price between it and something like a Z28 or Mustang, put back into mods on my Dodge and it would easilly beat them. It has better bang for the buck then any of those cars.
  • hillhoundhillhound Posts: 537
    From the latest Truck Trend shootout (see

    "Dodge broke out its big gun for this test: The optional OHV, 360ci Magnum V-8 mated to a four-speed autobox. Developing 245 hp (192 at the rear wheels) and 345 lb-ft of torque, the Ram felt rather sluggish off the line--something we didn’t expect from a pushrod engine. What we felt directly translated over to the numbers side, as the Ram posted a 0-60 time of 9.6 sec (0.4-sec off the Ford’s pace) and a quarter mile of 17.2 at 79.6 mph. Running straight-line acceleration with a grand of weight in the bed netted a 0-60 of 10.6 (beating the Ford) and the quarter mile advancing by 0.5 sec and losing 2.7 mph."

    and from edmunds 2000 1/2 ton comparison:

  • txyank1txyank1 Posts: 1,010
    Dodge truck that could run a sub-15 sec. 1/4. Not too sure I've even seen sub -16's. I'm referring to magazine test reports.
  • >My 5.9 will run the 1/4 mile in 14.7 at 92mph and it's 100% as delivered from the factory.<
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    you are all assuming something, which you know what happens when you assume...

    From September 98 High Performance Mopar...
    "we got the truck to run within 1/100th of a second of that first run (15.113 at 88.9). Most others with multiple driver were in the 15.15 to 15.25 range. The Dakota was consistant as a Timex. A sharp supertune and further testing would have gotten us into the 14s, but time ran out, as usual. One thing for sure: this truck is a few bolt-ons away from 13-second timeslips."

    This test was on a loaded club cab which is over 300# heavier then my Dakota. You see I say Dakota, 2wd, hotter PCM, free flowing exhaust, 3.92 limited slip rear end and 255 series 28" tall tires. Many Dakota R/T owners have broken into 14's even with the club cabs after the motors loosen up a bit with a 1000 miles. A regular cab R/T just needs a cool day to run mid 14's all day long without any mods.
    So where the 5.9's torque makes a good 4x4 and towing motor, in a lighter package its plenty quick too. At least Dodge has the gonads to put a big motor in their little truck. Don't think that new 270 HP inline six is all that great. In the current issue of road and track it was slower then the regular 4.7 Grand Cherokee, and now there is a High Output 4.7 in the Grand Cherokee that bumps power to 265 HP (only a $450 option over the base 4.7). even though the base 4.7 makes only 235 HP it beats the 270 HP Trailblazer because the 4.7 has more area under it's torque curve. Bottom line law of physics says a motor making 200 ft-lbs of torque at 2000 rpm will accelerate a truck equally as one that is making 200 ft-lbs of torque at 4000 rpm. Yet the motor at 4000 rpm has twice the horsepower, it's not accelerating any faster but has twice the horsepower. It is good to make the power at a high rpm so you can take advantage of gearing, but its not good just to get a high peak number (like the the chevys always do) for the marketing guys and sacarafice the nice, broad, flat torque curve.
  • lariat1lariat1 Posts: 461
    Sorry bout dobting you, I thought that you had a ram not a Dakota I believe a Dak with the 360 is cabable of a 14 sec run they are much lighter than a ram.
  • moparmadmoparmad Posts: 197
    I saw two of them just this summer at the NY International Raceway Park. A pair of Dakota R/T's running mid to upper 14's all day long. I figured he was talking about a Dakota as soon as he said only the 4.7L comes close.

    Seems to me everyone is missing the point here. The fact of the 360 being a good truck engine has nothing to do with it's 1/4 mile times. If you are buying a half ton,full sized truck based solely on it's 1/4 mile times then you obviously are not concerned with having a good truck engine,you want a car engine posing as a truck engine. If that fills your bill then fine,but you should realize that the 360 is,was,and always will be a truck motor,it isn't designed to make your Ram a dragster,its designed to make your Ram a good tow truck to get your dragster to the track. It has been doing work for Mopar men since 1971,and it may be a little long in the tooth in some respects,but for it's intended purpose I remain convinced there isn't anything better.
  • hillhoundhillhound Posts: 537
    to hear a statistic as to how many 360cc motors Mopar has produced since it's induction. Anybody know how to find out?
  • lariat1lariat1 Posts: 461
    Probably fewer 360's out there than you think considering that the ram has sold more trucks since 94 than in all the years before combined and not all the trucks have the 360 in them.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    I personally feel the 360 is the best mopar small block. The 340 was a great motor and many would consider it more of a 'car' motor. I think they quit making the 340 about the same time they started making more 360's. The 340 had the benifit of better gas and less emissions so it could run higher compression and hotter cams. The 360 always had the advantage of more displacement. Giving the 360 more compression and better heads and cams like the 340 had and it will always be better in all areas because of those extra 20 CI. The highest power Mopar small block was the 340 sixpac but it was rated with the old standard. The 250 HP rating of my Dakota R/T may well be the most powerful factory mopar small block ever if rated on the same standard. One big problem is the modern 4 speed automatic robs so much more power then the 4 speed manuals or 3 speed autos the Cuda's and Challengers got. I think the 360 really was more of a car motor first. In the early 70's the 360 was a pretty common motor in cars and trucks had more big blocks. When the big blocks became impossible to keep emission standards up on they changed the big gun truck motor over to the V-10 and of course used the 5.2 and 5.9 for the average buyer. By then they weren't using V-8's at all in the cars anymore so I think people just started associating it with the trucks. I bet this same conversation was going on back in 1975 about how Dodge was using that "car" 360 motor too much in it's trucks... It's all how you look at it. 20 years ago cars were as heavy as todays trucks so maybe they needed more of a 'truck' motor. I'm sure they made more 318's then any other dodge motor period (the 3.0 mitsu. motor in a bunch of vans and other K varaiants would be close). the 360 would be the second most common mopar small block and probably more common then any other V-8 besides the 318. I personally boght the Dakota R/T because I'm a diehard mopar fan and it's the closest thing to a musclecar Dodge has made in 15 years. Rumor has the next generation Dakota getting the 5.7 hemi and a 5-speed manual. With 350 HP in a 4000# package it will be a world beater, and I'll be first in line (even if they destroy the current Dakota's great lines).
  • moparmadmoparmad Posts: 197
    The 340 sixpack was way underrated. If you remember the NHRA reclassified the 340 at 320 horsepower. I think it was Popular Mechanics that retested some old muscle car engines and found the 4 bbl 340 to crank out 256 horsepower SAE net. But you are correct that an identically set up 360 would surpass the 340,as they say,there is no replacement for displacement. I'm willing to bet that there are far more 360's around than some think,remember they were available not only in trucks,but in nearly every rear wheel drive vehicle Chrysler has produced. I can say from experience that with an Edelbrock Performer cam,and intake,4 bbl Thermoquad,headers,dual 2 1/4" exhaust,and 3.90 gears a 360 will turn a mild mannered '75 Duster into an animal.
    As far as exact production numbers I couldn't tell you,but I do know that Mopar made over 3 million 383 big blocks,and I'm willing to bet that they made many more 360's.

    Hersbird...It's good to see another Mopar fan,I thought we were extinct.
  • Hold on here!
    If they put the hemi in a Dak. R/T And put a 5-spd behind it. It'll kick some serious tail!!

    I had a 94 dak. 318 5-spd and it flew. It was also 4X4. Add another 100hp minus the weight of the 4X4 and you've got something to brag about.
  • moparmadmoparmad Posts: 197
    There are rumors of just that combination becoming reality. I am on the edge of my seat in anticipation. In the interim all it would take is a 5 speed in the current R/T to create a true giant killer. Now I just wish they would build a 4WD Dakota R/T for us not so fair weathered enthusiast.
  • amoralesamorales Posts: 196
    Hey guys, this old man remembers the '63 Dodge 413's with the pushbutton TORQUEFLIGHT
    auto trannys, they even used them on some of the 426 Hemi cars. Many of the Dodge's with auto trannys smoked the GM and Ford 4 speed manuals, ie Chevy 409's and Ford 406's. I was there at Lyons Drag strip. They should bring out the old blueprints, a few upgrades and you have a transmission that handles 600-700+ horspower and 500+ pounds of torque without self destruction. I too love MOPAR muscle and will buy my first Dodge truck when the Hemi is
    finally offered, hopefully early next year.

    Regards to all truck lovers

  • moparmadmoparmad Posts: 197
    The crash bang Torqueflightes...I would love to see their revival. But,we never will because the new truck buyer would never except the hard thud when they shift. Talk about indestructible though, I got a hole in the pan on my Duster,and found out when the tranny ran dry and would no longer move the car. My friend came to my rescue by bringing me a gallon of Central Tractor tranny fluid,we filled up the tranny on the side of the road,and I drove it home. After fixing the pan I drove the car another three years. And this was the light duty 904,not the king kong 727.
This discussion has been closed.