2009-2014: Fuel economy, interior quality, and suspension.
2002-2008: SRT-10, last to have a NV manual, last to have 5.9L Cummins
1994-2001: The best looking, no nonsense interior, Gas V10 work engine
1981-1993: Simplicity, torqueflite transmissions.
B.S. in Marketing
We had a '77 growing up - great utility vehicle but terrible on fuel. I had a 2nd gen and much more refined but just as bad on fuel. Current 3rd Gen has all the bells and whistles I need and much better on fuel. I can only conclude that the 4th gen would be even better so I picked that one.
Now although I'm sure it's not part of this survey, the Ram50 we had in the 80's is probably my favorite. Excellent mpg even compared to today's SUV's, 5 spd manual, and still big enough to fit 2 trikes in the back LOL.
Started with my 1st a NEW 1987 W250 Std Cab 8'bed, 360 auto 4x4, was a great truck at the time. Next was a Used 1995 Ram 1500 ext cab, short box, 5.9 auto 4x4.
Then decided to get a New 2005 Ram 1500 Quad Cab, short box, Hemi auto 4x4.
All were great trucks, being a 20 year ASE-Chrysler/Dodge Tech also helped.
Now retired I went back to a Second Generation 1998 Ram 1500 Ext Cab, short box 4x4. I prefer the slightly longer short box bed, with canopy I can stretch out.
I still have enough for passengers in rear seat when needed. Being a Tech during this generation helps too, because I have years of time on them.
I find the 2nd Generation easier and less expensive to mod and maintain.
As much as the hemi was a great engine improvement, I love the 2nd generation. Parents owned a 1st gen durango (second gens body style), I have a 2nd gen Dakota. I want to own a manual 01 2500/3500 ram after my Dakota. The fuel economy sucks, you can make it better but it still won't have cylinder deactivation. The 2nd gen rams though, are no nonsense trucks as someone else put it. They are only made for one purpose, being a truck and it doesn't apologize for it.