Big Bad Ram: Heavy-Duty Pickup Gets an Update
By Jonathan Wong
Dodge also added a crew-cab model. Previously, a crew-cab body style wasn't available on the Ram, but with crew cabs accounting for nearly 50 percent of the truck market in 2008, Dodge saw the need. Regular- and mega-cab models remain options.
Visual updates include a taller hood, louvers, larger grille, front bumper and one-piece rear wheel fenders on dually versions. Powertrains carry over, including the standard 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 383 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque connected to a five-speed automatic. The upgrade option remains a Cummins 6.7-liter turbo-charged diesel I6 delivering 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. The diesel comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission and an optional six-speed automatic.
Close attention was paid to improving the HD's ride comfort. Where Dodge made waves by using a link-coil suspension on the 1500 to do so, the HD had to retain traditional leaf springs out back for heavy-duty capability. Engineers retuned the suspension components and added a C-pillar with a fluid-filled hydro mount to improve the ride.
With towing and hauling being big parts of the heavy-duty-truck equation, the Ram HD delivers with a gross combined weight rating for diesel 3500 dually models increasing to 24,500 pounds from 24,000. An optional max tow package ups that to 25,400 pounds. Of further interest to people who frequently tow is the standard exhaust brake on diesel-equipped models, which reduces brake fade, extends brake life and makes hauling heavy loads downhill easier. An integrated trailer-brake controller is also offered.
We spent an afternoon driving on back roads and expressways in a 2500 SLT Crew Cab 4x4 outfitted with the Cummins diesel and marveled at how well-behaved the truck rode unloaded. At no time did the rear end hop wildly out of control, and the truck was smooth at speed on the expressway. After rides in equivalent Chevrolet and Ford products, it was clear that Dodge has the truck-suspension formula down.
Steering felt responsive in large-truck terms, the brakes provided confident stopping performance, and the Cummins diesel was plenty powerful. At Chrysler's Chelsea, Mich., proving grounds, we put the diesel to the test by towing a 16,500-pound tractor loaded on a gooseneck trailer. The 3500 dually pulled it effortlessly, and we sprinted to 70 mph. On a downhill, the exhaust brake worked well, slowing the rig without us even having to touch the brake pedal.
We also enjoyed the updated interior. The cabin has plenty of soft-touch surfaces, and 42 nooks and crannies (up from 26) provide lots of storage options. The seats were extremely comfortable, and cabin isolation is a strong point.
The Ram HDs are in dealerships now, available as ST, SLT, TRX and the off-road-focused Power Wagon. Prices start at $28,165 for the bare-bones ST regular-cab model with a Hemi V8.
2010 Dodge Ram 2500/3500
ON SALE: Now
BASE PRICE: $28,165
DRIVETRAIN: 5.7-liter, 383-hp, 400-lb-ft V8; RWD, five-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 5,492 lb
0-60 MPH: N/A
FUEL ECONOMY (EPA): N/A
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