Chrysler Group recently created a separate truck division, focused around the Ram pickups. These now donate their name to the new marketing channel, while also continuing to gain market share on the best-selling Ford haulers. Exposure to two versions of the 2500 gives us insight into where the company is, and wants to go.
These ¾-ton machines sure look the part, with giant hoods that exaggerate the “big rig” look Dodge pioneered in the 90s. There is lots of chrome and giant badges declaring the power source and trim level, important on the job site or parked outside the local juke joint after a hard day, apparently. One sour note is the way the optional Ram Boxes cut-lines are handled; the giant panel gaps and even the general shape—intended to bolster the fender line—just make the profile view look cheap. And bigger wheels would fill the giant fender apertures much better.
Inside things are generally good: these are huge cockpits, with so many practical places to store items, plug things in, or get work done that one can see why many folks, who don’t use a pickup’s capacities often, still gravitate to them. It is a big step up into the cab though, so running boards should be specified for all but the tallest of cowboys (or –girls). Once there, the view out is terrific, and adds to the sense of superiority that comes with driving such colossal beasts.
These 2500s live up to the promise of their appearance; towing and hauling capacity is vast, and Ram is to be commended for joining Toyota in adopting the Society of Automotive Engineers’ J2807 tow ratings system, which means one may finally soon be able to compare the boasts made by the competing Detroit 3 companies about their trucks’ abilities. In the case of the 2500s, the 6.4-liter, V8 Hemi will tow 16,300 pounds and the Cummins inline six diesel 17,970. Payload on both is 3,970 pounds.
This is accomplished using a class-exclusive rear suspension comprised of five-links and rear coil springs; there’s available rear air springs with load leveling to make the Rams haul or tow with even more acumen.
The test truck’s Hemi is a new option over the standard 5.7, and with 410hp and 429lb-ft of torque, boasts a forged crank and cylinder deactivation to keep fuel usage as low as possible. It is hooked to a beefed up six-speed automatic, and the result is all the grunt most will ever really need. But many want even more in the way of bragging rights, and for those prepared to pay roughly 50 cents more per gallon and the premium for the diesel engine itself, there is an almost inconceivable 800lb-ft of twist on offer, along with a quite impressive 370 horses; the tester equipped with this mill was a hoot to pilot, even without a load in tow to actually stretch the engine’s capacities.
While the Ram 2500s steering is precise for such a large, heavy duty vehicle, the ride was a letdown. Despite such a sophisticated rear suspension arrangement, they both jostled occupants much more than a comparable GM or even Ford ¾-ton truck. Loaded down, things smooth out, but as many of these vehicles spend the majority of their time unladen, this is disappointing. The brakes surely are not; they feel stout enough to stop the Earth’s rotation and exhibit absolutely no fade and excellent modulation.
Aside from ride quality, the Ram 2500s are superb, matching or besting what competitors can do, and looking unique in the process. As the trades continue their recovery, and the general economic climate frees up resources of time and money for hobbies like boating, camping and car racing, trucks like these will continue to grow in popularity and appeal.
EPA ratings: N/A (HD vehicle exempt)
Price as tested: $49,755 (Hemi); $66,850 (diesel)
Here is what Ram has to say about it.