For lots of people, the truck world is a numbers game. “My truck can tow 500 pounds more than yours.” “I’ve got class-leading payload.” “My numbers are better than yours.”
But don’t get too hung up on the numbers. In the real world, evaluating trucks is a lot more complicated than a few extra pounds of capability. Building a great truck means creating the total package.
That’s why Ram is the hottest brand going in the truck market today. Ram trucks – the total package – are tough but comfortable, rugged but refined. They’re winning all the major awards in the industry and, yes, they also have some big numbers on their side.
Ram invited auto journalists from around the country recently to the Mojave Desert outside of Las Vegas to offer a sneak peek and test drive of the new 2500 and 3500 heavy duty trucks.
The introduction of the 2019 Ram heavy duties comes on the heels of a successful 2018 for the brand. Sales were the best ever, and the 2019 Ram 1500 has won nearly every truck award in the industry this year, including Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year” and the Texas Auto Writers Association’s “Truck of Texas.”
But Ram officials know that if you rest on your laurels in the auto industry, you’ll fall behind quickly.
“There’s nobody at the Ram brand sitting around twiddling their thumbs,” said Jim Morrison, head of the Ram brand in the United States. Morrison, speaking to journalists at the launch of the 2500 and 3500 heavy duties, said engineers wanted the big trucks to “outpower and outhaul anybody in the marketplace.”
Turns out, that’s what they do, towing up to 35,100 pounds with a payload capacity up to 7,680 pounds. Those big numbers result from a new 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel engine that can kick out 400 horsepower and, amazingly, up to 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission tasked with handling this colossal torque is an Aisin 6-speed automatic. A second variant of the Cummins diesel develops 370 horsepower and up to 850 lb.-ft. of torque.
The standard engine in both heavy duties is a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 that delivers 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque via an 8-speed automatic.
Ram heavy duties have a frame that is 98.5 percent high-strength steel and a suspension that has four-corner damping to soften the harsh ride that accompanies heavy duty trucks when they are not carrying a load.
I was able to drive both the 2500 and 3500 trucks out in the desert, and both had some of the most comfortable and quiet rides I’ve experienced in heavy duty trucks. I towed a backhoe weighing more than 21,000 pounds up and down a 6 percent grade, and the truck had no trouble at all.
When you’re carrying those kinds of loads up and down hills, you better have some pretty good brakes. Ram upgraded the calipers, booster and master cylinder in heavy duties for 2019.
Inside the cabin, the new Ram heavy duties are luxurious, even opulent, with real wood and leather. Logos in the limited trim are hand-branded into the wood. And there’s an all-new HVAC system in the trucks for those extra-dusty environments.
Uconnect is still the connectivity/infotainment system and it’s one of the best and simplest to use. Upper trims have a fabulous high-def 12-inch configurable touchscreen. Active noise cancellation makes the cabin 10 decibels quieter, according to Ram. I’m not exactly sure how much noise 10 db is, but I just know I was impressed by the quietness of the truck, especially the bigger 3500.
Hooking up trailers – either at receivers or goosenecks – is easy in the new trucks thanks to a host of high-def camera systems that can zoom in on both spots. There’s also a bed-lowering system that helps make heavy trailer loading even easier.
The 2019 Ram 2500 comes in six trim levels in 2WD or 4WD starting at $33,395 and topping out at just over $61-grand. Trims include the base Tradesman, Big Horn, Laramie, Power Wagon, Longhorn and Limited.
The 2019 Ram 3500 has five trims in 2WD or 4WD starting with the base Tradesman at $34,845 and going up to the Limited which starts at $62,650. The trim levels are the same, except the off-road capable Power Wagon trim is not offered in the 3500 series. Cabin configurations include regular cab, crew cab and the super-sized mega cab, which has reclining rear seats and lots of room to spread out.
2019 Ram 3500 Longhorn Mega Cab 4x4
Engine: 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel
Horsepower/Torque: 400/1,000 lb.-ft.
Transmission: Aisin 6-speed automatic
Price: $62,050 ($87,995 with dual wheels, & options)
EPA Mileage Estimates: N/A for heavy duties
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