KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Heavy-duty pickups are a special breed of hauler. These full-size leviathans are built to tote and transfer big-time payloads and pull trailers weighing in excess of 10,000 pounds. Chrysler's entrants in this segment, which includes competitors from Chevrolet, GMC and Ford, are the Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups. Available in Regular, Quad or Mega Cab configurations, with rear- or four-wheel drive, short or standard bed lengths, shorter or longer wheelbases, single or dual rear wheels, multiple trim levels and HEMI V8 gasoline or Cummins Turbo Diesel power, these ultra-Rams offer everything the basic Ram 1500 pickup does while adding even greater all-around capability.
You'll Like This Car If...
Anyone who regularly needs the services of a rugged, high-capacity pickup with excellent powertrain choices, lots of room and stellar towing capabilities should find some iteration of the Dodge Ram 2500 or 3500 worth considering.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Those who place a high importance on interior design and features may find more to admire in the Ram's heavy-duty competitors from Ford and GM. The Mega Cab's scale also requires mega-sized garages or parking spots.
What's Significant About This Car?
A new, more-upscale SXT slots above the entry-level SL on Regular and Quad Cabs and becomes the new entry-level Mega Cab model. Top-of-the-line Laramie-trim Quad Cab models add wood-like interior accents, all 2500s get standard trailering mirrors and the transition from high to low range on 4x4 SLT and Laramie models is now done electrically rather than via a manual lever, as it is on SL and SXT models.
A strong, stiff frame and decently sorted suspension endow the Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks with a good basic foundation. The cabin is comfortable and reasonably well isolated and, while the ride on certain road surfaces can get slightly choppy (particularly in an unladen 4x4 model), adding passengers or payload settles things down nicely and is a modest price to pay for the Ram's excellent all-around capabilities. Despite its tow-maxing bottom-end torque, the Cummins Turbo Diesel can't quite match the HEMI's off-the-line snap. But even the 2500 Laramie Quad Cab 4x4 we drove was still capable of accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in about seven seconds. Slightly raucous on cold starts, the potent diesel quickly quiets down and is always virtually smoke and odor-free. The six-speed automatic transmission is an equally laudable and smooth operator. Like the five-speed automatic that backs the HEMI engine, it offers a convenient Tow/Haul-mode switch on the shift lever.
Available Mega Cab
Quite literally the biggest cabin in the pickup segment, the Mega Cab's additional 20 inches of length yields outstanding accommodations for front-seat and, particularly, rear-seat passengers. Its 60/40-split flat-folding rear bench seat features reclining seatbacks and an additional 7.7 cubic feet of stowage space behind it. Other Mega Cab features include rear air-conditioning outlets and an available DVD system.
Cummins Turbo Diesel
While the HEMI may be slightly quicker, when it comes to sheer pulling power the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel is the clear choice. It boasts prodigious towing capabilities, outstanding reliability and durability, HEMI-beating fuel economy and "BlueTec" design enhancements that make it the only turbo-diesel clean enough to meet the EPA's 2010 requirements for NOx emissions levels.
Depending upon configuration and trim, interiors vary from decently civil in a vinyl-clad ST-level Regular Cab Ram 2500 with its 40/20/40-split bench seat, to quite nice in a cloth-covered six-passenger SXT or SLT Quad Cab and to demonstrably upscale in a leather-swathed and ultra-spacious Laramie-spec Mega Cab. The instruments are legible and most switches and controls well positioned – although the audio system selector buttons and the undersized display for the optional navigation system could use a rethink. While the Quad Cab's 60/40-split flat-folding rear seat will carry three adults in reasonable comfort, stepping up to Mega Cab spaciousness makes the aft quarters downright inviting and adds power-adjustable pedals plus numerous comfort and convenience touches.
The "big rig" look is a long-time Ram styling cue, and the 2500 and 3500 lineup carries on with the now-classic Dodge face that matches a prominent "gunsight" crossbar grille surrounded by bold brightwork (dark grey on the base ST) with squared-off fenders and wraparound headlamps. Additional shiny bits and chrome wheels are parts of higher trim levels, but no Ram truck includes a locking tailgate. There are two cargo-box lengths, of eight feet with the Regular Cab, six feet, three inches with the Mega Cab and either size for the Quad Cab. The rear doors on Quad and Mega Cab models swing open nearly 90 degrees to facilitate loading and unloading.
Notable Standard Equipment
Even a base 2500 SL Regular Cab has air conditioning, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system, dual 12-volt power outlets, tilt steering column, four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) and dual front airbags. The new SXT trim adds chrome bumpers, cloth upholstery, power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless remote and cruise control, while the SLT has an overhead console and chrome steel wheels. The top-line Laramie trim level includes leather and faux wood in Mega Cabs as well as a power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, steering-wheel cruise-control buttons, security alarm and more brightwork in Quad Cabs. All SLT and Laramie 4x4 models now feature electric activation of their dual-range transfer cases.
Notable Optional Equipment
In addition to features that define specific trim levels, the Ram 2500 and 3500 offer an assortment of appeal-enhancing packages headed by the descriptively named Popular Equipment Group (ST/SLT), Navigation Convenience Group (SLT/Power Wagon/Laramie), Light Group (SXT/SLT) and Sport Appearance Group (SLT). Beyond the commercially-oriented Power Wagon, any SXT model can be equipped with the comprehensive TRX4 Off-Road package that includes skid plates, limited-slip differential, on and off-road tires, tow hooks and fog lamps. Stand-alone options include a bedliner, premium audio (with or without SIRIUS Satellite Radio), power sunroof, side air bags and electronic stability control (standard on Laramie) plus dedicated trailer towing upgrades.
Under the Hood
The Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks offer two different engines for two different kinds of customers. Each delivers outstanding performance and is available with a choice of transmissions. The 5.7-liter HEMI V8 makes 345 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque. But even with Chrysler's efficiency-enhancing Multi-Displacement System, that can deactivate four cylinders under light-load cruising conditions, real-world mpg will still peak in the mid-teens with either the six-speed manual transmission or the available five-speed automatic. For those seeking up to 16,500 lb of towing capacity, there's the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel. Available on nearly all 2500s and 3500s, this refined, rugged and super-clean diesel develops 350 horsepower with a heady 650 pound-feet of torque at 1500 rpm when backed with its available six-speed automatic or 610 pound-feet at 1400 rpm with the standard six-speed manual transmission.
5.7-liter V8 HEMI
345 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
375 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
6.7-liter in-line 6 Cummins Turbo Diesel
350 horsepower @ 3000 rpm
650 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500 rpm (automatic)
610 lb-ft of torque @1400 rpm (manual)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) for the Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks start at just under $30,000 for a 2500 ST Regular Cab with the HEMI V8 and run to around $47,000 for a "base" 3500 Mega Cab 4x4 Turbo Diesel. The Ram's competitors in this arena, the similarly-priced Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD and 3500 HD models and the Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty pickups, are projected to do somewhat better with respect to long-term residual values. However, the Ram does have some advantages of its own – notably the availability of the people-pampering Mega Cab and multiple best-in-class maximum tow ratings – that could figure into any purchase decision. Another plus in the Ram's favor is that it comes with the longest powertrain warranty – original-owner unlimited time and mileage on the HEMI V8 and five-year/100,000-mile coverage on the Cummins Turbo Diesel.