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.
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.
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.
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.
Driving Impressions 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.Exterior
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.
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.
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.
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
By silverback on Saturday, November 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 191,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"rebuild trans at 80K no trouble since, replaced injectors at 185K, since day 1 all AMSOIL fluids, adjusted valves every 50K, electro viscous fan went out around 100k replaced no trouble since, towed numerous travel trailers latest being 8200 dry wgt & 1100 tongue wgt at 70 mph getting avg 10 mpg, installed 'chip' around 50K"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Ramrod on Friday, November 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 146,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good engine and interior"
Cons: "weak transmision"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I have owned this truck since new. Overall a very good truck, but the transmission has had to be repaired twice."
7 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Nat002 on Thursday, November 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 136,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "HEMI, V8 Power & Fuel Economy, Comfort, Workhorse"
Cons: "Next Time Choose Crew Cab over Quad Cab"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I'd like to preference my review by stating that my family is a GM family and I still like GM vehicles. Stop the newspaper presses, the Dodge RAM is the truth. I own a RAM 1500 Quad Cab w/HEMI & MDS system. Great value, my RAM cost me $22,000 brand new. Chevy wanted $26,000 for a vehicle that was close in options to my RAM. Thanks for the Lifetime Warranty on the power train. I have had two problems: #1. Water pump at 90,000 miles, & #2. Wheel Bearing Hub at 112,000 miles. Did the repairs myself, easy, saved a lot of money. Great on gas mileage for a truck this size, 24 MPG Hwy at 65MPH, 16 MPG City. Driven from GA to TX, & GA to MI, great traveling truck. Great for hauling and towing. I drive this truck back and forth to work daily & I use it for my handyman business. It gets the job done. The size of this truck is intimidating, people tend to move out my way, when I get into the HEMI. Love that HEMI. I have it in my 300C also. No complaints about this truck. Why buy a small truck when this is better all the way around. You can't go wrong with this truck. My little brother likes it so much, he bought a 2012. Number 4 selling vehicle in USA."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Road Warrior on Thursday, November 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 297,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Can't say enough about quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have almost 300,000 miles with minimum issues. Power train still strong with NO repairs, only normal maintenance. Drives great, handles great, pulls great, and is extremely comfortable. Has NEVER left me stranded. The only mechanical repairs: Power steering hose at around 80,000, Fuel pump at around 200,000, Balljoints at around 275,000. If this one ever dies, I will get the new version of it at that time."
9 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By tinysotadad on Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 116,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "value, quality, handling"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned this truck since new in 2008. I have been impressed with the dependability and quality. I have used this to drive cross country several times and never had an issue. Drives very smooth and has power when I need it."
11 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By rdf on Monday, October 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "i enjoy driving it"
Cons: "rust,gas hog"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"i like the styling of this truck,(2002)-possible classic in the future.it will be hard to find a rust free one."
7 people out of 13 found this review helpful