Dodge Ram Heavy Duty
Following up the introduction of the all-new 1500-series Ram truck for 2009 is the revamp of the Heavy-Duty series pick-ups. This new HD has picked up many of the new half-ton ’s generational styling cues--not the least of which is the vastly improved interior design and materials that also make it into the HD. But, in general, the heavy trucks keep more of the iconic “Big Rig” look and if anything add capacity in every area: payload, towing and people moving.
One further addition to this new-gen Dodge update is the fact that the company is also moving its HD trucks into a larger market, namely the medium-duty Chassis Cab segment that services the specialty and vocational trades. This news is good for that user group, but it also bestows certain advantages on the most popular 2500 and 3500 trucks that are used by recreational haulers and trades people–-design features which might not otherwise have made it into production.
Dodge chose the Toronto International Auto Show to introduce this new truck, with its chief designer on hand to point out several new body cues, not the least of which is the one-piece stamped fenders for the new 3500-series dually pickup box. But along with the new look is a new reach into the mid-size truck market with the offer of 3500/3500/5500 chassis cab models. These trucks with clean-back-of-cab design will be of great interest to vocations such as ambulance and fire departments, right through delivery and service vehicle builders. But first Dodge has made sure that this market is aware that in addition to this capability it has already added a much-needed feature to this 2010 Dodge: a new “Crew” design-- this being a full-size, four-door, Crew-size Cab, offered for the first time. Strange, but true. Dodge traditionally has offered Regular Quad Cab and the over-size Mega Cab, but not a true Crew. Being that in the HD segment Crew Cabs are ordered more than 50% of the time, it’s a feature that was overdue for Dodge.
In 2006, Dodge introduced its Mega Cab which added 20-inches to its then largest Quad Cab offering. Today, the Mega Cab remains, but the Quad Cab has been dumped in favor of the new Crew that sits squarely between the Regular and Mega Cab, mimicking the most popular four-door cabs offered by GM and Ford. These three Dodge cab offerings can also be matched to two cargo box sizes (6’4” or 8-foot). As for trim, there are five distinct levels: ST, SLT, TRX, Laramie and Power Wagon.
Power for the 2500-series and up will be supplied by either the veteran 5.7L HEMI-V8 (383 hp and 400 lb/ft of torque) or the 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel (350 hp and 650 lb/ft of torque). The Hemi comes with a five-speed automatic transmission while the turbo diesel is coupled to either a six-speed automatic (with electronic range select feature) or six-speed standard (with ultra-low first-gear ratio) tranny.
This new diesel engine is also compliant with all new North American emission requirements and it includes a segment exclusive standard exhaust brake. This is a unique feature to the Cummins--one I’ve used. It slows the truck nicely on grades or while under load in traffic. In addition to saving of the vehicle brakes, the sound is neither loud nor rude.
Other braking advances on this new generation of HD Rams includes new large front (360mm ) and rear (358mm) brakes with integrated ABS and electronic brake force distribution that adjusts braking pressure front to rear, based on weight distribution of passengers and cargo. This minimizes body dive during hard braking. Also part of this new overall braking package is the integrated trailer brake controller that is now a standard part of the towing package.
Other new features and options include manual and electric shift-on-the-fly 4x4 transfer cases; ParkView—a back-up camera for easy hook-ups; a larger grille opening for better cooling and a Vehicle Information Center that features gauge/graphics such as coolant temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, transmission temperature, engine hours and diesel filter status.
As I said, the interior improvements to the Ram are just short of spectacular (maybe it just seems that way because the old interior was so bad) and along with overall improvement the list of available features is longer and more decadent. For instance: premium front seating with heat and ventilation; heated rear seats, heated steering wheel; automatic temperature control; two-tone upholstery; memory seats; radio and mirrors; navigation; adjustable pedals; SIRIUS Backseat TV with three channels of programming; Uconnect tunes with a 30-GB hard drive and an available first-in-segment 10-speaker surround-sound system.
So what does all this add up to in terms of capability?
Well, the 2010 HD Ram can tow up to 8,391 kg (18,500 lbs) and carry 2,318 kg (5110 lbs) of payload. On all 3500 models with dual rear wheels, GCWR is increased to 11,521 kg (25,400 lbs) with the 6.7L TD. Coupled to the automatic transmission and a 4.10 axle ratio, an additional 635 kg (1400 lbs) can be added. For those who also plow with their trucks, note that a higher front Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) of 2,495 kg (5500 lbs) has been added to all 4x4 models.
These trucks will start to arrive on dealer lots this fall, but Dodge will be happy to let you order one now, though pricing has not yet been released.
-Frederick J. Staab