RAM 3500 Heavy Duty
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After a serious and rare upgrade where the Ram HD became the first non-SRT vehicle to get the hotrod 6.4-liter “Hemi” V8, the model is standing pat for 2015.

It’s hard to believe the 5.7-liter “Hemi” V8 is a “base engine” in anything, but it’s joined by the 6.4-liter SRT V8 to bridge the gap between the gasoline and mad-crazy diesel engines; three versions of the 6.7-liter six-cylinder Cummins turbo-diesel make 350, 370, and 385 horsepower and up to 865 pound-feet of torque.

The 2014 model year was a real re-balance for the Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups. When Ram upped the stakes with their optional Cummins turbo-diesel available in bad, badder and baddest grades in 2013, that left a rather big step down to the base 5.7-liter V8. What to do? Well, add the 6.4-liter SRT V8 to the lineup, of course. But back to the Cummins. The tamest of the 6.7-liter inline six-cylinder powerplants is rated at 350 horsepower and 660 pound-feet of torque, while the intermediate version pushes those numbers to 370 horsepower and 800 pound-feet. For maximum thrust and grunt, the 385-horse unit lays down 865 pound-feet for 2015, which very lightly, and likely insignificantly, outshines Ford. The Cummins can be matched to a six-speed manual transmission (the only shift-it-yourself in its class), or a six-speed automatic. The result is a truck that can haul and tow up to 17,000 pounds of trailer weight and up to 1,800 pounds of tongue weight using a conventional Class V hitch. The turbo-diesel has a standard exhaust brake that uses the engine’s compression to help decelerate the vehicle. That means shorter stops and less brake wear. Another Cummins bonus is that the interval between oil changes is 15,000 miles. Still available is Chrysler’s venerable 383-horsepower 5.7-liter “Hemi” V8 with a seemingly light 400 pound-feet of torque. Now back to the 6.4. Previously an SRT exclusive in the car line, it’s optional in both the 2500 and 3500. The 6.4 delivers 410 horses and 429 pound-feet of torque. For maximum towing, a coil-sprung rear suspension with air bladders is available on 2500 models, while 3500 use optional air springs integrated into the existing leaf-sprung suspension. Tow ratings of just under 18,000 pounds and 30,000 pounds, respectively, are simply ridiculous. Of course four-wheel-drive is available, but in the HD it has a disconnect feature that disengages the forward driveshaft from the transfer case when not needed, thus increasing fuel performance by one mpg. Inside, owner/operators will also appreciate the cab design, with a dashboard with available touch-screen controls (with redundant switches) for the communications and climate control systems. The center console features two-tier storage space. Regular, Crew and Mega cab models return, with a variety of box sizes and equipment levels that would make your head spin.

Base price (incl. destination): $30,500 (2014)
Type: Two- /four-door heavy-duty pickup
Base engine (hp): 5.7-liter OHV V8 (383)
Optional engines (hp): 6.4-liter OHV V8 (410); 6.7-liter OHV I6, turbo-diesel (350, 370, 385)
Layout: Front-engine, rear- /four-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Six-speed manual (std. with turbo-diesel); six-speed automatic (opt. on 6.7, std. with 5.7, 6.4)
MPG (city/hwy): n/a
Safety: Front airbags, side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes
Weight (lb.): 5,300