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Expert Reviews 1 of 5
By Mike Levine
April 16, 2009
Vehicle Overview Last year, the light-duty Dodge Ram 1500 pickup was overhauled by Chrysler. This year, the Ram 1500's big brothers, the Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickups, get their turn.
The update isn't quite as comprehensive as the Ram 1500's makeover, though you'd never know it just from looking at the trucks. Almost everything above the heavy-duty Ram's frame is brand new, including its aerodynamic exterior and all-new interior, which is shared with the Ram 1500. The front axle and suspension have been strengthened to accommodate a wider range of snowplow prep packages for winter work. New hydraulic body mounts under the cabin are said to smooth out freeway hop.
A new four-door crew cab with bigger back doors and more rear passenger space replaces the previous, smaller four-door Quad Cab. A new 8-foot cargo box option (a 6-foot, 4-inch bed is standard) should make the crew cab Ram HD an attractive choice for fifth-wheel towing.
The 6.7-liter Cummins six-cylinder diesel and Hemi V-8 powertrains both continue unchanged from last year, as does the Hemi-powered Power Wagon off-road version of the Ram HD. It's the only Ram HD with a 4.56 rear axle and locking front and rear differentials.
Exterior Ram heavy-duty pickups share headlamps and fenders with the 1500, but the grille is bigger to keep the engine cool while towing big trailers, and the hood is different to make room for the Cummins diesel. The front bumper has aggressive stamping. The single-piece chrome bumper wraps around the front fenders to give it a modern look and improved aerodynamics to help gas mileage.
The plastic snap-on rear fenders on previous-generation Ram HDs with dual rear wheels have been replaced with sculpted fenders stamped into the sides of the cargo box. They look clean and modern, but if they're dinged or damaged they'll require bodywork instead of replacements. Regular cab and Mega Cab models continue for 2010.
The external rearview mirrors have been revised to better facilitate towing. They can be pivoted horizontally or vertically, depending on trailer size, and the mirrors are larger and convex to improve visibility. Turn signals are integrated.
Interior The inside features all the high-quality materials and ergonomic and electronic options the Ram 1500 has, and it adds a new integrated trailer brake controller, like Ford and GM offer in their heavy-duty pickups. The brake controller eliminates the need for an aftermarket kit to control a trailer's electric brakes for improved towing control.
Buyers who tow long distances will appreciate the Ram's seating improvements, which include better ergonomics and comfort. The seats can be equipped with heat and ventilation for the driver and front passenger. Rear-seat heating is also optional, as is a heated steering wheel. Other interior features include:
Optional power-adjustable pedals
Optional Sirius Backseat TV with three channels of programming
UConnect tunes with 30GB hard drive and available 10-speaker surround-sound stereo system
Numerous storage options, including in-floor storage
Under the Hood
383-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 with iron block and aluminum cylinder heads, cam-in-block, two valves per cylinder and 400 pounds-feet of torque
350-hp, 6.7-liter inline-six-cylinder turbocharged diesel with iron block and cylinder head, cam-in-block, four valves per cylinder and 650 pounds-feet of torque with the automatic, 610 pounds-feet with the manual
Six-speed manual (5.94:1 1st gear) standard with 6.7-liter engine
Five-speed automatic standard with 5.7-liter engine
Six-speed automatic available with 6.7-liter engine