The Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups are all business, serious business.
They are the pair of Dodges that feel more like trucks and less like pickups.
But for the 2010 model year, these big rigs -- in all five trim levels -- finally offer interiors and exteriors that are executive worthy, though the truck has blue collar roots. But now architects can finally arrive on job sites in the same vehicle the crews they hire use.
Following the successful launch of the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500, it was only a matter of time before the brand's heavy-duty trucks adopted the same looks, which are stunningly better. Fortunately for Dodge, that time came sooner.
These trucks look great. The big front grille is canted to make the top stick out a little farther than the bottom. It's a bull ready to charge.
From the front, the face is menacing and strong. The big fenders push out and provide wide shoulders and a distinctive look. The lines are robust and curvy, and from every angle, it looks muscle bound. The back offers a spoiler-like shape to the liftgate. This hides the gate's handle and puts your hand in the perfect place to lower it. There's also a giant Ram logo, something many within Dodge refer to as "home plate."
The trucks come with one of two proven powerful engines, the 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi or the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel, a beef cake of a six-cylinder engine that produces 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. However, there's very little with this diesel that feels diesel-ish. It provides excellent pickup onto the highway and enough power to tow a small village. The engines, while not new to the 2500 and 3500, have been tweaked and tuned to provide even more power.
Big, but smooth drive
Despite the big engines and leaf spring suspension, the ride was surprisingly smooth and quiet. It still feels big, but it should. It may not be the easiest vehicle to park at a Meijer parking lot, but it can pull a horse trailer across the country. Different cars, different jobs.
While I have no need for a heavy-duty truck, I appreciate those people who do. Some are the weekend boat towers but most are everyday workers who haul lumber, cement mixers, asphalt kettles and just about everything else that holds our world together.
Now, they can do it a little quieter and a little cleaner. When Dodge brought out its new Cummins diesel engine, it ensured that it would meet future emission requirements. With 2010 rules taking effect, the 6.7-liter diesel is ready.
Also, there's no tick, tick, ticking of the injectors leaking into the cabin. And even with the bed empty, the 2500 diesel I drove felt sure footed and provided a good ride on its retuned suspension. I was assured by engineers it gets even better with a few thousand pounds in the back.
Sure enough, later in the day, when I towed a few thousand pounds, the big Rams never flinched.
Dodge also has made an exhaust brake standard on the diesel models. This system helps use the engine to slow the vehicle down and is very helpful when hauling heavy loads by reducing brake fade down big hills. There's also an integrated trailer brake on the dash, though it is mounted left of the steering wheel and would feel more natural on the right hand side.
In pickups, size matters
The new heavy-duty pickups come with loads of new features, such as heated and ventilated seats, automatic climate controls, adjustable pedals and 42 storage spaces throughout the cabin. There are even little cubbies under the floor mats in the second row -- like the ones found on minivans. These are the kind of features that can win truck buyers.
Most of all, the seats are comfortable. I found the seats in the previous-generation Ram heavy-duty trucks tough on my back. It's as if the lower back support was fabricated out of plywood. These new seats feel like La-Z-Boy designed them.
There are all of the high tech features too. There's Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free phone operations, a navigation system and most of the other features you'd expect in a luxury car. This one can just carry more stuff.
Dodge eliminated the Quad Cab versions with this model year. Instead, it will offer Crew Cabs and the Mega Cab models, as well as a standard body pickup. The Crew cab adds room to accommodate five people and the Mega Cab -- with its reclining second row -- feels like a football team could fit back there.
Despite what you may have heard, in the pickup world, size matters.
And these new Rams are big enough to hang with even the biggest competition.
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