There are some things that only a heavy-duty pickup can do. Towing 16,850 pounds or carrying 5,180 pounds, for example.
Enter the Dodge Ram 3500 turbodiesel. This big daddy is one serious truck. It sits so tall that I had to hoist myself into the cab by grabbing the steering wheel and pulling myself up.
Fire up the 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel and you know this truck means business. The diesel engine is much quieter than previous models, but there is no doubt that a serious powerplant sits under the hood because you can feel the engine throb.
The Cummins diesel is remarkably smooth and quiet for its size. It delivers 350 horsepower, but more important is the torque it delivers. I define torque as pulling power because it is the measurement of the force that actually does the work of moving the truck. The 650 pound-feet of torque gives the Ram the ability to tow something that weighs more than 8 tons. Serious stuff, this.
This engine uses the Bluetec clean-diesel system of catalytic converters to the 2010 standards in all 50 states.
Heavy-duty trucks are about work, and the Dodge's diesel has an average major overhaul interval of 350,000 miles. Dodge said that is more than a 100,000 miles more than its competition.
The turbodiesel also includes a standard exhaust brake, something that Dodge said is a segment first.
Two transmissions are offered. One is a six-speed manual gearbox, and the other is a six-speed automatic that enables customers to select a range of gears to match driving conditions.
Because a majority of Ram Heavy Duty buyers opt for four-wheel drive, two transfer cases are available. One has traditional manual shift and the other offers electric shift-on-the-fly capability.
The cabin is comfortable and well-equipped. The front seat is wide and cushy, and there's a huge center console. Heated seats and dual-zone climate controls, along with the navigation system, provided all the comforts of a car. Wood-grain trim on the center console added a touch of warmth.
The Quad Cab's rear doors open 85 degrees for convenient access, and the rear windows roll all the way down. An optional 60/40 split-bench rear seat makes it easy to accommodate passengers and cargo. Seat cushions fold up to create a tall storage area from floor to ceiling.
The test truck had a short bed that made driving easier in urban confines, but a long bed is also offered for maximum cargo carrying.
The base price of the test vehicle was $47,370. Options included leather bucket seats, remote start, skid plates, tow package, automatic transmission, 4:10 rear axle ratio, navigation system, off-road tires, bed liner and rear-seat entertainment system. The sticker price was $56,245.
Three years or 36,000 miles.
2009 Dodge Ram 3500
Engine: 6.7-liter, 350-hp diesel
Wheelbase: 140.5 inches
Base price: $47,370
As driven: $56,245
MPG: not required for heavy-duty trucks
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