If The Chevy Silverado Was The Car in this test, the Dodge Ram was the workhorse. The 6.7L Cummins produced the most torque-on the chassis dyno if not on paper-and it felt like it, as this truck pulled like the proverbial locomotive from any stop. It was the tallest of the three, feeling like it already had received a mild lift. And the Ram had the most trucklike ride, a harsh bump-and-jounce that rattled your skull on dirt and asphalt.
Towing did settle the rear suspension, maybe a little too much, in fact. One judge wrote that the Ram's rear "felt slightly soft when towing, where the Ford was too stiff and the Chevy just right." Another noted that the Ram was the only truck that felt noticeably lighter in the front when pulling the loaded trailer.
Though we weren't fans of the Ram's ride quality, we did love its solid front axle and abundant ground clearance when on trails. Transitions from dirt to pavement-which can be tricky when towing-were made easier by excellent articulation and the hard-working limited-slip in the rear diff. About the only thing we could have asked for off-road was a set of more aggressive tires.
When towing, the Ram lacked nothing in terms of equipment. You could rotate its big outside mirrors from horizontal to vertical to improve vision, the tow-haul mode in the 68RFE six-speed would automatically downshift to help slow the rig when coming to a stop, and the Cummins' factory exhaust brake (actuated by a dash-mounted button) ensured that the truck and trailer maintained our desired speed down every grade. In fact, we just left the exhaust brake on whether we were trailering or not. It was that effective, and that cool.
The Ram wasn't perfect. While it had great off-idle torque, the Cummins felt like it ran out of steam climbing and passing-a feeling that, admittedly, wasn't reflected on the clocks during our acceleration tests. We also noticed that when the truck was unloaded, the transmission always wanted the highest gear possible. That may be good for fuel economy, but we always had to kick the accelerator, sometimes hard, to find the right gear for passing.
Because we got the Mega Cab version of the Ram, it was the one truck on the test without a longbed. (That combination isn't available.) In-cab storage is plentiful and thoughtful. We also appreciated the simple dashboard layout, which made the other trucks' instrument panels look needlessly complex. Our one gripe about the Dodge's interior: the flat, unsupportive seats.
Engine notes: This new version of the Cummins I-6 has grown considerably, from 5.9 to 6.7 liters, and its power output has grown too, from 325 to 350 hp and 610 lb-ft of peak torque to 650. Dodge says 40 percent of the new engine's parts carry over from the older version, with most of the modifications aimed at increasing power and cleaning emissions. The equipment on the Cummins allows it to meet the EPA's 50-state truck standards for 2010-the only truck to do so.
* Simple, roomy interior
* Exhaust brake
* Harsh ride
* Lack of top-end power
* Step-in height
Calm the rough ride and it would be about perfect.
|Manufacturer ||Dodge |
|Model ||Ram 3500 SLT Mega Cab 4x4 |
|Base Price ||$45,275 |
|Price as Tested ||$52,720 |
|Options as Tested ||Bluetec ultra- |
|clean diesel system, cloth bucket seats, Customer Preferred Package 2FG (SLT badge, rear power sliding window, Sirius satellite radio), Protection Group (transfer-case skidplate), Popular Equipment Group (glovebox lamp, power six-way driver seat, ash-tray lamp, sunvisors with illuminated vanity mirrors, front dome lamp, underhood lamp, seven Infinity speakers, leather-wrapped steering wheel, front center-seat cushion storage, automatically dimming rearview mirror, security alarm), supplemental side-curtain airbags, 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission, 4.10 axle ratio, rear-axle antispin differential, fold-away power trailer-tow mirrors, foglamps, AM/FM stereo with in-dash six-disc CD/MP3 player, power-adjustable pedals, under-rail bedliner, destination charge |
|Type ||Cummins High Output I-6 |
|Displacement (liters/ci) ||6.7/408 |
|Bore & Stroke (inches) ||4.21x4.88 |
|Compression Ratio ||17.3:1 |
|Induction Type ||Electronic high- |
| ||pressure injection w/common rail |
|Fuel Req. ||Ultra-low-sulfur diesel |
|SAE Peak Hp ||350 @ 3,013 rpm |
|SAE Peak Tq (lb-ft) ||650 @ 1,500 rpm |
|Measured Hp ||283 @ 3,100 rpm |
|Measured Tq (lb-ft) ||503 @ 2,875 rpm |
|Fuel Tank Capacity (gal) ||35 |
|Type ||68RFE |
|Ratios ||First: 3.23; Second: 1.83; Third: 1.41; Fourth: 1.00; Fifth: .082; Sixth: .0625; Reverse: 4.44 |
|TRANSFER CASE |
|Type ||Two-speed, part-time |
|Low-range Ratio ||2.72:1 |
|Front type ||Solid |
|Rear type ||Solid |
|Ratio ||4.10:1 |
|Front ||Live axle Quadra Link |
| ||with coil springs |
|Rear ||Live axle with leaf springs |
|Type ||Power-assisted recirculating ball |
|WHEELS || |
|Size (inches) ||17x6 |
|Material ||Chrome-plated steel |
|Size ||LT235/80R17 |
|Brand ||General Ameritrac |
|Front ||Vented disc with ABS |
|Rear ||Vented disc with ABS |
|DIMENSIONS (INCHES) |
|Wheelbase ||106.3 |
|Overall Length ||247.7 |
|Overall Width ||79.5 |
|Overall Height ||78.5 |
|Ground Clearance ||8.0 |
|CAPACITIES (POUNDS) |
|Advertised GVWR ||10,500 |
|Curb Weight || 7,818 |
|Payload Capacity ||2,770 |
|Tow Capacity ||16,032 |
|Average over Test (mpg) ||10.1 |