If you’ve ever owned a toy Tonka truck and had even the slightest amount of fun with it, driving a big diesel pickup is incredibly fun. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to pull any trailers or really do anything to make this Ram break a sweat during the few nights I had it.
The most amazing thing about the 2010 Ram Heavy Duty trucks is how quiet and easy to drive they are. Trucks this big need very stiff springs to handle the payloads and trailers they are rated to move. Since the beginning of time, that has meant a huge compromise in ride quality when there is no trailer or cargo in the bed. Ram seems to have solved this problem with the new 2500 and 3500 trucks. Steering feel, while dead by sports car standards, is remarkable for a truck like this. It isn’t difficult to keep the truck on course at highway speeds.
Historically, Dodge trucks have been the also-rans of the Detroit Three’s pickup offerings. With the new Ram range, there are many compelling reasons to buy the trucks instead of just the powertrain (although the Hemi and the Cummins are both spectacular engines). Inside the cabin is as luxurious as anything you’ll find with a pickup box on the back. Suspensions are dialed in perfectly across the board, and on the half-ton side, there are features like the RamBox that up the ante for other manufacturers.
This year Ford and General Motors will also release new or significantly updated trucks with new diesel engines. It’s too early to call Ram the best HD truck you can buy this year, but it’s certainly the best HD truck you can buy right now today.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
Success, it seems, lurks where you’d least expect it. Twenty years ago, Chrysler partnered with Cummins to drop a turbo-diesel into its slow-selling Ram heavy-duty range. The duo expected to sell 5000 units, and instead sold nearly 20,000 in the first year.
The Cummins powertrain has always been the morsel within the heavy-duty Ram range, but the vehicle itself felt somewhat half-baked. This isn’t the case with the current model. Here, we finally have a truck whose other attributes — ride quality, NVH levels, interior amenities — are as good as the diesel lurking under the hood.
It’s easy enough to option up a diesel pickup into the $50,000 territory, but the Ram’s interior — virtually a dead ringer for that of our smaller Four Seasons 1500 model — feels more than worthy of the price tag. Materials are a huge improvement over the last Ram (and many other Chrysler models), and fit and finish seems superb. I’m also a fan of the heated seats and steering wheel — luxuries, certainly, but they’re virtually requisite when you’re running a slow-warming diesel in harsh winter climates.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
Sure, $53,750 isn’t cheap, but this heavy-duty Ram is a pretty good value in my book. Our long-term Ram 1500 is just $1520 cheaper than this Ram HD, which packs some serious extra punch when it comes to towing and hauling capabilities. Our test truck was rated to pull 12,600 pounds or carry 2330 pounds in the bed. The ride in this truck is rather harsh compared with the crossovers and cars we’re used to, but that’s the penalty you’ll have to pay for such utility.
In contrast, the interior gives away nothing to conventional people-haulers. The cabins of both this Heavy Duty and our long-term Ram are virtually identical, which is a very good thing. Control layout is excellent, as is craftsmanship. The heated steering wheel is a delight — and a bit of a surprise to find since this isn’t a luxury vehicle. It’s also nice that the Heavy Duty includes two features our Four Seasons pickup is notably lacking — the $200 rearview camera and a trailer-brake controller. It does seem a bit of an oversight, though, that stability control isn’t offered. I was caught off-guard as the rear end of the truck started to slide out as I was traveling in a straight line at 20 mph over a light dusting of snow. That’s the work of 650 lb-ft of torque. You could argue that this 6400-pound beast is firmly planted to the ground 90 percent of the time, but that’s not going to be good enough for the federal government when stability control is mandated in 2011. Possibly even more important than stability control, is the trailer sway management that commonly comes with it. With 10,000 pounds traveling at 70 mph just 10 feet behind me, I’d love to have a computer watching over me.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
After having spent most of my recent diesel time in small cars such as the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, I found the Ram HD’s new Cummins turbo-diesel to be a bit noisier than I expected. Still, it’s far, far quieter than those in the Heavy Duty Rams that I drove seven to ten years ago when I did endurance test-driving for Chrysler. This new leaf-sprung Ram HD rides notably harsher than the coil-sprung Ram 1500 -– not a surprise — but it did feel quite tolerable on my commute, unlike those aforementioned Rams of yore. I’d expect that this new Ram is far more smooth riding when it’s weighted down with a load of cargo or a trailer.
I was a bit surprised to find a column shifter in the three-quarter-ton Ram, but I really wouldn’t mind if the light-duty Ram had it, too. It frees up even more storage space in between the two front seats, and the Ram 1500, while extremely quick with the Hemi engine, is far from a sports car begging for a console shifter.
OK, so there’s a cryptic little button on the Ram HD’s dash (see photo), just below the radio, that looks like it might have something to do with controlling air in some way. “Oh!” I thought. “Perhaps it converts the truck’s standard beep-beep horn into a big-rig-style, shake-the-rafters MMEEEEEEPPP air horn!” How disappointed do you think I was when I discovered that the button controlled the Ram’s exhaust brake?
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
On late winter nights during the magazine’s busy time, I prefer my commutes to be mindless and pampered. I wasn’t overly thrilled then, to be driving a diesel Ram out of the parking garage at 1 in the morning. But to my pleasant surprise, the heavy-duty is nearly as pleasant and easy to drive as our four-seasons Ram 1500, which is itself as luxurious smooth as some premium sedans. We’re talking heated leather seats and a very good navigation system in a truck that could tow nearly 13,000 pounds. Like Rusty, I’ve become accustomed to small, quiet diesels, but the Cummins is pretty subdued considering its capability.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2010 Dodge Ram 2500 Heavy Duty
Base price (with destination): $43,400
Price as tested: $53,750
5.7L Hemi V-8
Heavy Duty engine cooling
34-gallon fuel tank
ParkSense rear park assist system
Media center: CD/DVD/MP3 radio
Sirius satellite radio
Alpine premium audio with 9 speakers
Uconnect phone with voice command
Heated steering wheel
Heated front seats
Options on this vehicle:
6.7L Cummins turbo diesel engine – $7615
Media center; CD/DVD/Nav radio – $800
Leather trimmed bucket seats – $500
6-speed automatic transmission – $405
Limited slip differential – $325
Deep water blue pearl coat paint – $225
Roof mounted clearance lamps – $80
LT265/70R17 on/off road tires – $200
Parkview backup camera – $200
Key options not on vehicle:
Power sunroof – $850
Size: 6.7L turbo diesel I-6
Horsepower: 350 hp @ 3000 rpm
Torque: 650 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
Weight: 6398 lb
17 x 8-inch polished forged aluminum wheels
LT265/70R17 BSW all-season tires