Consumer Reports rated the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel above every other half-ton, full-size pickup in its most recent tests. It scored 82 points out of 100.
The next highest rated pickup was the Ram 1500 with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine, which scored an 81 and was rated as “Recommended.”
Consumer Reports wrote, “The Ram is the most civilized full-sized pickup on sale, yet it’s still plenty capable. Its coil-spring rear suspension helps cushion the ride and the spacious cab is luxury-car quiet.”
While they praised Ram’s fuel economy, eight-speed transmission, ride, quietness, room, and Uconnect telematics, they criticized the Ram’s ease of access (it’s a long way to the cab without the optional side steps), the heavy tailgate, and the $4,000 price tag for the diesel.
Consumer Reports got 20 miles per gallon in overall testing, the same figure Allpar hit in a recent test of the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman equipped with the VM Motori-sourced diesel. A magazine spokesman said these numbers were normally seen in mid-sized SUVs, and pointed out that the Ram was the only diesel full-size half-ton truck.
The next highest scores were from the recently designed Silverado/Sierra pickups, which came close to the Ram Hemi’s score (both were tested with the 5.3 V8). Ford’s F-150 XLT Crew Cab, tested with both the V6 turbo and five-liter V8 engines, scored far below both Ram and GM pickups. The Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra V8s anchored the bottom of the list.
Ram is kicking off the 2015 model year early and with extra torque; the 2015 Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty diesel pickups will increase its torque rating to 865 lb. ft., with Ram 3500 increasing its payload to 7,390 pounds.
Cummins and Ram worked together on a “more aggressive fuel delivery and turbo boost calibration” to push an extra 15 lb-ft of torque out of the 6.7-liter straight-6 diesel. Adding more fuel boosted torque, while adding boost helped horsepower.
The new pickups will maintain their class-leading maximum tow rating of 30,000 pounds, backed by SAE J2807 testing criteria. Ram is the only maker of three-quarter and one-ton pickups to use the SAE standard testing system.
Unlike its domestic competitors, Ram does not remove its spare tire, radio, console, or bumper to bolster its payload figures. Ram claims to have the greatest towing, payload, and power in the segment.
The Ram 3500 pickup with the 6.4 liter Hemi V8 engine gained 100 pounds in its gross vehicle weight, which rose to 13,800 pounds. Ram found that the truck easily passed SAE tests, and re-tested with a higher payload, still passing.
66RFE six-speed automatic
383 @ 5,600
400 @ 4,000
410 @ 5,600
429 @ 4,000
350 @ 2,800
660 @ 1,400
68RFE six-speed automatic
370 @ 2,800
800 @ 1,600
Aisin AS69RC six-speed auto
385 @ 2,800
865 @ 1,700
There are actually three versions of the Cummins diesel engine, calibrated to match the limits of their transmissions — including the only remaining manual heavy-duty-pickup transmission in America.
The Ram 3500 continues to use a rear Hotchkiss leaf spring system, but will, with late availability, have a supplemental air suspension system which allowed softer leaf springs — allowing for more unladed suspension movement, even with a 30,000-lb. trailer.
To smooth the ride, the Ram 2500 uses a segment-exclusive five-link coil rear suspension system. Loaded or unloaded, Ram (and many auto reviewers) claim that the 5-link coil system provides best-in-class ride and handling. The five-link coil design incorporates support at all major points of force, resisting unwanted axle rotation, and providing better lateral support than leaf springs. The Ram 2500 has an optional rear air suspension for load leveling.
In the front, the Ram Heavy Duty line features an advanced three-link front suspension to ensure roll stiffness. Greater roll stiffness, also known as body roll, is an important characteristic in taller vehicles and especially trucks with heavy payloads. Roll stiffness is measured by the amount the truck’s body tips side-to-side, independently of the wheels, during cornering.
The high capacities of the Ram trucks are based on high-strength 50,000 psi steel frames, with eight cross-members, hydroformed main rails, and fully boxed rear rails. Center frame rail sections are roll-formed for consistent strength in less complex longitudinal sections. The rear structure includes a factory-installed rear axle cross-member with provisions for fifth wheel and gooseneck hitches.
Ram HD pickups have a standard Class 5 receiver hitch with four- and seven-pin connectors on the bumper. A rear camera backup system with dynamic imaging is optional with the 8.4-inch display, and towers can opt for a cargo-view camera for easier connection to fifth wheel or gooseneck trailers, or to monitor bed loads.
Ram heavy duty trucks have a five year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, extended oil change interval (15,000 miles on diesels), the largest brakes in the segment, and a diesel exhaust brake. The full truck is covered by a five year, 36,000 mile warranty.
The 2017 Ram is also likely to have aerodynamic improvements to increase highway mileage. Lessons learned from the systems approach to cutting parasitic losses on Ram HFE may be spread throughout the line, as well.
The 2017 Ram will have a tougher time of it than the current model, with GM and Ford both having eight and ten speed transmissions by then, and most likely competing with small diesels in Chevy, Ford, and Nissan pickups. It may well be time for Ram to pull a rabbit out of their hat — and the current crop of engineers and leaders might be able to do it.
Ram will finally add the ProMaster City small van to the lineup at the end of this calendar year. So far, we have not heard of any other changes in the entire Ram lineup, including the heavy duty and Ram 1500 pickups, chassis cabs, ProMaster vans, and Ram Cargo Van.
Prices donot include destination charges of $1,195 on heavy duty pickups and chassis cabs, or $995 on ProMaster and Ram C/V. Hawaiians pay $50 extra.
Ram’s heavy duty lines will start the year with a base price of $30,315 for the rear-drive, regular cab Tradesman Ram 2500; the Ram 3500 version of the same pickup is just about $600 more. Going to the 4×4 adds around $3,000, either way.
The much better equipped SLT model adds around $4,000 to both 2500 and 3500. Going from regular to crew cab adds $4,000 to the Tradesman (the short wheelbase crew cab is slightly cheaper). The next leap up in space is the Mega Cab; there is no Tradesman version, but Ram 2500 Mega Cab SLT starts at $39,160, with the 3500 version at $40,680.
The top Ram 2500 pickup is the Laramie Longhorn 4×4, weighing in at $54,250; the equivalent Ram 3500 is $55,380.
Chassis cabs start with the 3500 rear wheel drive regular cab ($31,505), and go up to the 5500 4×4 Crew ($43,305). Pricing for models above ST has not yet been released.
Ram ProMaster Cargo Van starts the year at $28,630 for the 1500 version, short wheelbase, and low roof; it tops out at $36,260, for the 159 inch wheelbase, extended high roof version. ProMaster sharply undercuts equivalent size-and-capacity Mercedes Sprinters, and is also sold as a cutaway and chassis cab.
Finally, the Ram C/V Tradesman, a minivan specifically and thoroughly refitted for commercial use, has a single model listing for $22,000.
Though the Ram 1500 just had major upgrades, another refresh is due in 2017, to deal with the new F-150s and a possible Chevrolet Silverado update.
So far not much is known about these trucks, except that they will likely include the Pentastar engine upgrade, might include the rumored 5.7 Hemi V8 upgrade, and are likely to have undergone weight reduction therapy with more high-strength steel and aluminum.
JackRatchett made numerous subtle changes based on various tips Allpar has gotten. The headlights and fog lights both have LEDs; and the headlights are narrower than the current model. Both hood and grille are lower, the better to slip through the air with. The Prowler look is courtesy of Jack.
We’ve been told that Ram may well expand their wheelbase, which is a significant change. That could signal the end of the regular cab, which is no longer particularly popular despite being dominant not many years back, or an application of “cab forward” design to pickups. A longer wheelbase could help Rams’ handling and ride.
With the major pickup makers now competing on the basis of towing, payload (with some using questionable numbers), and fuel economy, Ram is likely in a dilemma over what to emphasize. While the diesel helps, by 2017, it seems likely that competitors will also have diesels — Nissan Titan certainly will, with the golden Cummins name attached to it. By then Ram will not be the sole eight-speed, either.
Robert Hegbloom, who joined Chrysler in 1986 and has moved up through the truck group, has taken over the Ram truck brand and joined the North American leadership team. Mr. Hegbloom has been praised by reporters as being a “real truck guy.”
Reid Bigland, who is in charge of Chrysler Group U.S. sales and remains CEO of Chrysler Canada, has yielded his position as leader of the Ram brand but will now take over running Alfa Romeo’s North American operations. Alfa Romeo is a key worldwide brand for the future Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, seen as the company’s primary competitor in the BMW-Lexus-Mercedes space.