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2010-2012 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty pickup trucks (2500 and 3500)

2012 Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 changes

As predicted by Allpar in September 2011, the 2012 Ram CNG Hemi was launched in March 2012.

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Ram CNGRam Laramie Limited

A six speed automatic, the 66RFE (based on the heavy duty 68RFE) replaced the five speed, adding strength and providing a lower first and higher top gear. The Ram Heavy Duty boosted torque to 800 lb-ft, providing best in class towing of 22,750 lb and a gross weight rating of 30,000 lb; RamBox became optional in all price classes. Towing capacity increased for all engines, and midyear seat-mounted side airbags will become standard along with a black grille and bumpers on ST. Most Ram 2500 buyers opt for the crew cab and SLT or Outdoorsman; while most Ram 3500 buyers go for the Crew Cab and Laramie or Longhorn. Some rumors have Dodge forsaking its exemption from a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), in pursuit of higher gas mileage, for 2012 or 2013.

In 2012, Dodge/Ram pointed out that the Ram was Canada's best selling diesel pickup, with an unsurpassed five year/160,000 km powertrain warranty and up to 10,318 kg of towing; it was the only HD diesel pickup with a six-speed manual, and the only HD pickup that did not require diesel exhaust fluid (this changed for the 2013 model year, when DEF was required).

The Cummins engine had fewer moving parts (and fewer plastic parts) than comparable Ford and GM engines, had an integrated exhaust brake with 225 braking horsepower at the wheel (greatly extending brake life), and was rated at 305 or 350 hp (chassis cab vs pikcup) and 610 or 800 lb-ft of torque (800 lb-ft only on automatic pickups). Thanks, "Moose Eater."

2011 Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 changes

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4th1.001.001.00 (3rd)
5th0.8160.770.75 (4th)
6th0.6250.630.67 (5th)

The Ram 2500's tow rating increased on 2011 models from 20,000 to 22,000 lb, when buyers chose the diesel and 4.1 axle ratio.

A boost in Cummins diesel power announced in February 2011 raised diesel torque (with automatic transmission) to 800 lb-ft, keeping peak horsepower at 350 but adding 40 hp more at lower engine speeds. At the time, Ram's CEO announced that Ram pickups have the largest brakes in their class, and the most powerful exhaust brake in the class was standard. The diesel, unlike its competitors, did not use urea or any other diesel exhaust fluid.

The extra power was handled by a new, higher-rated torque converter which was better integrated for higher towing capability. In addition, a new dual-rear wheel axle with 4.10 gear ratio, new rear-axle pinion, new helical gears, upgraded bearings, and finned aluminum differential cover were used with the maximum towing package; a new engine-mounted oil-to-coolant transmission cooler and upgraded power steering oil coolers would also be used. The result was a best in class GCVW of 30,000 pounds and towing of 22,700 pounds. The high tow ratings met all 2013 model-year SAE standards.

In addition, both Ram 2500 and 3500 had new optional power folding tow mirrors on some models (with late - February - availability), three new colors (the same ones added to Ram 1500), a standard EVIC (advanced trip computer), standard tire pressure monitoring, and standard trailer brake control on all but ST models.

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The new midline navigation system was available with the hard drive stereo. Ram 3500 also had optional polished aluminum dual rear wheels (optional on SLT, standard on Laramie). Both had a crew cab option. Half of the Ram Heavy Duty pickup buyers used them for work, the other half for recreation.

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Ram 2500 and 3500 were Motor Trend's 2010 Truck of the Year; their optional Cummins diesel did not require urea or any other diesel emissions fluid. Ram materials indicated that while Ford's new diesel had higher peak torque, the Cummins still had the best in class low-end torque.

A missive to dealers indicated that the Power Wagon was on its way, along with the Big Horn and Lone Star models. Trim levels were ST, SLT, Laramie, Outdoorsman, and Power Wagon; three quarters of buyers chose the SLT and Laramie models. The Outdoorsman model was based on the former TRX and was expected to account for just 5% of sales; Power Wagon was likewise expected to be a niche model (and was based on the Ram 2500 only, where Outdoorsman was available on both Rams).

2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty

While the Ram 1500 was aimed at the primary users of light-duty pickups - people who do not routinely tow or haul heavy loads, but need the space or shape for other reasons - the Ram Heavy Duty was aimed at commercial and fleet users, the primary buyers of serious, diesel-powered pickups and chassis cabs.

The 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty continued to use the prior generation's proven chassis and frame, but with more comfort, higher capabilities, and more body options: Dodge had replaced the Quad Cab with a crew cab, which joined the regular and Mega cabs. There were two cargo-box sizes (6-foot-4-inches and 8 feet), in single and dual-rear-wheel configurations. Even the chassis cabs came in a crew cab version.

Allpar member "JTE" wrote,

Texas truck dealers requested a truck with larger interior accommodations. The only way it would fly was by using as many existing components as possible and having it fit on the line. At that point in time Saltillo had a max wheelbase limit of 160 inches (8 foot box Quad Cab). We used an existing short box rear frame section and an existing Quad Cab front frame section, added a box section center frame to bring the wheelbase to 160", and added two new cab mounts and propshaft supports.

The cab was stock to the B-pillar; rear doors, roof, rear floor, and C-pillars were new, mating to the existing cab back. It was important to have a flat rear floor and we had to add stiffness that was lost when removing the hump. We tried carryover standard cab C-pillars but the doors were way too long.

The interior was fun, we did many varieties of folding, sliding, tumbling, reclining, sleeper, and flipping seats, only to lose to the lowest bidder. By using so many existing components and processes, the pitch to the VP went quite well.
The Dodge Ram Chassis Cabs had a short 2010 model year, and were all built in 2009; 2011s have new styling and interiors.

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Announced prices were lower than the 2009 models, matching Dodge's "rebate-free" plan. Dealer markup was relatively small; invoice on the 2010 Ram 3500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4, with short box, for example, came to $45,387, with a $49,945 list price. That included the Cummins turbodiesel; the heavy duty six-speed automatic added $1,575 ($1,339 dealer invoice). A heavy duty snow plow prep was just $135 ($115 invoice), and clearance lamps were a mere $80 ($68 invoice).

The ride was greatly improved through re-tuned suspension components; handling under a full load was also beefed up, while the gross vehicle weight rating increased by 600 lb to 9,600 pounds (Ram 2500 crew and Mega Cab 4x4 with Cummins diesel).

Fluid-filled hydro-mounts under the cab reduced beaming and bounce over rough surfaces. Dodge clarified what fluid-filled hydro-mounts do: "C-pillar hydro mounts were added to improve damping through the frame-bending mode frequency in order to better manage shake and after-shake response. The result is reduced shake and improved ride."

The new TRX and TRX4 (2WD and 4x4) crew cabs were designed to compete head to head with Ford; they included an anti-spin differential, 4.1:1 axle ratio, 17-inch aluminum wheel with offroad tires, skid plates, and other features. They would be priced thousands less than the Ford F-250 FX4.

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The 6.7 Cummins turbodiesel was essentially unchanged, but with a new particulate feature that slashed nitrides of oxygen by 90%; in the pickups, the engine produced 350 hp at 3,000 rpm, and 650 lb-ft of torque at a stunning 1,500 rpm, just off idle (automatic transmission). With the G56 manual transmission, the Cummins put out 350 hp and 610 lb-ft of torque; with the chassis cabs, 305 hp and 610 lb-ft of torque.

The Hemi V8 was available, with 383 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, on Ram 2500 only; the Ram 3500 appeared to now require the Cummins diesel. While the industry mix for this class was 59/41 diesel to gas, 79% of Ram heavy duty trucks sold in 2008 were diesels, and in most recent years 80%-87% of Ram 2500/3500 trucks were diesels.

Maintenance for the Cummins engine - which was in 90% of the Heavy Duty Rams - included 7,500 mile oil changes and overhauls at 350,000 miles (100,000 miles more than Ford or GM). It included an exhaust brake, a major safety feature and unique in this segment the exhaust brake was a $3,500 value, according to Dodge, and provided additional savings with lower brake maintenance. A B20 (biodiesel 20%) version was available for fleet buyers. The Cummins had met 2010.5 emissions requirements since its 2007 launch, and had no diesel exhaust fluid (e.g. urea) requirement.

Power-wise, the Cummins engine had better low end torque but lower peak horsepower and torque than its competitors.

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In chassis-cab service, the engine met 2010.5 emissions standards in 50 states, thanks to diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) injection based on urea injection Selective Catalyst Reduction (SCR) technology. The standard diesel had a 5 year/100,000 mile warranty, the best in its class. The base alternator increased from 136 to 180 amps.

The diesel pickups could be equipped with a G56 six-speed manual transmission with an extra-low first gear ratio, or the 68RFE six-speed automatic that now included Electronic Range Select, so the driver could limit the highest gear and make manual up- and down-shifts.

The latest incarnation of the tried-and-true A-727 Torqueflite was the 68RFE. Based on the 545RFE, it had beefed-up internal components, numerous single-sided clutch discs in packs, and a six-pinion gear train. This transmission was in diesel pickups, while the 5.7 liter Hemi continued with the 545RFE (until 2012) and chassis cabs got the Aisin 68RC. The Hemi pushed out 383 horspower and 400 lb-ft of torque; gas mileage on the 3500 Hemi was up 4%.

In 2012, the Hemis gained a new automatic, the 66RFE, which is essentially a lighter-duty version of the 68RFE and comes with its big brother's more favorable gear ratios.

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4x4s got one of two transfer cases: the manual NV271 unit (ST and Power Wagon) or the electric, shift-on-the-fly NV273 case. Axle ratios were 3.42, 3.73, 4.10 or 4.56.

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The interior was naturally upgraded, with optional heated/ventilated front seats; heated rear-seats and steering wheel; automatic temperature control; two-tone upholstery; memory seats, radio and mirrors; navigation; adjustable pedals and numerous infotainment options including Backseat TV(tm) with three channels of programming, uconnect tunes with a 30-gigabyte hard drive, and a first-in-segment 10-speaker surround-sound system. Numerous storage options included in-floor storage.

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A trailer brake controller was built in. Capacities were up, with Ram 3500 with dual rear wheels, diesel, automatic, and 4.10:1 rear axle sporting a 25,400 pound combined gross weight rating; the 4x4 diesels got an increased front axle weight of 5,500 pounds (for better front weight capabilities including heavier snow plows); and the Ram 3500 could tow 18,500 lb, with a maximum payload of 5,100 pounds.

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Five trim levels included ST, SLT, TRX, Laramie, and Power Wagon. The grille, hood, and bumpers were unique to the heavy duty line, but reflected the 2009 light duty Ram with a chromed lean-forward grille; the hood was taller hood for more cooling capacity.

Large external mirrors were new for 2010, giving drivers a more useable area while improving aerodynamics and minimizing wind noise. Depending on trim level, mirrors were finished in black, or black and chrome and equipped with turn-signal indicators, memory function, puddle lamps and adjustable convex mirrors. The larger, 7-in. x 11-in. mirror for trailer towing was standard. These mirrors flip up and out into a vertical configuration for trailer tow use.


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The 2010 Dodge Ram Chassis Cab's steering and suspension system raised load capacity, increased durability, and refined handling. The steering had less internal friction.

The system continued to use solid front and rear axles, and a five-link, coil-spring front suspension with solid axle, a front and rear link-type sway bar and tubular shock absorbers. The rear suspension used leaf springs with two-stage springs for greater load-carrying capability and better ride with light loads.


The tailgate was sculpted for better air flow, incorporating a spoiler in the upper part of the sheet metal. This tailgate also accommodated an available back-up camera for convenient trailer hook-ups and included a lift-assist feature that made raising and lowering a one-hand operation. Standard bedrail protection was included with both the 6-foot-4-inch. and 8-foot cargo boxes. The boxes now featured bedrail caps that protected sheet metal from dents and scratching.

External mirrors were sculpted to produce a more useable area, with less wind resistancel; they had turn-signal indicators, memory function, puddle lamps, and adjustable convex mirrors. Depending on trim level, mirrors were finished in black, or black and chrome. The larger 7-in. x 11-in. mirror for trailer towing was standard on 3500 and optional on 2500 pickups. These mirrors flipped up and out into a vertical configuration for trailer-tow use. Front fenders and headlamps were shared with light-duty pickups.

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The Dodge Ram Heavy-Duty grille included a chromed surround with either black center billets (ST, SLT and Power Wagon models) or chromed center billets (Laramie, Big Horn and Lone Star models). Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 TRX models featured a body-color surround with black center billets. The grille was body-mounted, while the bumper was frame-mounted.

To cool the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel engine (with its 90% take-rate), the Dodge Ram Heavy-Duty grille opening was larger than the light-duty grille, using a taller hood; the unique front bumper was used to provide access to the front winch (on Power Wagon) and tow hooks.

Front and rear doors follow the style pioneered by the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 - a design that placed the door cut to the side of the truck, rather than into the roof, in order to reduce wind noise and weight.

Dual-rear-wheel fenders (3500 Dually only) were new for 2010 and had improved aerodynamics.

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Dodge Power Wagon and Mega Cab

The Dodge Ram Power Wagon returned for the 2010 model year with electric-locking front and rear differentials, electronic disconnecting sway bar, Bilstein shocks, 32-inch BF Goodrich off-road tires, underbody skid plate protection, 4.56 axle ratio for hill climbing and a custom-built Warn® 12,000-lb. winch was accessible through the front bumper.

According to the factory literature, the 2010 Dodge 2500 and 3500 Mega Cab models retained best-in-class interior room - including the largest, longest cab (143.2 cubic feet,111.1 inches long); largest interior cargo volume (72.2 cubic feet); largest cargo volume behind rear seat (7.7 cubic feet); largest flat-floor load area (16.8 square feet); largest second-row leg room (44.2 inches); largest rear-door opening (34.5 inches wide, 35.5 inches high); largest rear-door open angle 85 degrees); and first-ever reclining rear seats (22- to 37-degree seat-back angle).

Safety features

  • Advanced antilock brakes modulated the four brakes individually
  • Auto-reverse windows automatically moved windows down when they hit something on their way up
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    The Ram 3500 had Brake Assist, applying extra brake power when a panic stop was detected
  • Load-limiting retractors had a two-stage system to limit maximum force on the seat belts
  • Steering columns had two hydroformed coaxial tubes that move relative to each other in order to allow the column to move forward for enhanced energy-absorption during an impact
  • In an accident, the interior lights were turned on and doors unlocked for rescue people
  • Height adjustable front seat belts
  • New pillars were designed to limit head impact force
  • Power adjustable pedals
  • Ultrasonic rear parking alert with visible and audible warnings
The rumor mill: who got it right?

oh20 had predicted the crew cab with an eight foot bed; the upgraded interiors and creature comforts (right down to heated steering wheel and ventilated seats); and audiophile option. He also predicted active head restraints, turn signals in the mirrors, and blind spot detection; we don't know about these yet. We'd expected the new smaller Cummins diesels, but those were officially delayed.

The next generation started in 2013...

2011 Dodge Ram Chassis Cabs | 2009 Ram 1500 Test Drive | Powertrain | 2008 Ram Heavy Duty

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