2008 Ram 3500 New Car Test Drive
The current generation of Dodge Ram heavy-duty pickups has been with us for a few years now. Last redesigned for 2003, the Dodge Ram 2500 and Dodge Ram 3500 models aren't nearly as new as the latest from Ford and General Motors. However, they do benefit from some recent freshening such as the diesel and six-speed automatic that were added last year.
For 2008, Dodge Ram heavy-duty line gets a new model, the SXT which slots between the ST and SLT lines. Also updated are woodgrain trim (dark maple burl), electric-switch 4WD on SLT and higher trim, tire pressure monitors on single-rear wheel models, and a slight increase in maximum weight for the largest models.
The Dodge Ram Mega Cab was launched as a 2006 model. Mega Cab is built on the Heavy Duty chassis and comes fitted with the Hemi engine. The extra-large Mega cab was created by re-proportioning the relationship between cab and bed on a long wheelbase truck, adding 20 inches to the cab and shortening the bed to 6 feet, three inches.
The result is acres of cab space, with six seats and plenty of head, shoulder, leg and hip room. The Mega Cab is aptly named. The back seats are roomy and comfortable with reclining seatbacks, separate rear heating and air conditioning outlets, reading lights and a center armrest with cup holders, and available DVD entertainment. there's space behind the back seats for cargo. Folding down the back seats reveals a huge cargo area (more than 70 cubic feet) with a flat load floor. The rear doors open big and wide, making it easy to load stuff inside. Covered bins are provided back there for storing gear and smaller items, and hooks are provided for hanging things.
The Ram Mega Cab rides and drives like a heavy duty pickup, regardless of the 1500, 2500, or 3500 rating, and it doesn't make sense unless you're towing heavy loads or have a big work crew.
We found the Dodge Ram Cummins turbo diesel quiet, powerful and responsive. The exhaust brake provides engine braking down long highway grades, thereby leaving the brakes cool, fade-free, and ready for stopping. The diesel's power and fuel economy make it an excellent choice for owners who tow heavy trailers long distances.
The Ram Heavy Duty models are equally at home serving solo contractors, landscape crews or families with heavy toys, and everyone in between. Despite a reputation for being the most truck-like, the heavy-duty Rams are civilized and make trucking enjoyable.
The 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 versions come in four trim levels, ST, SXT, SLT and Laramie, and three cabs (regular, Quad, Mega) with a range of engine choices, payloads and towing capacities. A TRX4 (mild off-road) is available for 2500 and 3500 while the Power Wagon (more severe off-road) is 2500-series only.
The Mega Cab 1500 is the light-duty configuration, but still has the heavy parts underneath and can haul payloads of up to 2,430 pounds and trailers of up to 8,750 pounds when equipped with 4.10:1 axle gears. The Mega Cab 1500 comes with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and a five-speed automatic transmission, and prices range from SLT 4x2 ($32,735) to the Laramie 4x4 ($40,325).
The 2500 ($26,140-$42,410) comes standard with the Hemi V8 with six-speed manual or available five-speed automatic, optional with the Cummins 6.7-liter Turbo Diesel (about $7,100) and a six speed manual or six-speed automatic. The Power Wagon is $37,950-$41,185 depending on cab, and 4WD adds about $3,000 to any standard 2500-series.
The 3500 ($28,345-$49,920) may appear pricey because the Cummins diesel is often standard equipment, especially on dual rear wheel models. Engine and transmissions are similar to 2500 models, though the Hemi doesn't rev as much and is detuned to 330 hp.
For adding your own box or work platform, Chassis Cab models are offered in regular and Quad cab versions of 2500 and 3500-series trucks, starting at $21,940.
ST models are workhorses, with standard vinyl floor and upholstery, although they do include chrome bumpers and grille outline, air conditioning, ABS, CD player, intermittent wipers, sliding sun visors, a full-size spare, and tinted glass. Options are limited to powertrain and chassis equipment, side curtain airbags, and a few cosmetic upgrades.
SXT adds a bit more bright trim and chrome, including the wheels, power mirrors/windows/locks, cruise control, remote keyless entry, carpet, and cloth upholstery. A TRX4 Off-Road package may be added, consisting of aluminum wheels and more aggressive tires, limited-slip differential, skid plates, tow hooks, fog lamps, and unique shocks.
SLT, the standard trim on Mega Cabs, includes an overhead console, speed control, power windows and door locks, keyless entry, and power mirrors. Options for SLT include a power-sliding rear window, a bed liner, powered trailer tow mirrors, sun roof, power adjustable pedals and driver seat, AM/FM/6CD/MP3 with Infinity speaker, navigation, Sirius satellite radio, DVD rear-seat entertainment system, UConnect Bluetooth hands-free wireless communication system, bucket seats, YES Essentials stain-repellent cloth upholstery, and 17-inch forged aluminum wheels. A part-time electric shift transfer case is available on 4WD models.
Laramie models add leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, heated front seats, security alarm, auto-dimming rearview mirror, chrome moldings and Sentry Key engine immobilizer. Options on the Laramie package include an entertainment system, sun roof, bucket seats, Bluetooth, and the navigation radio.
The 2500 Power Wagon comes with the Hemi only, electric-locking front and rear differentials, disconnecting front sway bar, Warn 12,000-lb winch, and 32-inch BFGoodrich off-road tires. It can be outfitted with leather, sunroof, DVD entertainment, and towing mirrors, among other items.
Safety features include dual front multi-stage airbags, three-point belts in all seating positions with constant-force retractors, LATCH child-seat anchors, child-protection rear door locks, and four-wheel anti-lock brakes. Side-curtain airbags for front and rear seats are optional ($490).