2010 Ram 3500 New Car Test Drive
The 2010 Ram Heavy-Duty line has received a major facelift along with refinements throughout. Cabs are larger on the midsized 2010 models, also. It is one of those cases where mixing proven parts has a synergistic effect and results in what amounts to a new truck.
Ram Heavy-Duty models encompass the 2500 and 3500-series pickups. (And soon, the 2011 commercial-grade cab-and-chassis 4500/5500 series. You can add an aftermarket pickup bed to a 4500/5500-series if you need the maximum towing capacity for a really large fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailer, but the commercial market is specialized and not part of this review.)
As is common in pickups heavy-duty series pickups, the Ram was restyled for 2010 to go with the 2009 Ram 1500 light-duty. The HD is not identical to the light-duty trucks, but many parts are the same. The regular and crew-cab interiors are also very similar. Last year's Quad Cab model has given way to a new-for-HD Crew Cab and the monstrous Mega Cab returns.
Most of the parts and technology on the 2010 models have been proven in earlier Rams. The new cabin was tested in the 2009 Ram 1500, and the engines, transmissions and brakes were tested in the 2009 heavy-duty models. The standard and only gasoline engine Hemi is the most powerful base engine in big pickups and the Cummins turbodiesel met 2010 emissions requirements years ago. Both Ford and GM's 2010 diesel pickup engines are new designs for 2010, and both of them require a fuel additive the Dodge diesel pickup does not. Only the Ram offers a choice of transmissions and a standard exhaust brake with the diesel.
Much attention has been devoted to ride comfort and quiet on the 2010 Ram HD, and it is noticeable. The feature lists, both standard and available continue to grow, as pickups become ever-more car-like inside: heated/ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, Sirius Backseat TV and so on. But don't confuse this with a car because it is substantially larger and will not ride softly even if you load it up.
The most capable Ram HD pickups will carry more than 5,000 pounds or tow more than 17,500 pounds. A new option is an integrated trailer brake controller. Other pickups may better these tow ratings, whether or not they actually tow any better. And trailers that heavy require a different driver's license in some states. If you need more there are always the 4500 and 5500 versions.
The Ram Heavy Duty models will work for anyone who has work to do, be it hauling construction tools and materials, plowing driveways or dragging around big trailers. They remain a compelling choice for anyone in need of a heavy-duty pickup truck, and on balance are priced very similarly to 2009 models.
The 2010 Ram heavy-duty pickups come in ST, SLT, TRX, Power Wagon and Laramie trim levels. Three cabs (regular, crew, Mega), two bed lengths (6-foot, 4-inch, 8-foot), four wheelbases, and on 3500 single or dual rear wheels (SRW or DRW) feed the various permutations. The Power Wagon and TRX are 2500, crew cab only; the Power Wagon is 4WD and gasoline only; 3500 regular cab is DRW only; and Mega Cabs come only with the short bed.
The 2500 ($27,215-$44,830) comes standard with the Hemi V8 and five-speed automatic, no manual is offered; the Cummins 6.7-liter Turbo Diesel is optional ($6,445 with discount) with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. On average 4WD adds about $3,000 and a long bed about $200 over a short bed, for most Ram HD.
The Cummins diesel is standard on 3500 trucks so prices ($34,680-$50,645) cross-shopped with gasoline-engine trucks are apples-to-oranges.
For adding your own box or work platform, 3500 Chassis Cab models are still available but use the same bodywork as 2009 models, 2WD and 4WD 3500-series trucks. You can also delete the cargo box on some 2500/3500-series models.
Ram ST models (from $27,215) are commercial-grade or a blank canvas depending on your point of view: gray-painted bumpers, chrome around the grille, black mirrors, crank windows on regular cab (power windows and locks on others), vinyl 40/20/40 seat, steel wheels and a manual-shift transfer case on 4WD. A vinyl floor is standard and can be ordered in place of carpet on all but Laramie models. Not a stripper however, the ST also has an automatic transmission, 34-gallon fuel tank, air conditioning, Class IV hitch (optional in Canada) with 4/7-pin plugs, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, locking tailgate and tilt steering wheel. Options for Ram ST are plentiful, including a diesel engine (which adds front tow hooks and cruise control), power heated or towing mirrors (but not powered towing mirrors), integrated trailer brake controller, sliding rear window, floor mats, cloth upholstery, DVD/HDD and Sirius audio, limited-slip differential, skid plates, various option groups, and choices for wheels, tires and axle ratios.
Ram SLT (from $30,360) adds chrome, heated power mirrors, remote keyless entry, power windows (includes rear window on four-doors), carpeting, cloth upholstery, cruise control, Sirius radio, electronic-switch transfer case, chrome wheels, and in-dash tire-pressure display (2500 only). Some notable SLT options are the brake controller, fog lamps, heated power towing mirrors, forged aluminum wheels, bucket seats and console, power seats, adjustable pedals and driver memory system, moonroof, navigation, Uconnect phone, remote start, back-up camera, security system, and rear park assist.
The TRX package (from $36,195) roughly parallels the Sport version of the 1500 Ram and is offered on 2500 crew cabs only. The short box-only TRX uses gray-painted bumpers and flares with a body-color grille, forged aluminum wheels, all-terrain tires, a limited-slip differential, skid plates, and tow hooks. Cabin appointments and options essentially mirror the SLT.
The Power Wagon ($44,830) also approximates SLT-grade and 2500 crew cab only but is built with trail use in mind. It gets electric locking front and rear differentials, a front sway bar disconnect, specific suspension with Bilstein shocks, 32-inch BFGoodrich off-road tires, a 12,000-lb Warn winch, skid plates, 4.56:1 gears, trailer brake controller, more lighting and new two-tone paint and graphics. Most of the options are luxury and convenience items such as power seats, moonroof, and navigation.
Top-line Laramie models (from $39,290) add yet more chrome, power adjustable pedals and heated mirrors on driver memory system, dual-zone climate control, 115-VAC outlet, universal door opener, 10-way/6-way power heated leather seats, heated leather steering wheel, nine-speaker DVD/HDD surround-sound audio, rear park sense, and security system. Laramie upgrades are generally limited to chrome packages, towing mirrors, skid plates, brake controller, rear window defroster, heated/ventilated power bucket seats with floor console, moonroof, navigation, backup camera and wheel and axle ratio choices.
Safety features on all HD pickups include dual front multi-stage airbags, side curtain airbags, adjustable height front belts, LATCH child-seat anchors, child-protection rear door locks, anti-lock brakes on all wheels, and tire-pressure monitors (2500 only).