2016 3500 New Car Test Drive
The 2015 Ram Heavy Duty pickups boast the highest tow ratings among one-ton pickups. Ram HDs offer more engine and transmission choices than competitors and a range of interiors from commercial-friendly to luxury.
The Ram 2500 (three-quarter ton) and Ram 3500 (one-ton) series were redesigned for the 2010 model year then were heavily revised for 2013, so changes for 2015 are minimal. Price changes are likewise minimal.
Maximum towing for the 2015 Ram 2500 is approximately 18,000 pounds and for the Ram 3500 it is 30,000 pounds; top payload approaches 4000 pounds for a Ram 2500 and 7320 pounds on Ram 3500. Like all full-size pickup trucks, the maximum tow rating and maximum load rating apply to different versions and not simultaneously. Ram's payload numbers are fully competitive, the 3500's towing ability is literally tons better than challengers and only one pickup, an F-450, tows more. (Most HD pickups pulling a trailer rated for anything near their maximum load capacity may require some sort of driver's license beyond the norm or an endorsement.)
Chrysler's 383-hp Hemi 5.7-liter V8 with 6-speed automatic is the standard powertrain; a CNG version is available but very limited. Ram's 410-hp 6.4-liter Hemi is designed for regular unleaded fuel and has cylinder deactivation for lower light-load fuel consumption. Most models offer at least two powertrain choices, though Power Wagons come only with the 6.4-liter V8.
The 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel comes in three variants: 350-hp, 660 lb-ft with 6-speed manual; 370 hp, 800 lb-ft with 6-speed automatic; 385-hp, 865 lb-ft with 6-speed automatic on the MaxTow package.
Ram HD rides well and cruises quietly by heavy-duty pickup standards but you can't compare the ride to a car, nor noise from six tires, lots of airflow and trailer hardware. We found the Ram 2500 with rear air suspension rode quite comfortably empty or towing, while four-door Ram 3500s towed comfortably into the 28,000-pound range. As with most full-size pickups, the four-door crew cabs tend to ride more nicely and isolate from vibration better due to their longer wheelbase and better body mounts.
Equipment levels vary from the basic Ram Tradesman's rubber-vinyl coverings and crank windows to top trim levels with heated steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, driver memory system, configurable instrument cluster and text-to-voice infotainment systems. All cabs are roomy but the Ram MegaCab offers more cabin lounging space than any HD pickup.
The Ram Power Wagon comes only as a 2500 4WD gas-engine, but it's offered in a couple of trim levels. Unique pieces include suspension, wheels, tires, differentials, winch and running height. Power Wagon does not tow or carry quite as much as a regular Ram 2500 can but more than most so-called off-road models and much more than any three-quarter-ton pickup. It's also the only vehicle sold in North America with a winch and a warranty.
Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 Heavy Duty models compete with Ford Super Duty, Chevrolet Silverado HD, and GMC Sierra HD pickups. Ram HD shares many interior elements and styling cues with Ram 1500 models, though they are not identical. Ram 3500 is also offered in a cab/chassis version, with straight frame rails and commercial intent just like the Ram 4500 and Ram 5500 series.
Ram HDs are a compelling choice for anyone in need of a heavy-duty pickup truck. Ram Heavy Duty models are an excellent choice for anyone pulling big travel trailers, multi-car race trailers, big boats or a stable of horses. They are a good choice for anyone who has work to do, be it hauling construction tools and materials or substituting for a medium-duty when a primary business rig is on downtime.
The 2015 Ram 2500 and 2015 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty pickups come in Tradesman, SLT, Outdoorsman, Power Wagon, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn trim levels, plus regional SLT packages such as the Big Horn and Lone Star. Three cab configurations are available: Regular, Crew Cab, Mega Cab. Two bed lengths (6-foot, 4-inch and 8-foot) are offered, along with a choice of four wheelbases. Ram 3500 models are available with single or dual rear wheels (SRW or DRW). The Power Wagon is Crew Cab only; Ram HD regular cab is Tradesman or SLT trim only; Mega Cabs come only with the short bed.
Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 come standard with the 5.7-liter V8 and 6-speed automatic; no manual is offered for the V8s. A factory-built CNG (natural gas) unit is available on a few Ram 2500 Crew Cab long-box models. The 6.4-liter Hemi gas engine is available on most trims, including dual-rear wheel 3500. The Cummins 6.7-liter turbodiesel is available in three power levels with three corresponding transmissions. On most Ram HD models, part-time 4WD (manual or electric-shift) adds about $3,000.
Ram Tradesman models are commercial-grade: black bumpers, grille and 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. Vinyl floor covering is standard and can be ordered in place of carpet on all but Laramie models. Ram Tradesman comes standard with an automatic transmission, air conditioning, Class V hitch with 4/7-pin plugs, AM/FM Uconnect 3.0 stereo, cruise control, 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 and towing mirrors, integrated trailer brake controller, sliding rear window, spray-in bedliner, floor mats, cloth upholstery, DVD/HDD and Sirius audio, limited-slip differential, skid plates, RamBox or fifth-wheel/gooseneck prep, various option groups, and choices for wheels, tires and axle ratios.
Ram SLT adds power mirrors, remote keyless entry, power windows (including rear windows on four-doors), carpeting, cloth upholstery, electric-switched transfer case, chrome wheels, sliding rear window, in-dash tire-pressure display (2500 only) and the integrated trailer brake controller. Some notable SLT options are fog lamps, CHMSL bed/rear camera, 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.
Ram Outdoorsman is a package for Ram 2500 and 3500 Crew cabs based on an SLT package with some additional extras. Standards include gray painted bumpers and fender flares, two-tone paint, body-color grille/black insert, fog lights, power folding/heated mirrors with signals, HomeLink, mud/slush floor mats, 115-VAC outlet, power split-bench seat, leather-wrapped wheel, LT265/70R17E on/off-road tires on forged aluminum wheels, 7-inch TFT info display, Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen AM/FM/sat/Bluetooth/voice nav-ready audio, security system, limited-slip differential, tow hooks, and remote start. Primary options are a moonroof, engines, navigation and park sensors.
Ram Big Horn and Ram Lone Star editions are packages based on a Ram SLT with some Outdoorsman parts and Uconnect 5.0 touchscreen audio with Bluetooth and satellite radio.
Power Wagon models come only as 2500 Crew Cab. Power Wagons get electric locking front and rear differentials, a front antiroll bar disconnect, specific suspension with Bilstein shocks, 32-inch BFGoodrich off-road tires, a 12,000-lb Warn winch, full skid plates, 4.10:1 gears and 6.4-liter V8. Three trim levels parallel the Tradesman, SLT and Laramie trim (and most options) of other HD Rams.
Ram Laramie adds 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, rear window defroster, heated/ventilated power bucket seats with floor console, moonroof, navigation, rearview camera and wheel and axle ratio choices.
Laramie Longhorn is automatic only. Four-door cab only, it adds to a Laramie with filigree leather upholstery, leather on the dash and door panels, wood trim, Berber floor mats, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, leather-wrapped shift knob, navigation with Sirius Travel Link, remote start, unique instrument graphics, polished aluminum wheels and spray in bed liner. Options are few: skidplates, axle ratio, limited-slip differential, smart beam headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, alternate wheel finishes and rear seat entertainment system.
Laramie Limited is the top-line, four-door cab only. Relative Longhorn it gets body-color bumpers, standard RamBox, piped Natura Plus black leather interior, 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, keyless entry/start, smart-beam headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, and logo floormats.
Safety features on all HD Rams include dual front multi-stage airbags, side curtain airbags, front side airbags, adjustable height front belts, LATCH child-seat anchors, child-protection rear door locks, stability and trailer sway control, anti-lock brakes on all wheels, hill-start assist and tire-pressure monitors (2500 only).