2018 3500 New Car Test Drive
Promoted for its power and strength, the Ram HD heavy-duty pickups balance style, comfort, and towing and hauling capability. Essentially a toughened-up offshoot of the Ram 1500, the Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 versions can be ordered as a stripped-down work truck, a luxury hauler, or anything in between.
A new top-rung Limited Tungsten edition joins the Ram HD lineup for the 2018 model year. A rearview camera has become standard on all models. The optional infotainment system, with 8.4-inch screen, gets some helpful upgrades in resolution, as well as operation with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Eight trim levels are offered: Tradesman, SLT, Lone Star, Big Horn, Power Wagon, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited. The new Limited Tungsten edition, with body-color running boards, is an option group. So is the Sport version. Rear-drive is standard, with four-wheel drive available.
Standard engine in Tradesman, SLT, and Lone Star/Big Horn trim is a 5.7-liter V8, developing 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The optional upgrade, standard in upper trim levels, is a 6.4-liter V8, rated at 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet. Both engines mate with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Heavy-duty pickups come in three cab configurations: two-door Regular, four-door Crew Cab, and massive Mega Cab. Regular and Crew Cab models are fitted with an 8-foot bed. A 6-foot 4-inch bed is optional for Crew Cab and standard on Mega Cab trucks.
The 6.7-liter inline six-cylinder turbodiesel engine is the best choice for towing. The diesel six makes 350 horsepower and 660 pound-feet with a 6-speed manual gearbox, or 370 hp and 800 pound-feet with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Like other heavy-duty pickups, Rams have solid front and rear axles. Instead of the usual leaf springs, however, coil springs are installed at the rear. An air suspension is available, too.
Crash-testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Ram 2500 a four-star score overall and for frontal impact, but five stars for side-impact. Ram HD trucks lack most advanced safety features, including blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking.
Ram HD comes standard with an 8-foot bed, manual windows, vinyl bench seat, and easy-clean interior, with 5.7-liter V8 and 17-inch steel wheels.
SLT adds cloth upholstery, keyless entry, upgraded audio with 5.0-inch screen, chrome bumpers, heated power mirrors, and 18-inch wheels.
Lone Star and Big Horn editions feature special equipment. Laramie gets the 6.4-liter V8, leather upholstery, and upgraded audio with 8.4-inch touchscreen. Laramie Longhorn has two-tone paint and saddle-inspired leather. Limited features bountiful chrome and monochrome paint.
Crew Cab Power Wagon is a special model built on Lone Star/Big Horn foundation that features 6'4″ bed, 4WD ($52,595), 6.4-liter V8 and off-road technology, including raised suspension, skid plates, 33-inch tires, winch, and locking differentials.