Heavy-duty work trucks are the backbone of many operations, charged with transporting people and materials while serving as a mobile office. And, like any good tool, they must not fail at critical moments. Such is the mission of the 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty, redesigned to deliver muscle, capability and utility while providing more comfort.
On that utility front, the Ram HD already is a success, though the arrival of the 2011 Ford Super Duty and 2011 Chevy Silverado HD ultimately will determine how well Dodge’s redesigned rig stacks up. The new Ram also is charged with the even greater task of providing a strong, confident face to a brand fresh out of bankruptcy and with precious little new or redesigned product in its pipeline.
Dubbed by Dodge as being the Ultimate Tow/Haul Machine, the 2010 Ram HD will be available in Regular, Crew (replacing the Quad) and Mega Cab configurations with single- or dual-rear wheels and 8-ft or 6-ft-4 in. beds (6 ft, 3 in. for the Mega Cab 3500 with dual rear wheels). The Ram Chassis Cab will be available in Regular and Crew Cab styles only. Prices start at $28,185 for a rear-wheel-drive Regular Cab ST, or about $1,900 less than the outgoing Ram HD. In addition to the ST, trims include the SLT, TRX, Power Wagon and Laramie.
Power for the Ram HD 2500 comes from a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that is good for 383 hp at 5,600 rpm and 400 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. It is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Optional on the 2500 and standard fare for the 3500 is a 6.7-liter, inline six-cylinder, turbocharged Cummins diesel that cranks out 350 hp at 3,000 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm. A six-speed manual with a low gear is available, as is a six-speed automatic. Unlike competitors’ urea systems, the Cummins meets 2010 emissions standards using a diesel particulate filter and an adsorber catalyst. Ram Chassis Cab models (3500, 4500 and 5500) feature the same powertrains, but diesels use urea-injection technology.
Backing up the powertrains are four axle ratios (3.42, 3.73, 4.10 and 4.56), a front suspension with larger ball joints and a gross-axle-weight rating of up to 5,550 lb. The Ram HD tows up to 17,600 lb and offers a payload of 5,130 lb.
Though you will not find handy technology like Ford’s Work Solutions system, the new truck has a number of features designed to make it tougher and more useful: new stamped steel fenders on dual rear-wheel beds, tilting trailer tow mirrors, exhaust braking, an integrated trailer brake controller, a four-pin and seven-pin wiring harness, a standard Class IV hitch receiver and a rearview camera. The cab rides on a new hydromount system and includes a heated steering wheel, heated/ cooled seats, and plenty of storage in dual glove boxes, a center console and in-floor cubbies. Many of these items, including exhaust braking and the trailer-brake controller, also can be found on the 2010 Ram Chassis Cab.
Every Ram HD driven by ENR (Chassis Cabs were not available for testing) had the Cummins engine, which has tremendous torque but is wanting in terms of quick response. Unloaded, the 2500 feels stiff, but the new liquid-filled cab mounts and supportive seats provide a commendable level of ride comfort. Hook a fifth-wheel trailer weighing about 16,300 lb, and you definitely will feel the diesel work, but the electronic range select allows the driver to manually hold a gear and prevent premature upshifts. Better yet, activate the tow/haul mode and exhaust braking feature (with a button on the dash), and you will get help minimizing downhill speeds. With all systems activated, ENR was able to descend a small hill without even touching the brake pedal.