How the Ram 3500 Makes 900 lb-ft of Torque

How the Ram 3500 Makes 900 lb-ft of Torque

“Towing is the No. 1 reason people buy heavy-duty trucks,” said Jeff Johnson, manager of Ram Heavy Duty marketing.

Even if they don’t take their rigs to the max, he noted that best-in-class numbers are important. “We spend some time and effort trying to deliver those,” Johnson said.

Best-in-Class Numbers

And for the 2016 model year, Ram 3500 customers have bragging rights. This hard-working truck’s 6.7-liter Cummins diesel puts out a chart-topping 900 lb-ft of torque, which the company claims is the most that’s ever been offered in a mass-produced vehicle. Peak horsepower rates at 385, which is down slightly compared the Ford F-350 and Chevy Silverado 3500. They offer 440 and 397 ponies, respectively.

See Also: Which Heavy Duty Pickup Really is Best-in-Class?

2016 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 Dually Heavy DutyOf course, the pickup market is as competitive as it’s ever been, with each of the Detroit Big Three building stellar trucks. Johnson admitted that “we know the other guys aren’t going to stand still,” so Ram’s best-in-class torque crown could be short lived.

But for the time being, all of that twist means these vehicles can tow more weight and haul heavier loads than the other guys. For the upcoming model year, 3500 variants are rated to drag up to 31,210 pounds, a figure that’s compliant with the SAE J2807 standard. Payload capacity tops the charts as well, measuring 7,390 pounds.

2016 Ram 3500

How’d They Do It?

With diesel engines, it’s quite easy to unearth mega output figures without changing any expensive hardware and that’s exactly what happened here. Clint Garrett, senior light-duty communications specialist at Cummins said, “It’s software tuning … [a] new engine calibration.” No budget-busting turbo upgrades, redesigned rotating components or a reworked cylinder head were required.

For decades now, Cummins’ compression-ignition inline-six has been a favorite of truckers across America, though Power Stroke and Duramax enthusiasts will beg to differ. Part of the reason for its enduring popularity has to do with its strength.

See Also: Ram CEO Says Midsize Pickup is Too Costly

“There’s only one engine in this space that’s a true medium-duty engine,” Garrett says. This inline-six’s roots reach deep, all the way to the class-eight segment, he said.

2016 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Laramie Limited

Providing the strength these big rigs need is iron and lots of it. The Cummins’ block and cylinder head are cast of ferrous metal, no lightweight aluminum here. Garrett said these components are “renowned for durability.”

The Cummins diesel is a popular option in Ram trucks. In fact, Johnson said about 60 percent of 2500 models are sold with this engine, which in model-year 2015 costs an additional $8,305 plus an extra $600 for either a manual or automatic transmission. For 2015 the more powerful Ram 3500 (385 hp and 865 lb-ft), cost an additional $2,995 when equipped with the Aisin six-speed automatic transmission. That transmission comes standard on the 2016’s 900 lb-ft package, though official pricing has yet to be released.

Stepping up to the 3500 model, Johnson said an overwhelming 97 percent of them feature the diesel engine. To date, he noted that more than 2 million Cummins-powered Rams have been sold. He cited “long-term durability and [a strong] reputation” as reasons for its success.

2016 Ram 3500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4 Heavy Duty

History Lesson

Cummins and Chrysler have been partnered for more than 25 years. Garrett said when this engine was initially designed in the early 1980s, it was built to commercial standards, which is probably a big part of its enduring appeal. It first landed on the market for model year 1989 displacing 5.9-liters.

Compared to the latest iteration, its output numbers were almost laughable. It delivered a paltry 160 horses and just 400 lb-ft of torque. However, at that time, like it is today, Garrett said, “Four-hundred foot-pounds was best-in-class.”

2016 Ram 3500 Heavy DutyThe five-nine stuck around until 2007 when Cummins hogged out the cylinder bores and lengthened its stroke, upping displacement to the current 6.7-liters.

This diesel has been on the market in one form or another for quite a while. Is it time for a fresh design? “We know this engine really well,” Garrett said. “If Ram wants more, I’m sure we’ll figure out how to give it to them,” probably by swapping out a few zeros and ones, just like they did for the 2016 model year.

Things are super competitive in the heavy-duty truck segment today. Acknowledging this, Garrett said, “[They’re] all pretty good products,” but the Cummins engine is unique. He said, the biggest difference is “[the] physical size of components.” He said they’re bigger and heavier than the parts used in competing Ford and GM diesels.

Correction: We updated this story to indicate the prices listed are for 2015 model year Ram HD trucks.

Discuss this story on our Dodge Cummins Forum

  • Jerry Baustian

    I find it interesting that pickup truck buyers have no qualms about paying an extra $8000 or so for a diesel engine. But when the discussion switches to diesel engines in a passenger car, like the Volkswagen or Audi TDI engines, then an extra $2000 or $3000 is supposed to be a deal killer. All the same arguments apply: longer engine life, greater fuel economy, torque up the wazoo, and even more power available with some intelligent software tweaking.

  • Stygimoloch

    Except that pickup can earn its living hauling a payload. Those VWs and Audis will never haul anything but 1-4 people and a trunk of groceries.
    The other is cost. I can get a Dodge tradesman with the 6.7L Cummins for $38,600 out the door. Just considering an Audi A6 with a 3.0L TDI is $59,500 before any option is selected. Even the “bottom-end”A3 starts at $32,600. Even a Golf TDI starts at $23,165.

    The other problem is complexity. The Cummins/Powerstroke/Duramax are all relatively simple engines. Go look at VW’s or Mercedes’ 3.0L V6 or 2.0L I-4 diesels; they are massively complex and lack the durability of their American pickup cousins. A dodge 2500 with a 6-speed manual I could trust to get me upwards of 250k miles hauling loads, the VW would struggle to reach 250k miles of general commuting because its strangled by extremely strict emissions laws, timing belt, low-pressure EGR and mexican assembly quality.

  • LabRat0116

    The key difference is WHO buys the truck diesels and who buys the car diesels.

    The over-whelming majority of people that buy NEW truck diesels purchase them for business use. Around here in rural Ohio that means farmers. Contractors and Commercial haulers for their work and then comes the wealthy people that buy them to haul around their toys.

    The young bucks that buy new ones are usually the rich kids that got the money from their parents or grand-parents.

    Then of course there are the select few that buy them and choose to have their family and kids live in shacks and eat peanut butter and jelly. You know it’s true! Lol !

    The folks that buy diesel cars are typically well off as well.

    Too bad manufactures can’t bring the price down on diesel so more common folk could afford them as well.

  • Diesel Driver

    I don’t understand why Dodge didn’t go out and find a good manual transmission to put behind that HO engine. I don’t like automatics in my trucks. I’m sure a lot of other truck drivers who tow like manuals too for their absolute control over what gear you’re in. With an automatic you always have the computer to override your choice if it decides you’re to stupid to decide when to downshift or upshift. They are getting better but when I select 5th gear I know it’s in 5th gear. If I leave it in fifth at a stop, I find out immediately and don’t do it again. Automatics? Phaw! Push the loud pedal and hope for the best.

  • Diesel Driver

    They don’t make a mustang with a diesel engine though. I’d consider a new vehicle if they did. Maybe I should put a Mercedes engine in my 69 mustang. That would be different. LOL

  • yellowdogdemocrat

    I wouldn’t gripe so much about “Mexican assembly quality” if I were you. Research where the Ram trucks are built.

  • Stygimoloch

    The trucks don’t matter, people buy it for the Cummins.

  • fatman45

    I hate to say it – but the “Mexican assembly quality” is way better than the American! The reason? In a word – unions! The diesel specialist at the local dealership was telling me he has visited all three plants where the Dodge RAMs were built. At the two American plants, the workers moved slowly and mostly looked bored and like they didn’t really care. At the Mexican plant? Everyone was hustling, doing the best job they could. That’s because there were a thousand people waiting outside for one of them to screw up so they could take their place! Whereas the American workers, being UAW, knew they couldn’t be fired no matter how poor their performance!

  • pywaket_1

    “Small Dick Syndrome is the No. 1 reason people buy heavy-duty trucks,”


  • yellowdogdemocrat

    I find that terribly difficult to believe. You sound like a Fox “newz” man.

  • fatman45

    Remove your blinders and you might start to believe it!

  • DoubleCoppers

    You sound like a PMS-NBC androgyne. Research it (outside the NY Times) before you talk down your nose from ignorance.

  • DoubleCoppers

    Right. It has nothing to do with hauling 20k pounds. You see a HD truck that isn’t pulling a load at that moment and foolishly believe it’s never used appropriately.

  • pywaket_1

    Lemme tell you something, dude: I live down the street from a boat launch ramp, and I also frequently go to horse events. In fact, I usually drive the HD truck that is towing the horse trailers ,since my family owns a farm.

    I know what a real, working HD truck looks like. It has actual dirt on it and probably a few dents and scrapes. The bed is not pristine, and it isn’t covered with shiny chrome.

    90% + of the HD trucks I see on the road are not working trucks. They are leased by some suburban dude with small dick, who’s idea of a heavy load is the 4 sheets of plywood he hauls home from the local Home Depot once a year.

    I suppose I should be grateful for those guys, because once they get bored of their current truck after 3-4 years and trade it in for a new, shiny truck, it means great deals for us with farms on a practically unused truck.

  • DoubleCoppers

    Which would make you one of the small-dick guys, just a cheap one…Dude.

  • pywaket_1

    Reading for comprehension isn’t really your strong suit, is it?

    We use our trucks to do actual work. When we aren’t working, we drive normal vehicles, not shiny things that get 10MPG and have “you touch my truck, I break your face” licence plate frames on them.

    PS, what makes you think I’m a man?

  • DoubleCoppers

    Fine. Let me help your comprehension. My use of the term “dude” was a generic term that made fun of you. Your “dick” (the female anatomical version of one) is smaller than any guy’s on the planet. So you have penis envy, and demean anyone who has a big truck that isn’t pulling a load when you see it–because, after all, everybody can afford to have several vehicles on hand all the time just to keep you from jumping to conclusions. Who appointed you as know-it-all queen-b**** to decide what other people drive and what their reasons are? Maybe they know it’s safer to be in the larger vehicle in a crash–you did comprehend the article, right?–or they need to haul a fifth-wheel regularly, just not at that moment. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you’re the dictionary definition of a c***.

  • pywaket_1

    “queen-b****” …. “c***” Ahhh, misogyny, how lovely.

    Sorry you have such a tiny dick. Maybe you can find someone who doesn’t care and loves you anyway


  • pywaket_1

    PS: Anyone who can afford a $50,000 brand new, shiny truck can also afford a $30,000, 4 year old one, plus a normal car to drive most of the time.

    PS #2: Bigger may be safer in a crash, but I’d rather avoid the crash in the first place. I suppose your tiny dick requires you to have the ability to crush and kill others so you don’t feel inadequate….

  • DoubleCoppers

    My equipment is fine. What you haven’t comprehended is that we (meaning most of the guys who know you) feel sorry for your husband, if you have one. Of course, if you have a wife…all men rejoice that no man has to be with a man-hater like you. We know plenty of guys stay married to women like you to protect their children and for business reasons. So keep telling yourself you’re special and he really, really loves you. The day will come…

  • DoubleCoppers

    So little comprehension. SMH

    I avoid crashes every day with self-absorbed narcissists like you, but occasionally there’s no escape path.

  • Pete Flynn

    +1 to that! This is where all those guys who would have bought an H2 wind up.

  • Pete Flynn

    My goodness, bless their hearts, the small-dick brigade has it’s jockstrap in a wad doesn’t it? I live down the street from some guy with a dressed-out black 3500-something that is the exact example of what you describe. And I do hope some hard-working rancher gets that truck when he becomes bored with it. It is really over-the-top with all sorts of badass doodads that will be immediately removed by the next owner, if they are normal.
    Meanwhile I am always alert to these guys since they also tend to drive like macho idiots.

  • DoubleCoppers

    What your tiny brain can’t wrap around is there wouldn’t be any used trucks for you to scavenge if nobody bought them new. Then again, anyone whose first comment to the topic has to do with genitals obviously has a problem.

  • danl62

    Well wrong again. I bought a new a Ram 3500 with a Cummins. I bought it for the Cummins and the Ram brand. I would not touch a GM product. And Ford. The Powerstroke is horribly complex and the fuel mileage is not that great.

  • Stygimoloch

    “Well wrong again.”

    I said;
    “people buy it for the Cummins”

    You said;
    “I bought it for the Cummins”

    Thus my point is proven.

  • danl62

    You proved no point. All 3 engines are good engines . Just the Cummins is by far the best. And I believe the Ram is a better truck than GM or Ford. People buy a certain brand for a number of reasons. Engine is just one. So, as I said, you are wrong.

  • Stygimoloch

    You, you really pulled that one out of your ass didn’t you?

    Cummins is the ONLY actual commercial diesel in the pickup market. You can find it in buses, generators, construction equipment and mines.

    The closest Ford and GM come to that is school buses and class 5 trucks. They are automotive engines only. Ford’s powerstroke was designed only for pickups, its a light duty engine.

  • danl62

    You astound on how stupid you truly are. If you buy a car or a truck do you check what engine it has? What about the transmission? How do the brakes rate? If you have any intelligence, doubtful with you, then you factor all of those things, When I bought the truck, I considered the 6.4 hemi because of cost, reliability etc. But I bought the Cummins. Now look stupid. Open up. You are really not very bright. But listen to other people and you might learn something. I know you have a long journey ahead but give it a try.

  • Peace Epee

    Why are you concerned about other men and the size of their penises? Rainbow warrior, huh?

  • Peace Epee

    What is it with you people speculating men’s penis sizes? Is everyone here a fudge pac ker?

  • RAM is the only company that actually still puts a manual in their trucks at all in the light/medium duty class. Why not bitch about Ford or Chevy for not even trying?

  • MrOzMan

    If you can’t drive a pickup truck without crashing it, it’s too much vehicle for your skill level. Get yourself a Prius.

  • MrOzMan

    The automatic cummins is so much nicer to drive than the manual. In the manual, you’re in 6th gear from 30mph, all the way to 85. By that stage, you’re doing over 2500rpm.

  • MrOzMan

    VWs and Audis are crap. The saving in fuel cost is much higher in a truck with a load than it is in a light weight car. People who drive pickups but only tow occasionally find it hard to justify buying a diesel. That’s not to say they don’t want a diesel.

  • Jerry Baustian

    It depends on how much you drive, whether it’s worth driving a car with a diesel engine. Most folks drive less than 20k miles a year, so a diesel is not really worth it for them. But for the ones who drive 30k-50k miles a year or more, diesel is definitely the way to go.

  • danwat1234

    But don’t new Dodge trucks have active grille shutters, an exchanger to heat transmission fluid with engine coolant (or was it engine oil)? New trucks are not as simple as they used to. I don’t know about the engine, maybe it’s mostly unchanged.
    You can always tow with a diesel car but most don’t.

  • Stygimoloch

    “I don’t know about the engine”

  • Stygimoloch

    You attempt to shift the focus to my intelligence, yet you immediately shift it back to yourself when you say such amazingly stupid things.

  • danl62

    Look, you are a dimwit. Everyone knows it. It oozes from your pores. Now if you can come up with an intelligent and cogent reply then I can converse with you. Otherwise get back to your room in the basement.

  • Towstons

    Or we have a 18,000lb toy hauler and a 27,00lb backhoe and trailer. I rather have little dick syndrome I suppose than little wallet syndrome. Which is obviously the case here.