2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty: First Drive

New Ram HD a monster of a truck

2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty: First Drive

Truck sales are down 15 per cent industry-wide compared to last year, but having emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year and with Fiat now in charge of the books, Chrysler is eager to start selling vehicles again.

FAST FACTS

1. Power for the 2010 Ram HD comes from either a 5.7L HEMI V8 with 383-hp and 400 ft-lbs of torque or a 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel with 350-hp and 650- ft-lbs.

2. The 2010 Ram HD gets three cab styles (regular, crew-cab and Mega Cab) and two cargo box sizes (6-foot, 4-inches and 8-foot), as well as single and dual rear wheels and five trim levels (ST, SLT, TRX, Power Wagon and Laramie).

3. 2010 is the first year Dodge is offering the Ram HD with a crew cab.

4. The $45,780 Power Wagon comes exclusively as a 2500 4×4 Crew Cab with a 6-foot 4-inch box and includes electric locking differentials, an electronic disconnecting sway bar, 32-inch BFG tires, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, a 12,000-pound winch and a 4.56 axle ratio.

The 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty comes in single- and dual-rear-wheel configurations with a choice of regular, crew and mega cabs and two cargo box sizes (six-foot-four and eight foot). A 5.7-liter Hemi VVT V8 gasoline powerplant is standard on 2500 models while a grittier 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel inline-six comes on the 3500 models (available on 2500).

Several distinct trim levels – ST, SXT, SLT, TRX, Laramie and Power Wagon – and four different axle ratios – 3.42, 3.73, 4.10 and 4.56 – are available depending on equipment level.

The HEMI makes 383-hp and 400 ft-lbs of torque and can pull a 12,600-pound load right off the assembly line with its five-speed automatic featuring electronic range select. But, if towing is the priority, the Cummins is the way to go!

Paired with the available six-speed automatic transmission (a 6MT is standard), it develops 350-hp at 3000 rpm and best in-class 650 ft-lbs of torque at only 1500 rpm. That’s good for 18,500 pounds of towing grunt and a maximum payload of 5,150 pounds! Several options are available to increase that.

JAKE BRAKE NOW STANDARD ON CUMMINS-POWERED TRUCKS

Dodge now offers an exhaust brake as standard equipment on the diesel-powered powerhouses. More commonly referred to as a “Jake brake,” this device constricts exhaust flow going through the turbo to dramatically slow the vehicle and reduce brake fade, prolong brake life and, most importantly, provide confidence and safety when hauling heavy loads on downhill grades.

They’re found on practically every tractor-trailer on the road today and considered a must-have for any serious diesel trucker. Dodge reps say this is the first time it’s ever been offered as standard equipment on a consumer pickup truck, though some of the competition does offer it as optional equipment.

“It’s all about towing, capability, reliability, durability and getting the job done,” says Jim Morrison, Senior Marketing Manager for Dodge. This is what customers in the heavy duty truck market look for. Scratch that. It’s what they expect and the new Ram HD delivers in spades.

Dodge expects to see significant interest from buyers looking for a vehicle that can tackle the business side of things during the week and haul all their power toys on the weekend.

FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT

Not only is it a prodigious workhorse, the ride quality is less bumpy than previous gens thanks to some suspension tweaks and a new C-pillar fluid-filled hydro mounting setup that better isolates the cab from the rest of the suspension.

With a Dodge rep in the back surrounded by at least three carry-on sized bags on the heated rear seats of a loaded 3500 HD Laramie, there’s still a ton of room for more people and many more things. In traditional Ram fashion, there’s a ton of interior storage, including an engrossing center console, two-tier glove box and in-floor second-row cubbyholes, for example. For a truck of such manly proportions, you almost expecting a rough and noisy ride, but that’s not the case at all.

The premium interior gets decked out with full leather and wood plus comforts and conveniences like heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic climate control, memory seats, stereo and mirrors, navigation and numerous infotainment options like Sirius Backseat TV, Uconnect Multimedia with a 30-gigabyte HDD and the optional 10-speaker surround system – another segment first.

Once inside Chrysler’s Chelsea proving grounds, I do some laps in a 3500 Crew dually long box with a 16,500-pound tractor and trailer strapped to the gooseneck-style hookup; also pulling round an 8,300-pound 24-foot trailer combo in a 2500 Crew 4×4 short box using a standard ball and hitch with draw bar. The trucks are up for it and I encounter no problems. Rest assured these setups are thoroughly tested on coast-to-coast long hauls by teams of engineers.

Dodge’s ‘work hard play, hard hard’ mantra is obvious in the Power Wagon. Don’t let it’s ridiculous name fool you, the HEMI’s protected undercarriage, electronic-locking front and rear diffs, detachable front sway bar, 4.56 axle ratio, two-inch lift, full Bilstein suspension and 32-inch BFG off-road tires got me over boulders, stumps and a log pile, through waist-deep mud and water and back home through the twisting, tight and technical Lyman Trail that’s used to trail rate Jeep Wranglers.

The Power Wagon’s standard 12,000-pound winch isn’t needed on this day. A better handle, if I may, for this truck is the Monster Ram.

THE VERDICT

This is the first time a crew-size cab has been available on a Ram truck, giving both 2500 and 3500 models a bona fide chance to succeed in the highest volume part of the heavy-duty pickup segment (between 50 and 70 percent) as fleets everywhere get replenished.

With the economy showing definite signs of recovery and more and more work crews getting back to job sites that are no longer idle, the Ram Heavy Duty might very well be the right vehicle at the right time for Dodge.

RELATED READING

2009 Dodge Ram Report: 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty Named Motor Trend “Truck of the Year”

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