2011 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Review

Eclipsed by its competitors, unique offerings give reason to consider the Ram HD

2011 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Review
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On the limestone bed of a shallow creek in Texas Hill Country, we're trucking at a slow-go pace but applying massive torque from a powerful turbo-diesel engine to turn every wheel on our Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup tester.

FAST FACTS

1. A 5.7L Hemi V8 makes 383-hp and 400 ft-lbs of torque while the 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel churns out 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). Single rear wheels are offered on 2500 trucks, with dualies standard on 3500 models.

3. 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.

4. Unlike the Ford and Chevy, Dodge’s Cummins 6.7-liter Turbo Diesel doesn’t require Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) for its emissions system, so you don’t have to worry about filling up an extra tank.

This is no poseur pickup. Consider the three-quarter-ton Ram 2500 as a behemoth vehicle designed expressly for truck-type work like toting loads of two-by-ten lumber planks, towing a trailer teeming with horses, hauling hay up to the high pastures, crawling over a rocky trail or slithering through a Texas sluice.

MUSCULAR CHASSIS CLOTHED IN STYLE

Constructed on a strong chassis that's modular in design to allow multiple configurations for cabin size and box length, the heavy-duty Ram dominates the road with forceful exterior styling and your choice of gas-fired or turbo-diesel muscle, designed not only to pull the truck's hefty weight, but also tow incredible loads.

The Ram 2500 configures as a two-door Regular Cab or a four-door in a new-for-2010 Crew Cab design or extended-length Mega Cab, with a truck box in back which measures 230.4-inches or 248.4-inches long, and either rear-wheel two-wheel-drive (2WD) or four-wheel-drive (4WD) traction format.

Dressed in some serious sheetmetal, the heavy-duty Rams look strong, assertive and impossible to miss. A massive get-out-of-my-way prow dominates the design with the stair-step hood of a big-rig Peterbilt and a forward-tipped horse-collar grille scored in cross-hair chrome. More chrome coats a fat-lip bumper etched with foglamps at both ends.

Crew Cab models deliver lots of interior room, clever arrangements for utility stow space and even plenty of luxurious appointments. And the stretched Mega Cab creates so much space inside that backs of the rear seats can recline from 22 to 37 degrees for extra comfort. Back seats in the Mega Cab can even split in 60/40 sections and each side folds down flat to convert the area into a vast cargo compartment with 66.3 cubic feet of space.

HAULING POWER HANDLES A HEAVY WORKLOAD

Regarding powertrains, the Ram 2500 trucks list two powerful engines, with a standard heavy-duty V8 rendition of the fabled HEMI engine design boasting 5.7-liers of displacement and making 383 hp at 5600 rpm and 400 ft-lbs of torque at 4000 rpm. That muscle is managed through an electronically controlled automatic five-speed transmission.

Optional is a 6.7-liter in-line-six Cummins turbo diesel engine that musters up to 350 hp at 3000 rpm and 650 ft-lbs of torque at only 1500 rpm to soar in the hefty league with towing weight capability exceeding 13,000 lbs. when properly equipped. The turbo diesel connects to a six-speed manual transmission with ultra-low first-gear ratio, or a six-speed automatic that's suited for towing.

Tow capacity for the Ram 2500 Regular Cab maxes at 13,500 lbs, while the Crew Cab Ram 2500 caps the tow load at 12,650 lbs. and the Mega Cab version runs to 12,850 lbs.

UNDER THE SKIN

The structural system for all 2500 Ram trucks amounts to a ladder-type chassis with boxed rail sections shaped through hydroforming, a process that creates a strong and rigid platform.

A coil-spring suspension system is employed in front, followed by a multi-leaf spring design in the rear for heavy-duty capability.

Depending on the truck you pick, the steering systems vary. For a 2WD Ram 2500 the steering consists of a rack and pinion mechanism, rarely seen under the hood of a heavy-duty truck. It produces quick and predictable turns with direct response from the steering wheel. 4WD Ram 2500 models get a recirculating ball system that yields precise tolerances. As a result, it brings a keen on-center feel and responds fast due to a quick steering ratio.

TRIM LEVELS FIT STYLE AND NEED

The Ram 2500 comes in a total of five trim levels ST, SLT, TRX, Ram Power Wagon and ultra Laramie.

The Ram Power Wagon is not some muscle-bound SUV; rather it's a Ram 2500 truck designed for 4WD forays over rugged terrain. It carries the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and an arsenal of 4WD armaments designed to enable the big truck to crawl across rocks and dip through ravines of harsh off-camber terrain with the sure-footed stance of a mechanized mountain goat. The special equipment includes electric-locking front and rear differentials and a front sway bar that can disconnect by electronic means.

Also aboard are Bilstein shocks, 32-inch BFG off-road tires, underbody steel skid plates to shield the steering damper, transfer case and fuel tank from off-road bumps and bangs, a 4.56 axle ratio for hill climbing and a Warn winch pinned on the front bumper.

The TRX kit for 2WD and 4WD Ram 2500 models brings a two-tone paint treatment with painted fender flares, painted front and rear bumpers, quad headlamps plus foglamps, tow hooks and skid plates, a limited-slip differential, premium cloth covering front bucket seats, 17-inch aluminum wheels capped by 265/70/17 all-terrain tires, and special badges; TRX (2WD) or TRX4 (4WD).

THE VERDICT

Buying a truck is a truly personal experience and brand loyalty is especially strong in this segment of the market. Once a Ram fan you are most likely always a Ram fan. Like the 2010, the 2011 model boasts more style and power than in the past and can haul almost anything. While somewhat lagging behind the new Ford and Chevy products in certain towing and payload statistics, there’s still a lot to be said for the incredible Cummins powerplant and unique offerings like the Power Wagon.

LOVE IT
  • Style is Ram tough
  • Comfort and roominess
  • Powerful engine variants
LEAVE IT
  • Fuel mileage lacking
  • Lacks the cache of Ford and Chevy
  • Plastic interior still behind the competition

RELATED READING

2010 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Review
2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty: First Drive
2011 Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty: First Drive
2011 GMC Sierra Heavy Duty: First Drive
2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty: First Drive
2010 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4: Off-Road Review

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