Third Place: Ram 3500
The Ram 3500 takes the bottom spot in our comparison, though it does some things exceptionally well. We’ll start with the good and get to the bad.
Engine: 6.7-liter turbo diesel with 370 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque.
Max as tested fifth-wheel towing: 23,250 lbs.
As tested price: $69,870.
Rear-end axle ratio: 3.73.
There is no one else in world of pickup trucks right now doing interiors better than Ram, especially when you add the Laramie Long Horn package and all the cowboy-themed niceties that come with it. Our tester was a Platinum-trimmed truck, which means it is top-of-the-line luxury without that southwest flair. Attention to detail sets it apart from the rest of the luxury crowd with fantastic feeling (and smelling) leather, a gorgeous gauge cluster with artistic flair and even fake barbed wire in the floor mats that I feel falls on the cool side of the thin line between cheesy and awesome.
It’s not just looks. There are also plenty of storage compartments easily within reach and an industry-leading infotainment system. It is sitting inside the Ram when its greatest attributes are apparent.
Where the cracks begin to show in this elegant beast is once weight is applied. Loading the four-grand worth of shingles into bed revealed the first problem area for this truck: the rear suspension. The Ram swayed side-to-side significantly more than the Ford and GMC while cornering, offering a marshmallow-inspired ride. Body roll was very prominent and the truck felt like it was at its limit even though the shingle payload was only heavy enough to represent 60-percent of its officially rated maximum.
Hooking up the fifth-wheel negated some of the marshmallow soft suspension feeling, but the truck still felt the least confident, not helped by the Cummins diesel under the hood. Here is where the numbers game begins to unravel. Despite being rated at 850 lb-ft of torque, the Ram feels lethargic. With and without weight, it will refuse to hurry despite what your right foot is doing. Throttle response is lackluster and even the brakes feel the squishiest of the three. Add on top of that a transmission that doesn’t seem to respond with any haste when asked to do anything and the Ram 3500 easily falls behind.
The data we collected doesn’t help either.
At the end of the second day, the Ram had the worst fuel economy average of the three, sitting at 10.5 MPG. Keep in mind that number consists of towing, hauling and runs on the drag strip, but all three trucks went through the same scenarios, so it is fair to compare the numbers. Running on our first empty highway leg, the Ram achieved an average of 15.9 MPG.
And how did it fare on the strip? The truck’s fastest quarter-mile run was clocked at 16.927 seconds when running empty and 23.581 with the 15,000-lb trailer attached. This was consistently the slowest of the three and it felt like it.