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RAM team moves the HD line from being a middle-order player right to the front of the pack

Good stuff

Easier than ever to use, 1,000 lb ft, more sophisticated, still tough

Bad stuff

Non-telescoping steering wheel

Overview

What is it?

With the RAM 1500 taking the top honours in the 2019 Truck of the Year awards, thanks to its mix of car-like interior, smooth ride and load-lugging ability, the new heavy duty 2500/3500s RAMs had plenty to live up to.

Without wanting to ruin the punchline – they have delivered. With an all-new chassis, revised engines and gearboxes plus some class-leading interior details, the RAM team has moved the HD line from being a middle-order player right to the front of the pack.

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Even though they have successfully managed to update and carry forward the distinctive RAM design cues, pretty much everything you can see, touch, hear or feel has been reworked for 2019 to powerful effect.

Especially the motors. The headline-grabbing, top-of-the-line Cummins 6.7-litre turbo-diesel in-line six produces 400bhp and a trembling 1,000lb ft of torque, which gives it the ability to tow over 35,000lb – we know, we did it. That diesel is one of two in the range, each matched to a six-speed Aisin auto box, alongside the V8 Hemi/8-speed auto option.

The chassis has also been significantly beefed up, with much high-strength steel introduced to key areas. Plus extra measures, including an anti-vibration chassis balancer – like an anti-noise generator but for vibration rather than sound – added to keep the cabin as calm and serene as possible while the truck goes about its business.

This attack on NVH is immediately clear inside the cabin. Even with the engine working at its limit, there is very little other than the tachometer – and the scenery moving rapidly past the windows – to indicate that the truck is working hard.

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Other than the chassis isolation systems, the RAM team has gone the extra mile to achieve this, all the way to installing acoustic glass to keep out the din. The only surprising omission to total driver comfort is the lack of a telescoping steering column on any of the models. However, the pedals do shift to compensate.

While a majority of the headlines in the RAM HD range are related to the 3500 models, the 2500 series has its own headline star – the new Power Wagon. Featuring all of the chassis upgrades, plus a long list of sensible and valuable changes, including a rotary dialed 8-speed auto transmission, new lighter winch and optional forward-facing trail camera, the off-road oriented truck is better than ever.

With the eight-speed auto replacing the previous six-speed unit paired with the 4.10 rear axle, crawl ratio has gone from 35:1 to 51:1. Allied to this, electronic disconnecting sway bars markedly improve axle articulation. So it’s now not far from having Jeep Rubicon off-road ability – in a heavy duty truck.

What's the verdict?

RAM team moves the HD line from being a middle-order player right to the front of the pack

The RAM 1500 won several awards for its transformation from work truck to a sophisticated and frankly luxurious half-ton hauler. Now the RAM HDs have done the same thing. That might sound like a simple job, just transplanting the new tech from the 1500 to the 2500/3500 range.

But it’s not easy – and it shouldn’t be viewed as just a transplant of pre-existing tech as there is a slew of other impressive and effective upgrades in the big haulers, too. 

What we like about the new HD RAMs is that they do not have the Transformer terroriser look of the new Chevy Silverado HD range. They look tough and capable and pack just as much tech and ability but haven’t moved to an almost self-conscious level of sci-fi skyscraper design.

We also like the breadth of the range. Even though RAM is hinting that there is still a lot more to come from the top end of the RAM line-up, what is available today is impressive. From the wholly functional Tradesman 2500 all the way to the 3500HD Limited there is a truck spec which suits anyone with a serious need for hauling or towing.

But then there is also the new Power Wagon, which surprised and entertained us with its new-found upgraded abilities – on and off-road. It’s the kind of truck you plan adventures in knowing you’ll always, or nearly always, get to where you want to go. That alone makes it worth the purchase price.

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