Drive Time: Ram 3500 readied for tough tasks
April 14, 2017
I slowed the big, black truck down for a turnaround in the rural road, with the engine singing, n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n, nice and low and so much quieter than just a few years back. Even with a wide turnout, I came close to the opposite fenceline in circling around the other direction. "That was close," said Jan, though I had half-a-foot to spare.
The truck's turn path was at least 50 feet wide. Wow.
It's the 2017 Ram 3500 Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box, measuring 259 inches from front bumper to rear; more than 21 ½ feet, almost 4 feet longer than the old Lincoln Town Car. Its dual rear wheels measure slightly more than 8 feet wide from outside wheel to outside wheel.
Under the hood is the 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-6-cylinder that produces an amazing 900 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,700 rpm and 385 horsepower, with an Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission. Add an optional 4:10 rear axle ratio and the Ram's tow capacity climbs into the 30,000-pound rate.
The 900 torque mark lifts the Ram right up there in one of the most competitive markets among U.S. manufacturers, the heavy-duty pickups. Ford claims 925 torque with its Power Stroke 6.7-liter V-8 turbodiesel and Chevy and GMC are at 910 torque with their Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 turbodiesel.
They've all gotten much quieter; still heard, but the clatter is gone.
The bed of the Ram dually's 8-foot box is set up for gooseneck ball and safety chain anchor kit. It is also equipped with leaf springs and self-leveling rear air suspension. Tires are Nexen Roadian LT235/80R17.
Push the starter button in the Ram and, unless it has been running recently, the turbodiesel will hesitate two or three seconds to heat the air in the cylinders, then start. If the engine is still warm from running, it will start immediately with touch of the starter.
Lift the edge of the floor mat on either side of the truck's rear seating area and, surprisingly, there is a lid which opens to a deep bin for a variety of storage possibilities, even room for a six-pack of Coca-Cola. In addition, there are six cupholders in the front seat, and upper and lower glove box, two center console bins and a covered compartment, and saddle bags on the rear of the front seatbacks. Adding luxury are leather-covered grab handles.
Curb weight of the dually diesel is over 7,000 pounds, which helps to explain the Ram's overall fuel mileage average of only 13.1 miles per gallon.
Base price is $58,395 for the Ram 3500 Limited Crew Cab 4X4 with the 8-foot long box. Add $13,000 for the diesel/Aisin tranny/dual rear wheels, $1,595 for auto level rear suspension, $1,095 for sunroof and $3,200 for a Limited package of automatic high-beam headlamps, heated steering wheel, cooled and heated front seats and heated second-row seats; all this pushes the sticker price to $79,965, or rounded out – $80,000.
The Cummins turbodiesel is an $8,700 option; base is the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 gasoline engine with 383 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. Pricing for a gasoline-version Ram 3500 with single-rear wheels begins at $37,000.
— Bud Wells, a native of Wray, is a former Page 1 editor of the Denver Post and has reviewed automobiles for the past 40 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.