Best-in-class features across multiple categories; impressive powertrain offerings; tow ratings up to 30,000 pounds; luxury options; available Uconnect technology; excellent powertrain warranty
Ram's powerful 2500 and 3500 Heavy-Duty (HD) trucks return for 2014 with even more to like. Across the HD range, there's now a choice between gasoline engines in the standard 5.7L Hemi V8 and a new 6.4L Hemi V8, while three versions of the 6.7L Cummins inline 6-cylinder diesel top the range. All engines include a 6-speed automatic transmission, although a 6-speed manual transmission is offered with the diesel engine. The 5.7L Hemi is rated at 383 horsepower and 400 ft-lb of torque. The new 6.4L Hemi V8 makes 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. With the 6-speed manual, the Cummins is rated at 350 horsepower and 660 pound-feet of torque at just 1,500 rpm. When mated to the 6-speed automatic transmission, output jumps to 370 hp and 800 lb-ft. In Ram 3500 trucks with the top-duty Aisin automatic, it makes 385 hp and a staggering 850 lb-ft. High-pressure common-rail fuel injection helps aid refinement and clean up emissions and the Cummins is B20 biodiesel-blend compatible.
Diesel Rams employ a Ram Active Air intake system that draws more cool air from the front of the truck for more power in hot temperatures or at high altitude. Also thanks to a variable-geometry turbocharger, Ram HD trucks have good responsiveness and drivability no matter what the load.
Ram HDs can be ordered with either rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. In 4-wheel-drive models, a front-axle disconnect system can help improve fuel economy by up to 1 mpg. The Ram 3500 utilizes a Hotchkiss leaf-spring rear suspension, while 2500s have replaced leaf springs with a 5-link coil spring setup. Front suspension is now courtesy of a 3-link system. 2500s can be optioned with heavy-duty air suspension in place of the coil springs, which allow for driver-controlled load leveling with precise, individual adjustment. Leaf-sprung 3500 dually trucks with maximum tow packages also feature the air suspension system in conjunction with the rear leaf springs.
Ram 2500 trucks benefit from a larger rear axle, 11.5 inches for 2014, while the high-output Cummins includes an 11.8-inch axle. The result is best-in-class towing and payload ratings for the 3500 (up to 30,000 lb and 7,320 lb, respectively), and best-in-class towing for the 2500 -- up to 17,940 lb. For the first time, Ram offers an optional fifth-wheel tow package.
Ram understands that its trucks must last a lifetime. As a start, the company offers a 5-year, 100,000-mile warranty on all of its powertrains. Each truck also has extended maintenance cycles for fuel filters and oil changes, including a 15,000-mile interval on the Cummins diesel.
Inside, Ram HD trucks have been reconfigured to allow for increased creature comforts. Available pleasantries include soft-touch instrument panels and door trim, 2-tone upholstery and contrasting stitching. Wood and metal inlays accent the interior and a largest-in-class 8.4-inch full-color touchscreen display serves as central command for the Ram HD. Heated and ventilated seating and a heated steering wheel are also available. Bbuyers can choose between bucket seats or a 40/20/40 bench configuration. In either case there's a multi-media port in the center with USB, SD and auxiliary inputs.
Seven trim levels are offered: Tradesman, SLT, Big Horn, Laramie, Outdoorsman, Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited. These can be configured with either 2- or 4-wheel drive, 2-door Regular-cab, 4-door Crew-cab or 4-door Mega cabs. Two bed lengths are offered, a 6'4" or 8'. Ram's patented Ram Box can be equipped in several trims, adding a secure storage system in the sides of the bed.
Each Ram HD offers a different set of interior appointments and equipment that can be tailored to fit basic work needs or provide a relatively luxurious cabin. Two different Uconnect systems with the 8.4-inch touchscreen are offered both with Bluetooth hands-free connectivity. The top system also provides wireless Internet connectivity, as well as HD Radio and SiriusXM compatibility.
Top Laramie models offer impressive luxury and convenience, including a power-sliding rear window, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone temperature control, an overhead console, a universal garage-door opener, and special in-floor storage. Available features include an Alpine 10-speaker premium audio system, rain-sensing wipers and projector beam headlamps.
Ram Heavy-Duty 2500 and 3500 pickups are redesigned for 2014. The trucks feature a restyled interior as well as a slightly updated exterior. The biggest changes come underneath, in the mechanicals that make them so tough. Ram's 2500 trucks all receive the stronger frames introduced last year in the 3500s. The 2500s also benefit from a new front and rear suspension, with their rear leaf springs replaced by a 5-link coil spring setup, and the front gets a more stable 3-link system. Optional suspension upgrades include rear heavy-duty air suspension in place of the coil springs to assist with load leveling.
Across the HD lineup, a new 6.4L Hemi V8 joins the powerplant list, slotting in above the standard 383-hp 5.7L Hemi. It produces 410 horsepower and 429 ft-lb of torque and features cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy, as well as an active runner intake for better low-end torque and more power at the top end. The 6.4L inline-6-cylinder Cummins diesel returns in three guises, with an improved exhaust break.
Rear axles on the 2500 have been increased from 10.5 inches to 11.5 inches, and the 4x4 trucks now feature front axle disconnect, a segment-exclusive that increases fuel economy by up to 1 mpg. Finally, gross combination weight rating for 3500 diesels has been improved to 37,600 pounds.
The 2014 Ram HD lineup is available in 12 different colors, including new colors of Granite Crystal and Blue Streak.
Ram 2500 models are intended for the most extreme personal-towing needs, while the 3500 models are aimed at heavy commercial use by ranchers or construction crews. With diesel model's 10-percent gain in fuel efficiency, as well as other maintenance-related improvements, running costs should be down versus these trucks' predecessors.
Even compared to the other latest heavy-duty trucks, the Ram 2500 and 3500 HD models have some of the best-appointed, most luxurious and most attractive interiors, picking up much of the look and some of the high-line materials from the latest light-duty Ram trucks.
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