DETROIT – The pickup wars have gone nuclear.
The all-new Ram Heavy Duty truck unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show is available with a Cummins diesel engine that’s rated at a record-setting 1,000 pound-feet of torque. With it, the Ram 3500 can tow up to 35,100 pounds, which is a half ton more than any competitor…for now.
The 6.7-liter inline-six-cylinder turbodiesel puts out 400 horsepower and comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It’s also offered in a slightly milder version with 370 hp and 850 lb-ft in both the 2500 and 3500 trucks. For customers who’d prefer to guzzle gas, there’s a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 with 410 hp, 429 lb-ft and an 8-speed automatic.
The Ram HD is built on a new frame made almost entirely of high-strength steel. The 2500 model features a coil-spring rear suspension, while 3500 trucks rely on leaf springs. Both are available with air suspension upgrades that Ram says improves ride, handling and can be used to lower the trucks for easier loading.
Although they have a unique front end design, the heavy duty trucks inherit their cab from the recently redesigned light duty Ram 1500, along with many of its optional high-end amenities like upscale leather upholstery, wood trim and a 12-inch display for the infotainment system. Already the most spacious pickup cabins on sale, the HDs take it up a notch with a MegaCab model that adds storage room behind the rear seats.
Automatic emergency brakes that work while towing, adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera with a split-screen view of each side of a trailer are among the high-tech driver aids available across the lineup.
There’s also a new 4x4 Power Wagon model with a signature grille and cabin design and plenty of decals that comes with the Hemi, a lifted suspension with a disconnecting front sway bar for added articulation, locking differentials, skid plates, a 12,000-pound winch with a kink-proof synthetic line and other off-road gear. A package with just the mechanical bits is also offered on the entry-level Tradesman trim level for customers who want to hit the trails in something a little more low key.
Ram has been challenging Chevrolet for second place in pickup truck sales in recent years, and the new HDs look like they could close the gap even more. Then again, Chevrolet is just weeks away from debuting an all-new Silverado Heavy Duty.
The battle rages on.