Most of the trucks you see pulling car haulers to the next CORR event or Jeep run are typically a heavy-duty, four door diesel pickups. It makes sense that when you need to tow get your vehicle to the next race or trail run that you can get there in comfort and depend on your truck to handle a heavy load. This is one of the reasons why we decided to take a closer look at Dodge’s 2008 model 3500 Ram pickup. As the big-boy in Dodge’s arsenal of trucks, the 3500 is capable of towing 16,850 lbs. and has a payload capacity of 5,180 lbs. This makes the Ram 3500 a good choice if you need to tow a race truck, jeep, buggy or your 40-foot fifth-wheel travel trailer to various events.
Most diesel trucks can handle this type of chore but Dodge does it cleanly, with its newest power plant, the 6.7-liter Cummins turbo-diesel. The 6.7-liter engine produces 650-lbs.-ft. of torque and 350 horsepower. Although these are impressive numbers for towing applications, it’s the fact that this engine already meets the Federal government’s 2010 emissions standards that makes it feel like you’re doing your share to pollute less.
This good feeling while your drive is going to cost you however, as the Bluetec Ultra-Clean Diesel System is an option that includes several components such as a Particulate Filter and NOx Storing Catalyst.
The 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel is the cleanest running diesel in the segment. It meets 2010 Federal Emissions standards when outfitted with the Bluetec Ultra Clean Diesel emissions system.
Despite the added cost and emissions components, the engine does seem more powerful than a comparable Ford or GM 1-ton truck. Although it is no SRT8 Challenger, our test model felt good when we stepped on the throttle, both empty and fully loaded. Our Ram was a 4x4 Quad Cab that was equipped with an electronic shift transfer case, which made it easy to shift from 2WD to 4WD on the fly.
Although we didn’t take the 3500 Ram on any Jeep trails, we did manage to take it up a steep dirt road, in which the ability to gain extra traction in four wheel drive actually came in handy. You may also consider that there’s going to be deep silt and lots of loose dirt in areas where you’ll be towing your off road vehicle to. The extra traction available on this truck gives you the confidence to get in and out without any problems.
On the highway the 3500 Ram rode smooth, especially when towing a car hauler. The 68RFE automatic six-speed transmission also performed flawlessly, allowing us to stay in gear longer on hills and downshifting when needed to help us slow down to a stop.
In addition to the transmission’s help with slowing down a big truck and trailer the Ram also comes with an exhaust brake, which can make a huge difference when you’re towing at maximum capacity. With a stiff frame and rack and pinion steering, towing with the Ram felt like we were driving a full-size luxury vehicle and gave us precise turning capabilities to easily back our trailer in and out of parking locations.
This Ram was a Quad Cab model that has plenty of room to carry cargo in the cab by simply folding up the rear seats.
Unloaded the Ram’s ride was a little stiff on the highway. It is a relatively comfortable ride if you can put up with the typical oscillating bounce that’s characteristic of long wheel base trucks. On the street, the ride is incredibly smooth, making you feel you’re driving a big sedan instead of a 1-ton truck. Further enhancing this feeling, our Laramie equipped Quad Cab came with comfortable leather seating and had plenty of room for family and equipment. The standard cargo compartments under the rear passenger seat also come in handy for various tools and equipment.
Our Laramie edition came with body side chrome molding that gave it a little distinction against the Inferno Red paint. The Ram also had 17-inch chrome clad aluminum wheels that were outfitted with LT235/60R17 all-terrain tires. This, along with a 4.10:1 geared rear end with a limited slip differential, made the 3500 Ram a big truck that can handle just about anything we could steer it through or hitch up to it.
Compared to the Ford F-350 and the GM Silverado/Sierra HD, the Ram’s 6.7 liter is quieter than the engines of its competitors.
The interior of the Ram is much nicer than the Ford, but if you’re looking for ultimate luxury from a 1-ton truck, the Ram has to play second to the GMC and Silverado. Nevertheless, considering the 3500 Ram retails for $54,010 (price as tested), it’s priced less than a comparably equipped GM or Ford truck, and yet carries the same or more amenities. This makes it a good value for anyone who needs a big truck, to tow your big toys.
A full line of convenience items are available including navigation, multi CD changer, driver and passenger climate controls, rear window operation and more.