2010-12 Dodge Ram 2500/3500
WHAT?S BEST: Train-trestle construction, spacious cabins, available straight-six diesel
WHAT?S WORST: Unsettling ride/handling issues, clumsy steering, front end wears fast
TYPICAL GTA PRICES: 2010 – $35,00; 2012 – $46,000
Dodge didn’t scrimp on the cab styles, trims, wheel configurations
According to the U.S. Census, 20 million Americans live in the 8.5 million trailer homes that make up 6.4 per cent of the country?s housing inventory.
The state with the highest concentration of trailers is South Carolina, with some 18 per cent of its housing market on wheels.
Canada has a much lower concentration of trailers, in part because of our harsher winters and because we have comprehensive subsidized housing policies (such as they are).
Despite our differences, we can all agree on one thing: when you live in a trailer, sometimes you need a good truck to pull it away from your neighbours.
Hot on the heels of the recast 2009 Ram 1500 light-duty pickup ? its third incarnation since 1994 ? the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 versions featured even bolder styling, a more decadent cabin and added muscle. An impossibly taller grille and hood distinguish the high-riding HD from lesser Rams.
While engineers swapped out the traditional leaf-spring rear suspension in favour of a coil-spring setup in the light-duty truck, the Ram 2500 and 3500 retained the leaf springs to carry heavier loads on the fully boxed ladder frame.
Four-wheel-drive models used a solid front axle and re-circulating-ball steering, while the 2WD model had an independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering.
Dodge didn?t scrimp on the available configurations: three cab styles (two-door, Crew and Mega), six-foot-four and eight-foot beds, single- and dual-rear-wheel configurations, and five trim levels. Surprisingly, given all that choice, there were just two engines offered.
Chrysler?s familiar 5.7-L Hemi V8 with 383 hp and 400 lb.-ft. of torque was standard, while a Cummins-supplied 6.7-L turbodiesel inline-six churned out 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of grunt (axle ratios of 3.42:1, 3.73:1 and 4.10:1 were offered). The Hemi was tied to a five-speed automatic transmission, while the Cummins worked through either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission.
Unlike the V8 diesels offered in the heavy-duty GM and Ford pickups, the Cummins is a straight-six engine, which is inherently smoother and mechanically simpler since it has one cylinder head and half as many camshafts as a V8. It came with a Jake brake ? which releases compressed air trapped in the cylinders to slow the vehicle ? and did not require urea injection (DEF) to neutralize exhaust gases.
Inside, the big Dodge coddled with its broad seats, comprehensive instrument panel, generous storage cubbies, upscale materials and surprising luxury options, including a heated steering wheel. The Crew Cab with its roomy rear legroom displaced the inadequate Quad Cab, while the even-larger Mega Cab remained the Texas limousine of the range.
The trucks lost their Dodge brand in 2011, with ?Ram? elevated to nameplate status. The Cummins earned a muscle boost for a total of 800 lb.-ft. of torque. For 2012, the six-speed automatic migrated to the gasoline V8.
ON THE ROAD
With the outsourced Cummins turbodiesel under the hood, the Ram 2500 could shove its way to 96 km/h in 8.5 seconds, markedly slower than the turbodiesel V8s employed by Ford and Chevy.
In a major magazine test of Detroit?s three heavy-duty pickups, the Ram 2500 ranked third, hamstrung by the least powerful drivetrain, clumsy steering and harsh ride despite its retuned suspension and hydraulic cab mounts to smooth out the shakes.
Some seasoned diesel owners criticized the Cummins? outsized thirst for fuel: ?Really bad gas mileage, but I kinda knew that would be the result of a truck weighing 8000 lbs!,? one disgruntled driver posted online.
WHAT OWNERS SAY
The heavy-duty Ram 2500 and 3500 distinguish themselves by bringing a lot of metal to the table. The Ram is a comparative bargain when priced by the kilo, especially in turbodiesel form, owners say. The spacious and luxurious cabins are icing on the cake.
In terms of mechanical lapses, the big Ram has some known issues. Owners talk about frequent fixes involving front-end components such as steering knuckles and links, which can wear quickly. There are references to ?death wobble,? suspension movement caused by big bumps that unsettle the truck on the highway.
The turbodiesel is susceptible to injector problems and clogged filters; fastidious maintenance should keep the Cummins running smoothly. Other irritants include short-lived oxygen sensors, electronic hiccups and loose fender flares involving poor adhesive.
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