2011 Ram Heavy Duty Performance
Overall, reviewers are pleased with the Ram 2500 and 3500’s performance. They are nearly unanimous in recommending the Cummins turbo diesel engine over the Hemi V8, and most agree that both models offer a smooth ride, even without a load in the bed. Reviewers have differing opinions on the steering in both the 2500 and the 3500, with some saying it’s predictable and others complaining that it’s loose and numb. In general, the auto press says the Ram Heavy Duty trucks drive well for such large trucks.
- "Ride comfort is also commendable thanks to a relatively forgiving suspension, hydraulic cab-to-frame mounts and low levels of road and wind noise.” -- Edmunds
- "The primary goal of the HD this go-around, according to Chrysler, was to become the 'ultimate tow vehicle.' Thus, it is built on a de rigueur fully boxed ladder frame with coil springs up front, but in place of the coil-spring rear end found on the light-duty Ram 1500 are heartier, more conventional leaf springs." -- Car and Driver
Acceleration and Power
The Ram 2500 is available with two engines: A 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that gets 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque and a turbodiesel 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six that makes 350 horsepower and a capable 650 pound-feet of torque. The Cummins diesel is the only powerplant offered on the Ram 3500, while it’s a $6,445 option on 2500 models. The gas-powered Hemi V8 is only offered with a five-speed automatic transmission, while the diesel engine can be mated with either a six-speed manual, which knocks $1,170 off the MSRP, or a six-speed automatic, which ups the sticker price by $405.
Most reviewers recommend the diesel engine since it has more power and towing and hauling capacity than the gas-powered engine, and that’s what most people who buy a heavy duty truck need. The diesel also comes standard with an exhaust brake, which helps reduce brake fade when towing and keeps the brakes cool for when you really need them. However, if you can’t pay an additional $6,500 for the diesel option, reviewers say that the gas-powered 5.7-liter V8 still has plenty of power.
The EPA does not rate vehicles over a certain weight or price for fuel economy, so there aren’t any objective, third-party gas mileage ratings for the Ram 2500 or 3500. However, Car and Driver noted that the diesel-powered 3500 Crew Cab with single rear wheels they tested got 14.1 mpg, which is about average for the class.
- "The turbodiesel 6.7-liter 6-cylinder has good power at any speed. The automatic transmission is quick to downshift.” -- Consumer Guide
- "The trucks come with one of two proven powerful engines, the 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi or the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel, a beef cake of a six-cylinder engine that produces 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. … There's very little with this diesel that feels diesel-ish. It provides excellent pickup onto the highway and enough power to tow a small village. The engines, while not new to the 2500 and 3500, have been tweaked and tuned to provide even more power." -- Detroit News
- "Making all that work possible is an optional 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel, an inline-6 that cranks out 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Yes, that's less power than you'll find in Ford's and GM's latest turbodiesels, but it's still plenty. The standard 5.7-liter V8 is rated at 383 hp and 400 lb-ft, but to fully live up to this truck's heavy-duty classification, you'll want to go with the diesel.” -- Edmunds
- "The engines are predictably gutsy, yet remarkably quiet. The 2500's Hemi V-8 is downright silent in operation when you're not mashing the gas and emits a delicious but still-subdued growl when floored. The Cummins-sourced turbo-diesel that comes with all Ram 3500s, on the other hand, is less than silent, yet is one of the quietest diesels we've ever heard from behind the wheel of a pickup." -- Car and Driver
Handling and Braking
Reviewer opinion is mixed when discussing the Ram Heavy Duty’s handling. Some say that the steering is precise and predictable, while others call it dull and unresponsive. Most reviewers feel that the ride is surprisingly comfortable, but one mentions that it’s uncomfortable and overly stiff. The general consensus is that the 2500’s and 3500’s brakes are acceptable.
- "For a 2WD Ram 2500 the steering consists of a rack and pinion mechanism, rarely seen under the hood of a heavy-duty truck. It produces quick and predictable turns with direct response from the steering wheel. 4WD Ram 2500 models get a recirculating ball system that yields precise tolerances. As a result, it brings a keen on-center feel and responds fast due to a quick steering ratio.” -- AutoGuide.com
- "As with the 1500s, Ram is far too large to be called nimble, but car-like is not a stretch. Body lean is modest in turns. Steering is well-weighted and offers good road feel. Brakes have excellent stopping control and pedal feel is confidently firm.” -- Consumer Guide
- "In Edmunds braking tests, a Dodge Ram Power Wagon came to a stop from 60 mph in 141 feet, which is about average for a heavy-duty pickup.” -- Edmunds
- "It rolled problem-free through snow and mud. It also behaved well in long-distance, high-speed highway traffic in terms of acceleration and flat-road ride comfort. But its factory weight -- weight minus occupants and cargo -- is 6,340 pounds. Included in that mass is a traditional truck suspension -- solid live axles front and rear with a front stabilizer bar -- that eagerly transfers the unhappiness of every struck bump and deep pothole to the bottoms and backs of the truck's occupants." -- Washington Post
- "Steering, however, is just as dull and unresponsive right off center as in the 1500, requiring up to 15 degrees of steering-wheel rotation to get those front wheels to bite into a turn (at which point they do abruptly). Brakes are respectable in feel and response, though, considering the mass they are charged with halting." -- Car and Driver
Towing and Hauling
When properly equipped, the Ram 3500 can haul a payload of up to 5,130 pounds and tow up to 22,700 pounds. This means that the 3500 could theoretically haul a Ram 1500 Crew Cab in its bed, or tow a trailer loaded with 12 Smart Fortwo cars and still have room to spare. Since most truck drivers will never tow a dozen city-runners or haul another pickup truck in its bed, most reviewers feel that the 3500 HD has plenty of power. The 2500 likely also provides more than enough towing and hauling power for buyers, with capacities of 15,450 pounds and 3,120 pounds respectively. Still, if you’re looking for the heavy duty truck with the most towing capacity available, you’ll have to switch to the Ford F-350 Super Duty, which can tow up to 24,400 pounds and haul up to 7,070 pounds depending on its configuration
- "Opting for the diesel will also get you an exhaust brake. Typically seen only on big rigs, an exhaust brake provides additional stability and braking power when towing very heavy loads. And those loads can be quite substantial, considering the Ram 2500's maximum tow rating of 15,450 pounds and payload capacity of 3,120 pounds when properly equipped.” -- Edmunds
- "GCWR is the maximum allowable weight for a pickup pulling a trailer, including cargo and passengers, that the truck can handle without risking damage. Coincidentally, the maximum payload that the Delta IV Heavy can lift to geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above Earth is 28,650 pounds, just 3,250 pounds more than the Ram 3500’s GCWR.” -- PickupTruck.com