AUTO REVIEW: Dodge Ram 2500 can take what Mother Nature throws at it
Despite the fear many people feel when 9 inches of snow are forecast, and the subsequent mad rush to the supermarket to get French toast fixings (milk, bread and eggs), my worries were mitigated by the behemoth in my driveway. It was Motor Trend ...
Despite the fear many people feel when 9 inches of snow are forecast, and the subsequent mad rush to the supermarket to get French toast fixings (milk, bread and eggs), my worries were mitigated by the behemoth in my driveway. It was Motor Trend magazine's Truck of the Year, the 2010 Dodge Ram 2500.
Before going any further, let's dispense with some essential information. Stay with me here.
As with any pickup, there is a dizzying array of configurations. There are two models of heavy-duty pickup (2500 and 3500) ; five trim levels (ST, SLT, TRX, Laramie and Power Wagon) ; three cab styles (Regular Cab, Crew Cab and Mega Cab); two bed lengths (6 feet, 4 inches and 8 feet); and single- and dual-rear-wheel configurations.
Got all that?
Restyled for 2010, the Ram 2500 takes on the wardrobe of its lightweight sibling, the Ram 1500. The 2500 gets a larger grille because, well, the hood is larger to accommodate bigger engines.
Standard is a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 delivering 383 horsepower; an optional 6.7-liter Cummins turbo-diesel V8 produces 350 horsepower.
With figures like that, why opt for the diesel? Two reasons: fuel economy and, more important, torque. The Hemi produces 400 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm while the Cummins generates 650 foot-pounds at a mere 1,500 rpm.
If you don't understand what this means, it's simply this: With the gas engine, you have to rev the spit out of it to get any power. The Cummins offers up tons of grunt -- more than the Hemi -- at lower engine speeds.
This is very much a one-note truck -- and it's a bass note. The Ram 2500 is made for serious hauling, not to mention the occasional foray off-road.
Decked out in TRX4 Off-Road trim, this pickup's step-in height was high enough that some might need a running start to leap up into the cab. Others might just prefer a running board or a step ladder.
Such size and height make this super truck overcome the worst Mother Nature can throw at it. So the heavy wallop of snow didn't worry me, as a twist of a dashboard-mounted dial transforms this rear-drive truck into four-wheel drive conquering hero.
The test vehicle was a crew cab model with the short bed and the Hemi V8.
Power was fairly good, and I didn't miss the diesel; mileage was fairly good at 14 mpg.
There's no disguising this vehicle's proportions. It feels as big as it looks from behind the wheel. Despite its 20-foot length, it's fairly maneuverable, although patience -- and lots of three-point turns -- is called for in smaller parking lots. Parking sensors are available as an option.
Two other helpful aids include an exhaust brake on Cummins V8 models. It uses engine compression to slow the vehicle when towing heavy loads. An integrated trailer brake is optional on all models.
Not having anything to haul, not even yard waste, the Ram spent most of its week plying parkways with little, if anything, in the bed.
Given that this is a heavy-duty pickup, you'd expect a firm, punishing ride and a back end that tangos across the tarmac when it hits bumpy pavement.
Surprisingly, the back end stays planted, a neat trick. I suspect there are some electronics to thanks for this, as a "light load" button was lit. I also suspect this adjusts the response of the vehicle to compensate for its lack of cargo.
Another surprise: the ride. It's very civilized. OK, you won't mistake it for a luxury liner. You'll feel plenty of road imperfections, but it's a lot better than you might expect.
That feeling isn't an accident. The options list is filled with the kinds of toys anyone can appreciate: heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, automatic climate control, GPS navigation and, for the kids, Sirius Backseat TV with a 10-speaker surround-sound system.
Best of all, there's plenty of storage, with two glove boxes, a large front-seat storage armrest and two under-floor compartments.
Pricey? Well, it's not cheap. Neither is filling its 34-gallon gas tank. But its capabilities are equally large. Enough to tangle with Mother Nature and come out victorious -- and overcome the fears of the supermarket-bound, French toast crowds.
2010 DODGE RAM 2500
--What we say: Big and brawny
--Pro: Big and brawny
--Con: Big and brawny
--Engine: 5.7-liter Hemi V8
--Wheelbase: 148.9 inches
--Length: 237.4 inches
--Weight: 6,340 pounds
--Payload: 2,460 pounds
--Towing capacity: 10,450 pounds
--EPA rating: Not available
--Fuel economy: 14 mpg
--Fuel type: Regular unleaded
--Base price: $38,480
--As tested: $44,365