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We drive the Ram 3500 Longhorn Laramie 4x4

by Ali Arsham
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

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Dodge Ram 3500 Longhorn Laramie 4x4
Ram trucks want to be the best and the 2013 Ram heavy duty pick-up trucks make a strong statement.  We are big fans of heavy duty trucks and we use them for heavy hauling.  Many can’t take the punishment but when we tested the 2013 Ram 3500, it never seemed to break a sweat.  The new Ram has gotten bigger and taller and it is an impressive beast to look at.  Every year Ram engineers keep adding new features for more strength and more comfort and the 2013 Ram is an amazing piece of work. 

For 2013, Ram Heavy Duty trucks feature new frames built with high-strength 50 KSI steel, including eight separate cross-members, hydroformed main rails and fully boxed rear rails for optimal strength and mass efficiency. Wider front frame rails enable front suspension springs to be positioned slightly outboard, an enabler for generating more positive roll stiffness. A new front suspension cross member is now a two-piece welded component between the front axle and oil pan.

Center frame rail sections are roll-formed, an efficient means for maintaining consistent strength in less complex longitudinal sections. In the rear portion of the new frame, the structure includes fully boxed rear rails and a factory-installed rear axle cross member with provisions for 5th wheel and gooseneck hitches. A new conventional trailer hitch system is upgraded to Class 5 with a 17,000-lb. load capability and 1,800 pounds of tongue weight for use with 2-inch or 2.5-inch receiver hitches.

Heavy duty truck owners have embarked in a power race and everyone wants to beat the other guy’s numbers.  Showing how serious Ram is about power, they give you three different versions of their famous Cummins diesel engine.

The first version is paired with Ram’s segment exclusive six-speed manual transmission.  This combination delivers 350 horsepower at 2,800 rpm and 660 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,500 rpm – a significant boost from the 2012 model-year maximum of 600 lb.-ft.  The second option matches the Cummins to the 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission. The diesel engine cranks out 370 horsepower at 2,800 rpm with an unsurpassed in ¾-ton trucks 800 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm.  Finally, an upgraded 6.7-liter Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel I-6 for Ram 3500 is paired with a new Aisin six-speed automatic transmission (AS69RC), leaving no doubt to Ram Heavy Duty’s capability. In addition to 385 horsepower at 2,800 rpm, the most powerful Cummins generates best-in-class torque of 850 lb.-ft. at 1,600 rpm.

For 2013, all Ram Heavy Duty diesels benefit from an all-new cooling system. A high-efficiency fan, dual radiators, dual transmission coolers and charge air cooler afford 25 percent more heat-rejection capacity. Lower operating temperatures deliver improved performance, durability and lower operating costs.

Diesel-equipped Ram Heavy Duty pickups feature an industry-exclusive Ram Active Air intake system, activated by new monitoring capabilities added to the engine controller. When the intake system senses extreme heat, it draws cool air from the front of the vehicle – a function that also engages at high altitudes for superior throttle response in low oxygen environments. When conditions are wet from snow, ice or water-fording, the system pulls air from an under hood inlet clear from snow packing and water ingestion.

It can haul quite a payload
The combination results in some impressive numbers.  Our crew cab 3500 model was rated to tow over 17,000 pounds but if you place the right options you can tow over 29,000 pounds with your Ram 3500.  Those are some staggering numbers.  We wanted to see just how good the Ram was so we hitched up a 10,000 pound trailer and went for a drive. 

Our truck was a 4x4 version which is never as stable as two wheel drive versions due to the larger sidewall tires and the extra height.  But the new engine is just an amazing piece of engineering with solid power whenever you need it.  Maintaining the speed limit is never a problem unless you get to some really steep hills.  The sound of the Cummins is unique and gives you that feeling of power which feels great when you are hauling a heavy load.  The new Aisin transmission has a Tow/Haul mode which works great especially when you are coming down a steep hill.  We did notice the brakes were starting to smell after some steep downhill sections but the pedal always stayed firm and there was never any sign of problems.
 
Fuel economy is another area that is always addressed and our Ram would get around 17-18 mpg while cruising at freeway speeds without a load.  With the trailer, we managed to get 11.5 mpg which is pretty darn good.

Our Ram was the top of the line Laramie Longhorn edition which featured a ton of standard features including some crazy leather work that would drop your jaw.  The interior fit and finish is just terrific and there is a multiview display in the center of the dash that can be programmed to show a host of different functions including transmission temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, trailer brakes, fuel economy, and much more.  Our only complaint was that the font on the gauges of our Longhorn model was too hard to read, especially in the day time.  There are also some very nice towing mirrors that flip up to extend and a built in electric trailer brake controller.

Interior is well appointed
The interior of the Ram is such a sweet place to be with tons of features.  The seats are super comfortable for even the longest trips and they are heated and cooled.  The rear passengers have heated seats and enough legroom to put a limo to shame.  The ride can be bouncy on bad roads but that is the price you pay for this level of capability.  One feature that stood out was how quiet the Ram was on the freeway.  Considering the size of this beast, there is not much wind noise or road noise that comes into the cabin.

The new Ram 3500 is an amazing truck not just because it can be equipped to tow 30,000 pounds.  It is a truck that can tow 30,000 pounds, get close to 20 mpg and do it with luxury and comfort.  That is very difficult to do and it makes the Ram an impressive piece of work.  If you need to haul some big equipment, you have to take a test drive to see just how good the Ram is.

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