For a hard-working truck that's capable of towing over 30,000 lbs and hauling more than four tons in its bed, Ram's 3500 Heavy Duty is a strong choice. Its broad availability of trims and configurations, plus unique powertrains sets it apart from its cross-town Detroit rivals, the Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD/GMC Sierra 3500HD, and the just-redesigned Ford F-350 Super Duty.
For 2017, the 3500 gains Bilstein monotube shock absorbers for the Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited trims. All trims also receive a new five-micron cabin air filter.
Ram's 3500 Heavy Duty is available in single or dual rear wheel configurations, in Regular Cab, Crew Cab, and Mega Cab body styles, and with a choice of bed lengths. Buyers can also equip the 3500 with the RamBox cargo management system, which includes lockable storage pockets built right into the walls of the truck bed, plus a nifty bed extender.
Other neat Ram features include a dual automatic air intake system with active grille shutters for improved performance, a disconnecting front axle for 4x4 models to improve fuel economy, and an available auto-leveling rear air suspension with modes optimized for payload or trailer towing.
The 3500 Heavy Duty is available with three engines - two gas, and one diesel. The standard engine is a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 that produces 383 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque.
Buyers needing more power can step up to a truck-tuned version of the 6.4-litre Hemi V8 found in the SRT 392 Challenger and Charger which develops 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. It also features cylinder deactivation for additional fuel savings.
For the heaviest of loads, buyers may wish to consider the 6.7-litre Cummins turbodiesel, which is available in two outputs. The least powerful version - 350 horsepower and 660 lb-ft of torque - also happens to be the only diesel-powered pickup on the market available with a six-speed manual transmission. Opting for the optional six-speed automatic ups power to 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque.
The high-output version of this engine is only available with an automatic (Aisin), which produces 385 horsepower and a whopping 900 lb-ft of torque. While this was enough to lead the field of heavy duty trucks last year, the Ram has fallen behind the Ford Super Duty and GM HD trucks, both of which produce more than 900 lb-ft of torque. We suspect FCA won't take this one sitting down - expect a bump in outputs soon.
The Cummins six-cylinder is an interesting beast; while its displacement and output match rival V8s, it offers lower running costs and is surprisingly smooth thanks to its inline configuration. Ram claims oil change intervals of up to 24,000 kilometres, too.
Tow ratings for the 3500 depend highly on configuration but range from a low of 10,880 lbs (4,935 kg) for a 5.7 Hemi 4x4 Mega Cab, to a colossal 31,210 lbs (14,157 kg) for the 6.7 diesel 4x2 Regular Cab dually.
Payload ratings range from a low of 3,930 lbs (1,783 kg) for a 5.7 Hemi 4x4 Regular Cab, to a high of 7,390 lbs (3,352 kg) for the 6.4 Hemi 4x2 Regular Cab dually.
Trim packages for the 3500 include the standard base ST, SLT, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited.
Standard equipment on the ST includes 18-inch steel wheels, automatic headlamps, black plastic grille mirrors and door handles, manual transfer case (4x4 only), air conditioning, black vinyl floor, 40/20/40 vinyl bench seat, cruise control, manual locks and windows (power operation on Crew Cab), and manual mirrors (heated and power-operated on Crew Cab).
The SLT adds chrome-clad wheels, chrome-finish bumpers, carpeted floor, electronic transfer case (4x4), floor mats, cloth upholstery, overhead console, vinyl door trim with map pocket, sliding rear window (power operation on Crew and Mega Cab), remote keyless entry, and a trip computer.
The Laramie adds 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, body colour fender flares, chrome door handles and grille insert, chrome heated power mirrors, electronic trailer brake controller, fog lamps, front centre seat cushion with storage, Bluetooth streaming audio, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, 10-way power driver's seat and six-way power passenger seat, 7.0-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster display, LED interior lighting, driver memory, front and rear parking sensors, 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system with USB, Bluetooth, reverse camera, alarm, and woodgrain interior trim.
The Longhorn adds polished wheels with White Gold painted pockets, door sill guard, centre console with leather lid and wood door, two-tone paint with White Gold accents, bed lighting, power adjustable pedals, premium trim for door panels and floor mats, premium bucket seats, exclusive instrument cluster, heated rear seats, spray-in bed liner, remote start, tow hooks, 8.4-inch navigation screen.
The Limited adds giant 20-inch chrome RAM tailgate badge, 20-inch polished wheels, all-black interior decor, automatic high beams, body coloured bumpers, billet grille, chrome side moulding, chrome side steps, locking lug nuts, Berber floor mats, premium leather upholstery, wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, RamBox cargo management system, and proximity key with push-button start.