Ram heavy-duty pick­ups re­done with big hopes

The Detroit News - - DETROIT AUTO SHOW - BY NORA NAUGHTON The De­troit News

De­troit — Ram is look­ing to build on the suc­cess of the light-duty Ram 1500, with its re­designed heavy-duty pick­ups de­but­ing Mon­day at the De­troit auto show, as the all-new 2019 Ram 2500 and 3500 fol­low in the tracks of the light-duty truck that de­buted in the Mo­tor City last year.

Long the third-place fin­isher in the truck wars, Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles NV has said it is look­ing to un­seat at least one of its home­town com­peti­tors. After the suc­cess of the high­tech, lux­u­ri­ous light-duty Ram 1500, the 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty are en­gi­neered and de­signed to steal mar­ket share from FCA ri­vals Ford Mo­tor Co. and Gen­eral Mo­tors Co.

Ram came out swing­ing last year at the North Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Auto Show with a com­pletely re­designed 1500, which gave GM and Ford a run in 2018.

“What we’ve done is we’ve ap­plied the same strat­egy, the same for­mula that we have with our light-duty over to the heavy-duty, with the added em­pha­sis on ca­pa­bil­ity,” said Jim Mor­ri­son, head of Ram Trucks for North Amer­ica. “The heavy-duty truck is very im­por­tant for the Ram brand, be­cause heavy-duty trucks are re­ally what de­fines pickup trucks in gen­eral.”

The big Rams are the first heavy-duty trucks to cross the 1,000 pounds-feet of torque thresh­old with a new 400-horse­power 6.7-liter Cum­mins High Out­put Turbo Diesel en­gine, avail­able on five of the six trims. Stan­dard on the Ram heavy duty trucks is a 6.4-liter, 410-horse­power Hemi V-8, which de­liv­ers 429 pounds-feet of torque. The high­est-per­form­ing trucks can tow up to 3,500 pounds and haul 7,680 pounds of pay­load.

The Ram 2500 and 3500 carry over the big-rig styling on the out­side, with a 30-per­cent larger grille that’s more aero­dy­namic.

Ac­tive noise can­cel­la­tion, anti-vi­bra­tion de­vices and acous­tic glass make for a qui­eter cabin, the com­pany says. The stan­dard gas-pow­ered 6.4-liter V-8 de­liv­ers power through a new class-ex­clu­sive TorqueFlite eight-speed au­to­matic. Ram says a new sus­pen­sion with fre­quency-re­sponse damp­ing shocks im­proves ride qual­ity.

“No longer do you have to drive a heavy-duty and beat your­self to hell,” said Reid Bigland, head of the Ram brand for Fiat Chrysler.

The 12-inch touch­screen that de­buted on the light-duty trucks will be fea­tured on all six of the heavy-duty trims — start­ing with the Trades­man work truck and work­ing up to the more lux­u­ri­ous Laramie Longhorn and Lim­ited models. The screen is now lever­aged for util­ity in the heavy-duty trucks, clus­ter­ing more of the con­trols in one place.

“All of the con­trols that are cus­tom­ary to some­body haul­ing a large trailer will be right there at the driver’s fin­ger­tips,” Bigland said.

A re­designed cen­ter con­sole has 12 stor­age con­fig­u­ra­tions. Leather and wood-grain come with the higher-end heavy models. The Laramie Longhorn trim, for in­stance, will have barn-wood ac­cents, metal buck­les on seat­back pock­ets, and wrapped and stitched leather through­out the in­te­rior.

Ram pickup sales, in­clud­ing light- and heavy-duty models, in­creased 7 per­cent in 2018 to 536,980 to cap­ture 18 per­cent of the pickup mar­ket. That’s on the heels of Chevro­let’s Sil­ver­ado that sold 585,581 units, while the Ford sold 909,330 F-Se­ries trucks.

Fiat Chrysler will build the new heavy-duty pick­ups at its plant in Saltillo, Mex­ico, where the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion heavy-duty trucks will be im­me­di­ately phased out. A man­u­fac­tur­ing spokes­woman for the au­tomaker says it still plans to bring heavy-duty pro­duc­tion to War­ren in 2020, but CEO Mike Man­ley has said he is re­think­ing that strat­egy.

The Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty go on sale in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Pho­tos cour­tesy of FCA

The Ram 2500 and 3500, above, carry over big-rig styling on the out­side, with a larger, more aero­dy­namic grille.

Leather and wood-grain ac­cents are fea­tured with the higher-end heavy lev­els, in­clud­ing the Laramie Longhorn.

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