Ram heavy-duty pickups redone with big hopes
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.
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.