Full 2009 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 Review
What's New for 2009
For 2009 the Dodge Ram 3500 gets larger brakes and a couple of new standard features -- the Cummins turbodiesel engine and a limited-slip rear differential. Other changes include a remote-start option.
Lots of people who drive pickup trucks don't really need them. Whether it's because they fancy themselves the next Kenny Chesney or relish the idea of helping friends move, we don't know. But they typically drive half-ton trucks. When it comes to driving a heavy-duty dually (dual rear wheels), only non-poseurs need apply. Piloting one of these massive brutes as your daily driver around suburbia (or worse yet, the city) makes about as much sense as using a Carnival Cruise ship as a fishing boat. However, for buyers who need a truck with immense capabilities, the 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 makes perfect sense.
Only three car companies make heavy-duty pickup trucks; the others are Ford with the F-350 and General Motors with its fraternal twins -- the Chevy Silverado 3500 and the GMC Sierra 3500. Among them, the Dodge Ram 3500 is the eldest statesman, as this generation goes back to 2003. Yet it is by no means outdated, thanks to an interior redesign a few years ago and the adoption of the latest 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-6 (which boasts 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque). For 2009, the turbodiesel is standard on the Ram 3500, giving the truck a lofty tow capacity of 16,350 pounds when properly equipped.
Apart from the short-bed Quad Cabs, all Ram 3500s also feature a dual-wheel rear axle and are available in two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive configurations, with the latter being controlled electronically on all but the lowest trim level. The 4WD 3500 has a solid front axle and recirculating-ball steering setup, while the 2WD model gets an independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering.
Pitted against the Ford F-350/450 Super Duty and Chevy Silverado 3500HD, the 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 makes a respectable case for itself. It boasts strong work capacities, the roomiest crew cab available and ruggedly handsome styling. However, bed capacity is one area where the Ram suffers. The standard bed is shorter than expected, while the Mega Cab's truncated bed could potentially limit fifth-wheel trailering applications. Other than that, the 2009 Ram 3500 should meet the needs of anyone looking for a heavy-duty hauler.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 heavy-duty pickup is available in three cab styles: regular, Quad Cab (crew cab) and Mega Cab (a jumbo crew cab). The regular cabs come with a long bed only, while the Quad Cab has either a short or long cargo bed. The Mega Cab rides on the same wheelbase as the Quad Cab long bed but pairs an even bigger cabin with the short bed. The regular cab comes in ST or SLT trims; the Quad Cab in ST, SLT or Laramie trims; and the Mega Cab is SLT or Laramie only. With the exception of Quad Cab short beds, all Ram 3500s have a dual-rear-wheel axle.
The Ram ST is the bare-bones trim level, offering little more than 17-inch wheels, vinyl upholstery, 40/20/40-split front bench seat, air-conditioning and a CD player. The SLT adds alloy wheels, cruise control, cloth upholstery, carpet, full power accessories and keyless entry. The SLT is equipped similarly but comes only with the Mega Cab. The luxurious Laramie gains dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating, a power driver seat, upgraded speakers and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
Options on the upper trims include a sunroof, remote start, power-adjustable pedals, front bucket seats, Bluetooth, a navigation system, satellite radio, an upgraded stereo and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
The Ram 3500 dually is available with rear-wheel or four-wheel drive and comes with a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-6 that produces 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. This big mill can be paired to a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. The Cummins comes with a big-rig-like exhaust brake, an unusual feature for a factory pickup, that provides additional stability and braking power when towing very heavy loads. Properly equipped, the Ram 3500 can tow up to 16,350 pounds.
Antilock disc brakes are standard, while side curtain airbags are optional. Optional on the SLT and standard on the Laramie are power-adjustable pedals.
No crash tests have been performed on the 2009 Dodge Ram 3500, but the lighter Ram 1500 earned five out of five stars in government crash tests for its protection of front occupants in head-on collisions. Frontal-offset collision testing performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety similarly resulted in a top rating of "Good."
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2009 Ram 3500's cabin features white-faced gauges, simple twist-knob climate controls and a huge center armrest/bin. Although it is a straightforward, user-friendly design, materials quality trails that of GM's heavy-duty pickups. Ram crew cabs can seat up to six people, and the rear seats fold up to reveal a flat load floor for carrying large items inside. Unfortunately, rear seating in Quad Cabs is noticeably more cramped than in competitors' crew-cab trucks. The Mega Cab more than compensates by expanding legroom by nearly a foot and offering a comfy, reclining backseat. If carrying passengers in comfort is a priority equal to pickup utility, it's hard to do better than a Ram 3500 Mega Cab model.
Although it's built to take on the most demanding tasks, the 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 is still a relatively comfortable truck. The steering is light and the Ram 3500's turning circle is smaller than that of other heavy-duty pickup trucks. Ride quality is also respectably supple and nearly as comfortable as that of most half-tons. And for serious hauling along with decent fuel mileage, the 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel is tough to beat.