What's New for 2011
For 2011, the Ram 2500 (it's no longer a "Dodge") gains a new trim package, "Outdoorsman." Among the list of newly standard features are an electronic brake controller (for all but the base ST trim), an electronic vehicle information display and a tire-pressure monitor. The navigation system has been updated and a spray-in bedliner is now optional. Midway through the model year, the 6.7-liter turbodiesel engine gains a power boost for a total of 800 pound-feet of torque. Lastly, the gross combined vehicle weight rating (GCWR) goes up to 22,000 pounds in some models.
Last year's redesign brought the Ram pickup wide acclaim, and the 2011 Ram 2500 boasts a few features that keep it in the thick of the fight for supremacy in this competitive market segment. The much-improved cabin has an attractive design and high-quality materials, making the Ram the leader in this area. Ride comfort is also commendable thanks to a relatively forgiving suspension, hydraulic cab-to-frame mounts and low levels of road and wind noise.
As far as the Ram 2500's work ethic, there's good reason they call these rigs "heavy duty." Properly equipped, its maximum towing capacity can be more than 15,000 pounds (depending on body style and powertrain choice) while maximum hauling capacity tops out at 3,120 pounds. The standard 5.7-liter V8 is rated at 383 hp and 400 lb-ft, but to fully live up to this truck's heavy-duty classification, you'll want to go with the diesel. The 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-6 that cranks out 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque in early model year Rams, but that torque number goes up to 800 lb-ft when equipped with an automatic transmission. That makes a big difference in leveling the playing field with GM and Ford.
Lined up against its few rivals, the 2011 Ram 2500 is practically in a dead heat against the Ford F-250 and Chevy Silverado 2500HD. But we doubt we'll find any argument when we say the Ram has the most attractive styling and an uncommonly upscale interior.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup is available in three cab styles: regular, Crew Cab and Mega Cab (a jumbo crew cab). The regular cabs come with a long bed only, while the Crew Cab has either a short or long cargo bed. The Mega Cab rides on the same wheelbase as the Crew Cab long bed, but it combines an even bigger cabin with a short bed. The regular cab comes in ST or SLT trims; the Crew Cab in ST, SLT or Laramie trims; and the Mega Cab in SLT or Laramie only.
The Ram ST is the bare-bones trim level that comes with 17-inch steel wheels, vinyl upholstery and flooring, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, air-conditioning, an electronic vehicle information display, a tilt steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. Power windows and door locks are standard on Crew Cab models, while regular cabs have manual controls.
The SLT adds chrome exterior trim, chrome-clad wheels, electronic trailer brake control, power-folding/heated side mirrors, a sliding rear window, cloth upholstery, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control and satellite radio. SLT Crew Cab and Mega Cab Rams are eligible to upgrade to the Big Horn package (sold as the Lone Star package in Texas). This includes a chrome grille, foglights, brighter quad headlights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a universal garage door opener.
There is also the Outdoorsman package for the SLT that adds the diesel engine, a limited-slip rear differential, tow hooks, polished alloy wheels (with white-letter tires), two-tone paint, wheel flares, a body-color grille frame, foglights, remote starting, auto-dimming mirrors, an overhead console, a 115-volt power point, illuminated vanity mirrors, power driver (10-way) and passenger (six-way) seats (with power lumbar supports) and a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls).
For those planning on using the Ram for serious off-road duties, the Power Wagon (available only as a Crew Cab 4WD with the short bed and 5.7-liter V8) should be of interest. It includes tow hooks, skid plates, all-terrain tires, a manual transfer case, a 4.56 rear-axle ratio with electronically locking differentials, a power winch rated at 12,000 pounds of capacity, a front antiroll bar that disconnects electronically to improve wheel articulation off-road, rooftop running lights, foglights, quad headlights and Bluetooth.
On the other end of the spectrum is the luxurious Laramie, which features polished alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating, a power driver seat with memory, power-adjustable pedals, auto-dimming mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and an upgraded nine-speaker surround-sound audio system with digital music storage and iPod integration.
A spray-in bedliner is available across the board while many of the features available as standard equipment in higher trim levels can be had as options in lower ones. Additional luxuries available for the upper trims include a sunroof, remote start, power-adjustable pedals, front bucket seats, heated and ventilated front seats, a navigation system, satellite radio, an upgraded stereo and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Ram 2500 is available with rear-wheel or four-wheel drive (4WD is electronically engaged at the high trim levels and mechanically engaged at the lowest one). The 4WD version has a solid front axle and recirculating-ball steering setup, while the 2WD model gets an independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering.
Every Ram 2500 comes standard with a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 383 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. The 5.7 is paired with a five-speed automatic. In Edmunds testing, a 4WD 2500 Power Wagon equipped with the gasoline V8 went from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 8.1 seconds. The optional engine is a 6.7-liter turbodiesel inline-6 that produces 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque with a six-speed manual transmission, or 800 lb-ft of torque with a six-speed automatic.
Opting for the diesel will also get you an exhaust brake. Typically seen only on big rigs, an exhaust brake provides additional stability and braking power when towing very heavy loads. And those loads can be quite substantial. The Ram 2500 has maximum a tow rating of 20,000 pounds with the gasoline engine or the manual-equipped diesel. That rises to 22,000 with the automatic and diesel engine.
Standard safety equipment for the 2011 Ram 2500 includes antilock disc brakes and side curtain airbags. Optional on the SLT and standard on the Laramie are power-adjustable pedals. In Edmunds braking tests, a Dodge Ram Power Wagon came to a stop from 60 mph in 141 feet, which is about average for a heavy-duty pickup.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Ram 2500 takes a page out of the Ram 1500's playbook by offering the best interior among all pickups. On the higher trim levels, soft-touch materials and tasteful stitching are abundant throughout the cabin, while the plush seats and metallic accents are almost too nice for work truck status. Interior storage is generous, with plenty of bins and pockets to supplement the dual gloveboxes.
The controls are within easy reach and user-friendly, except for the audio system when it's paired with the optional navigation. In this configuration, the absence of hard buttons and knobs needlessly complicates some of the most basic functions. Fortunately, the steering-wheel-mounted controls help to alleviate this problem.
Even though the 2011 Ram 2500 is built to tackle demanding pickup duties, it remains comfortably composed in most situations. The ride is firmer than that of its smaller 1500 sibling (which features a coil-spring rear suspension), but the 2500's leaf spring rear is as good as most other heavy-duty trucks.
Further isolating the occupants from the outside world are hydraulic cab-to-frame mounts that are tuned to reduce the jolting ride that is typical of an unloaded heavy-duty truck. On the highway, road and wind noise are nicely quelled. Both of the Ram's engines are strong and provide plenty of power for towing and hauling heavy loads. He highly recommend finding a diesel-powered 2500 from later in the model year or one hooked up to the six-speed automatic transmission. Its 150 extra lb-ft of torque makes a huge difference in towing ability.