Full 2014 Ram 2500 Review
What's New for 2014
Headlines for the 2014 Ram 2500 include the arrival of a new 6.4-liter gasoline V8 engine and the adoption of a new coil-spring rear suspension, which promises increased civility when you're cruising the highway. Integrated gooseneck/fifth wheel trailer preparation is a new option on the 2500 this year, as is a load-leveling rear air suspension (late availability). Equipment and trim levels have also been updated.
Heavy-duty pickup trucks like the 2014 Ram 2500 are made chiefly for buyers who do lots of towing and hauling. Consistent with the breed, the Ram 2500 is available in multiple body styles with several varying powertrains and various equipment levels. And not only can it tow well over 5 tons without breaking a sweat (indeed, tow ratings approach 18,000 pounds if you're using a fifth-wheel connection), it's also impressively comfortable and refined.
The Ram 2500 gets several changes this year, among them a new 6.4-liter V8 engine. Rated at 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, this new gasoline-fueled V8 is a lower-cost alternative for buyers who don't need the gargantuan torque of the pricey turbodiesel engine but still require more capability than the base 5.7-liter V8 offers.
Equally significant is the new coil-spring rear suspension that's standard on every 2014 Ram 2500. As on the lighter-duty Ram 1500, the switch from rear leaf springs to coil springs gives the heavy-duty Ram a more compliant, civilized feel whether you're pulling a heavy load or driving around with the bed empty. In addition, a load-leveling rear air suspension is now available as an option (late availability) as is integrated fifth-wheel trailer preparation -- making it that much easier to set up your truck for large towing jobs.
There really are only a couple comparable alternatives for a heavy-duty truck with this level of capability: The 2014 Chevy Silverado 2500HD (and its GMC Sierra 2500HD sibling) and the 2014 Ford F-250. All offer strong engine and suspension packages, and when it comes to tow ratings, they're generally within a few hundred pounds of each other. Where the Ram 2500 takes a significant lead is inside the cabin. More than just utilitarian, the 2500's interior is plush and inviting. It makes for a truck that is extremely livable outside of work duty, and this year's new rear suspension design only enhances that quality. Already a solid choice for a heavy-duty full-size truck, the 2014 Ram 2500 gets our top recommendation in this class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup is available in three cab styles: two-door regular, four-door 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 Tradesman or SLT trims; the Crew Cab in Tradesman, SLT, Laramie and Longhorn; and the Mega Cab in SLT, Laramie and Longhorn trims. The off-road-themed Power Wagon Crew Cab will return later in the 2014 model year; it will feature a revamped suspension and come standard with the 6.4-liter V8.
The Tradesman is the most basic Ram 2500 and comes with 17-inch steel wheels, black grille/bumpers, power heated mirrors, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with USB/iPod integration and an auxiliary audio input. Vinyl upholstery and flooring are standard, but a cloth bench seat is a no-cost option. Power windows and door locks are standard on Crew Cab models, while regular cabs have manual controls.
The SLT adds chrome exterior trim, 18-inch steel wheels, an integrated trailer-brake controller, a power sliding rear window, keyless entry, full power accessories, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch touchscreen audio interface and satellite radio. Most of these amenities are optional on the Tradesman.
SLT Crew Cab and Mega Cab Rams are eligible to upgrade to the Big Horn package (sold as the Lone Star package in Texas), which includes a 18-inch forged and polished alloy wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, chrome grille, foglights, a 115-volt power outlet, an eight-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Uconnect Access, a subscription-based smartphone app that provides WiFi, voice-to-text messaging and emergency assistance. For four-wheel-drive SLT crew cabs, there is also the Outdoorsman package, which is similar to the Big Horn package but with different 18-inch wheels, tow hooks, a transfer case skid plate, two-tone paint, wheel flares, a body-color grille frame and auto-dimming exterior mirrors. This package also includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment interface and rearview camera; these items are optional on other SLTs.
Next up is the Laramie, which features all of the above equipment as standard, while adding rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a six-way power front-passenger seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors and an upgraded 10-speaker audio system. The Longhorn adds color-keyed bumpers, a spray-in bedliner, a remote ignition, front bucket seats (with a console), power-adjustable pedals, heated rear seats, a navigation system and HD radio.
Many of the upper trims' features are available on lower trim levels as either packages or stand-alone options. Other option highlights include the RamBox cargo management system (which includes bedside storage compartments, an adjustable bed divider and tie-downs), load-leveling rear air suspension (late availability), fifth-wheel trailer preparation and a sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard on most versions of the 2014 Ram 2500 is a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 383 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. The 5.7 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2500 is available with either rear-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive. Tradesman models feature a manually engaged transfer case for the 4WD system; an electronic transfer case is optional on the Tradesman and standard on all other Rams.
There are two optional engines for the 2500: a 6.4-liter V8 and a 6.7-liter turbocharged, diesel-fueled inline six-cylinder known as the Cummins. The gasoline 6.4-liter V8 produces 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque and is backed by a six-speed automatic. The Cummins turbodiesel engine produces 350 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque when matched with the available six-speed manual transmission, or 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque with a six-speed automatic.
In Edmunds testing, a 4WD Ram 2500 crew cab with the 6.4-liter V8 went from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. Equipped with the 6.7-liter turbodiesel, another 4WD crew cab accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds.
Depending on body style and rear axle ratio, the Ram 2500 is rated to tow up to 13,860 pounds with the 5.7-liter V8, 16,300 pounds with the 6.4-liter V8, 16,870 for the manual-equipped diesel and 17,970 with the automatic and diesel engine (Ram stipulates that any trailer over 17,000 pounds requires a fifth-wheel hitch). Properly equipped, the maximum payload for trucks with the 5.7-liter is 3,030 pounds, 3,970 pounds for the 6.4-liter engine and 3,140 pounds for the diesel.
Standard safety equipment for the 2014 Ram 2500 includes antilock disc brakes, front seat and side curtain airbags, stability and traction control and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Power-adjustable pedals are available on all models, except the Tradesman. A rearview camera is also optional. In Edmunds testing, a 4WD crew cab with the 6.7-liter diesel engine came to a stop from 60 mph in 144 feet, a typical braking distance for a heavy-duty truck. Meanwhile, the 4x4 crew cab with the gasoline 6.4-liter V8 covered the same ground in 136 feet, which is a pretty short stopping distance for this class.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Ram 2500 offers the nicest interior in the heavy-duty full-size pickup kingdom. 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. As is typical in full-size trucks, there's plenty of room for passengers of all sizes; however, if you make regular use of the rear seats (and don't need a long cargo bed), you'll find that the Mega Cab is particularly accommodating in the legroom department.
Interior storage is generous, with plenty of bins and pockets to supplement the dual gloveboxes. Unique to this pickup is the optional RamBox feature, which places a pair of lockable compartments over the rear fenders inside the truck bed.
Cabin controls are within easy reach and user-friendly, especially in trucks with the 8.4-inch touchscreen audio-navigation interface. With large, logically located virtual buttons, reasonably quick processing times and ample functionality for smartphone users, this is one of the best executions of modern technology in a full-size pickup. When equipped with the optional cargo-view and rearview back-up cameras, the cargo camera displays on the 8.4-inch screen, while the conventional back-up camera displays on a smaller screen in the rearview mirror. It's nice to have both cameras onboard, but in practice, it can be hard to see the back-up camera display.
Even though the 2014 Ram 2500 is built for serious towing and hauling jobs, it's fairly civilized in everyday driving, and wind and tire noise are nicely quelled. This year's new coil-spring rear suspension makes the heavy-duty Ram's ride smoother and more comfortable than ever before. Mind you, there's no getting around a firm ride quality in a truck built to tow this much, but the coil-spring suspension certainly makes the ride less skittish.
All three of the Ram's engines provide solid performance, but if you're regularly towing and hauling heavy loads, there's no doubt that the Cummins turbodiesel paired with the automatic transmission packs the biggest punch. The Cummins does emit a bit of signature diesel noise when accelerating, but it quiets down at cruising speeds.