Full 2014 Ram 3500 Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Ram 3500 offers a new 6.4-liter V8 engine option, along with a new supplemental air suspension system for the rear suspension. The Tradesman takes over for last year's ST as the base trim level, and there are adjustments to standard and optional equipment.
Full-size, heavy-duty trucks have long been the go-to vehicles for pulling the biggest trailers and hauling the heaviest loads to and from the work site. In recent years, they've also become vastly more civilized and comfortable for everyday driving. The 2014 Ram 3500 is a fine example of this trend. Not only is it a stout work truck, it's one of the most luxurious pickups around depending on how you equip it.
After a major overhaul last year, the 2014 Ram 3500 gets a couple significant updates this year, chief 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 Cummins turbodiesel engine but still require more capability than the base 5.7-liter V8 offers. The other new item is a load-leveling rear suspension. This late-availability option for both single- and dual-rear-wheel trucks supplements the 3500's standard leaf spring rear suspension with an airbag system that helps level out the rear of the truck when there's a heavy trailer hitched to the back.
There are basically two alternatives to the Ram 3500 in the heavy-duty truck class: the 2014 Chevy Silverado 3500HD (and its twin, the GMC Sierra 3500HD) and the 2014 Ford F-350 . Neither matches the Ram's stratospheric 30,000-pound tow rating with the Cummins diesel, but both are capable trucks that can pull massive trailers without breaking a sweat. Ultimately, where the 2014 Ram 3500 really sets itself apart is inside the cab: In addition to a functional layout, you'll find high-quality interior materials and an impressive array of creature comforts. If you're looking for a big truck that's useful on the job and still a great place to spend time on the weekend, the heavy-duty Ram is our top choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Ram 3500 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 pairs an even bigger cabin with the short bed. Buyers can choose between single-rear-wheel (SRW) and dual-rear-wheel (DRW) configurations for each body style.
The regular cab comes in Tradesman and SLT trims; the Crew Cab in Tradesman, SLT, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn; and the Mega Cab in SLT, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn only.
The Ram Tradesman is the bare-bones trim level that comes with black bumpers and grille, 18-inch steel wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, air-conditioning, cruise control, an electronic vehicle information display, a tire-pressure monitor, a tilt steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with USB/iPod integration and an auxiliary audio jack. 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 and Mega Cab models, while regular cabs have manual controls.
The SLT adds chrome exterior trim, chrome-clad wheels, an integrated trailer-brake controller, a sliding rear window, power/heated side mirrors, cloth upholstery, full power accessories, keyless entry, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch touchscreen audio interface 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 18-inch forged and polished alloy wheels, a chrome grille, foglights, brighter headlights and LED taillights, an eight-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls) and a 115-volt power outlet. Also optional are an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, satellite radio and Uconnect Access, a subscription-based smartphone app that provides WiFi, voice-to-text messaging and emergency assistance. For an additional cost, you can also get a navigation system with enhanced voice control and HD radio.
Next up is the Laramie, which has all of the above as standard, except for the nav system and HD radio (which remain optional). Additional standard equipment includes polished alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, driver-seat memory settings, a six-way power passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an upgraded 10-speaker audio system.
The Laramie Longhorn adds a spray-in bedliner, remote start, front bucket seats with a full console (instead of a bench seat), the navigation system, HD radio, power-adjustable pedals (with memory settings), heated rear seats and the navigation system. The optional Limited package adds color-keyed bumpers, automatic high-beam control, keyless ignition and entry, automatic windshield wipers and a wood-and-leather-trimmed steering wheel.
Many of the upper trims' features are available as options in lower ones. Other option highlights include the new rear air suspension (late availability), RamBox cargo management system (which includes bedside storage compartments, an adjustable bed divider and tie-downs), a cargo-view camera, fifth-wheel trailer preparation, a CD player and a sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
All versions of the 2014 Ram 3500 are available with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. A 5.7-liter V8 engine with 383 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque is standard, and it's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.
There are two optional engines for the 3500: 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 (370 hp on Mega Cabs) and 429 lb-ft of torque and is backed by a six-speed automatic. The Cummins turbodiesel engine comes in three different states of tune. Equipped with the available six-speed manual transmission, it produces 350 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque. You can also get it with one of two different six-speed automatic transmissions: With the standard automatic, it makes 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque, while a heavy-duty Aisin automatic enables ratings of 385 hp and 850 lb-ft.
The Cummins comes with a big-rig-like exhaust brake, a useful feature that provides additional stability and braking power when towing very heavy loads.
Depending on body style and rear axle ratio, the Ram 3500 can tow up to 13,850 pounds with the 5.7-liter V8, 16,450 pounds with the 6.4-liter V8, 18,500 with the manual-equipped diesel and 30,000 with the diesel engine and heavy-duty automatic transmission. Properly equipped, the maximum payload for trucks with the 5.7-liter is 4,480 pounds, 7,320 pounds for the 6.4-liter engine and 6,720 pounds for the diesel.
Standard safety equipment for the 2014 Ram 3500 includes antilock disc brakes, front and side curtain airbags, stability and traction control and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Optional items include adjustable pedals, rear parking sensors and two rear cameras: a standard rearview camera and a cargo-area camera aimed at the bed of the truck. When both cameras are equipped, the rearview camera displays in the rearview mirror, while the cargo camera displays in the truck's touchscreen display.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Ram 3500 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, especially in the upper trims (and any equipped with navigation) with the 8.4-inch touchscreen. With large, logically located virtual buttons, reasonably quick processing times and ample functionality for smartphone users, this is one of the best examples of this high-tech interface in any vehicle.
Even though the 2014 Ram 3500 is built to tackle the most demanding of pickup duties, it remains comfortably composed in most everyday driving situations. The steering is responsive and the truck tracks through turns in a confident manner. The ride is firm but not harsh, and well controlled over broken pavement.
On the highway, road and wind noise are nicely quelled, with only a muted diesel clatter at full throttle. The Cummins diesel engine is strong and provides plenty of power for towing and hauling heavy loads. We recommend either of the automatic transmissions, as the extra torque you get compared to the diesel with the manual gearbox makes a big difference in towing ability.