2016 Ram 3500 Review
Pros & Cons
- Monumental torque with diesel and automatic powertrain
- high-quality interior
- Mega Cab's roomy rear seat
- quiet highway ride.
- Diesel's lower output with the manual transmission.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2016 Ram 3500 is a top pick for a heavy-duty truck thanks to its refined, well-equipped interior and astounding towing and hauling capabilities.
If you're reading this review, we're guessing you frequently face some absolutely massive towing and hauling challenges. While its baby brother Ram 2500 can tow up to 17,980 pounds and carry a payload of 3,990 pounds, the 2016 Ram 3500 eclipses those figures by offering up to 31,210 pounds of towing capacity and a payload rating of 7,390 pounds. But just because you need a truck that can move mountains doesn't mean you have to suffer with a harsh, uncompromising ride. Depending on how you equip it, the Ram 3500 can be one of the most luxurious pickups on the market.
The 3500 is the top dog in the Ram Truck kennel.
If all you need is a truck that can haul anything you throw at it, the base Ram Tradesman might be right for you. Niceties such as automatic headlights, tow hooks and an audio system with a USB port come standard on even the most modestly equipped 3500. Go up the price ladder and you'll find heated and ventilated seats, premium leather upholstery, LED taillights and a cargo-view camera. Opt for the crew or Mega Cab configurations and you'll find rear legroom to rival that in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class limousine.
In addition to the unique Mega Cab (extra-large crew cab) body style, the Ram 3500 also offers the option of a load-leveling rear air suspension. Available for both single- and dual-rear-wheel trucks, it supplements the 3500's standard leaf spring rear suspension with a dual-mode airbag system that helps level out the rear of the truck whether you're towing or hauling. We also appreciate the Ram 3500's three available engines, including a midrange 6.4-liter gasoline V8 with robust performance that slots beneath the immensely capable (but costly) Cummins turbodiesel inline-6.
The only two competitors in this specialized heavy-duty truck class are the Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD (and its GMC Sierra sibling) and the Ford F-350. Neither come close to the Ram's tremendous 31,000-pound tow rating, but both can tow a significant amount without breaking a sweat. Where the 2016 Ram 3500 really differentiates itself is inside the cabin, thanks to its high-quality materials, impressive array of creature comforts and user-friendly tech features. If you're looking for a big truck that's dependable on the job and still up for a good time on the weekend, the 2016 Ram 3500 is a great choice.
2016 Ram 3500 models
The 2016 Ram 3500 heavy-duty pickup is available in three cab styles: two-door regular, four-door crew cab and four-door Mega Cab (a jumbo crew cab). The regular cab comes with an 8-foot bed only, while the crew cab has either the 8-foot bed or a 6-foot-4 bed. The Mega Cab rides on the same wheelbase as the long-bed crew cab, 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 Ram 3500 is available in six trims. The Tradesman and SLT are available on all three cabs, while the crew cab and Mega Cab Rams also get Big Horn/Lone Star, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited versions.
The Tradesman is the entry-level model and comes with black bumpers and grille, 18-inch (SRW) or 17-inch (DRW) steel wheels, automatic headlights, tow hooks, a limited-slip rear differential, a locking tailgate, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, an electronic vehicle information display, a tire-pressure monitor, a tilt-only steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack. Vinyl upholstery and flooring are standard, but a cloth bench seat is a no-cost option. Power windows and locks (including the locking tailgate) are standard on the crew cab, while regular cabs have manual controls. Available for the Tradesman and geared toward commercial users is "Work Grade" heavy-duty vinyl upholstery.
The SLT adds chrome exterior trim, chrome-clad wheels, an integrated trailer brake controller, power heated mirrors, a power sliding rear window (manual on regular cab), an overhead console, cloth upholstery, carpeted floors, full power accessories, keyless entry, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch touchscreen interface and satellite radio.
Next up is the Big Horn (Lone Star for shoppers in Texas), which includes 18-inch alloy wheels (SRW), chrome grille slats, foglights, remote ignition, a 10-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), premium cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and a 115-volt power outlet.
Stepping up to the Laramie adds 17-inch alloy wheels (DRW), two-tone paint, more chrome trim (including the bumpers), power-folding and auto-dimming exterior mirrors with puddle lights, projector headlights, LED taillights, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, driver memory settings, a six-way power passenger seat (with power lumbar), heated and ventilated front bucket seats, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an upgraded 10-speaker audio system. On the entertainment front, there is an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, a 7-inch color driver information center, satellite radio and Uconnect Access, a subscription-based smartphone app that provides Wi-Fi, voice-to-text messaging and emergency assistance.
The Laramie Longhorn adds to the Laramie's substantial features list by including a chrome mesh grille, cream-colored bumpers, running boards, a spray-in bedliner, remote ignition, a full center console, upgraded leather upholstery, wood interior and steering wheel trim, a navigation system, HD radio, power-adjustable pedals (with memory settings) and heated rear seats.
The 2016 Ram 3500 Laramie Limited comes with luxury-grade trimmings.
The top-tier Laramie Limited adds monotone paint, color-keyed bumpers, 20-inch wheels (SRW), additional chrome exterior trim, automatic high beams, automatic wipers, the RamBox cargo management system (includes bedside storage compartments, an adjustable bed divider and tie-downs), keyless entry and ignition and special black leather upholstery.
Many of the upper trims' features are available on lower trim levels as options. Other option highlights include a load-leveling rear air suspension, a cargo-view camera, fifth-wheel trailer preparation, off-road tires, a CD player and a sunroof.
Performance & mpg
All versions of the 2016 Ram 3500 are available with rear-wheel drive or 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. A 5.7-liter V8 engine with 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet 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. The 6.4-liter V8 produces 410 hp (370 hp in 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 900 lb-ft.
The Cummins comes with a big-rig-like exhaust brake, a useful feature that provides additional stability and braking power when managing very heavy loads.
Depending on body style and rear axle ratio, the Ram 3500 can tow up to 13,910 pounds and haul up to 4,480 pounds with the 5.7-liter V8. The 6.4-liter V8 can handle 16,520 pounds and 7,390 pounds, respectively, while the manual-equipped diesel is rated for 18,510 pounds and 6,680 pounds. With the diesel's regular automatic, those numbers go up to 22,550 pounds and 6,720 pounds. The diesel with the heavy-duty automatic wins top towing honors at 31,210 pounds, though its 6,580-pound hauling capacity is less impressive relative to the other powertrains.
Standard safety equipment for the 2016 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.
Even though the 2016 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 the 3500 stays respectably composed over broken pavement.
One of the few tasks the Ram 3500 can't accomplish easily is fitting into a conventional garage bay.
On the highway, road and wind noise are nicely quelled. The diesel engine is a beast, providing plenty of power for towing and hauling heavy loads. It emits a telltale diesel growl under acceleration, but settles down to a murmur when cruising. We recommend either of the automatic transmissions with the diesel, as the extra torque you get compared to the diesel with the manual gearbox makes a big difference in towing ability.
The interior of the 2016 Ram 3500 is similar to that of the Ram 1500, and the result is the nicest cabin among all heavy-duty 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.
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 thanks to expanded legroom and reclining seatbacks. Interior storage is generous, with plenty of bins and pockets to supplement the dual gloveboxes. The unique RamBox feature places a pair of lockable compartments over the rear fenders adjacent to the truck bed.
Cabin controls are within easy reach and user-friendly, especially when the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen is specified. With large, logically located virtual buttons, reasonably quick processing times and ample functionality for smartphone users, this is one of the best interfaces of its kind in any vehicle. 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.