Most pickup trucks have no problem hauling a few bales of hay or an ATV or two, but if you have a seriously big job, like transporting a bed full of depleted uranium or towing an RV the size of an office building, you need a heavy-duty truck (also known as 3/4- or 1-ton pickups, though in truth they carry much more). Among the few choices you have, we think the Ram 3500 is an excellent one.
In order to haul the massive loads for which it was designed — depending on how it is equipped, the Ram 3500 can carry up to 6,580 pounds in the bed and tow up to 31,210 pounds — the 3500 must do without the coil springs that give its slightly-less-capable sibling, the Ram 2500, a considerably smoother ride. That said, Ram does offer optional load-leveling airbags to supplement the 3500's rear leaf springs. But we don't want you to get the idea that this giant drives like a luxury car. Though it's more comfortable than other heavy-duty pickups, it still rides stiffly, and the overboosted steering is less precise than other lighter-duty Ram pickups. The brake pedal feels a bit spongy, but the Ram 3500 we tested stopped from 60 mph quickly (137 feet) and consistently with no fade despite repeated hard stops.
Engine choices include two gas V8s: A 5.7-liter engine making 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque and a 6.4-liter unit good for 410 hp (370 hp in MegaCab models) and 429 lb-ft. Note that Ram recommends midgrade (89 octane) fuel for the 5.7, while the 6.4 takes regular. The Ram 3500 is arguably best known for the optional 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel, an inline six-cylinder that is basically a scaled-down big-rig engine. The Cummins comes in three power ratings. Trucks with a manual transmission (a rarity among pickups) are rated at 350 hp and 660 lb-ft; with an automatic, the ratings are 370 hp/800 lb-ft and 385 hp/900 lb-ft.
Another aspect of the Ram 3500 that we like is the cabin. It's well trimmed, the front seats are comfortable and the controls are easy to use. We're especially fond of the Uconnect infotainment system, which we consider among the best in the business. Getting in and out is surprisingly effortless (though a step at the rear would do wonders to make access to the bed as easy as access to the cab), visibility is great, and there's plenty of room. This is a first-class truck cab.
Ram offers several choices for 3500 buyers, including three cab sizes, two bed lengths, single or dual rear wheels, and six trim levels ranging from industrial to indulgent: Tradesman, SLT, Big Horn (Lone Star in Texas), Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Limited. Edmunds can help find the perfect 2017 Ram 3500 for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.