2017 Ram 3500

2017 Ram 3500 Review

Is the 2017 Ram 3500 a heavy-duty workhorse? A luxury heavy hauler? A dutiful daily driver? Yes.
4.5 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2017 Ram 3500 is a top pick for a heavy-duty truck thanks to its refined interior, class-leading ride comfort, and tremendous towing and hauling capabilities. If the baby brother 2500 can't meet your towing or hauling needs, the Ram 3500 is the workhorse that can deliver the additional muscle with equal refinement.

Like the 1500 and 2500, the Ram 3500 is available in several different configurations involving cabin, powertrain and box length choices, but it offers superior towing and hauling abilities.

There are few competitors in this segment, but none have one of the Ram's best features: an optional rear air suspension with automatic load-leveling that makes it easy to haul big cargo with confidence and comfort.



What's new for 2017

For 2017, the Ram 3500 carries over unchanged.

We recommend

Given the multiple ways to configure a Ram 3500, it's tricky to recommend any single trim. Need a dependable daily truck that doesn't require much fuss? The Tradesman with a split bench seat and power accessories. Need something comfortable to take clients to job sites or pull the toy hauler in style? The Laramie Longhorn or Limited with the 5th Wheel/Towing Prep pack will do. A daily driver that can do weekend dirty work? The SLT Crew Cab with a short bed. Whatever your needs, there's likely a Ram 3500 to suit it.



Trim levels & features

Like many heavy-duty pickups, the 2017 Ram 3500 is available in multiple configurations. There are three cab styles, two bed lengths, three engines, two transmissions, and six trim levels: Tradesman, SLT, Big Horn/Lone Star, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited. At one end of the spectrum is the Tradesman, a minimal-frills workhorse. At the other, the Limited, which widens the boundaries of big-truck luxury.

Cab styles include a two-door regular cab, a four-door crew cab, and a four-door jumbo crew cab called Mega Cab. The regular cab comes with an 8-foot bed only, while the crew cab has either the long bed or a short bed (6 feet 4 inches). The Mega Cab rides on the same wheelbase as the crew-cab long bed but combines an even bigger cabin with the short bed.

Most 3500s come with a 5.7-liter V8 gasoline engine (383 horsepower, 400 pound-feet of torque) paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A modified version of this engine runs on compressed natural gas and produces identical power figures to the gasoline version.

The 3500 is available with either rear-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive. There are two optional engines: A 6.4-liter V8 (410 hp, 429 lb-ft of torque) paired to a six-speed automatic transmission and a turbocharged 6.7-liter diesel six-cylinder. The latter makes 350 hp and 660 lb-ft when matched to a six-speed manual transmission. When paired with a six-speed automatic, those numbers are 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque. There's even a heavy-duty six-speed auto that churns out 385 hp and 900 pound-feet.

Tradesman and SLT trims are available with all three cabs, while the Big Horn/Lone Star, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Limited versions can only be ordered with crew and Mega cabs.

The Tradesman is the most basic trim and comes with 17-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, black grille and bumpers, a locking tailgate, a 40/20/40-split front bench, a tilt-only steering wheel, and a six-speaker stereo with a USB port and an auxiliary audio input. 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 crew-cab models, as are power heated mirrors. Regular cabs have manual controls and non-heated mirrors by default. Available for the Tradesman and geared toward commercial users is Work Grade heavy-duty vinyl upholstery.

The SLT adds chrome exterior trim, 18-inch steel wheels, an integrated trailer brake controller, power heated mirrors, a power-sliding rear window (manual on regular cabs), keyless entry, an overhead console, cloth upholstery, carpeted floors, full power accessories, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch touchscreen interface and satellite radio.

The Big Horn (Lone Star for shoppers in Texas) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, chrome grille slats, foglights, remote ignition, a 115-volt power outlet, a 10-way power driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment), premium cloth upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

The Laramie builds off the Big Horn/Lone Star and adds a standard 6.4-liter V8, two-tone paint, more chrome trim (including the bumpers), projector headlights, LED taillights, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, driver-seat memory settings, a six-way power front passenger seat (with power lumbar adjustment), heated and ventilated front bucket seats, a heated steering wheel and a 10-speaker surround-sound audio system. The limited-slip differential is dropped as standard equipment but is available as an option.

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, power-adjustable pedals (with memory settings), heated rear seats, a navigation system and HD radio.

The Limited trim adds monotone paint, color-keyed bumpers, 20-inch wheels, 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 upper trim features are available on lower trim levels as options. Other option highlights include a load-leveling suspension, a cargo-view camera, fifth-wheel trailer preparation, off-road tires, a CD player and a sunroof.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2014 Ram 3500 SLT Crew Cab (6.7L inline-6 turbodiesel; 4x4; 6-speed automatic; 8.2-ft bed). NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Ram 3500 has received minor revisions. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Ram 3500.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.5 / 5

Driving

4.0 / 5

Acceleration3.0 / 5
Braking4.5 / 5
Steering2.0 / 5
Handling4.5 / 5
Drivability4.0 / 5

Comfort

5.0 / 5

Seat comfort4.5 / 5
Ride comfort4.5 / 5
Noise & vibration5.0 / 5

Interior

4.5 / 5

Ease of use5.0 / 5
Getting in/getting out5.0 / 5
Roominess4.0 / 5
Visibility4.0 / 5

Driving4.0

The Ram 3500 DRW (Dual Rear Wheels, or dually) diesel shines in braking and handling. We were a bit let down by the overboosted steering, and keep in mind you need to order the heavy-duty automatic to get the engine's highest torque rating.

Acceleration3.0

While Ford and GM use V8 diesels, Ram uses an inline-six. We tested the 3500 with the high-output version (385 horsepower and 850 pound-feet at the time; 2017 output is 900 lb-ft). At our test track, the big truck accelerated to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds.

Braking4.5

As with most trucks designed for towing, the brake pedal was spongy with a long travel, hurting confidence in around-town stopping. But it whoa-ed down from 60 mph in 137 feet, with incredibly consistent stops and zero pedal fade.

Steering2.0

Rams usually exhibit sharper steering than this 3500, which lacked feel and had too much power assist. It still went where we pointed it; it just required much wheel turning to get there, due in part to the long wheelbase.

Handling4.5

Our truck's optional dual rear wheels gave the Ram great stability through corners, and the stiff suspension exhibited little body lean. As expected, some midcorner bumps will upset the rear because of the non-independent suspension.

Drivability4.0

The exhaust brake does a nice job slowing the truck on downhills, and that's helpful because using the column-lever manual shifting buttons doesn't always result in a downshift. It sounds cool, too. The transmission will hold one gear up long grades thanks to all that torque.

Off-road3.5

The 4x4 system on the Ram 3500 dually is intended more for fire roads, snow and muddy farm work. A truck like this is way too big to tackle any kind of real rock-climbing activity like you might throw at a Jeep.

Comfort5.0

You can't expect a truck with a 5,600-pound payload capacity, which can seemingly tow a house, to drive like a crossover SUV. But the Ram is perhaps the smoothest-riding pickup in the heavy-duty segment, aided by comfy, supportive front seats. The cabin is supremely quiet as well.

Seat comfort4.5

The front seats are well padded and covered with grippy cloth, and they have some lateral support for cornering. The armrests have thick padding. The rear seats are not quite as plush, and the seatback is a bit upright. The middle seat is comfortable enough for short trips.

Ride comfort4.5

The optional load-leveling rear air suspension is there for towing, not comfort. Although the ride isn't pillowy, it's still smoother than rivals. The rear can get bouncy over certain freeway sections, but it takes a big hit to upset this truck.

Noise & vibration5.0

The diesel engine is impressively quiet at idle, with barely any diesel noise evident at highway speeds. The tires are virtually noiseless, even over coarse pavement, and there's minimal wind noise, even with wide side mirrors.

Interior4.5

The Ram's interior has modern styling with user-friendly controls, including the best-in-segment Uconnect system. The cabin is open and airy and easy to see out of. It doesn't sit too high off the ground, even though it's a 3500. Ram needs to add a damped tailgate and some form of bumper step.

Ease of use5.0

This interior is as good as it gets as far as trucks go. The touchscreen/infotainment system is easy to use, the climate control system has large knobs and buttons, and the audio system has knobs for volume and tuning. The steering wheel buttons will seem small if you're wearing gloves.

Getting in/getting out5.0

It doesn't ride as high as you'd guess for a 3500. Perfectly placed grab handles plus the optional side steps help you get in, as do the large door openings. The rear doors open nearly 90 degrees, and there are grab handles. But it's a bit more of a hop to get into the rear than the front.

Roominess4.0

Lots of headroom for cowboy hats, plus plenty of elbow space on the huge center armrest. Rear headroom isn't super-abundant and could be tight for the tall-of-torso, but everyone else will be fine. Plenty of legroom, plus excellent toe room under the front seat.

Visibility4.0

The relatively narrow roof pillars make for easy outward viewing, plus all the side windows are nice and tall. The optional backup camera in the rearview mirror is tiny, though at least it has parking lines. Rear parking sensors are optional.

Quality

The exterior gaps and paint quality are good. Inside, solid material and design choices give off a premium vibe. The quietness suggests there's no scrimping in unseen places.

Utility

The 2017 Ram 3500 is all about towing, hauling and bed capacity. There's nothing dramatic — just either a massive 8-foot long bed or the more convenient 6-foot-4-inch short bed.

Small-item storage

There are generously sized pockets in all four doors plus handy storage wells hidden under the rear floor mats. The Ram gives you plenty of bins and pockets to supplement the dual gloveboxes.

Cargo space4.0

The door pockets are narrow but long with two bottleholders each. The 3500 has a sliding front bin, a large armrest bin with USB, an auxiliary input, a 12-volt charger and SD card slot. Unlike the competition, the Ram does not have a damped tailgate or any kind of bumper step.

Towing5.0

This is a pretty unstoppable combination that can tow up to 31,210 pounds, with various stops in between (13,910 pounds with the smaller V8 or 16,370 pounds with the 6.4-liter, for example).

Hauling

The Ram 3500 with the diesel and the heavy-duty automatic transmission can haul up to 6,580 pounds (regular cab configuration).

Technology

Large, logically located virtual buttons, reasonably quick response times and ample functionality for smartphone users make the Ram 3500's 8.4-inch touchscreen one of the best examples in almost any vehicle.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.