2017 Ram 2500 Review


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2017 Ram 2500 Overview

Along with Jeep, the Ram truck brand posts the best sales figures Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has going for it at this point—though Jeep’s sales are far and away the best of any FCA division thanks to both the Wrangler and overall brand loyalty. And as Chrysler pares down its offerings and Dodge increasingly focuses on performance vehicles like the Challenger and Charger, Ram’s ability to move units—and lots of them—becomes all that much more important.

Since being spun off as a separate brand in 2009, Ram has maintained a leading lineup of full-size/heavy-duty pickups and added a couple of successful cargo/passenger vans. With its EcoDiesel engine, the Ram 1500 boasts best-in-class fuel economy (29 mpg) as well as the longest range (754 miles); the Ram 3500 boasts best-in-class towing capacity (31,210 pounds), payload capacity (7,390 pounds), and torque (900 lb-ft with the Cummins turbodiesel engine). So where does the Ram 2500 three-quarter-ton pickup fit into the picture? What makes it special?

The most obvious answer comes in the form of the Power Wagon, a new dedicated off-road pickup that’s based on the 2500 and competes with the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. But for those who don’t want to shell out for such a specialized vehicle, a new 4x4 Off-Road package is available on the regular 2500 for 2017, adding significant off-road capabilities and equipment to the Ram’s generally strong hauling and towing performance. None of the Ram trucks have seen a redesign since they became Ram (and not Dodge) trucks several years ago, though it’s worth bearing in mind that pickups often go years without generational changes. So if the new Off-Road package accounts for most of the changes to the 2017 2500, it’s still a worthwhile update, and, along with the Power Wagon and Ram 1500 Rebel, should help keep the Ram brand competitive.

What exactly does the 4x4 Off-Road package include? A lot on the exterior, for one. It adds large front tow hooks for forward-retrieval duties and large fender flares to keep debris from splattering over the sides of the truck. A transfer case skid-plate shield protects the underbody from potholes or rocks, and special “4x4 Off Road” decals decorate the rear outer corners of both sides of the bed. And you can get the package on any Ram 2500 trim: Tradesman, SLT, Lone Star, Big Horn, Outdoorsman, Powerwagon (not the Power Wagon), and the somewhat confusing Laramie/Laramie Longhorn/Laramie Limited flagship grouping. You can also get the package with the Crew Cab or Mega Cab configuration, a gas or diesel powertrain, and a long or short wheelbase (which affects the bed length).

The 4x4 Off-Road package also beefs up the 2500’s suspension with Bilstein monotube shock absorbers that work with a 5-link coil rear suspension system. Firestone all-terrain tires feature a special tread that helps stuck items break free under rotation, and an anti-spin rear differential aids traction. Hill-descent control finds its way over from the Power Wagon for better handling on those steep, gritty downhill grades.

The engines available for the 2500 can take a bit of sorting out. The base engine is a 5.7-liter V8 producing 383 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. This comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission standard, and a 6-speed manual is available. There’s also a 6.4-liter V8 that comes standard aboard the Powerwagon, putting out 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque while mated to a 6-speed automatic. A pricey 6.7-liter 6-cylinder turbodiesel is available on all trims, though with slightly different power outputs: on most trims, it produces 350 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque; on the Laramie Longhorn, those numbers climb to 370 hp and a massive 800 lb-ft of torque—enough for a max towing capacity of 17,370 pounds for Crew Cab trims. The turbodiesel normally mates with a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual, but it employs a heavy-duty 6-speed automatic when tuned to produce all that extra torque.

Rear-wheel drive (RWD) comes standard on all Ram 2500 trims, with 4-wheel drive (4WD) optional. Base 4WD Tradesman trims employ a manual 2-speed transfer case, while all other 4WD-equipped trims use electronic selection. The Ram 2500 is not tested for fuel economy, so no mileage numbers are available.

The list of features and available options aboard the various 2500 trims is nearly endless. This overabundance is common among pickup trucks these days, and is indeed one of the few ways (maybe the only one) in which you might directly compare them with luxury vehicles. The Laramie trims certainly seem eligible for luxury status, adding everything from leather seating to Alpine premium speakers and front fog/driving lights. The popular RamBox cargo management system is available on all trims, and 2017 vehicles with this option also get a “RamBox holster,” which is basically a built-in gun rack.

There is no available crash-test data for the Ram 2500, because the Ram 2500 is too big to be crash tested. Select safety technologies are available, including front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. But many of today’s more advanced safety features are missing on the 2500, such as blind-spot warning and forward-collision prevention. Arguably, most serious Ram 2500 drivers aren’t as concerned with cutting-edge road-safety tech as are people who drive, say, a Toyota Camry or Honda Civic. Even now, the Ford F-150 remains the only full-size pickup to earn the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick rating.

Ram says 2500 models with the new 4x4 Off-Road package will be available in the third quarter of 2016.

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