2017 Ram 3500 Review


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2017 Ram 3500 Overview

Start talking about power in a pickup truck for 2017 and Ram’s heavy-duty full-size 3500 fits right into the conversation. Offered in 3 cab configurations, 6 trim levels, 2 bed lengths, with single or dual rear wheels and a choice of 3 powerplants, the 3500 is a workaholic of prodigious proportions, and even though it can be fitted with a very high-quality cabin, it's not designed for the daily commute or toting the team to soccer practice. It’s a work truck, and proud of it.

Look for the 2017 3500 to come in 6 trim levels: the Tradesman, SLT, Big Horn (Lone Star in Texas), Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited. The Tradesman and SLT are offered in 3 cab configurations: the 3-passenger Regular Cab, the 5/6-passenger Crew Cab, and the roomier 5/6-passenger Mega Cab, with all other editions delivered only in Crew Cab and Mega Cab variations. The Regular Cab 3500 is fitted with an 8.2-foot bed, while the Mega Cab offers a 6.4-foot bed. Crew Cab variants can be delivered with either bed length. All trim levels are available with either standard single or optional dual rear wheels.

In 1933, Dodge began using the ram’s head hood ornament to differentiate its brand. The Dodge Ram 3500 debuted for the 1981 model year, and Ram became a separate brand for 2011. Now in its fourth generation, the 2017 Ram 3500 gains only a single minor upgrade: a new 5-micron cabin air filter. FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Ram's parent company, does say it's taking a cue from Ford and will begin manufacturing its line of full-size pickups with aluminum bodies. The Ram 1500 half-ton is scheduled to be the first truck to get the aluminum body, late in 2017, with the three-quarter-ton Ram 2500 and the 1-ton 3500 heavy-duty models slated to switch to aluminum-clad bodies in 2018.

At the heart of the 2017 Ram 3500 lineup is one of 3 available powerplants. This standard mill is a 383-hp 5.7-liter V8 that mates with a 6-speed automatic transmission to put out 400 lb-ft of torque. Expect max towing numbers, when properly equipped, to mirror the current 17,480 pounds, with payload capacity pegged at 4,042 pounds. A 6.4-liter V8 is optional for the 3500 and, managed by the 6-speed automatic, will throw down 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. Look for towing numbers to max out at 16,520 pounds, with a 7,390-pound payload capacity.

Expect the 2017 Ram 3500 to be eligible for an optional 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 powerplant that comes with one of 3 available transmissions. Mated with the standard 6-speed automatic, this mill puts out 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque. Or there’s an available 6-speed manual transmission that cuts the turbodiesel’s performance figures to 350 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque but increases fuel efficiency. For best-in-class towing power, though, the available heavy-duty Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission has this oil-burner putting out 385 hp and 900 lb-feet of torque, good enough to haul up to 31,210 pounds with a fifth-wheel hitch. Payload numbers run to 6,720 pounds with the standard 6-speed automatic, 6,680 pounds using the 6-speed manual, and 6,580 pounds with the HD 6-speed automatic transmission. Be advised that all performance numbers reflect capabilities with standard RWD and single rear wheels, and that no fuel-efficiency data is available for any heavy-duty truck sold in the U.S.

All 3500 trim levels are delivered with standard rear-wheel drive (RWD), but a part-time 4-wheel-drive (4WD) setup with a 2-speed transfer case and low-range gearing is optional if the job takes you off-road. The base Tradesman comes with a manual 4WD transfer case, while all other trim levels feature an electronic version.

Expect a firm ride from the 3500, especially with the optional 4WD, but this pickup’s unique coil-spring rear suspension keeps even broken pavement (or rocky trails) from getting uncomfortably bumpy, while steering is surprisingly responsive for a heavy-duty hauler.

The 3500 Tradesman trim level offers uncompromisingly basic interior features, but higher trim levels sport comparatively quiet, tasteful, and comfortable cabins that come with user-friendly instruments and controls complemented by soft-touch surfaces, plush leather-trimmed seats with attractive stitching, and premium metallic accents. Even the entry-level Tradesman is delivered with standard cruise control and a tilt-only steering wheel, while higher trims add telescoping tilt-wheel steering. And FCA’s Uconnect infotainment and telematics, which comes standard in all trim levels, is considered one of the best systems available today. Grab the Laramie or higher versions to get a premium 8.4-inch touchscreen with GPS navigation.

Options include a load-leveling rear air suspension, a cargo-box camera, off-road tires, upgraded audio, and the unique RamBox, featuring 2 lockable compartments located over the rear fenders adjacent to the bed. Keyless entry and ignition is also available to all trim levels, as are extras like a spray-in bedliner, a sliding rear window, and chrome tubular side steps, while higher trim levels can be delivered with an available power sunroof.

Standard safety equipment expected aboard the 2017 Ram 3500 will include standard antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, front and, in Crew and Mega Cab versions, rear head curtain airbags, and a post-collision safety system. Higher trim levels are slated to be delivered with a standard rear-view camera and rear parking sensors, along with a remote antitheft alarm.

The 2017 Ram 3500 will challenge GMC’s Sierra 3500 and Chevrolet’s Silverado 3500 pickups, along with Ford’s F-350, for a share of the lucrative heavy-duty pickup market.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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