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Ram 3500By Frank S. Washington
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. – Ram, formerly Dodge Ram, has seen its share of the pickup truck market grow from 11percent in 2009 when it separated from Dodge  to19 percent today as a stand-alone brand.
And as Ram continues its assault on the segment with a new round of products, the truck brand used four philosophies to bring a new bevy of pickups to market: fuel economy, payload, power and towing.
They should have added exclusivity in there too. For 2014, Ram adds a small displacement diesel engine. The 2014 Ram 1500 can be equipped with a 3.0-liter diesel that generates 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.
Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, this pickup truck will truly be one-of-a-kind. On a route that traversed the twisting two-lane roads through Decker Canyon, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel never struggled getting up and over the mountainous roads and the transmission held the right gear at the right time.
The Ram EcoDiesel is expected get more than 25 mpg on the highway. It will have a towing capacity of 9,200 lbs. And the Ram can be equipped with UConnect that is capable of turning the truck into a WiFi hotspot.
There are two other engine choices for the Ram 1500. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 makes 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The 5.7-liter HEMI V8 makes 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. Prices start at $25,295.
Our test vehicle was the Laramie Crew Cab 4X4. In addition to UConnect, it also had an air suspension and the Ram Box Cargo Management System. The truck had a base price of $44,925; as tested it cost $55,205.
The new Ram heavy duty pickups bring a bigger HEMI V8 to market that makes 410 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. The standard 5.7-liter V8 makes 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.
And the big daddy, so to speak, of Ram’s three-quarter ton heavy duty pickup powerplants is the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel. It comes in three versions: a six-speed manual gearbox mated to the 350 horsepower Cummins that makes 660 pound-feet of torque at 1,400 RPM.
The first six-speed automatic option makes 370 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque; the second six-speed automatic makes 385 horsepower and Ram said a best in class 850 pound-feet of torque.
The 3500 Ram with the most powerful Cummins Diesel can tow 30,000 lbs. We briefly towed a large tractor with trailer. It wasn’t far but it was enough to signal that the heavy duty Ram diesel could do the job.
We didn’t get the opportunity to drive the 6.4-liter V8 but we did get behind the wheel of the Ram 2500 with the 6.7-liter Cummins Diesel that made 370 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque.
Power rippled to the pavement through the six-speed automatic gear box. Equipment like the side view mirrors and thick steering wheel and the suspension gave away the 2500’s size. It got through the mountainous canyons here without a hitch. But the narrowness of the lanes, the sharp turns and the altitude involved are not something that would calm the nerves until you got used to it.
This test truck too was the Ram Laramie trim line. It featured real wood trim, leather, French stitching and wheel-to-wheel side steps. Heavy duty prices start at $30,695. Our Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 was base priced at $52,200. With options, the sticker was $66,200.
Both the EcoDiesel and the Ram Heavy Duty trucks had UConnect. In addition to WiFi, the system connects to select Internet radio station using smartphones. UConnect services can be controlled from the 8.4-inch touch screen.
With each incremental improvement coupled with giant leaps in technology, Ram takes more customers away from all of its competitors. Now on sale, the new Ram’s conquest of customers will likely continue.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.


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