THE NEW CREWS
2010 Doge Ram Crew Cabs bring enhanced performance to the work/recreational towing table
by Bruce W. Smith
Often it’s small refinements that make the biggest difference in the outcome; a tweak here and a change there can turn a product or service from being average to exceptional. Such can be said of the 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy-Duty pickups.
More specifically, the refinements shown in the new 2500/3500 Crew Cab, which now firmly roots Dodge as a major player in the rapidly growing four-door heavy-duty pickup market, make it significantly better than the Quad Cabs it replaces.
Dodge has offered four-door Quad Cab pickups for years. But the rear doors were more ¾-size than full. The new Crew Cab, which replaces the Quad Cab of old, has full-size doors along with a long list of refinements and new features owners who use their pickups for work and recreation will appreciate.
“This is the continuation of the reinvention of our Ram Brand lineup,” says Fred Diaz, president and chief executive officer–Dodge Ram Brand, Chrysler Group.
“During the past five years, Dodge has gained market share in the heavy-duty pickup segment, and to stay on that track, Ram keeps innovating. Our new 2010 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups will continue to build on our momentum.”
We took advantage of a ride-and-drive opportunity in San Antonio, Texas, to see first-hand how the engineering and design changes come together in the 2010 Heavy-Duty Rams. The fleet of upper trim level (SLT, Laramie, TRX) 2500/3500 Ram Crews we drove ranged from two-wheel-drive, Hemi-powered models to Cummins-powered 4×4 Duallys. We drove them empty and loaded, on road and off.
The Heavy-Duty Rams, which have been in dealerships since mid-November, are more refined and capable than the models they replace. You notice the difference before you even open the doors.
The front bumpers are taller and more akin to those found on big rigs. The hoods are taller and have louvers running down each side of the center bulge. The tow hook openings are larger; the grille taller; the front fenders and headlights match those of the Ram 1500; and the Dually rear fenders are now one-piece, giving the big daddy of Dodge tow vehicles a more refined appearance.
The four doors also take on the same styling cues as the light-duty Ram 1500, reducing wind noise and giving the cab a smoother, sleeker look. The bed rails are now covered with caps, and the tailgate is sculpted adding to the new Crews’ appeal.
Inside we found even more changes to our liking. Many of the nice creature comfort and convenience features introduced in the ’09 Ram 1500, such as the well-bolstered seats, multiple storage compartments, soft-feel interior coverings, and available two-tier center console, have been adopted in the new Heavy-Duty Crew Cabs.
The 2010 Ram Mega Cab further enhances comfort by adding another nine inches to the back of the cab. Such extra space increases storage space along with extra leg room in the back to go with the reclining rear seats.
RICH IN DESIGN
The feeling of richness fills your senses when you buckle into either of the higher-end Crew Cab or Mega Cab models. In fact it didn’t take but a minute to get really comfortable in the Laramie 4×4 2500 and 3500 SLT Dually models I drove. The seats were supportive in the right places, and the armrests and dash no longer exuded the cheap, hard plastic feel often found in many of today’s pickups.
The interior was nicely laid out with storage compartments and nooks everywhere, including a dual glovebox. Plug-ins for accessories, like the cell phone charger and laptop were in the right locations as was the 120-volt inverter plug on the dash. Cup and bottle holders were plentiful, the dash easily read, and the controls made for big hands. It’s a truck you feel good in because everything fits.
That feeling is further enhanced as the miles roll beneath the wheels. The new Crew is significantly smoother, quieter, and overall more comfortable than its heavy-duty predecessor. There’s little noise or vibration intruding into the cab, so much so you feel like you’re in an office more than cooped up in a truck cab.
The big Ram’s refined ride quality is due in part to the nicer seats and reduction of wind noise though the small body styling changes and improved sound insulation between cab and engine compartment.
But it’s the fine-tuning of the connection between the cab and chassis with fluid-filled mounts and suspension components that significantly reduced the jitters and shakes felt in the old Quad Cabs—especially driving unloaded.
MUSCLE FOR WORK & PLAY
When it comes to work capability, the new Crews leave little doubt they can handle any task thrown their way.
Heavy-Duty Rams come standard with the 5.7L Hemi delivering 383hp and 400 foot-pounds of torque behind a heavy-duty five-speed automatic. But the majority of HD Ram buyers opt for the Cummins package ($7,500) with its 6.7L turbo diesel backed with either the standard six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
The Cummins six generates 350 horses at 3,000 rpm and a trailer-slinging 650 foot-pounds of torque at 1,500rpm. Furthermore, Dodge says the 6.7L Cummins surpasses 2010 emissions requirements in all 50 states, has an oil change interval of 7,500 miles, and a life-to-major overhaul interval of 350,000 miles, 100,000 miles more than its closest competitor.
The engine’s low-end torque is massive and whether empty or loaded, the truck moves out briskly with no sense of turbo lag. It’s also content at freeway speeds; we found ourselves watching the speedometer a lot to keep from rolling well above the posted speed limits.
That power and durability can be put to use if you load the new Rams to the maximum hauling and trailering limits, both of which set new levels for the Ram Brand.
The 2500 and 3500 Rams can tow up to 5,000 pounds on the Class IV receiver hitch, which is standard on the truck. When properly equipped with a weight-distributing hitch, or gooseneck, which Mopar offers as a dealer-installed accessory, the new Ram Crew 2500 2WD can tow trailers up to 13,450 pounds and payloads up to 3,160 pounds.
(The 4×4 models lose about 700 pounds capacity across the board because of the added drivetrain components.)
If greater load-moving capacity is needed, the 2WD Cummins-powered 3500 Dually Crew Cab is king of the four-door parking lot with a maximum towing capacity of 17,150 pounds and a payload of 4,280 pounds in the 2WD ST (base-model). All Cummins models come with a factory integrated exhaust brake, too.
Those numbers are up several hundred pounds across the board thanks to small changes in suspension and brake enhancements.
“We went all over the country to learn how people really use their heavy-duty trucks at work and play,” Diaz told us during the driving session. “We did our research with a cross-functional team, and what we learned, we brought to the process of creating the all-new 2010 Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy-Duty pickups.”
(Dodge is planning on extending the reach into the medium-duty market as well with the introduction of a “new crew” of commercial-grade work trucks: the new 2011 Dodge Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs.)
As for pricing, Ram is pushing hard to make the new Crew Cab offerings quite attractive: The base model ST 4×2 is $1,970 less than the 2009 model it replaces, and the 4×4 models $40 less.
So across the board it seems you’ll be able to get into a 2010 Ram Crew Cab for less than a comparable 2009 Quad Cab—and reap all the benefits that come as a result the new Crew’s refinements.