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2014 Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty First Impressions

"Give me 40 acres and I'll turn this rig around" or so the song goes. With apologies to Chrysler (and the Willis Brothers) the 2014 Ram 3500 isn't quite that big -- but it sure feels that way.

It does, however, boast the biggest tow-rating of any production consumer truck on the market: a whopping 16,608 (or 30,000lb) and a payload up to 3,320 kg (7,320lb).

What is the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty
Badged previously as "Dodge," Chrysler's pickup division now goes simply by the name "Ram." Heavy Duty models are built to withstand the rigours of a gruelling workday, and meet the tough towing expectations of their owners.

Chrysler claims they now have the most comprehensive lineup in Ram history, rising from 48 points in 2007 to 78 in 2013 in Consumer Reports due to customer needs fulfillment. The big news for 2014 is a beefed-up version of the coil-link rear suspension and optional rear air suspension that debuted in the light duty Ram, as well as a new 6.4L Hemi engine.

2014 Ram Heavy Duty Price and Specs
There are multiple ways to configure a Heavy Duty Ram starting with the 2500, which has a base model ST price of $32,495 up to the range-topping Laramie Longhorn at $52,495.

Heavy Duty 3500 ST models start at $34,495 with the Laramie Longhorn topping out at $58,495. There are short- and long-box lengths, three wheelbase lengths and regular, crew cab and mega cab configurations. There are myriad ways to option up and personalize your Ram from trailer-tow packaging to side steps to rear backup cameras.
Three powertrains are available: the familiar 5.7L Hemi producing 383 hp/400 lb-ft, a new 6.4L Hemi developed solely for the Ram truck lineup with 410 hp and 429 lb–ft, and the 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel. The diesel can be had with a 6-speed manual transmission, where it produces 350 hp and 660 lb-ft or a 6-speed automatic transmission producing 370 hp and a stupefying 800 lb-ft of torque.

There are two four-wheel drive systems available on the 2014 Ram, an electric shifting part-time transfer case and a manual shifting transfer case, both with a locking 11.5" differential.

Driving the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty
"Go big or go home," they say. So, we hopped behind the wheel of a 2014 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Dually powered by the Cummins diesel. The perfect machine for the wealthy ranch owner, this huge pickup can tow 16,608 kg (30,000lb). Trailer hitching is simplified by lowering the rear end via the air suspension, which also automatically levels the load while towing. The trailer can be monitored en route via a camera function in the UConnect graphics display. A backup camera appears in the rearview mirror while reversing, while the tire pressure monitoring system displays all six of the duallie's tires.

We tried our hand at towing loads of hay and a flatbed loaded with a farm trailer -- all of which the big Ram towed with relative ease. To put it into perspective, the 3500's tow rating of 13,608 kg is the equivalent of 12 Fiat 500s, 909 cases of beer or a 51-foot yacht. The colossal towing capacity was achieved through a new extra-stiff frame that can manage extra payloads, extra cooling, and air-feeding technologies in the engine.

On the highway, the 3500 is like manhandling a bull elephant around a slalom course. With 850 lb-ft of torque, it's damn quick. There's not much clatter from the 6.7L Cummins, whose engine management system has finely tuned the injectors to the point where there's little fuel wasted in the combustion process. Giant, elephant-ear mirrors are a great help when towing big loads.

Inside and Out of the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty
Ryan Nagode, Chief Designer for SRT/Ram/Fiat said: "We started with a really good truck, 2014 hits all the points we saw most in customer feedback. As Ram brand is growing we see more need to differentiate between our products."

Moving up through the trim lines, there are various distinguishing features from trim-specific grills to bezel colours on the centre graphics display screen.

The slab-sided 2014 Ram features very little side-badging, making the application of commercial signage very easy.

Interiors start with functionally comfortable and go up to luxuriously embellished. We drove a fully optioned 2014 Ram 2500 Longhorn Laramie with an interior as fine as any hand-tooled saddlery. Console and seats featured the stamped logo, while seatback pockets resembled buckled saddlebags.

Genuine wood trim sourced from vintage fence posts bears the beautifully burled scars of rusted-away barbed wire, and badging is etched and scrolled like fine silver.

Knobs are large and functional in this working truck, and unlike the light duty models with their rotary dial gear selector, the heavy duty Ram has a column-mounted shifter.

Comparing the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty
The 2014 Ram HD outguns all of its competition when it comes to towing, with its 3500 series offering greater tow and payload rating than the Ford F-350 or Silverado/GMC Sierra 3500. Its colossal tow rating even outshines Ford's big F-450. Ram is the only one in its segment to offer the rear air-suspension setup, as well.
 

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