Ram Truck has collaborated with Cummins to up the output of the 6.7-liter Turbo Diesel to 1,000 lb.-ft. The High Output Cummins, with 400 horsepower, and two others are now available in 2019-model Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups.
Ram says the newest version of the Cummins I-6 is the strongest available in the heavy-duty pickups segment, and enables the highest tow and payload ratings: 35,100 pounds and 7,680 pounds, respectively. Of course, those numbers are subject to supersession by Ford and General Motors as the three have regularly leap-frogged over each other.
I found that the big pickups are also some of the nicest driving machines to be had anywhere. When towing or hauling, I could barely feel the loads whether on the level or when climbing or descending hills, and on curvy roads and straight-aways. Credit sophisticated suspension components and liberal use of high-strength steel in mainframes, our hosts told us. And even at the lowest trim level, there’s more than adequate comfort and convenience, though I had to look hard for something resembling a hose-out interior, which Ram calls the Tradesman. Most buyers tend to load up their trucks with options before they load them with cargo to haul.
“In this segment they check the boxes,” said Dave Elshoff, who heads communications for the Ram brand. Very few trucks leave the factory in plain vanilla form, whether painted white or anything else. Thus most of our sample trucks, no matter what each of the six series was called, had fancy interiors and rich color screened electronics that provided powertrain information, navigation and connectivity that younger buyers covet. Much equipment and most styling details coming from the previously introduced Ram 1500s. And most trucks had something to carry as well as show off and brag about.
I took a Ram 2500 pulling a platform trailer with a couple of pallets of cinder blocks strapped aboard. The trailer weighed 10,150 pounds, a relatively paltry number, and its Cummins diesel was the standard 370 horsepower and 850 lb.-ft. (photo below), driving through a Chrysler TorqueFlite 6-speed automatic, noted Rod Romain, chief engineer for the Heavy Duty series.
This 2500 rode well over rough ground, though not quite as well as those with the four-point air suspension whose rear bags can be deflated and inflated to ease hooking up and dropping off trailers.
The High-Output Cummins, by the way, gets a stronger Aisen 6-speed automatic. The other trucks I drove this day had the lower-rated Cummins I-6 or a 6.4-liter, 410-horsepower/429-lb.ft. Hemi gasoline V-8, the latter with a corporate 8-speed automatic.
I also drove a 3500 dually with a 14,000-pound fifth-wheel dump trailer carrying bags of landscaping rocks. Again, I barely felt it back there. I did note that the transmission tried to keep the engine between 1,700 and 2,000 rpm, but the Cummins’ revs rose to 3,000 or so when climbing hills; Hemi gas V-8s in other trucks revved to 5,000 and more when pushed. Engaging the Tow/Haul mode and the diesel’s exhaust brake prompted downshifts on downgrades that, with smooth and strong disc brakes, easily kept the combination in hand. “What a sweet ride,” I caught myself saying several times. And that’s what the ’19-model Rams are.