2019 Ram 3500 Review

2019 Ram 3500 - RAM's revamp raises expectations BIG time


Earlier this year, a light-duty RAM 1500 pickup stock full
of sweeping changes for the 2019 model year, arrived for test spin. 
Its BIG brash brother showed up last month sporting all the next-generation bells
and whistles 1500 proudly promotes with added towing and low-end torque

The 2019 fifth-generation RAM
1500 light duty made its world debut at last year's 2018 North American
International Auto Show in Detroit while all-new, next-generation heavy-duty
(2500 and 3500) versions took center stage this past January at the same show.

leading the cheers during the 2019 media preview of the all-new 3500, Reid
Bigland, RAM Brand Manager commented, "Simply stated, the RAM heavy-duty
3500 will out power, out tow and out haul every other heavy duty pickup on the

All-new 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty RAM pickups
get packed with 35 all-new and 21 class-exclusive features when compared with
outgoing 2018 efforts. Ram's 3500 frame now includes greater percentage of
lighter weight high strength steel improving durability and reducing overall
weight by approximately 143 pounds.

Our posh, Laramie
Longhorn 3500 4 x 4 Crew Cab Long Bed tester includes all the heavy-duty
amenities one expects from nearly 22-foot long RAM pickup, but with upscale
warm, brown leather Southwest-inspired interior tones and extra chrome donning
the massive exterior.

Indoor accommodations remain on par
with just about any luxury-appointed sedan or crossover with soft, hand-wrapped
100-percenet leather adorning all four doors and a new alligator skin-embossed
surface covering the center console, instrument panel doors and seats. Barn
wood accents are interspersed throughout the cabin. Laramie Longhorn's Crew
Cabs easily includes room for five adults with very supportive and comfy front

Map holders adorning backsides of front
bucket seats include a saddle bag look with buckle to match.  Heated
rear seats come standard in the Longhorn Laramie edition with seat cushions
folding up in a "V" fashion (with no passengers present, of course),
opening up a sizeable, dry region for transporting cargo.

3500 Laramie Longhorn editions distinguish upfront with a prominent six-slat
horizontal chrome grille with RAM stamped in the middle. RAM grilles grow 30
percent larger compared with outgoing 2018s. Flanking the can't-miss grille;
premium bejeweled LED lamps with RAM's adaptive front lighting system, moving
in sync with steering wheel maneuvers. Side running boards come standard while
our tester upgraded to recommended power folding varieties.

addition to our luxury-appointed Laramie Longhorn trim, RAM 3500 offers
Tradesman, Big Horn, Laramie, Lone Star and Limited.  Three cab sizes
(Regular, Mega and Crew Cabs) are offered in Tradesman and Big
Horn.   Remaining trims suffice with roomier Mega and Crew

Mega cabs remain exclusive to heavy duty 2500 and
3500 and measure slightly larger (11.1 inches longer) than full-size four-door
Crew Cabs with additional storage space behind second row backrests. Mega Cab
rear seats also include a reclining feature. Mega cabs add $1,500 to bottom
lines while exclusive to 4 x 4 short bed editions.

offers Dual Rear Wheels, two pairs of wheels on the rear axle, in select 3500,
4500 and 5500 pickups, enhancing towing abilities. Our tester, complete with
DRW, enjoyed the added benefit of beefier flared rear fenders to house the two
extra orbs.

Our Laramie Longhorn tester started at $60,750
with a bottom line of $73,150 after options and a $1,695 destination
charge.  Tradesman 3500 trims start at $35,095.

bed length choices include a six-foot, four-inch variety or a longer
eight-footer.  Two heavy-duty engine selections include a standard
6.4-liter, naturally-aspirated Hemi V-8 pumping out a class-leading 410 horses
and 428 lb.-ft. of low-end torque with the industry's first heavy-duty
eight-speed automatic transmission.

Optional is a new
Cummins 6.7-liter inline six high output turbo diesel generating 400 horsepower
and a thumping 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque and 35,100 pounds of towing capacity.
This turbo diesel weighs 60 pounds less than the previous generation yet
delivers increased power and torque.  Our Laramie Longhorn tester with
the naturally-aspirated 6.4-liter V-8 was capable of towing about half that
(18,210 pounds).

If any doubt existed that this beast
qualifies as heavy duty, one look at the window sticker provides undeniable
proof.  The upper right-hand corner, the customary home of
city/highway fuel estimates, is notably absent of any digits. 
Instead, the "Heavy-duty vehicle, no label required" disclaimer fills
the area. The Environmental Protection Agency allows work trucks weighing over
a certain tonnage, to forego listing fuel
numbers.     It's a polite wink of the eye
that RAM 3500 enjoys a good sip of gas while working.  Its sizeable
31.1 gallon tank utilizes regular 87-unleaded regular.  

fill-ups detailing gallons utilized during our week of testing divided into the
miles driven with the 6.4-liter V-8 revealed an estimated 17.1 miles per gallon
of combined city/highway travel. On par with a recently tested V-8 powered
full-sized Lexus LX 570 SUV. RAM's Hemi V-8 enjoys cylinder deactivation,
stretching highway fuel estimates by resting some cylinders at cruising speeds.

For such a large, long vehicle, steering feel remains
relatively light during lane changes and other highway maneuvers.  The
ride, however, can feel truck-like and bouncy, making treks over speed bumps
mimic sensations encountered in a bouncy house especially when not towing a

RAM 3500 continues with older-school rear leaf
suspension, important for HD towing, but not as civil as RAM 1500's coil spring
rear suspension. However, four-corner air suspension is an available option in
both.  Introduced in 2013, this feature smooths out long-distance
travel, ideal for those spending more time on rather than off road.

tailgate not only includes a damper, gently guiding the hinged door downward
rather than a disarming 'thud,' but an electronic latch and lock mechanism
allows a tailgate drop via a push of a key-fob button or interior dash button.

IMAX-like, optional, portrait-style 12-inch in-dash multi-function screen (the
segment's largest) centers the long, straight-across dash. This touch screen
incorporates one of the industry's top user-friendly designs with well-marked
buttons, logical tutorials and finger-tip activated secondary volume and preset
toggle bars located on the steering wheel's back side.  Standard
across the board, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing cell phone feeds and
interaction with the 12-inch screen.  

Dual glove
boxes on the dashboard's far right side add to generous storage opportunities.

push-button start comes standard, and resides high upon the dash. The system
includes visual 'run' and 'off' illuminations framing the button, a useful
reminder indicating the current engine state.  Nearby, electronic,
on-demand, push buttons shifting from rear-drive to four-wheel drive (high and
low), is available.

Upgraded calipers, boosters and master
cylinder got put to the test during a high-stakes braking situation. 
A pesky, two-seat convertible, ignoring stop sign protocol, necessitated a
brake slam bringing our air-craft carrier like beast to an admirably quick stop
with no bent high-strength steel.  Nice Job.

traditional Big Three domestic automakers have invested significantly in their
light-duty (1500) and heavy-duty (2500, 3500) pickup trucks of late. 
These investments return hefty profits while polishing brand image and
enhancing brand loyalty. Full-size light and heavy duty truck buyers remain
fiercely loyal to their beloved work mates, more so than any other category.

trucks became a stand-alone division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), in
2009, splitting from the sporty Dodge brand.   In 2012, RAM
introduced its dedicated Commercial Truck Division to better promote the
growing and emerging cargo van market.

At a Glance

RAM 3500 Longhorn Crew Cab

Price as tested: $73,150

6.4-liter HEMI V-8

Horsepower: 410

149 inches

Overall Width:  83.5 inches

Height:   78.3 inches

Powertrain Warranty:
Five year/60,000 miles

Fuel economy: 17.1 mpg combined


Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.