Update #1 July-28-2009 19:27 PDT:
The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 adds a new 3.21 rear axle option for all three cab configurations equipped with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and two-wheel drive only. The taller (numerically lower) final drive ratio is similar to the rear axle size that GM and Ford offer in their XFE (3.08) and former SFE (3.15) fuel efficiency pickups.
Adding a new rear axle is a relatively easy way to help improve fuel economy however Dodge (for now) has restated last year's 14/20 mpg city/highway EPA gas mileage ratings for two-wheel drive 5.7-liter half-ton Rams. Could we see a slight fuel economy bump later in the year? Stay tuned.
A regular cab Ram 1500 with a 3.21 rear axle is rated to tow up to 6,100 pounds with 17-inch wheels or up to 5,900 pounds with 20-inch wheels. The Crew Cab can pull up to 5,700 pounds and a Quad Cab can tow up to 5,800 pounds. A 17-inch wheel is the only wheel option for the Quad Cab and Crew Cab configurations.
All Ram 1500 trucks with 3.21 axles have an 11,000 pound GCWR.
Following last year’s top-to-bottom redesign of the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck, the upgrades continue in 2010, including a significant bump in maximum trailer towing and a marginal increase in payload.
To achieve the higher numbers, Dodge has increased the half-ton Ram’s maximum gross combined weight rating by 1,500 pounds, to 15,500 pounds. GCWR is the maximum allowable weight, including cargo and passengers, that a pickup pulling a trailer can handle without risking damage.
The increased GCWR gives the Ram a new 10,450-pound maximum towing capacity for the regular cab, long-bed, two-wheel-drive model with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. It also requires a 3.92 rear axle and 17-inch wheels.
Last year’s Ram with an identical configuration was only rated to tow up to 9,100 pounds, a figure that drew some criticism from serious light-duty towers and smack talk from other manufactures because the new Ram had the lowest rating in the segment.
Chrysler’s response was that the Ram’s exclusive coil-spring rear suspension gave the Ram much improved ride quality versus the competition (something we wholeheartedly agree with), and that truck buyers who need to tow more than 10,000 pounds should look to the heavy-duty segment to find the right truck to meet their needs. At its introduction last year, Scott Kunselman, then Chrysler’s vice president of body-on-frame products, told PickupTrucks.com that Chrysler’s research during Ram 1500 development showed that 80 percent of light-duty owners towed trailers weighing less than 6,000 pounds. Chrysler didn’t see the need to chase seemingly endless increases in maximum towing figures in the half-ton segment.
Interestingly, Dodge achieved the towing increase without any hardware changes, such as the introduction of heavier-duty springs and shocks, or an upgraded transmission cooler. So, how did the rating change occur?
“When developing the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram, the goal was to match the previous-generation Dodge Ram tow capabilities. These goals were achieved and delivered on the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram 1500,” Dodge truck spokesman Roger Benvenuti told PickupTrucks.com. “For 2010, engineers determined the Dodge Ram was capable of towing much more than previously tested. Subsequently, the tow ratings were reassessed and the 2010 Dodge Ram increased its gross combined weight rating by 1,500 pounds without any component or calibration changes to the vehicle.”
Benvenuti also said Dodge truck engineers followed new testing protocols established by the Society of Automotive Engineers and a group of truck manufacturers to standardize tow testing, which we covered in late 2007.
“While all manufacturers use a slightly different tow-rating criteria when evaluating their vehicles, several common factors must be maintained by all when determining tow ratings,” Benvenuti said. “These include design requirements such as engine, transmission and axle cooling, while still ensuring a durable vehicle when towing. Our engineers performed both simulation and real-world tests to ensure that all of our internal targets and all the guidelines set by the new proposed SAE tow standard were achieved. The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500’s towing capability was re-rated without sacrificing performance, quality or reliability, and now exceeds both Ford and Chevy on comparably equipped vehicles.”
Dodge isn’t the first manufacturer to magically increase the tow rating of its half-ton pickup without changing hardware. Ford pulled a similar move when it upped the 2008 Ford F-150's max tow rating to 11,000 pounds from 9,900 pounds the year before, after the 2007 Toyota Tundra arrived with a 10,800-pound tow rating. The Ram’s new 10,450-pound rating is likely to wind up as a bragging point in Dodge’s 2010 marketing efforts.
In addition to the towing increase, the Ram’s maximum payload has increased by 50 pounds, to 1,900 pounds, for a regular cab two-wheel-drive truck when equipped with the standard 3.7-liter V-6.
Other welcome changes for 2010 include optional manual or power-folding trailer-towing mirrors – so you can tow that bigger trailer – an optional integrated trailer-brake controller, and an 18-mm (.7-inch) deepening of the front air dam to improve aerodynamics. An added fuel shutoff feature during deceleration should marginally improve fuel efficiency.
Smaller changes include a fuel-saver indicator light for the 3.7-liter V-6 model, iPod integration -- so the music player can be controlled through the stereo controls or steering-wheel buttons -- new passive head restraints, and new 22-inch wheels for the Ram R/T.