It's hard to argue with Ram's growth during the last half decade as it pulled away from Dodge, creating the Ram Truck brand. What followed was a series of segment-first innovations and special features that have given the Ram Truck team momentum that other truckmakers would kill for. Just a few years ago Ram Commercial was born, and we're beginning to see that unique decision bear quite a bit of fruit.
The Ram 1500 was the first of the modern light-duty pickup trucks to move away from leaf springs in favor of the more SUV-like (and even minivanlike) coil springs as well as the first to offer a four-corner air suspension option (similar to the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class).
We suppose it was inevitable to see the same innovation that started in the Ram 1500 migrate to the bigger and stronger Ram 2500, but there were many who thought that kind of strategy just wouldn't work in the heavier-duty segments. Well, after we all saw the introduction of the 2014 Ram 2500, we found out they were wrong. In fact, given how well the coils work in three-quarter-ton trucks and how well they carry loads, it wouldn't surprise us if we see some special coil option trucks from Ram's big-truck competitors in the next few years.
Additionally, we were impressed when Ram decided to offer a rear airbag setup as an option on certain Ram 2500s because we've seen how well they worked in the big-rig trucks. The idea of being able to dump the air from those bags to independently lower the rear of the truck or modify the ride feel really got us excited. Unfortunately, the new rear axle air suspension system (a $1,595 stand-alone option across the 2500 lineup) does not allow for any driver input or adjustability. That means no lowering help when hooking up a fifth-wheel or gooseneck. No bed height dropping capability when loading the bed with cargo. And no multiple ride settings when driving either loaded or empty. We think that stinks. Why have a sophisticated system like that if you're not going to provide as much functionality or versatility for the owner as possible? We hope the lawyers weren't getting in the way, but even that would be easier to believe than Ram missing the boat on this one.
Additionally, we've also heard that the air-ride setup for one-tons (also just for the rear axle but designed more as a supplemental setup--see below) won't be available for this model year and possibly not next year. Ram says it plans to offer it next year, but we'll have to wait and see. Ram said engineers couldn't get the original design (below) to work properly and deliver the safety and ride quality they want, so the new system is likely to be modified with a stronger airbag and a more conventional leaf rear end. But to the best of our knowledge, no independent switches or driver input.
Let's hope that when the air-ride setup for 3500s does come out it will offer the function and versatility that an interactive air suspension can provide: load leveling, air dump settings, ride control and more. Until then, we'll have to be happy with a simple airbag.