Part 1 - First Drive Review: 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty

First Drive Review: 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty

Our first drive review of the 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty pickup is so large that we've split it up into six parts to make it easier to find the information and material you want to read first.

Part 1: Introduction and Specs
Part 2: 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 Crew Cab Dually Unloaded
Part 3: 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 Crew Cab Dually Towing 16,500 pounds
Part 4: 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 Power Wagon Off-Road
Part 5: 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 4x2 Regular Cab Dually Hauling 1,500 pounds
Part 6: Summary and Conclusions

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Could Dodge’s timing be any worse in launching its new 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty pickups? The economy remains firmly in the crapper, pickups have fallen from 15% to 10% of vehicles sold and the average price of diesel fuel – the lifeblood of HD pickups – stubbornly remains higher than regular gas. Plus, come January 1, all new diesel-powered vehicles will have to meet tough 50-state diesel emission standards that will reduce allowable nitrogen oxide levels by 90 percent from today – this has already caused price spikes of more than $6,000 for big over-the-road trucks from manufacturers like Navistar and Hino.

But Chrysler’s competitors in the HD segment aren’t sitting still either. The new 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty and updated 2011 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Heavy Duty pickups are expected to arrive in the next six months. The Super Duty will feature two all-new engines: a 6.7-liter V-8 Power Stroke turbodiesel and a 6.2-liter V-8 gasser. The GM twins will feature a significantly updated 6.6-liter V-8 LML Duramax turbodiesel. The new Power Stroke and Duramax are also expected to generate significantly more power than the current 350-horsepower, 650 lbs.-ft. of torque that Ford’s diesel does, and the 355-hp, 660 lbs.-ft. that GM diesels do today. Dodge is carrying over its current 350-hp, 650 lbs.-ft. 6.7-liter Cummins six-cylinder diesel.

If all of that sounds bad, in actuality, the timing of the new Dodge Ram Heavy Duty pickups probably couldn’t be better, considering the challenges that three-quarter and one-ton pickups face.

2010-ram-hd-lineup-560

If it ain’t broke…

Ford and GM aren’t updating their diesel engines just to be competitive. The more important reason is because their current 2008-10 6.4-liter Power Stroke V-8 and 2007-10 6.6-liter V-8 LMM Duramax engines won’t meet the 2010 NOx emissions standards. While neither has talked pricing yet for their new engines, both are almost certain to be more expensive – like Hino and Navistar – because both are adding new urea-based selective catalytic reduction systems to smother NOx. Urea, also known by the more marketable name Diesel Exhaust Fluid, requires periodic refills – a new maintenance item for diesel truck owners. DEF tanks also add weight, marginally reducing payload capacity, and if the tank runs dry the truck will be immobilized or forced to ‘limp home’ until its urea can be refilled.

A similar EPA mandate for diesels in 2007 forced the addition of diesel particulate filters to meet soot emissions standards that added up to $1,500 to the price of diesel pickups. The filters also hurt fuel economy because they require burning up to 6/10 of a gallon of fuel to incinerate trapped soot.

But Chrysler and diesel engine partner Cummins took advantage of the situation in 2007 to ensure the Ram HD’s 6.7-liter engine would also be clean enough to meet 2010 NOx emissions standards. It’s a move that drew snickers from GM and Ford at the time because the Ram’s DEF-free “Adsorber” catalyst uses expensive precious metals, like rhodium and palladium, to convert NOx to harmless nitrogen gas and water vapor. Those metals peaked in price in 2008, when the global economy was at its hottest, before crashing back down in the last year to much lower levels.

2010-ram-hd-cummins-560

Commodity prices are one reason that the 2011 Dodge Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 Cab Chassis trucks will use DEF systems instead of Adsorber catalysts. However, the Ram Heavy Duty pickups remain urea-free for 2010 and, likely, beyond.

While the Dodge Ram HD pickups are keeping the same diesel engine, there’s a bump in price for the Cummins I6 by about $500, up to $7,615. Adding a six-speed 68RFE automatic transmission bumps the price to $8,020. The six-speed manual equipped trucks get a $1,170 price break, bringing the price down to $6,445. Still, Ram buyers won’t be burdened with the extra maintenance task of refilling DEF or adding extra weight to the truck from a DEF tank.

Ford’s current 6.4-liter diesel powertrain costs $7,835 (with a six-speed manual) to $9,325 (with a five-speed automatic) and GM’s current 6.6-liter diesel costs $7,195 plus $1,200 for an Allison transmission. GM no longer offers a manual transmission for its HD pickups and Ford will ditch its handshaker when its 2011 Super Dutys arrive.

According to Chrysler, starting prices for all 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 gas engine Ram HDs will be less than the outgoing model, and all Mega Cab Ram HD pickups – the largest cab in the segment – will also be priced below last year’s models.

Chrysler replaced the HD Ram’s legacy Hemi in 2009 with the updated “Eagle” Hemi that’s rated at 383-hp and 400-pounds-feet-of-torque. It features variable-valve-timing version and active intake manifold runners that help improve low-end power and clean-up emissions. The six-speed manual transmission was dropped for the Hemi in 2009. The five-speed 545RFE automatic gearbox is standard equipment. The Hemi is also carried over unchanged for 2010.

“With our 2010 pricing, we’re going right at the competition,” said Mark Heber, head of Dodge Ram brand truck marketing. “We’re not being bashful at all. We’re going to hit them where it hurts.”

2010-ram-hd-specs-560

There’s another advantage to Chrysler’s carryover approach. The 6.7-liter Cummins is a proven engine with a three-year history behind it. Early bugs related to the diesel particulate filter have been worked out. Ford and GM, however, are going to have to prove all over again that their newfangled clean diesels will be at least as reliable, durable and fuel efficient as the engines they replace, even if they are more powerful.

The 2010 Dodge Ram HD pickup are more than a carryover powertrain story, though. There’s all new sheetmetal, a new interior and several notable suspension improvements that we were able to experience by driving the trucks first hand.

We flew out to Texas (at our own expense, not Dodge's) to drive the 2010 Ram Heavy Duty lineup in the hills outside of San Antonio – the heart of pickup country.

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Part 1: Introduction and Specs
Part 2: 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 Crew Cab Dually Unloaded
Part 3: 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 Crew Cab Dually Towing 16,500 pounds
Part 4: 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 Power Wagon Off-Road
Part 5: 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 4x2 Regular Cab Dually Hauling 1,500 pounds
Part 6: Summary and Conclusions

Comments

ok so you lie and say you hemi is a HD motor, with 383, true HP? my ass......yet the ford V-10 pulls more, you think your axle is good for another 350 yeah makes sence dodge, that you still suck.

@Nick your kidding right

Of course a V10 is going to pull more that a V8 its a V10 for pete's sake. This is why I am not owned by a certain brand it allows me not to make certain comments like Dodge sucks, Ford sucks or GM sucks.

Drive the new 4th gen HD rams and then give your opinions.

Very good report on the state of RAM truck and HD trucks. This will be very helpful for someone who is need of a truck today! But, I can't see anybody buying a 2010 model when the 2011's are six months or less away. The only excellent point you make is the fact the both Ford and GM diesel engines will have to be proven, while the Cummins already has three years track record under it's belt. From an RVer's perspective MPG both towing and un-towing will be a big deciding factor as will GVWR and payload capacity (pin weight). I like to see you revisit this topic six months when all 2011 models are out.

@Nick: We love Ford's V-10. See our 2007 HD Shootout. It was the best gasser we drove. http://www.pickuptrucks.com/html/2007/shootout/hdshootout1.html

Where is the 6-Speed Automatic on the Hemi??? Its a must have. I hope the delay means a 7-Speed instead!!! I won't buy another truck with out a 6 or more speed.

I agree that they are the best looking trucks on the market. I like the idea of metal fender flares for the duallies.
I didn't like what I saw in the picture of the Power Wagon fender well . The brake lines (I assume that's what I saw) right of the shock are out in harm's way. That cluster looks like it would be easily damaged. Definately a poor design for a truck made to crawl through rough terrain. I know alot of guys who stopped using Dodges because of problems with sensors getting damaged in tough industrial settings. It's no fun having your engine shut off because of a damaged sensor.

For a deep dive video on the Dodge Ram Heavy Duty 2500 and 3500, check out this video from Chrysler:
http://blog.chryslergroupllc.com/blog.do?id=798&p=entry

hey Mike, do you have any idea or guess as to when you will test drive the new 6.7 Super Duty???????? when will Ford let the journalists like you do that?

@Taylor: My guess would be sometime in February or March of 2010.

dang.. thats a long time. whens it come out again?

Taylor,
The 2010 Ram is coming out this fall. November?

The 2011 Super Duty is coming out in the Spring. March?

That's only 3-4 months apart.

The truck looks great, it's too bad you never got to test out a Mega Cab though. I have tried the new Crew Cab 1500 and missed the extra space of my Mega Cab. In the summary, it lists the choice of having the mega cab as a "dislike" which I think makes no sense. More choice is bad?

I help manage a fleet of heavy trucks as well as light and we love the 6.7L Cummins. For a work truck, it gets as much as 25-30% better fuel economy than the outgoing 6.4L Powerstroke trucks! The EPA regs have hurt overall fuel economy but the Cummins trucks have suffered the least. We have found the same thing in our heavy trucks as well, our 13 and 15L Cummins trucks are running great!

I am a big fan of Dodge trucks as they offer quality trucks, have great features and design. The 2010 Ram HD is available as a regular cab; crew cab and mega cab. Performance-wise, its good. Design-wise, its quite similar to older models. Overall its very decent. For more details refer http://www.macktruck.org/2010-dodge-ram-hd-25003500-review.html

i wanna see regular cab 4x4,where are they

One of the items that I would like pickup truck reviews to look at is the fact that diesels get 20% fuel eco than an equivilent Gasser. even with the DPF. My 04 2500 2wd/6spd man. Ram gets me 23Hwy and 20cty stock. where a Gasser would be around 14hwy (like my Durango gets). Same goes for the Fords and Chevys.

Awesome Trucks these new ram heavy duty's are. Have been researching all three brands of diesel trucks and will for sure be buying new 2010 ram. No extra emission fluids and proven reliability are huge factors in my desision, not to mention the best looking and toughest looking truck out there.

To me the comparison on the Ford diesel is not the same. The damn ford has TWIN turbo's. Let dodge or GM hang a 2nd turbo on that cummins or DMax and there would be NO comparison. Also cummins will always beat the Dmax and Ford because of the I6. There is NO beating the torque of an inline 6. Sure Dmax has 10 more ft/lbs. But when cummins needs more power all they do is crank the fuel pressure up on the cummins and bang more power in a minute. Ford or GM have to redesign or go back to drawing board and find more power. Until ford and GM go to an inline 6 they will always chase the cummins

Just test drove a new 2010 ram heavy duty crew cab. The Horsepower and torque ratings are 10 hp 10ft/lb torque less than my 08 duramax but i can honestly say the cummings felt stronger and pulled better than my duramax. Parked next to my duramax the Ram is bigger and nicer looking. Can't wait for my 3500 crew cab Laramie to show up. Will keep you all posted.

Wow!! These trucks are awsome! We have had two: A 2006 Ram 3500 5.9, and a 2008 ram 3500 6.7, Both awsome pickups! We are considering A 2010 Ram 3500 dually LOADED! Awsome trucks would recomend to anyone!

i love the look of these trucks. awesome trucks!

Mike;
Do you have any idea of the curb weight of a 3500 Crew Cab long bed dually 4x4?
Or where I could find the info?
Thanks.

@Tumbleweed: It's about 7,700-lbs.

What is your opinion of the 3.42 vs the 3.73 for the 2010 dodge 2500hd diesel. I will be using the truck for personal transportation and pull less that 8000lbs occasionally. Looking for good milage

"Early bugs related to the diesel particulate filter have been worked out." Since when? I had my 08 Ram 2500 towed to the dealer twice this past summer because the dpf clogged. What's the fix? Please provide details. What about the class action suit that's been filed against Chrysler or this issue? Thanks.

@Charlie: Chrysler has gone through at least 8 DPF regen software revisions to try to prevent just what you're describing.

Thanks Mike. Has Chrysler declared victory yet or are the issues still occuring with 07 - 09's? I'm seriously considering getting rid of my 08.....

I don't know but I would advise you to check with your dealer to make sure you have the latest DPF flash on your truck.

I want to tell everyone that i have bought me the 2010 dodge ram 3500 laramie 3 months ago and it is the most powerful awesome fuel mileage and best ride i have ever had in one ever. i have owned several ford super duty and duramaxs before and they cant touch my dodge. i have owned it for 3 months now and i have already put 32,000 miles on it with my moving company which i pulll a 42 foot moving trailer all the time and it has never had any problems yet!!! lvoe it love it love it

I don't know if this will help anyone but I'll post it anyway.
I'm a mechanic at a Dodge dealership. This lastest flash WILL work but with that being said everything else has to work properly as well. A faulty, dirty, or malfunctioning component of the EGR system will cause excessive sooting. Chrysler has products for cleaning the egr systems and there are also good products in the after market. Secondly and more importantly all the sensors (esspecaily temp sensors) need to be working properly. If one of the many sensors has failed the truck may not set a check engine light. I have delt with many trucks with this problem and the problem can be fixed and usually it is something simple. The biggest problem in my experience is other mechanics that don't know enough about how the system works. This causes repeat visits for the same problem which makes the owner angry and rightfuly so. Hope his helps.

New to site. Looking at a new dodge 2010 2500 6.7 with 3.73 gears. Does anyone have any problem with this motor and what is a mile per gallon rating. I had 2 ford 7.3 had good luck other than front end problems. I am nervous about the problems people have been talking about with soot build up.

Is it rumor that the 2010 dodge diesels tranny is a reversed engineered duramax. I am seriously looking at the 2010 2500 and want to know if they are reliable. The 5yr 100,000 warenty is comforting.

i just traded my '09 GMC Sierra for a 2010 Dodge 2500 HD, and I'm truly amazed at the quality and attention to detail in this Dodge. Everyone knows the cummins is awesome, but the rest of the truck is equally great. The fit and finish, materials, and design is second to none. The powerstroke and duramax are faster trucks, but I didn't buy this truck to race, so that's a quality that doesn't matter to me. The Cummins still has a bunch of torque that makes romping on it fun. Overall Dodge has done a remarkable job of making a world class truck.

I've owned 4 dodge 2500 trucks. If dodge comes back with the 5.9 diesel I will buy another one, but not for the truck, the engine, and if they change the crap transmission they build. I have been a Dodge fan for quite some time but for the reason that I have a close personal friend that own's a Dodge dealership. I cannot pass up the service they give me but the truck gives me no choice but to trade them in when the warranty is up. They have the weakest drivelines and front end's in the industry hands down. Its very sad because the do build a beautiful truck. And for anyone who say's the transmissions arent weak, you have obviously never put them to work.

I believe all competitors have a strong engine now in 2011, but what good is a truck with a great motor and a crappy driveline.

I currently own a 2010 Cherokee SRT 8 as well and what a vehicle it is, AMAZING!!! I hope this vehicle pans out for me as I have owned several Chrysler vehicle's in the past and all I can say is, no wonder Chrysler needed a bail out, keep building absolute crap and what do you expect, Loyalty customers? give your head a shake. The Jeep is my last kick at the cat for Chrysler and if this one doesnt pan out, I am out.

Dodge makes the nicest looking trucks on the road, now back them with the best reliability and people will follow.

I cant believe ford is offering a 3.5 V 6 turbo engine that puts out as much torque as dodge's 6.1 Hemi in the SRT 8's. Boy is Dodge falling behind. I would like to see the 6.4 litre hemi with the cylinder cut out and a turbo. Now that would be something. Too bad Dodge is always the last one to step up to the plate.

It is a good thing for Dodge (Chrysler) that when they do step up to the plate...they hit it out of the field and set the bar higher. Then everyone else has a new standard to meet or try to exceed.

American, I agree with you 100%, but anybody can make a vehicle cool with more cubic inches which is exactly what dodge has done, I just wish Dodge would have done it first with the turbo's on the gas engine's. Now ford is so far ahead of Dodge it's making me want to buy a Ford. With the cylinder cutout and a turbo on the new 6.4 hemi coming out, they could so easily put 600 HP in the new Jeep SRT 8 and blow everyone out of the water and have great fuel mileage while doing so. Ford has the most superior motors on the market and it's going to take few years for Dodge to catch up. I would have thought with all of this bailout money and a smack upside the head that Dodge would have been above and beyond everyone else just to say, WE ARE STILL HERE AND KICKIN ASS, but they didn't. IT's to bad, I had really high hopes fore Dodge.

The people who design these trucks really do listen to the stuff that customers are asking for. One of the guys (above) complains that the RAM aka Dodge HD is endowed with a terrific Cummins 5.9 but the rest of the truck (apart from its looks) is crap.

Ford's Triton V10 is praised in this admittedly old article, but it was not long before they replaced it with the OHC 6.2 V8 in their HD trucks. One of the commenters even made reference to the motor that Ford would one day call an Ecoboost, but they have yet to offer it in a HD and now that they're rolling out a 7.3 gasser they never will.

Which brings us to the General. Still making the 6.0 for all the fans. While down on displacement the rugged old gen 3 & 4 6.0 GM motors are still the beast in a HD truck. It won't compete with a big diesel, but it will SAVE YOU MONEY. If your business doesn't really need 900+ ft/lbs of torque you can save a ton of dough with the 6.0



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