Part 3 - First Drive Review: 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 Dually Towing

First Drive Review: 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 Dually Towing

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


At our lunchtime destination, we swapped out of our unloaded truck into a similar Ram 3500 that added a gooseneck hitch to the cargo box to tow a large Case IH Maxxum 125 tractor plus trailer that weighed a combined 16,500 pounds – about 200 pounds below this configuration’s max trailering weight rating. Trailer tongue weight was set at about 20% of the gross trailer weight, so there was about 3,300 pounds of downforce on the back of the truck. The truck’s stance was nice and level.

In this towing scenario, another feature we appreciated was the optional 8-foot long cargo box (6-foot, 4-inch is standard) paired with the new Crew Cab. Generally, the more room behind the passenger compartment when towing a gooseneck or fifth wheel the better, particularly if you’re towing an RV. The nearly two feet of extra bed space can mean the difference between successfully executing a tight turn or accidentally having your rear window popped out by the trailer. That’s an unhappy place to be.

We did a 10 mile out and back towing course on rural roads, up and down some fairly challenging winding hills and some flat stretches of two-lane blacktop.

Firmly anchored to the road with its heavy load, the Crew Cab Ram 3500 came into its own immediately. Though the Ram’s frame is carried over from the outgoing truck, Dodge has made other changes to the suspension components beyond the hydraulic body mounts under the cab.


In the back, Dodge engineers revamped the leaf spring bushings in an effort to help reduce understeer from the rear suspension, which can happen when you’re cornering with a heavy trailer and the trailer’s momentum is trying to keep the truck moving in a straight line. The front bushings are softer and the rears are stiffer, which helps the axle toe in during cornering, adding stability.

The three-stage front and rear shocks have also been retuned by changing the valve sizes inside the dampeners.

The net result was very good ride and handling that let us turn our attention away from managing the lateral motions of the trailer on the challenging country roads to focusing on the road ahead and steering.

Complementing the Ram’s confidence-inspiring trailering manners was its gear select setting in tow/haul mode that allowed us to lock the top gear we wanted the truck to be in through the rolling hills. It’s operates the same as the old truck – with the gear select lever in “D” we used the +/- buttons at the end of the stalk to select the top gear, which in our case was third gear. This meant the truck wouldn’t upshift above 3rd while accelerating or while traveling downhill, unless engine RPMs went over redline during the descent.


The Cummins offered adequate power pulling its 16,500-lbs. load up steep grades that were somewhere in the neighborhood of 8% to 9% in a few spots. We couldn’t accelerate at these inclines but we didn’t lose any speed either and third gear was a good spot to be to keep the engine response lively.

At the halfway point, we made a tight turn with the truck – again, owing thanks to its long 8-foot cargo box – while also appreciating the Cummins low RPM peak torque. All 650 lbs.-ft. are available at only 1,500 rpm, which is the lowest available peak torque in the segment. It makes for excellent load and trailer management reaction times in what could be a risky situation if you’re in a parking lot or low-speed city driving.

On the return, we experimented again with the exhaust brake and tow/haul mode. The systems complement each other well when you’re pointed downhill. It’s clear that calibrating the existing 2007-09 Cummins/68RFE pair for 2010 instead of having to start from scratch with a new engine, transmission or both, has really given Dodge a chance to dial in the dually’s trailer towing performance to the best it’s likely ever going to be for this truck. Contrast this with the calibration efforts that Ford and GM are going to have to do for their 2011 pickups to ensure that their trailer towing manners remain at least as good as they are today in the Super Duty and GM twins.

Dodge is also to be recognized for finally adding an integrated trailer brake controller – like Ford and GM trucks have -- that ties the truck’s ABS system to a trailer’s electric brakes. The feature is ordered from the factory and can be controlled manually by the driver, by squeezing the brake controller, or automatically by the truck to help brake the trailer. It’s easy to quickly dial-in custom gain settings (brake pressure) to help stop the trailer. Chrysler’s ITBC supplier is Continental, the same supplier that GM uses for its trucks.

We wrapped up the 10 mile towing loop and noticed that perhaps the best vote of confidence for this driving scenario was that our hands weren’t sweaty from gripping the steering wheel. We’d been relaxed the whole time.

All of our praise aside, though, the 2010 Dodge Ram HD does have one very significant shortcoming that should have been addressed – all models lack electronic stability control systems.


The 2009-10 Dodge Ram 1500 half-ton pickups were first (along with the Ford F-150) to feature trailer sway control in addition to traction and stability control system. We may not like electronic nannies when we’re doing off-roading or high-performance driving but we sure appreciate them when we’re towing. Other drivers should appreciate them too, because they make the road a safer place.

Trailer sway control is able to help prevent a trailer from losing control and pulling both the trailer and truck off the highway by applying both the truck’s and trailer’s brakes to counter any unexpected yaw it senses coming from the trailer – an indication the driver could be losing control of the trailer.

The 2011 Ford Super Duty pickup will carry over the trailer sway control system from the 2009-10 Ford F-150 but the Ram HD pickups may have to wait until 2012 to have standard stability, traction and trailer sway control (when stability control becomes federally mandated for all vehicles) according Mike Cairns, the Dodge Ram’s vehicle line executive and chief engineer.


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


"All 650 lbs.-ft. are available at only 1,600 rpm, which is the lowest available peak torque in the segment."

Don't forget that the GM LMM Duramax has 660 ft-lb also at that low 1600 rpms.

@Will: Thanks. That's a typo for the Ram. Peak torque is at 1,500 rpm, not 1,600 rpm. I've corrected it.

I kind of have to negate your statement with the 6 vs 8 foot bed cornering and stability statement. My truck has a cab fairing which takes off approximately 2 feet of the bed I've never had a problem with turning a gooseneck or 5th wheel RV into tight quarters at or a little past 90* jack knife. Further more stability is brought on by wheelbase not cab style or bed length. If the wheelbase of the MegaCab and short bed is the same or close to the long bed in other cab forms, there should be no stability or cornering problems.

@Blue Mule: The type of trailer you tow is going to make all the difference between successfully turning or not. The gooseneck we pulled could have worked with either a 6-foot or an 8-foot box. An RV with a forward hanging bed might not. If I knew the trailer I was always going to pull with would work with a 6-foot box, I'd stick with 6-ft. But if I'm going to be towing different trailers, I'd opt for the 8-foot box for the extra insurance against hitting the truck.

The stability comments were made WRT to the new bushings for the leaf springs, not wheelbase, box length or cab style.

This truck will continue Dodges dominance in the work truck segment, and if you ever tow with that integral exhaust brake, you'll never buy a different brand until they come up to that level of performance

I dont understand why people use the two words Dodge and dominance. They don't even belong in the same sentence.

No wonder FORD Super Duty's weighs 1000 #'s more, the sheet metal is thick.

Sheeesh. I need a beer.

If Dodge dominates, how come Dodge didn't win the shoot out last time?

Bring on the 2011 shootout.....

I am a true Dodge man. Why could you not do the test fullyloaded? I have an '06 and tow 18K. with it. Try this truck with 18k as well and then test. Also people forget about road conditions. Put the load on the poorly maintanied interstate with a tri-axle trailer and a 50mile an hour cross wind with 400sq feet of trailer area. That's a test. By the way don't loose your cookies while doing it. Have you seen those movies with people in turbulance and breathing into a barf bag? That's what its like.

Finally! Dodge has put togeather what I have been running in a work truck for several years and trucks. I want and need a crew cab (as in chevy) for the room and comfort. I want and need a full 8 foot box to work out of, although when I buy my Dodge I will probably replace the factory box with a flat-bed. Because my truck is my home away from home, I want and need the creature comforts such as heated seats, leather seats, storage space for a lap top, and so on. Adding immeasurably to creature comfort in this new truck is the quiet ride and I certainly don't miss the bone jarring ride often associated with such a tow vihicle. Finally, Dodge has put togeather the finest looking truck on the road with a matching, functional and comfortable interior.

i have an 08 450 and a customer of mine has a 3500 dodge. lets just say his truck can't back his mouth up.

i would take one of these over aa GM any day but not over a super duty that you and beat

what i ment to say at the end of my comment was you cant beat the super duty

I have a 09' Dodge 3500 and my buddy has a 09' F-350 both trucks are fully loaded. There is no comparing the two trucks, hands down the dodge gets better gas mileage pulling the exact same enclosed car hauling race trailer and the ford can’t even come close to keeping up through the hills. Oh and I am a mechanic at a Ford/Dodge dealer, and for every one Dodge I work on, I work on five Fords. I know which truck I would rather have!!

i just bought a 2010 3500 dodge ram pu dually diesel love the truck but is going to be very expensive to install a fifth wheel hitch in it have an 8 foot bed but frame on it makes it almost impossible to install hitch alot of labor should have been informed about it

Just bought a 2011 3500 dually 4x4 and a 35 ft 5th wheel. Trailer rated at 1500 loaded I just weighed it and it came in at 15580 will the weight be a problem for my truck

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