Road Test Review: 2010 Chromed Ram 2500 Crew Cab

Road Test Review: 2010 Chromed Ram 2500 Crew Cab
Photos and Words by Mike Magda for

Show trucks are built to draw attention, and the 2010 Mopar Chromed Ram 2500 Crew Cab 4x4 doesn't fail to attract legions of curious onlookers and gushing admirers, even when slightly out of its element.

Built to promote the Ram's upscale Laramie trim level and to hype a wide variety of Chrysler's aftermarket accessories, the Chromed Ram looked like a champion and blended in perfectly with glitzy Las Vegas when it debuted at the 2009 SEMA Show. With a 2-inch lift kit and 35-inch tires, the Chromed Ram has the stance and presence of a show truck, but with the humble roots of a production vehicle. Excessive, perhaps, but not gaudy. Practical? Well, let's see about that.

I took the Ram away from its comfortable showroom surrounding and put it squarely in the middle of a harsh, muddy desert. The mission: travel to the off-roading insanity known as the King of the Hammers race and shuttle around the 135-mile course.

Once again, the Chromed Ram drew more than its share of groupies. Every time I pulled in the middle of HammerTown, the Dodge faithful arrived to check out the custom interior, peek at the Cummins diesel under the hood and give the color-keyed hard tonneau a playful rubdown.

2010 Chromed Ram 2500 Crew Cab at King of the Hammers

The Chromed Ram wasn't a pretty-boy slacker. It was heartless in attacking the undulating terrain, complete with all the head jerking, kidney busting and belly flopping associated with a near-empty pickup on top of a suspension strong enough to support almost 2,400 pounds of payload. But that's expected. As heavy-duty truck enthusiasts, we know the tradeoffs of capability and comfort, of power and fuel economy, of performance and price. Could an all-wheel-drive crossover SUV get to some of the locations we traveled? Most likely. To all of them? No. Were there any spots we couldn't reach? Yeah, but we would have to drive a Ram Power Wagon — which doesn't look good in chrome — to traverse those trails.

Bopping around California's Mojave Desert isn't really the Chromed Ram's comfort zone. Hitch up a 36-foot Eliminator Daytona, pack the bed with coolers and skis and program the nav for the Colorado River, and now you've drawn a bead on the target audience. A muddied-up Chromed Ram plowing through 6 inches of silt isn't nearly as appealing as a shiny Chromed Ram rolling up to the valet at the yacht club.

The Chromed Ram is based on a four-wheel-drive 2500 Laramie crew cab. Starting MSRP is $42,450, and that includes most of the premium convenience and comfort features Dodge offers in its trucks, including an Alpine audio system. (Ours had the $800 touch-screen navigation upgrade.) This is a top-notch sound unit with nine speakers and a subwoofer, Sirius satellite radio, 30-gigabyte hard drive for music storage and auxiliary jack for a portable music player. I used the jack to run the race scanner audio through the sound system. Especially convenient for me was the 115-volt auxiliary power outlet so I could recharge camera batteries, and the $200 rearview camera was quite handy when positioning the truck on hills for a photo shoot.

Rearview video camera image

There was also a $1,625 rear-seat entertainment system featuring 7-inch monitors on the back of the front-seat headrests. With many of today's kids watching movies and TV shows on their iPods, I would have spent that money on bucket seats and a moonroof in this truck. One nice option, however, was the $1,199 Katzkin leather seating. It came in dark slate blue with blue accents that complement the $225 optional Deep Water Blue Pearl exterior paint. Add the matching $1,290 hard tonneau, and this combination made for a strikingly handsome vehicle, even without the bling.

Speaking of chrome, here's the Mopar shiny accessories shopping list: $614 5-inch oval side tube steps, $178 doorsill guards, $39 tailgate bezel, $119 bright B-pillar trim, $132 fuel door and $99 exhaust tip.

Everything is power-operated with the Laramie trim, including the NV273 transfer case with a 2.72 low-range ratio. Combined with 3.231 first gear in the six-speed automatic transmission and the 3.73 axle ratio, the crawl ratio is a conventional 32.78. With the optional 4.10 axles, the crawl ratio jumps to a more respectable 36.03. For those who truly need to pull stumps, go with the six-speed manual and its 5.94 granny gear. Now you've got 66.24.

Wheel closeup

The Chromed Ram could run the desert trails, but it was punishing at times. The ride could also be on the concrete gut-buster known as the California freeway system. The crew cab sits on a 149-inch wheelbase, which on the right set of expansion joints at the right speed will result in cab shake, bed bounce … call it what you will. It happens to all full-size pickups with an empty bed. It's just a matter of location and speed matching the particular harmonics of that vehicle setup. The solution is to simply slow down until the road smoothes out and ends its practical joke. Tires can make a difference, and the Chromed Ram had a humming set of 35x12.50R17LT Toyo Open Country M/T meats wrapped around 17x8 chromed alloy wheels.

When it's not caught up in a freeway rumba, the Chromed Ram had a pleasant manner while cruising. Engaging the tow/haul mode or operating the Electronic Range Select managed the downhill speed comfortably coming off the 4,200-foot Cajon Pass. To handle really heavy loads, the Ram diesel trucks provide an exhaust brake.

Usually there's never a complaint with the 350-horsepower, 650 pounds-feet of torque monster known as the 6.7-liter inline-six Cummins turbo-diesel ($7,615 option). It was responsive in passing situations and well-matched with the six-speed automatic, but fuel economy was disappointing, considering the light load of coolers, luggage and camera gear. I traveled 624 miles during race week with a variety of freeway, 55 mph two-lane roads and plenty of dirt trails. The Ram drank 50.6 gallons of fuel for 12.33 mpg. Perhaps I was spoiled about 10 years ago when I drove a two-wheel-drive Ram 2500 with the 5.9-liter High Output Cummins and recorded close to 20 mpg in a weeklong stretch.

To sum up, the Chromed Cab pretty much blows away any argument that there's no market for pickups costing more than $50,000. The Laramie with factory options hit $53,170 (including destination charge). Add nearly $5,300 in Mopar accessories and two or thee grand for the tires and any dealer installation charges, and you're looking past 60 large. For some truck owners, it's all about style, and the new Ram's aggressive appearance and full slate of options will boost any owner's image and still look great in the desert.

2010 Chromed Ram 2500 Crew Cab


PUTC Sidebar: King of the Hammers

KOH racer

If you've never heard of the King of the Hammers, then you don't follow hard-core desert racing or rock crawling. Only in its fourth year, the King of the Hammers race is an incredibly brutal but extremely popular one-day, 135-mile race at the Johnson Valley Off Highway Vehicle area in Southern California. Even with its young age, the Hammer race draws teams from Japan, Australia and Europe because of its rabid Internet exposure.

The race is designed for Ultra4 or unlimited four-wheel-drive vehicles. There are few rules addressing vehicle construction. Engine choice, frame design and suspension setups are wide open as long as certain safety regulations are met. You'll find high-dollar, lightweight, single-seat "moon buggies" with air shocks and turbo four-cylinder engines as well as heavy-duty, homebuilt two-seaters with V-8s and massive coil-overs. Some are rear engine, some are front engine. Some use hydraulic steering, others conventional steering boxes. Suspension arrangements include four-link, three-link and trailing arm.

Race strategy also varies. Race hard and pick off the competition in the desert and hope the setup survives in the rocks, or keep your wits in the desert and win in the rocks.

Climbing rocks

This year the race covered 100 miles of desert and 35 miles through 18 rock canyons better known as the Hammers. The winner, Loren Healy and co-driver Rod Woody, won the race in a time of 6 hours, 57 minutes, 53 seconds. That was just 28 seconds ahead of 2009 world rock crawling champion Brad Lovell and co driver Bill Kunz. Of the 100 starters, only 43 finished within the 14-hour time limit.

For the race, organizers set up HammerTown, a sprawling universe of RVs and campsites that support the estimated 30,000 fans. Almost all have hopped up Jeeps, sand rails or all-terrain vehicles to reach the best viewing areas, which often are right on the trail. And when someone rolls and blocks the only narrow opening through a deep canyon, it's simply one-of-a-kind chaos with all the fans and backed-up vehicles.

For more information on this unique and totally outrageous motorsport experience, visit

– Mike Magda


The Ram looks like it got raided by a Lund Catalog. Other then that, I f'ken love this truck.

All that chrome adds about 50 hp, and 60 lb. ft of torque. But you could just buy it from stylin, too.

looks mighty good

If I were to spend that kind of money on a truck, it would be for the Sierra Denali.

"If I were to spend that kind of money on a truck, it would be for the Sierra Denali". - Quagmire

It has more plastic chorme then the Ram.


yea but the chrome on the GMC acutally looks good ;)

This truck looks pretty nice from the outside, but those fake wood accents are really ugly and cheap looking.


yea but the chrome on the GMC acutally looks good ;)

This truck looks pretty nice from the outside, but those fake wood accents are really ugly and cheap looking". - Jake

I am sure that extra $20,000 is worth the plastic chrome.

I would never justify that much money ($40,000) for a gussied up Chevy. Just my opinion.

@ Frank

This is worse! It's just a "gussied" up Ram. At over $50,000!

Thanks for a good story on one of the best looking pickups EVER built. As far as the poor gas mileage, the good news with a Cummins is that it will only get better with time tho it will never reach the efficiency of a 5.9 (we can thank our lovely government for that). I am just waiting for the new updated 6.7 with no after cat treatment, then we will be talking efficiency!

Nice looking Dodge !!

It looks like someone got their hands on a Putco catalog.

"@ Frank

This is worse! It's just a "gussied" up Ram. At over $50,000" - Quagmire

It has a Cummins. It's worth it.

Frank, why do you post your anti GM posts on every blog? The only thing that you prove by this is actually prove that your IQ is as big as your shoe size. Respect other people and what they like.

"Frank, why do you post your anti GM posts on every blog? The only thing that you prove by this is actually prove that your IQ is as big as your shoe size. Respect other people and what they like". - Brad

Please don't take my IQ quotes. Make up you're own.

I don't recall ever posting anything bad about GM on this blog other than having a civil conversation with Quagmire.

I was iterating the fact that I would not spend $40,000 on a plastic chromed out gussied up Chevy as opposed to this $50,000 Cummins beast.

I am a fanboi of great products. Although Ram is not selling well as they should, I still think they make great products. GM, however, I can't say otherwise. This is my personal opinion and expierence with these trucks. I'm sure you're expierence will say otherwise.

I respect people's decision on their purchase. You don't see my saying you bought a POS GM Truck. I think GM makes a great truck, it's just that Ford/Ram do it better.

And if you don't like Frank's comments, you can grab your purse and leave.

I didn't know you ford fanboys have purses these days.

Frank, your IQ quotes best apply to you.
If you haven't noticed, but every manufactured chromes out their plastic. Yes Dodge with a diesel is a great product as oppose to any Ford. And I sure wouldnt pay 10k extra for mark LT which is a gussied up f150.

I laughed when you said a Power Wagon doesn't look good in Chrome because you were implying that this does. I'd have to disagree.

"I didn't know you ford fanboys have purses these days.

Frank, your IQ quotes best apply to you" - Brad

If you haven't noticed, but every manufactured chromes out their plastic. Yes Dodge with a diesel is a great product as oppose to any Ford. And I sure wouldnt pay 10k extra for mark LT which is a gussied up f150". - Brad

Good for you Brad. See how I don't get offended or cry.

Man up!!!!

Very nice and aggressive looking truck.What can you say though its still a pos dodge.

Frank, You must be one though 16 year old that don't get offended or cry and also knows how to copy and paste.

The 2010 harley davidson f350 is way better looking i will be sticking with my ford trucks for life!!

For that kind of money, I'd rather have a 2011 F-350 Crew Cab 6.7 Diesel Lariat!!!

Bobby, what did Howie say after he said that the Chevy doesn't need a step? Let me give you a subtle hint. He said because the side of the bed wasn't as big on the Chevy. Like the Chevy has the perfect size, anything smaller is too small, and anything bigger is bigger than you need. Yes, the Ford is bigger and tougher. Why would I want a smaller pickup bed? GM certainly hasn't done itself any favors by advertising features for competitors.

You're 170 degree door thing sounds like a soccer mom buying an SUV "Oh it was just easier to get the kids in and out of." I just want the toughest pickup out there, so I will buy another Ford.
If you don't like negative comments about GM, just go the to GM websites. You're a little whiny kid that wants to bash other trucks, but you cry like a baby when someone bashes something you like.

All of you arguing about which brand is better are children!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Serioulsy, you ARE NOT TRUCK GUYS!!! Your just brand whores!!!

You dont like a truck? Dont buy it!!! And shut up!!!

You guys are like elementary school kids braging about whos mommy packed a better lunch.....


Seriously Mike, take off the comment section please...

Frank and Alex, I'm not a kid. Have you ever gotten you butt kicked by a 40 year old? I thought I told you guys to stop bashing GM and shut your pie holes until the shoot out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Garrett, people should voice their opinion. Positive or negative, about whatever trucks they want. But I can't stand people that bash, and then complain when others give negative opinions about trucks they like. Like they will say Ford sucks, or Dodge sucks in the very same post as "why do all the anti-GM people have to say stuff?" Just doesn't make any sense.
Perhaps a more mature way would be if people give their honest reasons why they like one truck over another. Rather than calling everyone a fanboy when they disagree with them.

"Frank and Alex, I'm not a kid". - bobby1971

yes you are.

The comments on this post should be about the road tested Ram 2500.

Cut the brand bashing, please. I agree it's getting tiring. If you want to bash each other, take it to the War Room in the forums. That's the place for that kind of talk.

As Bobby said, if you want to see how the new trucks perform head-to-head, stay tuned for the Shootout. It's going to be a great competition.

A big thumbs up.

man!! looks awesome..

This is hands down the nicest truck style i have ever seen. The truck looks so tough and aggressive and with a Cummins engine it is just the truck of trucks. 12.3 MPG on highway and lots of dirt roads is 1 MPG better than my Ford 6.4 L gets empty driving on pavement only. I have to start saving up for one of these new Dodge trucks. The style and lines of this truck make my ford look a little plain and square. Too bad the new 2011 Super Duty looks much the same as always or i would buy one, oh well maybe in a few years Ford will do a redesign on their exterior. These new 6-speeds autos in the Dodge cummins is proving to be real strong too. Nice job Dodge.

WOW two articles about Rams in the same week.

Rams= Best Looking

Rams= Best Engine

Rams= Best Truck

So its a 4WD truck that is over 50k! The truck looks good, but exactly how many of these will ever step on dirt? It looks too good to be out off roading. For this kind of money i would definitely get a Sierra Denali, its a luxury truck that looks bad ass and you will be using it the sam way as this Ram; sure, the Denali cant go off road even though its AWD but i bet most of these future Chromed Ram owners will hesitate and think twice on taking this truck off road. The Denali can sure tow too with that 6.2L. The Chromed Ram is a great truck, but i think its in the wrong category.

If Ford wins the shooout I will never post here again. If GM wins the shooout, you will never post here again. Will you man up and accept my challenge??????????

PS "Smart and powerful!" - Howie Long on the Chevy Silverado

We have a comedian, aka HY

IMHO the xtra stuff ruins the look, but hey if your spending the $, its yours to do with as you please! The chrome B pillars... hurl.

I continue to be troubled with the woodgrain look in everyones high trim levels. Thats so 1983. But everyone seesm to add it ?

Power Kid,

I agree with you on the wood trim,it seems everyone loves it..even used vehicles that never came with wood trim people add it on !!! and if a new vehicle doesnt have it it is mocked by some journelists as cheap looking,I like yourself never really liked wood dashes,trim in vehicles...One of the reasons I bought a 68 Charger to restore instead of a 69 was the 68 has a sweet stainless/chrome console and no wood trim on its dash or console(but a wood wheel thats o.k for me) ....Also some people get too carried away with add ons,some trucks,even new cars look ridiculous...Though this Dodge I think looks good , I would say ditch the chrome window pillar and add a Dodge Ram SRT10 style hood !! Also not a fan of tonneau covers..

Though ,an overly done Dodge looks better than ANY Ford,GM truck or import truck..anyday..PERIOD !! And if you disagree with me you are ignorant to the facts and a racist !!!

"Though ,an overly done Dodge looks better than ANY Ford,GM truck or import truck..anyday..PERIOD !! And if you disagree with me you are ignorant to the facts and a racist". - Dodge

After reading you're comment I don't think I like this truck anymore. Thanks a lot.

Love the wheel and tire combo. I hate bed covers, though. They make it clear that you do not use your truck for truck purposes. I'd MUCH MUCH MUCH rather have a powerwagon over this. But I can't resist an off-road beast.

I agree. This is a great truck but just too fancied up. I too would take the Power Wagon and then take the "Power Wagon" decals off right away. I use my trucks hard.

@ Dodge

If EVER someone should be banned for a post... your it.

Even, what makes your truck better then THIS Ram?

I love the looks of the Dodge Rams. I had misgivings about the Power Wagon graphics until I saw one in the flesh. Luckily, it was a Sunday, and the dealership was closed, or I would of bought the thing. The tires on the "chromed" Ram are what should be on the Power Wagon. I'm not a fan of the "woodgrain" either. Tonneau covers look nice but they are pricy, and kill the usability of the box. I like canopies much better.

nice truck dodge is one off the best trucks anywere go america!!

Nice looking Ram.


I like the lift and tire/wheel combo. A few other options like a factory sprayed bedliner with the rocker panels would be nice. How about the factory winch, swaybar disconnect, and f & r lockers as stand alone options. As with the ford some prewired switches would be nice as well. How about a bed cap molded to the bedside in cab or hi top configuration would be a good option too. Retractable steps for accessing the box as with the ford is on my list.

no truck is worth that kind of money. that is absolutley stupid. if more people would realize this and not pay it the price would come down. trucks cost this much because there are to many stupid people that will pay that much.

I see guys spend that kind of cash on pickups all the time. It is mind boggling to see that kind of money spent on a rig that gets demolished in 3 years on a logging show. I also see trucks like this that never see dirt and the guys buying them lock in four wheel drive because there was an inch of snow overnight. That is a bigger waste of cash.
@ Jeff - I agree with you. Have stand alone options and let buyers pick an choose. Let guys order Power Wagon goodies for their diesel truck, or a Raptor package for a base model XL.

@Dan, well i guess i am stupid. I bought one of these trucks(3500 model) two months ago. Ordered the Laramie with every option including the chrome package(minus the b-pillar chrome). Payed $65,799 Canadian, ah sure is nice to spend my hard earned money on such a great truck. Dan, i make $150,000 a year so the price of this truck is nothing. As beautiful as this rig is i use it off road often. Bought it for a work truck and use it as such.
@mike ,were you guys driving this truck hard?, i'm getting 17.9 mpg combined with my new 6.7L Cummins and it only has 3500kms on it running 34 inch tires and 2 inch level kit. I know what you mean when you say it draws a crowd, i've always got truck guys hanging around it when i park it outside the local mall. Never had any negative comments about the Looks of the new Dodge. And with a Cummins under the hood how can you go wrong. I still like my Duramax and will keep both for now.

Nice looking Dodge Ram man !!
Haters are jealous !!

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