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 PickupTrucks.com

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

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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 www.kingsofthehammers.com.

– Mike Magda

Comments

Now this is a tough looking truck. Super nice grill and bumper. I love the hood as well. I would say this is the nicest looking truck yet. Looks beautiful yet aggressive. Why can,t Ford or GM build a truck as nice as this? The louvers in the hood are a sweet touch as well. The look of this vehicle defines TRUCK.

I am a Ford truck guy ,or should i say was a ford guy. The new Dodge Ram HD is the best looking truck inside and out. The new Ford Super Duty is just hideous looking, the headlights are way to large and the grill and hood is just plain ugly. I get to test drive the new Dodge tommorrow. No need to wait for the new ford now, my mind is made up and will get new Cummins for sure. Just need to test the manuel and auto tranny to see which one i will get, probably the auto since the cummins has a exhaust brake and manuel toggle shift auto trans. I am so excited.

Being a female, looks are very important to me, this Heavy Duty dodge gets a ten from me. Not many gals want a big truck but i love the diesel pick ups. I will be dreaming of getting one of these trucks( or a new man who owns one). Make mine white with two tone . Way to go Dodge Ram.

I think Colleen said it best. Which is why I prefer the styling of the Ford.

snowman, you are right. your are stupid to spend that much money on a truck. and then act like your crap dont stink because your rich. nice

looks ugly and plain.

it would have been a big hit in 1990. unfortunately, the 1990's styling is out. hence ram keeps losing sales. if you like 1990's trucks, this is for you.

No, some people are just stupid Ram = Ugly
Ram = Not the Best Engine
Ram = Fail

@snowman - where you posted mpg figures based on a Canadian gallon which is 20% larger than a US gallon? The figures Mike posted would convert to 14.8 mpg (Canadian). The tires on this truck are larger than stock. They would throw off the mpg ratings. The speedo will read "slower" than stock. That might account for the difference. Aggressive tires will reduce mpg as well.

If a guy wants to spend his hard earned cash on a 70,000 dollar truck, so what?
I was looking at pickups the other day and all of the diesels on the lot were 55,000 dollars and up.

ur right you are stupid for that. no truck is worth that kind of money unless its dipped in 24k gold. and on top of that, the second you drive it off the lot its worth 10grand less. if everyone would say no to this and not buy any new trucks they would have no choice but to lower the prices to where they should be. now your gonna brag about how much money you make, nice.

I don't know about all the chrome and fancy features. I have the 2010 2500 SL CC LB with a manual 6sp and 4x4 with the 6.7 and I love it, it also was a good bit cheaper than what this one cost. I have never been one for chrome, leather and fancy interior. I love rubber instead of carpet, and tough fabric seats as opposed to leather. I am hard on a truck, I use it as a truck, I haul heavy loads, get off road a good bit and all that fancy stuff would be ruined in no time. I don't do bed covers, heck I wouldn't be able to carry what I do at times and where would my tool box go? I have owned, chevys, fords and dodges all in diesel and all in 4x4 they all have their pros and cons, but right now I am a proud owner of a Ram, and it is a hoss. The main selling point for me on this truck was the manual tranny, yall all can keep your automatic, give me a stick shift and a clutch.

I wonder, and really need the answer to this, if ordering the the Ram 2500 Cummins with the optional 4.10 gears would help the MPG with 35" tires, matching the ratio to tire size and then adjusting the computer with a programer to properly acknowledge the new tire size.

I am in the process of ordering a new truck in the next few weeks and I am seriously looking at the Ram 2500, I like the Power Wagon for the e-lockers, sway bar disconnect and the Warn Winch. Those items will cost a good amount to add to any vehicle. I also really like the Mega Cab Larime and although the Cummins numbers are below the D-Max & 6.7 PSD, it is a well respected & engineered motor in its own right.

If I buy either of the Ram's they will be rolling on 35" tires with a quality lift, KORE or Carli with in a month or two of delivery, not for looks but for function and they will be done right.

I have not owned a Dodge since the dark ages in the late 70's, early 80's. I have had mid 90's Chevy K2500's w/IFS and 2000's Ford SD's w/V-10's, never had a diesel, which is what I want to try this time.

Also does any one have any experience with the Banks products on the 2010 Ram 2500 6.7 Cummins, air intake & exhaust effects on MPG?

Thanks!



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