2019 Ram 3500: Bigger, Badder and Now Luxurious

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By Mark Williams

Competes with: Chevrolet Silverado 3500, Ford F-350/F-450 and GMC Sierra 3500

Looks like: A beefier heavy-duty single- and dual-rear-wheel version of the newly minted Ram 1500

Drivetrains: Carryover 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 (410-horsepower, 429 pounds-feet of torque) paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission or all-new turbo-diesel 6.7-liter inline-six-cylinder Cummins (370 or 400 hp, 850 or 1,000 pounds-feet of torque) with a pair of new six-speed automatic transmissions; rear- or four-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Early second quarter

Following close on the heels of the successful launch of the 2019 Ram 1500 light-duty pickup truck, the new 2019 Ram 2500 and 3500 revealed today at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit offer similar (but very different) structural and quality upgrades to the frame, chassis, cabs and interior.

Related: More 2019 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

Because there is so much difference between the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 models, especially the dual-rear-wheel models, this story focuses on the changes to the one-ton model. If you want to read more about the changes to the three-quarter ton and upgraded 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon, click here.

Exterior

The 2019 Ram 3500 will continue to be offered in several distinct trim levels: Tradesman, Big Horn/Lone Star, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn and Limited. The outside of the Ram 3500, as you would expect, closely follows the 2500 and to a certain extent the smaller Ram 1500. The grille reflects the biggest changes with more horizontal slats from the new light duty and a larger, bolder wide-mouth look. We're glad the large "nostrils" of the previous model are gone. But the new look is not just for styling's sake; the larger grille is designed to flow more cooling air into the engine compartment when needed. All 2019 Ram HDs will have computer-controlled grille shutters to help the engine warm up quicker in cold weather and cool faster during high-demand situations. Also, the newly designed front bumper will allow air to flow into the engine via a new center opening.

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The new aluminum hood reflects some of the multilevel "waterfall" design cues seen on the 1500, and the 3500 offers three new headlamp choices: halogen, full LED reflector and full LED projector with active turning that moves the lights in the direction of travel up to 15 degrees.

Ram 3500s will continue to be offered in both single- and dual-rear-wheel versions in regular- and crew-cab 4x2 and 4x4 configurations with an 8-foot bed. The Ram 3500 Mega Cab also will be offered in single-wheel and dually configurations but only with a 4x4 drivetrain and a 6-foot, 4-inch bed. All Ram HD Mega Cabs will have the shorter bed.

Interior

As we saw with the Ram 1500, moving to larger and quieter cabs (regular, crew and Mega Cab), and a vastly simplified and cleaner dash layout is likely to garner the new Ram 3500 a lot of attention from the money-is-no-object crowd. These buyers usually tow expensive trailers, boats or campers, and when they tow they like to go in style.

Each trim level will sport a different material with materials and colors that reflect that model's intended purpose. The new center dash puts all the radio, climate and feature controls within easy reach of the driver, whether the 12-inch or 8-inch screen is selected. The centerpiece of the new interiors will be the 12-inch configurable touchscreen that's likely to become the gold standard for the class; it's standard on the top-of-the-line Limited and optional for other trims.

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Among other big improvements to the interior, the front seats have been stiffened with more side bolstering, the center storage area offers 12 different storage combinations and cab-specific active noise cancellation systems reduce outside noise. Crew and Mega cabs have larger in-floor storage bins with drain holes and provide several in-floor tie-downs to boot. There also are several active-tuned modules on the frame (similar to the Ram 1500) to minimize frame/chassis/suspension vibrations.

The state-of-the-art Uconnect 4C Navigation and SiriusXM 360L will be available in the upper trim levels providing real-time, on-demand programming and allowing owners to develop and maintain profiles similar to Netflix — something that's never before been offered in the HD class.

Under the Hood

The Ram 3500's standard engine will be the carryover 6.4-liter Hemi V-8, rated at 410 horsepower at 5,600 rpms and 429 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm; it will be mated to a heavier-duty TorqueFlight eight-speed transmission with a class-exclusive, rotary-dial gear selector a la the 2019 Ram 1500. The naturally aspirated V-8 gas engine offers cylinder deactivation, moving from V-4 to V-8 modes as demand dictates to save fuel and includes a fuel shutoff system during certain deceleration situations (like coasting to a stop or long downhill glides).

The optional engine is the big news here: It's an all-new inline-six-cylinder Cummins B motor that is lighter and stronger than the one it replaces. Made from compacted graphite iron, the new block is topped by a new cast-iron cylinder head with new exhaust valves and springs, rocker arms, a hollow camshaft, and an aluminum oil and water pump. The turbo-diesel 6.7-liter diesel produces 400 hp (less than before) at 2,800 rpm and a whopping, class-best 1,000 pounds-feet of torque (70 pounds-feet more than before) at 1,800 rpm. As before, Ram HDs will get a less powerful variant of the same engine for buyers who might want or need the de-rated version or are looking for more longevity. The down-rated version produces 370 hp at 2,800 rpm and 850 pounds-feet of torque at 1,700 rpm. This version gets all the same improvements the up-rated version includes.

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All diesel Ram 3500s will get the electronically controlled Aisin AS69RC six-speed transmission, which we're told now has twice as much learning capability than before to deliver faster, more precise shifts under all driving conditions, loaded and unloaded. That was one of our complaints about the Ram 3500 during our 2018 One-Ton Heavy-Duty Truck Challenge.

Payload and Towing

The heart of the improved, class-leading towing and hauling numbers is partially connected to the 2019 Ram 3500's strengthened frame. The all-new frame is built with 98.5 percent high-strength steel, six separate through-welded cross-members, hydroformed main rails and fully boxed rear rails. The cross-member over the rear axle of the one-ton is much bigger and stronger than before to accommodate the bigger fifth-wheel and gooseneck hitch ratings.

The maximum tow rating for the Ram 3500 (4x2 diesel with a 4.10:1 axle ratio) is just more than 35,000 pounds; it has a gross combined weight rating of 43,000 pounds. The max payload capacity for the one-ton dually is 7,680 pounds (4x2 Hemi V-8 with 3.73:1 or 4.10 axle ratios). Gross vehicle weight ratings range between 10,700 and 14,000 pounds depending on configuration.

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Another reason for the Ram 3500's higher maximum towing and payload limits is the all-new max tow 12-inch American Axle & Manufacturing heavy-duty rear axle that has a larger ring gear, 4.25-inch tubes, much larger differential bearings and bigger shaft hub seals.

Safety and Tech

As with the 2019 Ram 1500, there are almost too many new or upgraded safety and technology features for the 3500 to list. Ram actually provided a list of 101 new safety and tech features in the media press kit, broken into five separate categories. Suffice to say that the 2019 Ram 3500 will offer key safety features such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, collision warning, multiple rearview camera options and settings, trailer backup assist, individual sensors on each airbag and much more. Naturally, different safety and technology features will be found on different trim levels. We'll know more about how everything interfaces with the driver and passengers after we get time behind the wheel of the different models, which is supposed to happen in February.

The new 2019 Ram 3500 hits dealership early in the second quarter; pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry; manufacturer images and drawings

 

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Comments

Yes. So why the f some of you bash RAM for electronics problems I didn't have any ?

That six cylinder Cummins block is a thing of beauty (4th photo from the top).

If Ford and GM would concentrate on building a big straight-six like that one (either gas or diesel) for trucks, it would be a big hit.

They're a breeze to work on, simpler to make and maintain.

@RAM
Because some on this board have an emotional attachment to a machine, unable to be pragmatic. I drive Fords not because they are necessarily better but I’ve never had a problem, like the design (personal choice) and they have always done the job. In that way we are all the same as to why we like our trucks. I see no reason to attack other people for what they drive. Each mfg has its + & -.

Because some on this board have an emotional attachment to a machine, unable to be pragmatic. I see no reason to attack other people for what they drive. Each mfg has its + & -.
Posted by: Grnzel | Jan 16, 2019

Actually, it's a possibility that some of us can form opinions that can withstand criticism or analysis. I love "attacking" people over their opinions.

What I think is lame is people taking the time and space to say "Each mfg has its + & -" What a waste of time! I'd rather have "an emotional attachment to a machine" than have no blood opinion at all.

The comments page on a website is for people who want to SHARE their opinions and have passion for their ideas, not some dribble about equivocal wimpy statements like the above.

"... no blood opinion at all." REPLACE with no bloody opinion at all.

The keyboard is getting ready to die from emotional-user outbursts

@papa
To what end?
I love brand x and everybody else sucks? C’mon I like to think people are a little more sophisticated than that. Sure a good debate is always fun but it quickly evolves to a web search to back your case. Who cares about opinions? I’d prefer an objective, fact based discussion. Opinions don’t have to be fact based, nor objective. Nor do they need to stand to any analysis - their only important to the person who has them.

only important to the person who has them.
Posted by: Grnzel | Jan 16, 2019

Actually the opinions of others give me something to tee-off on. Which I enjoy (obviously). I doubt that I'm the only one!

In fact, it is a bit educational to hear from others about this stuff. So much of the Car Media's reporting is pure crap. One of the reasons I value PUTC so much is that the content is good and it's well illustrated.

Compared to Car & Driver or some of the other clowns. Just this morning I read a critique of the new RAM 1500 by some guy whose profile says he loves writing about cars and drives a Saab. Give me a break!

Tupy S.A. will update and increase its compacted graphite iron capacity at Saltillo, Mexico, in order to increase capacity for CGI cylinder blocks for passenger cars, to fulfill a new order from an unnamed automaker. To do this, Tupy has contracted SinterCast AB to update the SinterCast System 3000 Plus system installed at that operation.

@Big Al

While you were out: Christine L keeps calling here for you.

Please give her a call. She kept saying something about breggs-ette or something like that---sorry.

That is a sexy truck. Better looking and better built that any GM piece of trash!!

100% GUTS

100% GLORY

100% BETTER THAN ANY OTHER BRAND

100% CLASS LEADING RAM TRUCKS

So, does this mean you like RAM trucks?

Anyone know why RAM has elected to not have a short bed 3500 dually with regular crew cab? I've heard some say that there is a preference for it for maneuverability when towing a fifth wheel / gooseneck.

Just curious because I admit I'm not to familiar with that kind of towing.

Thanks.

RAM has already outsold Chevy for the last 2 full quarters (3 months per quarter and 6 total months), if RAM can hit the market running with the HD trucks they will outsell Chevy and GM full size pickups combined for the year. GMC can’t take this from RAM as it is RAM’s for the taking if they can overcome any manufacturing snags.

...if they can overcome any manufacturing snags
Posted by: Ed | Jan 21, 2019

@Ed

B-I-N-G-O

@Ed

I'm sorry for the evident sarcasm in my previous comment. I also really like the new RAM products---a lot.

However, for RAM to overtake GM's production numbers in 2019 will require some very skilled Q/A personnel and a few visits from the Tooth Fairy.

An increase of five or ten percent in plant throughput is pretty viable under good conditions, but an increase that pushes RAM's sales totals past GM's is a fan-boy fantasy in the short term. Perhaps in a few years if all goes well. Both GM and RAM have some Q/A issues so it should be fun to watch.



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