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2015 Ram 2500 HD: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader September 2014

The 2015 Ram 2500 HD (Heavy Duty) will be the first to tell you: It's hard being a heavy-duty truck these days. Thanks to the full-fledged arms race between Ram, Ford and General Motors, it seems like there's a new "most capable full-size truck" every month. This is especially apparent among turbodiesel trucks, in which bumping up power and torque is as simple as rewriting some software. The madness will have to stop at some point, but now the Ram HD's 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel is at a ridiculous 800 lb-ft of torque -- and even more if you upgrade to a 3500 model.

Coming up with real demerits for these trucks is similar to criticizing 18-wheelers. The fact is that they're all exceptionally capable, and almost certainly up to any task, whether it's towing a huge trailer or hauling a heavy load. We suspect that your decision will ultimately come down to brand loyalty and personal preference over any other factor. Still, Chrysler redesigned the Ram in 2013 and updated it again for 2014 to make it the best truck it could possibly be.

What's New for 2015?

After major changes last year and in 2013, the Ram 2500 carries over almost completely unchanged into 2015.

What We Like

Robust Cummins turbodiesel inline 6-cylinder with available manual transmission; impressive capabilities all around; brawny styling; muscular new V8

What We Don't

Choosing the stick shift drops torque rating; Tradesman models offer little in the way of comfort

How Much?

$31,200-$55,100

Fuel Economy

The Ram 2500 offers three engines. Standard is a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 rated at 383 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. Drivers who want more power can step up to a new 6.4-liter V8, which boasts 410 hp and 429 lb-ft. And for the most taxing jobs, there's a 6.6-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline 6-cylinder, which cranks out up to 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque with a 6-speed automatic, or 350 hp and 660 lb-ft with a standard transmission.

The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't test heavy-duty trucks for fuel economy, but don't get your hopes up in terms of fuel costs.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Ram 2500 HD offers five trim levels: a base-level Tradesman, a midlevel SLT, luxurious Laramie and Laramie Longhorm models and an off-road-oriented Power Wagon.

The RAM 2500 Tradesman ($31,200) is a commercial-oriented workhorse that doesn't include much. Standard features range from crank windows and manual door locks to vinyl floor covering and vinyl upholstery. The truck does, however, include air conditioning, cruise control, a USB port and an auxiliary jack.

Next up is the RAM 2500 SLT ($35,100), which adds cloth upholstery, power accessories, heated mirrors, chrome trim, and satellite radio.

From there, drivers can upgrade to the Laramie ($45,100), which is only offered as a Crew Cab or an even longer Mega Cab. It boasts features like dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a center-mounted 8.4-inch touchscreen, power adjustable pedals, heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery and chrome alloy wheels.

Topping off the lineup is the Laramie Longhorn ($50,500), which adds park assist, a remote starter, heated rear seats and a navigation system.

Drivers who want the off-road-oriented Power Wagon ($50,200) must spring for a 4-wheel-drive Crew Cab version of the pickup because it's not available any other way. Standard features include tow hooks, skid plates, a 12,000-pound power winch and electronically locking differentials.

If you're curious about the price jump from the SLT to the Laramie, the reason for the gap is simple: option packages. There's an optional Big Horn Package (dubbed the Lone Star Package in Texas), which includes extra chrome trim, steering wheel audio controls, an auto-dimming mirror and fog lights, and there's an Outdoorsman model that mixes features from both packages.

Other options range from different body styles (Regular Cab, Crew Cab and an even longer Mega Cab) to engine choices, drivetrain choices, and -- if you get the 6.7-liter diesel engine -- even the choice between a manual or an automatic.

Safety

The 2015 Ram 2500 comes with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and four airbags (front and full-length side curtain). It also boasts optional safety features, including parking assist and a rearview camera. While heavy-duty trucks aren't crash-tested, we suspect that you'll be on the safer side of most collisions.

Behind the Wheel

The Ram HD is like the Ram 1500's body-building older brother. It's not quite as refined, but it certainly is tough. The coolest thing about the heavy-duty Ram is that you can opt for a manual transmission with the turbodiesel. Plenty of truck guys still like to shift by hand, and the Ram HD is the only truck that lets you do that.

The Ram HD's front seats -- generally a 3-person bench, though the Laramie and Laramie Longhorn also offer two individual buckets -- are about what you'd expect in a big rig, providing plenty of space for a wide range of physiques. Front passengers will notice that the Ram HD's dashboard is similar to the Ram 1500's, which means that there's genuine style and materials with respectable quality. The controls are ergonomically sound, and they're even operable by a gloved hand in most cases. The touchscreen, however, is considerably less straightforward.

In addition to the 2-door Regular Cab, the Ram HD offers two 4-door configurations. The Crew Cab provides plenty of room for adults, while the limolike Mega Cab has so much legroom that it might as well come with rear ottomans.

Other Cars to Consider

Ford F-250 -- Like the Ram 2500, the F-250 boasts diesel and gas engines and a wide array of trim levels, body styles and capabilities. The F-Series Super Duty doesn't offer coil suspension or a stick shift.

Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD -- Newly redesigned for 2015, the Silverado 2500HD boasts similarly impressive capabilities to the Ram workhorse.

AutoTrader's Advice

The best Ram 2500 for you depends on your needs. If you're a fleet manager looking for a truck with no frills and big capability, the Tradesman trim would probably be best for you. If you want a full-size truck with a high-end interior and all the latest gadgets, check out the Laramie models. Most shoppers will be happy somewhere in between -- with a Ram 2500 SLT and a few options.

Find a Ram 2500 for sale

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Ram 2500 HD: New Car Review - Autotrader