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2015 Ram 3500 HD: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2014

The 2015 Ram 3500 HD 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 GM, it seems like a new most-capable full-size truck comes out every month. This is especially apparent in the world of turbodiesel pickups, where automakers can increase power and torque by simply rewriting some software. The madness will have to stop at some point, but for now, the Ram HD's 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel is at a ridiculous 865 lb-ft of torque and counting.

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 more than any other factor. Still, the Ram 3500 HD has received continual updates over the last few years to make it the best truck it can possibly be.

What's New for 2015?

After major changes in 2013 and 2014, the Ram 3500 HD is largely unchanged this year -- with the exception of a slight boost in torque for the top-of-the-line 6.7-liter turbodiesel powertrain, which goes from 850 to 865 lb ft.

What We Like

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

What We Don't

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

How Much?

$31,900-$56,000

Fuel Economy

The Ram 3500 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. For the most taxing jobs, there's a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline 6-cylinder, which cranks out up to 370 hp and 865 lb-ft of torque with a 6-speed automatic, or 350 hp and 660 lb-ft with a manual.

The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't test heavy-duty trucks for fuel economy, but don't get your hopes up as far as fuel costs go. We'd expect around 11 miles per gallon in the city with any engine, or 17 mpg on the highway.

Standard Features & Options

The Ram 3500 HD offers four trim levels: a base-level Tradesman, a midlevel SLT and luxurious Laramie and Laramie Longhorn models.

The Ram 3500 Tradesman ($31,900) is a commercial-oriented workhorse that doesn't include much. Standard features include crank windows, manual door locks, vinyl floor covering and vinyl upholstery. The truck does, however, include air conditioning, cruise control, and a USB port and auxiliary jack for music.

Next up is the Ram 3500 SLT ($36,000), which adds cloth upholstery, power accessories, heated mirrors, chrome trim and satellite radio.

From there, drivers can upgrade to the Ram3500 Laramie ($46,200), which is offered as a Crew Cab or an even longer Mega Cab. It boasts features such as 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 the Ram 3500 lineup is the Laramie Longhorn ($51,700), which adds park assist, a remote starter, heated rear seats and a navigation system.

If you're curious about the price jump from the SLT to the Laramie, the reason for the gap is an optional Big Horn package (dubbed the Lone Star package in Texas), which includes extra chrome trim, steering wheel audio controls, 18-in wheels, a remote starter, an auto-dimming mirror, a power driver's seat and fog lights. It's available on SLT models for around $4,500 extra.

Other options include body styles (Regular Cab, Crew Cab and an even longer Mega Cab), engine choices, drivetrain choices (2-wheel drive vs. 4-wheel drive) and -- if you get the 6.7-liter diesel -- even the choice between a manual or automatic transmission.

Safety

The 2015 Ram 3500 HD comes with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and four airbags (front and full-length side-curtain). It also boasts optional safety features such as park assist and a rearview camera.

While heavy-duty trucks aren't crash-tested, we expect that you'll be on the safer side of most collisions.

Behind the Wheel

The heavy-duty Ram is like the Ram 1500's bodybuilding older brother. It's not quite as refined, but it sure is tough. The coolest thing about the heavy-duty Ram is that you can get a manual transmission with the turbodiesel. Plenty of truck guys still like to shift for themselves, but the Ram HD is the only truck that offers that option.

The Ram HD's front seats -- generally a 3-person bench, though the Laramie and Laramie Longhorn also offer two individual bucket seats -- are about what you'd expect in a big rig, providing plenty of space. Front passengers will notice that the Ram HD's dashboard is similar to the Ram 1500's, which means there's genuine style and respectable materials 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-350 -- Like the Ram 3500, the F-350 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 3500 HD -- Newly redesigned for 2015, the Silverado 3500 HD boasts impressive capabilities and a lot more refinement. Unless you're seriously devoted to the Ram brand, the latest Silverado is worth a look.

Used Ram 3500 HD -- If you find pricing for new versions of the Ram 3500 HD to be prohibitively expensive, consider a used model. Even a 2-year-old Ram 3500 HD includes most of the benefits you'll get with today's model at a substantial discount.

AutoTrader's Advice

The best Ram 3500 for you depends on your needs. If you're a fleet manager looking for a truck with no frills and big capability, there's the Tradesman. 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 3500 SLT and a few options.

Find a Ram 3500 HD for sale

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Used 2015 RAM 3500 4x4 Crew Cab SLT DRW
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2015 Ram 3500 HD: New Car Review - Autotrader