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2016 Ram 2500 HD: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2016

The 2016 Ram 2500 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 General Motors, it seems 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, even more if you upgrade to a 3500 model.

Coming up with real demerits for these trucks is like 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 your decision will ultimately come down to brand loyalty and personal preference more than any other factor. Still, Chrysler redesigned the Ram in 2013 and updated again for 2014 to make it the best truck it can possibly be.

What's New for 2016?

The Ram 2500 HD is largely unchanged for the latest model year, save for a few new exterior details on the top-tier Laramie Limited trim.

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?

$32,700-$57,500

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 the stick shift.

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.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Ram 2500 HD offers five trim levels: a base-level Tradesman, a midlevel SLT, luxurious Laramie and Laramie Longhorn models, and an off-road-oriented Power Wagon.

The Ram 2500 Tradesman ($32,700) 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 and a USB port and auxiliary jack for music.

Next up is the Ram 2500 SLT ($36,600), which adds cloth upholstery, power accessories, heated mirrors, chrome trim and satellite radio.

From there, drivers can upgrade to the Ram 2500 Laramie ($47,300), which is only 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 lineup are the Laramie Longhorn ($53,100), which adds park-assist, a remote starter, heated rear seats and a navigation system, and the Laramie Limited ($56,500), which boasts 20-in wheels, automatic high beams and wipers, keyless entry and ignition as well as a host of chrome exterior trim.

Drivers who want the off-road-oriented Power Wagon ($47,500) must spring for a 4-wheel drive crew cab version of the pickup, as it's not available any other way. Standard features include tow hooks, skid plates, a 12,000-pound power winch and electronically locking differentials. Power Wagon models are offered in Tradesman, midlevel Power Wagon or Laramie configurations.

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, which mixes some 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 -- even the choice between a manual or an automatic.

Safety

The 2016 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 such as park assist and a rearview camera. While heavy-duty trucks don't get crash-tested, we suspect you'll be on the safer side of most collisions.

Behind the Wheel

The Ram HD is like the Ram 1500's bodybuilding older brother. It's not quite as refined, but it 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 lets you do it.

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 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 it might as well come with rear ottomans.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Ford F-250 -- Like the Ram 2500, the F-250 boasts diesel and gas engines as well as a wide array of trim levels, body styles and capabilities. But the F-Series Super Duty doesn't offer coil suspension or a stick shift.

2016 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD -- Newly redesigned last year, the Silverado 2500 HD boasts similarly impressive capabilities to the workhorse Ram -- same goes for its mechanical twin, the GMC Sierra 2500 HD.

Autotrader's Advice

The best Ram 2500 for you largely 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 2500 SLT and a few options.

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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.
2016 Ram 2500 HD: New Car Review - Autotrader