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2018 RAM 2500: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2018

If you're looking for the 3-quarter-ton truck with the most available torque, you'd better look somewhere other than the 2018 Ram 2500. Its Cummins turbodiesel produces "only" 800 lb-ft in the face of competitors that top the 900 mark.

If, however, 800 lb-ft still sounds like huge trailer-towing torque, or if you're not even interested in a diesel engine, the 2018 Ram 2500 is still a highly desirable heavy-duty truck capable of towing 17,980 pounds. Besides, if you really have a torque jones, the Ram 3500 (reviewed separately) can indeed pump out 930 lb-ft.

Moving beyond the engine bay, the Ram boasts many distinctive attributes, including a unique coil-spring rear suspension that boasts superior ride comfort and improved trailer control and handling. There's also its aptly named Mega Cab, which boasts limo-like back-seat space, and the mighty rock-crawling Power Wagon.

Now, it's important to note that the Ram is getting on in years without a complete redesign. Its rivals may therefore be more appealing, and the many improvements on display in Ram's new 2019 1500 truck may inspire you to put off your buying decision a bit longer. In any event, though, we think the 2018 Ram 2500 is more than competitive enough to consider.

What's New for 2018?

Yet another trim variation debuts: the range-topping Limited Tungsten edition. A backup camera is now standard, there's a new Sport appearance package and the 8.4-inch touchscreen option has been upgraded with improved resolution, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 4G LTE Wi-Fi.

What We Like

Comfortable ride and tow-friendly handling courtesy of a rear coil-spring suspension; off-road-capable Power Wagon; uniquely huge Mega Cab; brawny styling

What We Don't

Showing its age in a few areas; 2500 diesel has less torque than rival engines; no accident avoidance tech

How Much?

$32,500-$59,200

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. A 6.4-liter V8 that boasts 410 hp and 429 lb-ft is optional on most trims and standard on the Power Wagon. 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. The 6-speed manual lowers output to 350 hp and 660 lb-ft. Note that the Ram 3500 has a version of this engine capable of 930 lb-ft of torque.

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 Ram 2500 is offered in a complex array of trim levels, engine sizes, drivetrains and cab styles (Regular, Crew and Mega). We've summarized the trims here, but note that there may be some variation in features and pricing depending on the truck you choose.

The Ram 2500 Tradesman ($32,600) is a commercial-oriented workhorse that doesn't include much. Standard features range from 17-inch steel wheels, crank windows and manual door locks to a vinyl floor covering and vinyl upholstery. The truck does, however, include air conditioning, cruise control, a backup camera, a USB port and an auxiliary jack for music. Power windows and locks are included on Crew Cab versions.

Next up is the Ram 2500 SLT ($36,800), which adds 18-in steel wheels, chrome exterior trim, a trailer brake controller, power windows and locks regardless of cab size, a sliding rear window, keyless entry, cloth upholstery, a 5-in Uconnect touchscreen, Bluetooth and satellite radio.

Next up is the Big Horn ($41,200), or Lone Star, should you live in Texas. It gains 18-in alloy wheels, extra chrome, fog lights, a limited-slip differential, remote start, an 8-way power driver's seat, upgraded cloth upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

From there, drivers can upgrade to the Ram 2500 Laramie ($47,700), which is only offered as a Crew Cab or an even longer Mega Cab. The limited-slip differential reverts to an option, but added features include dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, even more chrome trim, upgraded headlights, heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, driver memory functions, a 6-way power passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, a 10-speaker sound system and the 8.4-in Uconnect touchscreen (includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, HD radio and an additional USB port).

Then there's the Laramie Longhorn ($54,500), which adds running boards, a bed liner, better leather, power-adjustable pedals, heated rear seats, a navigation system and HD Radio. It's Crew Cab only, but you have a choice of bed lengths.

The Limited ($54,500) gets a different grille plus 20-in wheels, automatic high beams and wipers, keyless ignition and entry and the RamBox cargo storage boxes that are available on other trims. The Limited Tungsten is technically a package, which ups the interior's game with a unique Frost/Indigo interior color scheme, a suede cloth headliner, brushed metal interior accents and real wood trim.

The Power Wagon ($52,300) is available only as a Crew Cab, with the 6 ft.-4 in. box and 6.4-liter V8. It also includes special styling, tow hooks, 17-in black-trimmed wheels, all-terrain tires, an off-roading suspension, locking front and rear differentials, an electronic disconnecting front roll bar, hill descent control, skid plates and a 12,000-pound power winch. Much of the Power Wagon's off-roading mechanical equipment can be added to the Tradesman through an optional package.

Most of the upgrades included on upper trims are available as options on lower trims, be it alone or in packages. Other optional add-ons include a load-leveling suspension, a sunroof, a bed camera, CD player and special appearance packages.

Safety

The 2018 Ram 2500 comes with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control and front-seat and full-length side-curtain airbags. It also boasts optional safety features such as park assist and a rearview camera. Unfortunately, it isn't offered with many of today's latest safety gadgets, such as forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist or a blind spot monitoring system.

While heavy-duty trucks don't get crash-tested by third parties, we suspect you'll be on the safer side of most collisions.

Behind the Wheel

There are those who say the Ram HD's rear coil-spring suspension puts it at a disadvantage in the toughness department. Hogwash, we say. Whether you're towing a massive load or tackling rock-strewn terrain in the Power Wagon, there's nothing holding the Ram 2500 back. Importantly, that suspension lends it a more comfortable ride than its GM and Ford rivals, along with impressive trailer-control, especially on winding roads. And although the Ram has gone a long time without a complete redesign compared to other heavy-duty trucks, it doesn't feel that dated from behind the wheel.

As for the Power Wagon, we experienced first-hand its immense off-roading capabilities. Its sky-high ground clearance, huge 33-in tires, gaping approach angles, locking differentials and disconnecting front sway bar -- just to name a few elements -- let you tackle terrain that no other unmodified truck can.

Inside, you'll find the same stylish design and user-friendly tech features as in the 2018 1500 pickup. Some elements are starting to show their age -- such as the tilt-only steering wheel -- but in general, the Ram doesn't give up much (if anything) to newer Ford and GM heavy-duty rivals. The addition of an improved 8.4-in touchscreen for 2018 complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto certainly helps keep it up-to-date. One other unique element is the available Mega Cab option, which swells back-seat space and comfort to limo-like proportions. Yes, it does limit bed length, but if you're looking for a family-friendly tow vehicle, it's a fantastic choice.

 Other Cars to Consider

2018 Ford F-250 Super Duty -- The F-250 Super Duty was completely redesigned last year. It got a stronger frame, more powerful engines, an upgraded cabin and more available features. It's also available in a wider variety of models and trim levels.

2018 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD -- Now available with an upgraded diesel engine good for more than 900 lb-ft of torque, the 2018 Silverado 2500 HD continues to be a capable heavy-duty workhorse.

2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD -- The Sierra is virtually the same truck as the Silverado and gets the same new Duramax diesel engine for 2018. The Sierra is available in the popular, luxurious Denali trim, which is comparable to the Ram Limited.

Used Ram 3500 HD -- If you desire one of the Ram 3500 HD's higher trim levels and its burlier diesel engine, but find them to be prohibitively expensive, consider a used model. Even a 2-year-old Ram 3500 HD includes much of the same capability you'd get with today's model, but at a substantial discount.

Autotrader's Advice

The 2500 Laramie is available with most of the equipment found on upper trims, but you won't be paying extra for their frivolous styling flourishes. If you want to get your truck dirty, seriously consider the Ram Power Wagon -- apart from a louder on-road ride and the sky-high climb required to get aboard, it's just as livable on a daily basis, just as capable for towing and hauling and eight times as cool.

Find a Ram 2500 for sale

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New 2018 RAM 2500 Big Horn
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New 2018 RAM 2500 Laramie Longhorn
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New 2018 RAM 2500 Tradesman
New 2018 RAM 2500
MSRP $54,700
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.
2018 RAM 2500: New Car Review - Autotrader