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2019 Ram Heavy-Duty Pickup Review

Ever since it adopted big rig-inspired design in 1994, the Ram pickup has been a visual standout among full-size trucks. There’s something about the look of the 2019 Ram Heavy-Duty Pickup that says it’s ready to do the job. For 2019, Ram refines the big-rig look with brawny shoulders, a domed hood and a substantially larger grille with a large choice of designs (except cross-hairs), huge RAM letters centered in the grille that can be read a block away, a tasteful, leather-clad interior upsized from the Ram 1500 Limited and an available Tesla like 12-in portrait-mode infotainment screen.

There are big doings in the engine compartment. A new High Output Cummins turbodiesel joins the lineup, with 33 pounds of boost, 400 horsepower and first-ever 1,000 lb-ft of torque. It joins the Ram’s other 6.7-liter inline-six Cummins with 370 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque and the Heavy Duty’s base 6.4-liter HEMI V8 with 410 hp and 429 lb-ft. The High Output Cummins can tow up to 35,100 pounds and carry a 7,680-lb. payload.

Aside from the uplevel look, the cabin is rich in storage compartments and cubbies, has plug-in ability with five Type C USBs and up to three 400-watt (to charge power tools) 110-volt outlets. There’s an optional wireless phone charger too.

Wisely, Ram kept the Mega Cab in the mix, with its limousine like back-seat legroom, reclining, sliding and folding rear seat, and storage under and behind the seat.

What’s New for 2019?

The 2019 Ram HD pickup has been redone from top to bottom with a new frame, an optional high-output Cummins turbodiesel with 1000 lb-ft of torque, a domed hood, a larger grille and a luxurious cabin with Ram 1500-inspired interior trim. See the 2019 Ram 2500 models for sale near you or See the 2019 Ram 3500 models for sale near you

What We Like

Ample power and torque with the HEMI and Cummins diesel engines; upgraded interior trim and features adapted from the Ram 1500; available 12-in Uconnect touchscreen; Power Wagon’s off-road prowess; big-rig look; Rambox storage

What We Don’t

No telescopic steering column

How Much?

Ram 2500: $35,090-$67,395

Ram 3500: $36,540-$68,745

Fuel Economy

All 2019 Ram HD pickups have a gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 8,500 pounds and therefore don’t receive EPA fuel-economy estimates.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Ram Heavy-Duty pickup is available in basic Tradesman, value-oriented Big Horn/Lone Star, off-road-oriented Power wagon, mainstream Laramie, luxurious Laramie Longhorn and range-topping Limited trims. See our Ram 1500 review for information on the Ram 1500 light-duty pickup.

Available in Regular or Crew cab only, the Tradesman is a bare-bones work truck with a standard black mesh grille, black bumpers, halogen headlamps, 17-in steel wheels, heavy-duty vinyl or cloth seats, an open upper glovebox, push-button start, Uconnect 5.0 AM/FM stereo, Bluetooth connectivity and a backup camera.

Available in Regular, Crew or Mega Cab, the Big Horn and Lone Star upgrade to a chrome grille surround, chrome bumpers, 18-in steel wheels, an integrated trailer brake controller and a choice of a front bench or bucket seats. Options include a power driver’s seat, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, Uconnect 8.4 touchscreen AM/FM stereo with SiriusXM, navigation, a premium audio system, a sunroof, LED exterior lighting, 20-in aluminum wheels and ParkSense front and a rear parking assist system.

The Crew Cab-only 4-wheel-drive Power Wagon rolls with black fender flares, black off-road grille, powder-coated black bumpers, large tow hooks, a Warn Zeon-12 winch, manual transfer case, tread-embossed cloth and vinyl seats, uplevel 7-in digital instrument cluster, 33-in Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac high-traction tires on 17-in alloy wheels, LED exterior lighting, Bilstein shocks, locking front and rear differentials, fog lamps, skid plates for the fuel tank and transfer case, hill-descent control, 4.10:1 final drive, a disconnecting front stabilizer bar and Articulink suspension.

Available in Crew or Mega Cab, the Laramie brings a chrome billet grille, chrome mirrors and door handles, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting, fog lamps, body-color wheel flares, leather seat trim, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, Uconnect 8.4 infotainment and ambient lighting. Laramie options include power side steps, 20-in alloy wheels, the Unconnect 12-in infotainment touchscreen, Premium Plus 17-speaker stereo and leather and suede seat coverings

Also available in Crew or Mega Cab, the Laramie Longhorn upgrades to a chrome slat grille, fixed side steps (power optional), chrome bumpers, adaptive headlamps, a Southwest-style leather-wrapped dashboard, door panels and armrests, alligator-look dash, seats, console and door trim, satin chrome and brushed-nickel trim, barnwood accents and wood tandem center console doors.

The top-of-the-line Limited also comes in Crew or Mega Cab body styles, and adds as standard Uconnect 12-in infotainment with SiriusXM, HD Radio and navigation, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, a corrugated mesh chrome grille, 20-in chrome alloy wheels, aluminum interior accents and power-operated side steps. Body-color bumpers are optional.

A towing technology package includes cargo-view and surround-view cameras, trailer tow mirrors, trailer reverse guidance and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Max Tow package is for Ram HD 3500 models only and brings 5th-wheel gooseneck prep, a 30K 5th-wheel hitch, the HD Aisin transmission, dual rear wheels with 4.10:1 rear axle, auto-leveling rear suspension, cargo-view camera, trailer brake controller and a DOT safety kit.

A Night Appearance package dresses up Laramie, Lone Star and Big Horn models black wheels, a black grille and black-out exterior trim and a Sport Appearance package on those same models goes with a black-theme interior, monochrome exterior, body-color trim and Park Sense park assist system.

Safety

A Safety package adds adaptive cruise control with full stop, forward-collision warning with auto emergency braking, LED exterior lighting, automatic high-beams, rain-sensing wipers and on Laramie Longhorn and lower trims, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute (IIHS) for Highway Safety have tested the 2019 Ram HD pickups, but the similar 2019 Ram 1500 Crew Cab did receive Good scores from IIHS for small-offset frontal and side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seat design.

Behind the Wheel

The 2019 Ram HD pickup isn’t the kind of vehicle most people would hop into for a casual Sunday drive. Usually, a truck with this hauling capability is selected because there’s a job to do that a lesser vehicle wouldn’t be suitable for. That said, the 2019 Ram HD 2500 and 3500 drive smoother and with more composure than you’d expect any vehicle with solid front and rear axles would do.

An all-new, very stiff frame, C-pillar hydromounts and tuned mass dampers help quell the pickup truck quivers and active noise canceling (working through the truck’s audio speakers) and noise-damping acoustic front glass helps minimize road and engine noise. The standard frequency response damping shocks quell unwanted body movement without feeling overly stiff and the optional rear air suspension (which replaces the rear coil springs on HD 2500 models) allows more unladen suspension compliance with the leaf-spring rear suspension in the HD 3500 Ram. You know you’re driving something big and capable without paying a price with a harsh, jiggly ride.

Big fun is taking on a challenging back-road trail in the Power Wagon. With the big-inch 6.4-liter gas HEMI V8, manual 2-speed transfer case, front and rear locking differentials, hill-descent control and disconnecting front stabilizer bar, there’s a lot of back country you can explore.

Another Ram HD nicety is the ability to hook up a trailer using the rear camera and air suspension.

Not everyone gets the opportunity to tow 35,100 pounds, the approximate equivalent of 4-1/2 diesel-powered 3500 dually Rams. But we did, and not just on flat ground but towing uphill and using the very capable hydro-boost brakes and diesel exhaust brake downhill. Obviously, everything occurs at a more deliberate pace, even with the 1,000 lb-ft of the high-output Cummins 6.7-liter turbodiesel, but once you’ve scaled up your expectations, the HD Ram delivers a confident driving experience as advertised.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Ford Super Duty — It’s hard to argue with success. The aluminum-bodied Ford Super Duty truck is the best-selling heavy-duty pickup. Power choices are a 385-hp 6.2-liter gas V8 or the 450-hp 6.7-liter PowerStroke turbodiesel V8 packing "just" 935 lb-ft of torque — for now. Watch for a considerably updated 2020 Ford Super Duty pickup soon.

2019 Chevrolet Heavy Duty – The long-in-the-tooth-looking 2500 HD and 3500 HD Chevrolet Silverado is in the battle too with a 360-hp 6.0-liter gas V8 and a 445-hp Duramax turbodiesel V8 with 910 lb-ft of twist. Chevy’s already shown a sharply redesigned 2020 model with a 10-speed automatic and max towing spec of 35,500 lbs.

Autotrader’s Advice

The overwhelming motivations for buying a heavy-duty pickup over a light-duty one are increased payload and towing ability. The all-new 2019 Ram HD 2500 and HD 3500 are work trucks that just happen to be a whole lot more pleasant to spend time in now that they’ve adapted much of the well-executed leather-lined luxury fitments and updated infotainment features of the new Ram 1500 pickup. That said, the $12,200 tariff to move up from, say, a HD 2500 short-wheelbase 2-wheel-drive Laramie Crew Cab to the same truck in Limited trim might be better spent on upgrading to the Cummins turbodiesel, heavy-duty automatic transmission, towing package and other work-related hardware. With standard heated leather seats, 18-in alloys and the more-than-ample Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system, the Laramie trim offers good bang for the Ram Heavy-Duty buck. Find a Ram 2500 for sale or Find a Ram 3500 for sale

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