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2020 Ram Heavy Duty Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2019

The heavy-duty pickup segment is highly competitive, and with redesigned offerings from Ram and General Motors introduced just last year and a refreshed Ford F-Series Super Duty on the way this year, that statement has quite possibly never been truer. While Ram doesn't dominate the heavy-duty pickup segment in any one measurable category, it does offer perhaps the most upscale designs of the bunch. On the outside, the 2020 Ram Heavy Duty wears a refined look, with brawny shoulders, a domed hood and a substantially larger grille offered in a variety of different insert designs. There's also a tasteful, leather-clad interior shared with the Ram 1500, complete with an available 12-in, portrait-oriented infotainment screen.

What's New for 2020?

The Ram Heavy Duty gets some small packaging tweaks for 2020. There's a new Night Edition based on either the Big Horm or Laramie trim that includes black wheels and exterior elements and a black leather interior. Contrary to what you might expect, the Night Edition is available in a variety of exterior colors. Lane-keeping assist and adaptive steering are now available on all trim levels. There's also a trailer tire pressure monitoring system and an auxiliary camera system that supports up to two different cameras. A 50-gallon fuel tank is now available on Crew Cab models with the 8-ft bed. See the 2020 Ram 2500 models for sale near you or See the 2020 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
  • The Power Wagon trim's off-road prowess
  • Optional air suspension

What We Don't

  • No telescopic steering column
  • The Power Wagon trim is gas-only

How Much?

Ram 2500: $35,000-$85,000

Ram 3500: $37,000-$92,000

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Ram Heavy Duty is available with three different powertrains. The base engine is a 6.4-liter V8 making 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. The basic diesel option is a 6.7-liter inline six making 370 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque. A high-output version of the Cummins turbodiesel joined for 2019 and makes 400 hp and an even 1,000 lb-ft of torque. With the high-output diesel engine, the Ram Heavy Duty can pull up to 35,100 pounds and haul a 7,680-lb payload.

The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't evaluate heavy-duty pickups for fuel efficiency, but expect to see fuel economy on any Ram Heavy Duty in the low teens.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 Ram Heavy Duty pickup is available in basic Tradesman, value-oriented Big Horn and Lone Star, off-road-oriented Power Wagon, mainstream Laramie, luxurious Laramie Longhorn and range-topping Limited trims.

Available in Regular and Crew Cab body styles, the Tradesman trim 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 and an open upper glovebox. Notable features include push-button start, a basic 5-in infotainment screen with an AM/FM stereo, Bluetooth connectivity and a rearview camera. Lane-keeping assist with adaptive steering is added as an option for 2020.

Available in Regular, Crew and Mega Cab body styles, the Big Horn and Texas-themed Lone Star trims add 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, a Uconnect 8.4 touchscreen AM/FM stereo with SiriusXM, a navigation system, a premium audio system, a sunroof, LED exterior lighting, 20-in aluminum wheels and ParkSense front and a rear parking assist system. As mentioned above, a new Night Edition adds black wheels and trim to the Big Horn and Lone Star models.

The Power Wagon is available only on the Crew Cab and with 4-wheel drive. The Power Wagon comes with black fender flares, a black off-road grille, powder-coated black bumpers, large tow hooks, a Warn Zeon 12 winch, a manual transfer case lever, tread-embossed cloth and vinyl seats, a 7-in digital instrument cluster, 33-in Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac high-traction tires wrapped around 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 and a disconnecting front stabilizer bar.

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

Also available in Crew and Mega Cab body styles, the Laramie Longhorn upgrades to a chrome slat grille, fixed side steps (power side steps are 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, barn-wood accents and wood tandem center console doors.

The top-of-the-line Limited trim also comes in Crew and Mega Cab body styles and adds the 12-in UConnect infotainment system with 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, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

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

A sport appearance package offered on Laramie, Lone Star and Big Horn models adds a black-themed interior, a 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 automatic 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 for Highway Safety test heavy-duty trucks, but the similar Ram 1500 received scores of Good from the IIHS across the board for its crash-test performance, earning it a coveted Top Safety Pick+ award. While we can't say whether the Ram Heavy Duty will perform identically in a crash, the results of the Ram 1500 point toward it offering relatively good protection in an accident.

Behind the Wheel

The 2020 Ram Heavy Duty isn't the kind of vehicle most people would hop into for a casual Sunday drive. Usually, a truck with this hauling capability is chosen because there's a job to do that a lesser vehicle wouldn't be suitable for. That said, the 2020 Ram 2500 and the 2020 Ram 3500 offer smoother, more composed rides than you'd probably expect from a vehicle with solid front and rear axles.

An all-new frame, C-pillar hydromounts and tuned mass dampers help to minimize vibration, while active noise canceling, working through the truck's audio system, and noise-damping acoustic front glass help to minimize road and engine noise. The standard frequency response damping shocks also stifle unwanted body movement without making the ride overly stiff, and the optional rear air suspension, which replaces the rear coil springs on 2500 models, allows for more suspension compliance when the bed is empty.

In the capable Power Wagon guise, the Ram 2500 is nothing short of an off-road workhorse. With a true 2-speed transfer case, front and rear locking differentials, hill-descent control and a disconnecting front stabilizer bar, a Power Wagon can take you just about anywhere. We just wish it was offered with the diesel engine.

Another nice feature of the Ram Heavy Duty is the ability to hook up a trailer using the rear camera and then relevel the truck via the available air suspension system.

Makers of heavy-duty trucks like to battle it out for the right to advertise the highest possible overall towing capacity, but in reality, few buyers -- if any -- are actually going to tow anywhere near the 35,000-lb-plus capacities of the heavy-duty trucks on the market today. Autotrader was given an opportunity to do so with the new Ram though, and on a hilly course, to boot. We liked the truck's hydroboost brakes and its exhaust brake on the downhill section. Obviously, when pulling a load of this size, everything occurs at a slower, more deliberate pace, even with the high-output Cummins 6.7-liter turbodiesel and its 1,000 lb-ft of torque at your disposal. Once you've scaled down your expectations, though, the Ram Heavy Duty delivers a confident driving experience, just as advertised.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty -- It's hard to argue with success. The aluminum-bodied light- and heavy-duty trucks from Ford make up the top-selling model nameplate in America. Updates ensure that the Super Duty remains king of the hill heading into 2020, with a new 7.3-liter gas V8 putting out 430 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque and a revised optional 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 putting out 475 hp and a whopping 1,050 lb-ft of torque.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD -- While the Silverado 1500 was redesigned for 2019, the Silverado HD is all-new for 2020. While its competitors from Ram and Ford employ a solid front axle in the interest of long-term durability, the Silverado HD incorporates an independent front suspension for sustained comfort over long trips. Engine options are a 6.6-liter gas V8 putting out 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque or a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 that makes 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque.

Autotrader's Advice

If you're considering buying a heavy-duty pickup, you're undoubtedly motivated by the need to tow or haul a heavy load, and the 2020 Ram Heavy Duty is more than capable of handling the needs of the average heavy-duty truck buyer. While its powertrains are on par with the offerings of Ford and GM, Ram has carved out a niche for itself by offering upscale designs inside and out, with a variety of attractive exterior bits and interiors deserving of the luxury truck designation, especially in the upper trim levels. Whether or not you're loyal to a specific brand, as most full-size truck buyers are, the new Ram is worth a look. Find a Ram 2500 for sale or Find a Ram 3500 for sale

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2020 Ram Heavy Duty Review - Autotrader
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