Every time I receive a heavy-duty pickup from the press fleets, I refer to the never-ending battles waged amongst the manufacturers of said trucks and this will be no different. Ram sent us its latest, largest consumer machine and it is a beast – a very pretty beast – in the form of the 2017 Ram 3500 Limited Mega Cab.
Not only was this one of the “fanciest” trucks we have reviewed to date it takes the crown as the most expensive to adorn the test driveway as it rolled in here at just a tick under 82 grand. For folks not residing in over-inflated real estate markets (such as ours here in North Texas), many will say that this is more than they paid for their first house. True in our case. And we almost have to break the review down by the truck’s title word-by-word, which is so big itself the manufacturer left the words Heavy Duty out of the paperwork as it would not fit.
As you see, this is the 2017 model of the Ram 3500 Heavy Duty. This is the largest pickup you can buy from your Fiat Chrysler Automobile affiliate dealer. This is the workhorse of the fleet, and while many will never cross paths with one of these pickups (let alone drive one), these trucks command attention and respect. When it rolls out in dual rear wheel form (dually, for short), things get even more interesting as those wide rear fender wells seem to stretch from coast to coast and require even more caution to be around. Drivers of these trucks learn very quickly that this vehicle does not maneuver like single rear wheel pickups. One inattentive move, and you will be replacing the entire side panel of the cargo box.
As for capability, the 3500s will tow the most, haul the most, and, as such, cost the most. They usually offer a turbocharged diesel engine under the hood to handle the brunt of the work that will be required of them and our recent tester was no different. It arrived with the Cummins 6.7-liter I-6 engine that generates 385hp and a whopping 900 lb. ft. of torque. The torque does the most of the work in a pickup so the horsepower ratings don’t matter nearly as much. Thankfully, diesel fuel prices have come way down in recent years so there is very little “penalty at the pump” these days for owning or operating a diesel-powered pickup. Ram mated an Aisin heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission to this Cummins engine and the truck features a limited-slip rear differential. Ram does still offer a six-speed manual gearbox in its big workhorses, the last to do so.
The big trucks come in two- or four-wheel drive configuration with our tester arriving in the latter. It features a two-speed electronic transfer case with mode selector on the dash panel. While the Ram 3500 comes standard with a 3.73 rear axle ratio our tester was outfitted with the optional 4.10 rear gears for more “oomph” on the low end of the engine rpm range. This truck rides on 17-inch wheels with all season tires. The brakes are massive and very effective at stopping this big truck. Ram offers a supplemental auto level rear air suspension on its largest trucks now that comes in very handy when connecting a trailer. This suspension also takes some of the rough ride out of the pickup when no load is being carried.
Ram offers the Heavy Duty trucks in eight different trim levels these days, with this Limited model being the range topper. Unique styling points are found inside and out that include larger chrome grille and Ram lettering, chrome belt moldings, body color fender flares, monotone paint, unique leather bucket seats with heat and air, heated second row seats, heated leather steering wheel, bed cargo divider/extender, cargo box lighting, keyless enter and go, and a host of other features. Our tester also included the likes of fifth wheel/gooseneck towing prep package, rear window defroster, power sunroof, tri-fold tonneau cover, rearview camera, cargo camera, Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system with navigation and premium audio system, parksense front/rear park assist, and remote start.
While a “normal” crew cab features plenty of passenger space in the second row, Ram’s Mega Cab takes that to limo-like proportions. The kids are going to have to work really hard to kick the back of your seat and there is about a foot of storage space behind the second-row seats for even more convenience.
Getting back to pricing for this big truck – the Ram 3500 Heavy Duty models start at $33,245 for a single rear wheel, gas-powered model in Tradesman trim. The tester that arrived here recently came with a final window sticker of $81,900. As this is a heavy-duty vehicle there is no EPA rating required, meaning they do not publish fuel economy figures. We were seeing 13.6 to 13.9 miles per gallon in mixed driving.
Big trucks – really big trucks like this behemoth Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Limited Mega Cab 4×4 – are not for everyone. But they do command (and receive) respect that they work very hard for. Purchase pricing such as found here is not in most folks’ wheelhouse, but when you want to spend more on a truck than you did for your first house, Ram has the pickup for you.