Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 Review

Dodge Ram Pickup 3500 Review

Plenty of people want pickup trucks. They're cool regardless of whether you actually use one. But people need duallies. In the rough-and-tumble world of pickups, behemoths like the Dodge Ram 3500 with dual rear wheels on both sides (hence "dually") are the kings of the hill, the go-to vehicles for towing and hauling huge loads up said hill. When you're pulling a Bayliner, a racecar, that new fifth-wheel Coachman or a few relatives of Secretariat, you need a dually.

The most recent Dodge Ram 3500 featured styling based on the second generation's styling rebirth, which showed that a full-size pickup could be made to resemble something other than a cinder block. Like its smaller brothers, the heavy-duty Ram 3500 boasted a muscular, rugged look that took heavy inspiration from big rigs, specifically their "shouldered" fender design and prominent grille. And why not, when the 3500 is about the closest thing you could get to a Freightliner?

Although the Dodge Ram technically ceased to be after the 2010 model year, it lived on as a founding member of Chrysler Group's new Ram brand. For more information, see our Ram 3500 review.

Most Recent Dodge Ram 3500
The most-recent, fourth-generation Dodge Ram 3500 debuted for 2010. Compared to the previous Ram 3500, this generation had revised styling, a more upscale interior, a retuned suspension and the new Crew Cab, which replaced the previous generation's Quad Cab body style.

This Dodge Ram 3500 heavy-duty pickup was available in three cab styles: regular, Crew Cab (with four forward-opening doors) and Mega Cab (jumbo crew cab). The regular cabs came with a long bed only, while the Crew Cab had either a short or long cargo bed. The Mega Cab rode on the same wheelbase as the Crew Cab long bed but paired an even bigger cabin with the short bed. Trim levels range from base ST to midgrade SLT and luxurious Laramie. With the exception of Crew Cab short beds, all Ram 3500s had a dual-rear-wheel axle.

Rear-wheel or four-wheel drive were available. A 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel inline-6 was standard and cranked out 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. The standard transmission was a six-speed manual with an option for a six-speed automatic. The Cummins came with a big-rig-like exhaust brake that provides additional stability and braking power when towing.

We found this Dodge Ram 3500 to be quite pleasant to drive and enjoyed its nicely crafted interior that boasted numerous available luxuries. Unfortunately, its diesel engine wasn't quite as powerful as its rivals, which was a significant disadvantage against the big trucks from Ford and GM.

Past Dodge Ram 3500 Models
The third-generation Dodge Ram 3500 was produced from 2003-'09. Only the regular and Quad Cab (crew cab) body styles were available initially; the Mega Cab (really big crew cab) squeezed into the lineup in 2006. This was also the year that Dodge restyled the heavy-duty Ram's interior, added higher-end convenience features and freshened the front-end styling. Available trim levels were ST, SLT (known as the SXT with the Mega Cab) and Laramie.

The Mega Cab was only available with the short bed, while the regular cab was only equipped with the long bed. The Quad Cab was offered with either and -- unlike the previous generation -- featured forward-hinged rear doors. The short-bed Quad Cab was the only 3500 model available with a single rear axle; the rest had dual-wheel rear axles. All models were available with two-wheel or four-wheel drive.

A 5.7-liter Hemi V8 was initially the standard engine, offering 345 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. This hefty power plant could be ordered with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. Discontinued after 2008, the absence of the Hemi left the familiar 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel-6 (350 hp, 650 lb-ft) as the only power plant. Originally, the diesel engine was a somewhat less powerful 5.9-liter Cummins, with the switch to the updated 6.7-liter Cummins occurring in 2007. A 305-hp 8.0-liter V10 was optional in 2003 only.

In reviews, we noted that the third-generation Ram 3500 had more power, increased towing capacity, better handling and updated styling compared to the second-generation model. In fact, it's close enough to the current model in terms of all-around abilities that we'd definitely recommend taking a look at used models from this generation -- you're bound to save a bundle, and you'll still be getting an extremely capable truck.

The second-generation Dodge Ram 3500 was produced from 1994-2002. The base engine was a 5.2-liter V8 engine, with an 8.0-liter V10 or 5.9-liter Cummins turbodiesel optional. Unlike the current generation, the 3500 was only available with a dual rear axle. In 1998, the Quad Cab was introduced with twin rear-hinged doors and a larger backseat. The interior was also redesigned that year, which included the addition of a standard passenger-side airbag with a cutoff switch. In 2000, improvements were made to the steering and suspension, while a high-output Cummins turbodiesel joined the lesser oil burner in 2001.

At the time, we commented favorably about the truck's user-friendly cab, competent handling and powerful V10 and diesel engines. One downside of the Ram was that rear-seat room in the Quad Cab was cramped when compared to the room available in competing pickup trucks.

The original generation of the 1-ton Dodge Ram was actually known as the Ram 350 and was produced from 1981-'93.