Ram 1500 Vs. Ram HD: When Do You Need Heavy Duty? Page 2

May 14, 2013
In the Heavy Duty trucks, you'll also find lots of serious details aimed at commercial users who plan to modify or customize their trucks and really put them to the test with loads. Running costs are also something at the top of the minds of those fleet buyers that snap up a lot of heavy-duty models. Ram HD models with the Cummins engine this year, for instance, have an extended interval for maintenance, oil changer, and fuel filter replacement.

All Ram Heavy Duty models also come with a Powernet electrical architecture that makes managing various inputs and outputs (refrigeration, lights, etc.) easier.

Don't forget about how they drive unloaded

Handling and ride quality are two things that truck shoppers often overlook when they're trying to decide between light-duty trucks and heavy-duty trucks. Get the HD trucks, and you can say farewell to the Ram 1500's precise rack-and-pinion steering—and to its smooth-riding coil-spring rear suspension, or its available air suspension. The 3500, for instance, has a Hotchkiss leaf-spring rear suspension, while the steering is a reciprocating-ball setup. Especially when you're not carrying or pulling a load, you're going to find the HD trucks busier and less pleasant while the Ram 1500 is practically carlike.

Inside, you might not be able to tell you're in an HD

The Heavy Duty trucks' cabins are perhaps a little more upright and business-like (you won't find the Ram 1500's rotary shifter) but they sure aren't as basic as they used to be. You can now get Tradesman, SLT, and Laramie models, with the Laramie looking nearly as luxurious as the cabin in the 1500 Laramie, with its supple leather upholstery and comfort items like a heated steering wheel. For 2013, Ram has introduced UConnect systems and an available 10-speaker Alpine premium audio system, so you're no longer missing crucial conveniences.

Light-duty diesel on the way

Of course later this year, the Ram Heavy Duty models won't be the only ones to offer a diesel. With the introduction of the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel engine—making 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and expected to be about the same in the Ram—fans of diesel engines' torque and pulling power who don't need to literally pull a rocket sled will have a sensible alternative.

Look for the Ram 1500 light-duty diesel to be hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with a highway rating that could approach the 30-mpg mark. And while we don't have towing or payload numbers for this model yet, it will have what Ram has already called “an outstanding combination of best-in-class fuel efficiency, best-in-class torque and impressive capability.”

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