The 2008 Dodge Ram HD is a powerhouse with either the HEMI or the Cummins diesel, but choose the latter for the ultimate in towing capability and fuel economy.
The standard engine is the 5.7-liter HEMI that makes "345 hp and 371 lb-ft of torque," notes Edmunds. They think the V-8 is "a competent all-around engine, but for serious towing and hauling (plus decent fuel economy), the 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel is essential." The Cummins is the first truck-market diesel engine to meet the stringent 50-state federal emissions requirements. It ups the Dodge Ram HD's towing and hauling potential: "Packing 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, the big six-cylinder diesel helps this Ram tow up to 13,350 pounds," according to Edmunds. However, Kelley Blue Book claims the Dodge Ram HD 2008 with the Cummins can tow "up to 16,500 pounds." In their test of a 2500 Laramie Quad Cab 4x4, the truck accelerated to 60 mph in "about 7 seconds." J.D. Power reports the "diesel engine also features a life-to-major-overhaul interval of 350,000 miles and standard-duty oil-change intervals of 7500 miles." There are some trade-offs mentioned in various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com about the diesel in the 2008 Dodge Ram HD. Kelley Blue Book comments "the Cummins...can't quite match the HEMI's off-the-line snap," and Car and Driver reminds us, "These are work trucks, so unless you plan major towing go with something more amenable."
Dodge Ram HDs are available with two transmissions per engine. "For the V8, a six-speed manual is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional," notes Edmunds; they also say that the "mighty diesel engine can be paired to [a] six-speed manual or automatic transmission." Kelley Blue Book opines of the Dodge Ram HD 2008 diesel: "The six-speed automatic transmission is an equally laudable and smooth operator. Like the five-speed automatic that backs the HEMI engine, it offers a convenient Tow/Haul-mode switch on the shift lever." Motor Trend contends the transmission "is smart enough to know how to adjust to empty versus loaded torque loads...[and] it also has a thumb-controller switch that allows the driver to select or lock out specific gears without the shifter's need to be in manual mode." Kelley Blue Book adds "the transition from high to low range on 4x4 SLT and Laramie models is now done electrically rather than via a manual lever, as it is on SL and SXT models."
As a full-size truck, the 2008 Dodge Ram HD is exempt from federal fuel regulations, so there is no official test data on fuel economy. Dodge doesn't even provide this information on its Web site. However, the fuel tank capacities of 34 and 35 gallons (depending on bed length) should provide a subtle guideline to fuel economy: not much.
Underpinning the Dodge Ram HD is a stout suspension and frame. "The four-wheel-drive 2500 has a solid front axle and recirculating-ball steering setup, while the two-wheel-drive model gets an independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering," according to Edmunds, who adds, "Although it's built to take on the most demanding tasks, the 2008 Dodge Ram [HD] is still a surprisingly comfortable truck for daily use." Kelley Blue Book likes the Dodge Ram HD 2008's "stiff frame and decently sorted suspension," though cautions "while the ride on certain road surfaces can get slightly choppy (particularly in an unladen 4x4 model), adding passengers or payload settles things down nicely." Edmunds describes hard braking in the Dodge Ram HD as "uneventful if not effortless...braking from 60 mph to zero consumes a fairly long 166 feet, some 17 feet longer than the last heavy-duty Ram we tested." Unique among its competitors, Dodge equips the Cummins turbodiesel with an exhaust brake--useful when hauling down grades. "Properly equipped," writes J.D. Power, "a Ram 2500 can tote up to 3230 pounds of payload and tow up to 13,700 pounds, while a Ram 3500 can haul up to 5110 pounds of payload and tow up to 16,850 pounds."