2008 Dodge Ram 2500

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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
August 19, 2008

Buying tip

Do the math before you upgrade from the HEMI to the Cummins to ensure you're making a wise financial decision with this high-ticket option.

features & specs

2WD Mega Cab 160.5" Laramie
2WD Mega Cab 160.5" SXT
2WD Quad Cab 140.5" Laramie
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The 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 are serious trucks with serious capabilities.

TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 heavy-duty pickups to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove various version of the Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500. These experiences enable this team to offer you a definitive opinion on this heavy-duty full-size pickup. This review also compares the 2008 Dodge Ram HD with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

The 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 is a fairly civilized workhorse, comfortable and composed. Granted, like a draft horse (a real one, like on a farm), to be truly happy they need to be working--pulling or carrying something heavy. But keep them in their element, and they'll be good to you.

The bodies of the 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 are identical to the half-ton 2008 Ram, and they're offered in the same configurations, including the spacious Mega Cab. The beds are even shared, with the exception of the extra-wide fenders on the duallie. Not fooling with the basic Ram package is smart thinking on Dodge's part. The Ram cabs are among the most accommodating in the business, with a clean design and enough compartments to store a whole gross of cubbies.

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The chassis under the Ram 2500 and 3500 is basically the same as on the 1500. In fact, the two-wheel-drive heavy-duty Rams are the first trucks of their capacity to get rack-and-pinion steering similar to the rack-and-pinion used by lesser-capacity Rams. That steering pays off in excellent road feel and responsiveness (at least for a truck this large). Dodge, however, keeps traditionalists happy with the 4x4 Ram Heavies, which still use a recirculating-ball steering system and retain the solid front axle serious off-roaders consider an indispensable element of any real truck (the Ram 1500 4x4 switched to an independent front suspension last year). In fact, the coil-sprung 4x4 front suspension is virtually indistinguishable from that of the outgoing Ram heavy-duty 4x4.

Americans have been buying more and more high-capacity pickups over the last decade, and the category has grown increasingly competitive. Like the Ford and GM entries in the class, the Ram can be had with virtually every comfort and convenience item offered on half-ton pickups.

Power is of the utmost importance for the buyers considering the 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 heavy-duty models. The 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 is standard, and produces 345 horsepower at 375 pound-feet of torque. The HEMI is matched to a heavy-duty five-speed automatic. For those who want the ultimate in power and durability, Dodge introduces a new 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel engine. This six-cylinder uses advanced combustion technology plus patented Bluetec exhaust after-treatment to meet 2010 emissions standards, today. It's the first heavy-duty truck to do so, and in the process nearly matches the power output of the V-8 diesel engines offered by Ford and General Motors. The diesel comes with a standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission.


2008 Dodge Ram 2500


The 2008 Dodge Ram HD maintains its signature style, though it's more dated than its contemporaries--a redesign in '09 promises an evolution of the big-rig aesthetic.

The 2008 Dodge Ram HD is still instantly recognizable with its big-rig look, and Heavy Duty models with duallies stick out like sore thumbs.

The Dodge Ram HD is available in three cab styles, which dominate its exterior styling. You have the regular cab, Quad Cab (also known as a crew cab), and Mega Cab (which is essentially a jumbo crew cab). Edmunds writes that with its "jumbo-sized Mega Cab" and "big-rig styling," the Dodge Ram HD 2008 is "the manliest of this most manly truck category." In various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, "aggressive" is used to describe the 2008 Dodge Ram HD's look. Car and Driver informs us "the Dodge Ram [HD's] aggressive styling has stood out since 1994." Kelley Blue Book notes, "The Mega Cab's scale also requires mega-sized garages or parking spots." So no compact spaces at the local market--unless you plan on straddling two or four of them.

Dodge Ram HD 2008 ST trims are "pretty bare-bones, offering little more than 17-inch wheels [while] the SLT adds alloy wheels," says Edmunds. "A prominent 'gunsight' crossbar grille surrounded by bold brightwork (dark grey on the base ST) with squared-off fenders and wraparound headlamps" adorns the 2008 Dodge Ram HD, according to Kelley Blue Book, who comment, "Additional shiny bits and chrome wheels are part of higher trim levels." J.D. Power notes, "All Ram 2500 and short-box Quad Cab Ram 3500 models come with standard rear wheels, while all other Ram 3500s have duallie rear wheels."

Since the Dodge Ram 1500 receives a redesign in 2009, with the Dodge Ram HD models redesigned thereafter, the Dodge Ram HD 2008 interior carries over unchanged. However, as Edmunds reports, "An interior redesign a few years ago maintained the truck's freshness." They call it "a straightforward, user-friendly design," though "a slab of glossy, hopelessly fake wood placed front and center is the primary concession to cheesiness." Kelley Blue Book remarks, "Those who place a high importance on interior design and features may find more to admire in the Ram's heavy-duty competitors from Ford and GM."

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2008 Dodge Ram 2500


If you've ever wanted to drive a big rig but can't double-clutch or you need to tow a yacht or a long, long, long trailer, the 2008 Dodge Ram HD is an excellent all-around performer. Otherwise, stick with a smaller truck.

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."

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2008 Dodge Ram 2500

Comfort & Quality

Comfortable and well isolated, the 2008 Dodge Ram HD (in Mega Cab trim, especially) appeals to those who need the maximum amount of passenger space.

For the largest cab in the industry, choose the Dodge Ram HD; 2008 Mega Cabs seat six with plenty of legroom for all.

One would think that in a vehicle the size of the 2008 Dodge Ram HD, there would be lots of room front and back. But as Edmunds relates, "rear seating in Quad Cabs is noticeably more cramped than in competitors' crew-cab trucks...The Mega Cab more than compensates by expanding legroom by nearly a foot and offering a comfy, reclining backseat." According to J.D. Power, "The Mega Cab, which was introduced in 2006, adds 22 inches of cabin length and features rear seats that can recline up to 37 degrees." Kelley Blue Book calls it "quite literally the biggest cabin in the pickup segment," adding, "the Mega Cab's additional 20 inches of length yields outstanding accommodations for front-seat and, particularly, rear-seat passengers."

Comfort in the Dodge Ram HD ranges from utilitarian to plush, depending on configuration and trim. Kelley Blue Book notes it ranges "from decently civil in a vinyl-clad ST-level Regular Cab Ram 2500 with its 40/20/40-split bench seat, to quite nice in a cloth-covered six-passenger SXT or SLT Quad Cab and to demonstrably upscale in a leather-swathed and ultra-spacious Laramie-spec Mega Cab." Edmunds sums up the Dodge Ram HD 2008 well: "The Mega Cab's gigantic rear seat makes the presidential accommodations on Air Force One seem snug, and the seats themselves also fold away with ease."

Bed capacity is one area where the 2008 Dodge Ram HD suffers. "The standard bed is shorter than expected, while the Mega Cab's truncated bed could potentially limit fifth-wheel trailering applications," notes Edmunds. The regular cabs come with a long bed only, while the Quad Cab has either a short or long cargo bed. "The rear doors on Quad and Mega Cab models swing open nearly 90 degrees to facilitate loading and unloading," states Kelley Blue Book. Inside the cabin of Dodge Ram HD 2008's with bucket seats, a wide and deep center console is big enough to hold a medium-sized laptop computer.

Edmunds thinks the Dodge Ram HD's cabin materials quality "could be a bit better...although it is a straightforward, user-friendly" design. "The dashboard's simple layout makes for easy use and appears to be constructed to a high standard," they add. Kelley Blue Book has similar thoughts on the 2008 Dodge Ram HD's usability: "The instruments are legible and most switches and controls well positioned -- although the audio system selector buttons and the undersized display for the optional navigation system could use a rethink."

Noise intrusion is not a problem. "The cabin is never filled with any objectionable noise, even at full throttle...[and] there is scarcely a trace of diesel clatter evident, provided you don't open the door when the engine is idling," finds Edmunds.

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2008 Dodge Ram 2500


Though no crash tests of the 2008 Dodge Ram HD have been performed, the regular Ram is close enough in size to give a good idea of its results; opt for the side curtain airbags nonetheless.

The 2008 Dodge Ram HD is huge and heavy, and theoretically, it should offer good safety for its occupants.

As the Dodge Ram HD has not been officially tested for impact protection, TheCarConnection.com can only provide you with standard and optional safety features. However, the non-HD Ram 1500 received "good" for frontal offset impact tests and "poor" on rear crash protection, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which should bode well for the Dodge Ram HD. Edmunds reports that although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not tested the Dodge Ram HD 2008, the lighter Ram earned "five out of five stars for its protection of front occupants in head-on collisions."

"Standard safety features on the 2008 Dodge Ram HD consist of dual front air bags; a tire-pressure monitor; and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD)," reports J.D. Power. Head-protecting curtain side air bags are optional on all Dodge Ram HD 2008 models. "Optional on the SLT and standard on the Laramie are power-adjustable pedals," according to Edmunds.

Visibility in the Dodge Ram HD 2008 is good as Car and Driver reports: "The cab sits high off the ground offering excellent sightlines." As a truck, though, the view to the rear is obscured by the bed and tailgate.


2008 Dodge Ram 2500


The 2008 Dodge Ram HD offers the popular features that truck buyers expect as either standard or optional equipment in trims that range from a no-frills work truck to a mega-sized luxury rig for families.

With six trim levels, two engine and driveline choices, and three cab styles, the Dodge Ram HD offers buyers a custom fit.

Trim levels on the 2008 Dodge Ram HD consist of the ST, new SXT, SLT, top-line Laramie, and TRX4 Off-Road. Available for 2500 models is the off-road-oriented Power Wagon. Edmunds writes, "The regular cab comes in ST or SLT trims; the Quad Cab in ST, SLT or Laramie trims; and the Mega Cab in SXT or Laramie only." They add, "The Ram ST is pretty bare-bones, offering little more than 17-inch wheels, vinyl upholstery, 40/20/40 front bench seat, air-conditioning and a CD player."

Dodge Ram HD (2008) 2500s get standard trailering mirrors, but "no Ram truck includes a locking tailgate," reports Kelley Blue Book. 2008 Dodge Ram HDs have a new trim--SXT--that "adds chrome bumpers, cloth upholstery, power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless remote and cruise control," they detail. Edmunds points out that SXT "comes only with the Mega Cab." J.D. Power notes that Dodge Ram HD's with cloth seats features "YES Essentials cloth upholstery that Dodge says is stain-, odor- and static-resistant." 2008 Dodge Ram HD SLT models, they continue, "get Sirius satellite radio with one-year subscription; overhead console with trip computer and temperature readout; sliding rear window; and LT265/70R17 all-season tires on aluminum wheels."

The Dodge Ram HD 2008 top trim--Laramie--includes "leather and faux wood in Mega Cabs as well as a power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, steering-wheel cruise-control buttons, security alarm and more brightwork in Quad Cabs," writes Kelley Blue Book. Other standard features on the Dodge Ram HD 2008 Laramie, according to J.D. Power, are "6-way power adjustable front seats; front center seat cushion storage; power adjustable pedals; auto-dimming rearview mirror; chromed aluminum wheels; Infinity 7-speaker sound system; leather-wrapped steering-wheel with audio controls; Dodge's UConnect hands-free cell phone link; power sliding rear window; and fog lights."

Kelley Blue Book reports popular options on the Dodge Ram HD as being "the descriptively named Popular Equipment Group (ST/SLT), Navigation Convenience Group (SLT/Power Wagon/Laramie), Light Group (SXT/SLT) and Sport Appearance Group (SLT)." According to Edmunds, "For 4x4 regular cabs and Quad Cabs, Dodge also offers the Power Wagon trim. This Ram is highly specialized for off-road duty with its raised suspension, front and rear differential locks, electronically disengaging front stabilizer bar, 33-inch tires, 12,000-pound winch and full skid plates." Kelley Blue Book points out "any SXT model can be equipped with the comprehensive TRX4 Off-Road package that includes skid plates, limited-slip differential, on and off-road tires, tow hooks and fog lamps."

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