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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
February 11, 2019

The 2019 Ram Heavy Duty pickup is back and boasts eye-popping powertrain and features for truck buyers.

The 2019 Ram 2500HD and related 3500HD are three-quarter and one-ton trucks, respectively, that are new for 2019. Like the outgoing heavy-duty trucks, the new heavy-duty Ram pickups are based on the Ram 1500 light-duty pickups that were new for 2018—except for all the beefy powertrain and suspension bits, of course.

When the new Ram 2500 truck goes on sale in the spring, the pickup will be available in nearly countless configurations: bed, powertrain, trim, and options abound.

Ram offers Tradesman, Big Horn (or Lone Star for Texas buyers), Power Wagon, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited trim levels for the heavy-duty truck. All are available as 2500 versions; 3500 trucks with single- or dual-rear wheel configurations are available for every trim level except Power Wagon, which is 2500 only.

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Ram hasn't yet announced how much the truck will cost, although it's likely to start at more than $34,000 in base, work-truck spec.

Style and performance

The new Ram 2500HD ad 3500HD pickup takes cues from the smaller light-duty pickup, right down to the butch grilles and high waist. The 2019 Ram doesn't ditch the "big rig" look of its predecessors, but it's straighter this time with big headlights shaping its hulking shoulders. The grille depends on trim level: Limited versions get a gauntlet of horizontal chrome strips that waterfall down the face; Power Wagons get a winch, tow hooks, and a blacked-out grille that may have been inspired by gladiatorial combat weaponry.

Along the body sides, the Ram 2500 is mostly a dead ringer for the 1500 pickup and its predecessor. Minor difference: The Heavy Duty pickups iron out the sculpted body sides compared to the light-duty trucks.

In back, branding is a sport Ram takes seriously. Depending on trim level, the trucks wear a chromed Ram's head or a billboard-sized "RAM" brand unique to Power Wagons. If history is any indication, the heavy-duty truck's subsequent trim levels will have their own style of grille and tailgate combos—none of them subtle.

Less subtle: the Ram HD's trump card of "moar power" under the hood.

The banner ad first, then the caveat. This year, the Ram Heavy Duty can be equipped with a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel that makes 1,000 pound-feet of torque and 400 horsepower. It's the first mass-market pickup from the factory with that kind of twist, but the number is largely window dressing. Dumping that kind of twist down the driveline in the first two gears would grenade its transmission, max torque can only happen once the truck is underway.

That high-output engine is an option for an option, but it's available with a factory warranty and thus frivolous competition is still a sport in America.

The base engine that's standard on all models is a 6.4-liter V-8 gasser that makes 410 hp and 429 lb-ft, which is the same as last year. It's the engine that owns one of the Ram HD's other superlatives: a 7,680-pound payload capacity in some trucks. It's teamed to a new 8-speed automatic transmission with an electronic shifter.

The 6.7-liter inline-6 turbodiesel is optional and offered in two tunes: the 400-hp, 1,000-lb-ft configuration, or a 370-hp, 850-lb-ft version. The former huffs up to 33 psi of turbocharged boost and claims the Ram HD's other powertrain title: it tows up to 35,100 pounds in a specific configuration. Assuming you don't have a CDL, small town to tow, or an annoying neighbor to beef with in the driveway, the regular 6.7-liter turbodiesel drags more than 20,000 pounds in many configurations.

Rear-wheel drive is standard on all trucks (except Power Wagon, which is only four-wheel drive) and four-wheel drive is available. Two transfer cases are offered for the 2019 Ram HD; one is specifically engineered for max towing. A 3.73 or 4.10 rear-axle ratio is available, depending powertrain needs.

Comfort, safety and features

Three bed configurations are available in the Ram HD: two-door Regular Cab, four-door Crew Cab, and four-door Mega Cab, which offers more rear-seat space. Three out of four Ram HD buyers will opt for the Crew Cab configuration, it offers a 6-foot-4 or 8-foot bed. Regular Cabs only get the 8-footer, Mega Cabs only get the 6-foot-4 bed.

With the shorter bed, Crew Cab models measure 238.8 inches from bumper to bumper, 260.8 inches with the 8-foot bed. (In case you don't regularly park in an airplane hangar.)

Inside, the dimensions are largely the same as the outgoing truck: Crew Cabs offer more than 40 inches of rear-seat legroom, and seating for five adults is possible. The Ram heavy duty splits from the outgoing version in material availability and features. Top trims of the truck offer more leather than any other truck on sale, Tradesman versions are nearly washable with a hose. The Power Wagon boasts its own fabric upholstery with tire treads, too.

A 5.0-inch display is standard on work-spec models, but doesn't stay there for long. An 8.4-inch touchscreen is standard on most trim levels (it's an option on Big Horn), and a 12-inch touchscreen is available on Laramie Longhorn models and standard on Limited trucks. (If your truck is big, your touchscreen should be too, right?)

In-truck storage for bottles, tools, computers, files, or gear is plentiful. Five USB ports are available, including four high-speed Type-C plugs.

The Ram 2500 and 3500 is available for the first time with active safety features such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control, but they're optional on all trim levels.

That's not all: up to 17 speakers can fill the cabin with audio, a surround-view camera system is available on most trim levels, leather upholstery can be had on top trims, and an appearance package can fit 20-inch wheels.

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