- Big power
- Great interior
- Broad lineup
- Good passenger space
- Active safety costs extra
- It’s huge
- Not fuel-efficient
- Expensive in top trims
features & specs
The ginormous 2021 Ram heavy-duty lineup reports for work, home, weekend, and hauling detail all at the same time.
Ram’s heavy-duty pickups ripple with power—up to 1,000 pound-feet of torque to drag more than 17 tons of trailer. The 2021 Ram 2500 also shines up better than a new penny and wouldn’t be out of place in a valet lot.
That kind of versatility and capability earns a 5.2 TCC rating with two footnotes: big trucks aren’t crash-tested and don’t report fuel-economy figures. That overall rating would likely drop if both scores were figured into the overall average. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
That’s because like last year, the 2021 Ram heavy-duty is available with one of three cab configurations, a choice between two bed sizes, two engines, single- or dual-rear-wheel options, and two powertrain offerings. The Ram 2500 is the first stop for heavy duty, and the 3500 adds beefier suspension bits for better hauling. Available in Tradesman, Big Horn, Power Wagon, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited trim levels, it costs about $35,000 to start and tops out north of $70,000.
A 6.4-liter V-8 gas engine is standard on all trucks and carries more in its bed, compared to the diesel engine. It makes 410 horsepower and can lug more than 7,600 pounds in the bed and is paired to an 8-speed automatic.
A 6.7-liter turbodiesel inline-6 dumps up to 1,000 pound-feet of torque down the driveline to lug up to 35,100 pounds of trailer—provided you have that CDL handy.
Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is available in all trucks.
Depending on cab and bed setup, the 2021 Ram heavy-duty could be a daytime draft horse or a long-haul champ. Crew cabs are more common and comfortable for a crew—or a family, if needed.
Ram offers active safety features including active lane control and automatic emergency braking, but charges more for them.
The 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman pickups are spartan and geared for work detail with manual windows and locks, vinyl everything, and a 5.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment. We’d start with the Big Horn that offers an 8.4-inch touchscreen, cloth upholstery, and more available options. The top trim Limited covers the exterior in chrome, smothers the interior in leather, tops with a 12.0-inch touchscreen, and more. It’s the type of truck equally at home at a Waffle House or Delmonico’s.
2021 Ram 2500
The 2021 Ram’s best looks are on the inside.
Ram smoothed out some of its big rig looks for its heavy-duty trucks with the 2021 Ram 2500 and 3500. They won’t be mistaken for anything other than massive pickups, but they’re just a little too anonymous on the outside. Inside, the Ram goes beyond just good looks—they’re great. It’s a 7 for a stellar interior.
Ram went to great lengths to make each trim of the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 distinct from each other. Tradesman pickups look ready for work, Power Wagons look ready for the trail, and Limited trucks look ready for the valet lot.
Inside, the Ram 2500 adds great details such as rulers and common conversions stamped into the center console. The materials vary by trim level, but top trims are convincingly luxurious with real leather upholstery, wood trim, and an available 12.0-inch touchscreen.
2021 Ram 2500
Few trucks are as mighty as the 2021 Ram 2500.
Heavy-duty hauling is the only reason to consider a heavy-duty truck, and the 2021 Ram 2500 is up to those tasks.
It’s available with big gas or diesel engines geared for exceptional hauling, whether in the bed or on a trailer. Starting from an average score, the Ram 2500 gets points above average for its engine lineup and another for its exceptional capability. We ring the bell once for powerfully
ponderous handling, which is endemic to all super-size trucks. It’s a 6 for performance.
Standard on every Ram heavy-duty truck is a 6.4-liter V-8 gas engine that makes 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. It drives the rear or all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
It’s the payload boss and can carry up to 7,680 pounds in the bed in a dual-rear-wheel, regular-cab Ram 3500 with rear-wheel drive. It’s a smooth customer and nominally makes concessions to fuel economy with cylinder deactivation tech that can halve the number of cylinders used during some situations. (Spoiler alert: The Ram heavy-duty truck won’t rival any Prius for gas mileage, ever.)
The next step up is a Cummins 6.7-liter turbodiesel inline-6 in one of two outputs. Both are paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission that is down on forward gears compared to rivals from Ford and General Motors, but still competent. The base version of the engine makes 370 hp and 850 lb-ft, and the upgraded version bumps both to 400 and 1,000, respectively. It’s the towing champ and can lug a trailer that weighs up to 35,100 pounds in dual-rear-wheel, regular-cab Ram 3500 spec with rear-wheel drive. (Different configurations have different limits, so it’s best to check your math first and then find the right pickup.)
Ram 2500 models use softer coil springs for a better ride, while the Ram 3500 pickups use leaf springs for better capacity. An available air suspension can be added and can help level the load in the rear, which makes for easier hauls.
The Ram Power Wagon is geared more toward off-road than hauling and subs in 33-inch tires with taller sidewalls and stiffer Bilstein shocks. It’s truly capable off-road, but a paint shaker on-road.
2021 Ram 2500
Comfort & Quality
Once aboard, the Ram 2500 is spacious and comfortable like few cars on the road.
Indulgent describes just about anything super-sized. Whether it’s cheeseburgers or trucks, the 2021 Ram 2500 will be bigger than just about anything else nearby. Whether that’s good depends on your priorities.
Starting from an average score, the Ram heavy-duty pickups get a point above average for their cargo capacity (practically unlimited) and comfort in crew-cab models, which are more popular with shoppers. The front and back seats are plenty spacious, but they’re a chore to get into for most riders. It’s a 7 for comfort.
We’ll give you the short of the long for what’s possible. Like last year, the Ram 2500 is available in regular, crew cab, and oversized crew cab (called Mega Cab) configurations. Regular-cab trucks are mostly for work buyers and relegated to more basic trims. Crew cabs are full-size four-door models that are more popular and available with 6-foot-4 or 8-foot beds that can stretch more than 260 inches from bumper to bumper. Longer crew cab models are only available with 6-foot-4 beds but are best considered as long-haul pickups.
Crew-cab models offer more than 40 inches of rear seat leg room (Mega cabs add three more inches to that) and comfortably seat up to five adults. Ram’s heavy-duty trucks share the same cabs with light-duty pickups—and that’s a good thing. All of the interior materials are especially comfortable, and there is more interior storage than our closets at home. The Ram 2500 is especially quiet at a long-distance lope, where the big truck settles—and quiets—down on the road.
Top trims get convincing luxury touches such as soft hides and a big 12.0-inch touchscreen.
2021 Ram 2500
The Ram 2500 skips crash-test ratings.
Federal and independent testers don’t have the guts to crash-test a heavy-duty Ram pickup. Either that, or they haven’t found a wall big enough. We’ll withhold our safety score until they do.
That said, the Ram 2500 offers most active safety features on all its models—for a price. Automatic emergency braking and active lane control, and a surround-view camera system are optional on all trucks. We think all three are not only necessary, they should be mandatory.
Only blind-spot monitors are standard equipment, albeit only on the priciest Limited pickups.
2021 Ram 2500
Base versions are built to a price, but the Ram 2500 gets decadent in a hurry.
We’ve run out of fingers and toes to count the available configurations for the 2021 Ram 2500 and 3500. Not much has changed since last year’s version, so our 6 score will carry over. There are nearly endless possibilities for the Ram 2500, but few of them are cheap.
This year, the Ram heavy-duty pickups are available in Tradesman, Big Horn, Power Wagon, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, and Limited trim levels.
Tradesman trucks are built to work spec: vinyl floors and seats, 17-inch steel wheels, a 5.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, manual locks and windows. It’s no-frills, get-the-job-done stuff like Shaker furniture.
The Big Horn version (called Lone Star in and around Texas) adds more power equipment and creature comforts, which we think will be more popular with retail shoppers. It adds 18-inch chrome wheels and an optional 8.4-inch touchscreen for infotainment. It’s the one we’d have with the right cab and bed to match our needs.
Power Wagons are off-road powerhouses—provided you have plenty of space to turn around. They offer locking front and rear differentials, a winch, Bilstein shocks, and off-road tires.
The top-end Limited slathers on chrome and leather upholstery inside, including a 12-inch touchscreen for infotainment and 20-inch wheels. It’s the foreman’s truck, and wash your boots before getting in.
The Laramie and Laramie Longhorn offer more flexibility for creature comforts at a lower price than the Limited trucks. Laramie Longhorn drape country-western themes all over the interior—bring your belt buckle, partner.
2021 Ram 2500
The Ram 2500 doesn’t report fuel economy estimates.
Heavy-duty pickups, including the 2021 Ram 2500, aren’t rated by the EPA for gas mileage. That’s a shame; shoppers increasingly turn to the big pickups for family-car detail.
Considering its size and massive engines, it won’t be a surprise to learn that the Ram 2500 isn’t very fuel efficient. Combined mileage in the low teens is common, and when towing it can drop lower. If towing more than 12,000 pounds isn’t part of your routine, consider the Ram 1500, which is comparatively more fuel-efficient.