What’s it like towing 35,100 pounds up and down a six percent grade with the 2019 Ram 3500?
In a word, easy.
With its latest heavy-duty lineup, Ram has hit a sweet spot amid impressive power, luxury and technology.
The high-output 6.7-liter Cummins diesel didn’t break a sweat while towing a Big Tex gooseneck trailer weighed down with a front loader and a packed pallet that brought the load to the truck’s maxed tow rating of 35,100 pounds—the most ever for any pickup up to model year 2019.
“It’s a no-compromise truck, really shattering the record for power and capability and at the same time changing the way our customers are really thinking about heavy-duty trucks, technology and luxury all at the same time,” Jim Morrison, head of Ram, said during a presentation just prior to our test drive.
The 3500 Limited dually we were driving came equipped with a 12-inch screen that, among other things, allows for multiple views of the trailer (see video below).
Listening to the 17-speaker Harman Kardon sound system comes easy thanks to a much quieter cab design.
“In general, you’re going to notice when you’re out there driving how quiet the cabin is,” said Ryan Nagode, Ram’s chief engineer of interior design. “We’ve used acoustic glass as well as active noise cancellation and in general it’s about a 10db noise reduction.”
That adds up to about a 50 percent quieter cab over outgoing Ram trucks. And it’s not just quiet inside, as you’ll notice in the video below, you can easily carry on a conversation while standing beside the front of the truck with the hood up and the engine running.
Besides driving on a six percent grade in historic Eldorado Canyon in Nelson, Nev., we also took the Ram 3500 on the highway. While we didn’t get the 35.1K load for the drive from Las Vegas to Nelson, we did haul a Big Tex dump trailer that weighed in at 14,900 pounds.
Prior to hitting the road, I made some quick adjustments to the side mirrors that can be folded out to offer a better view of the load behind.
It didn’t take long to get comfortable with the truck. The electronically controlled six-speed Aisin automatic handled that record-breaking 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque with ease and quickly did its part in getting us up to speed as we merged onto the busy Las Vegas freeway. Credit goes to Aisin’s new transmission controller which delivers faster and more precise shifts thanks to increased memory and a dual-core processor. Also of note, the transmission temperature didn’t rise above 175 degrees during our uphill run in the canyon, a testament to a more capable cooling system led by a larger, 39-inch radiator.
A comfortable ride came courtesy of frequency response damping shocks on all four corners, progressive springs and upgraded bushings.
One of the cool perks on the 3500 we tested was the class-exclusive active-level rear air suspension which includes a bed-lowering mode. With the rear trailer camera view activated on that 12-inch screen, Ram demonstrated the system on a 3500 by lowering the bed, backing up to a gooseneck trailer and then raising the bed back up to connect to the trailer. Impressive to say the least.
Other high-tech features that deserve high-praise includes segment exclusive forward-collision and automatic emergency braking.
And the brakes will definitely get the job done when it counts. Twice when we came up to fast-changing yellow lights at busy intersections near Nelson, that 3500 came to a quick stop when the pedal was engaged. My driving partner and I were impressed.
As I learned later Ram equipped its 2019 heavy-duty trucks with a new braking system that included upgrades to the calipers, booster and master cylinder. Combined with a larger 365mm rear brake rotor and a larger-ratio pedal swing and Ram’s latest workhorses offer shorter stopping distances over prior models.
Of course, I’m a big fan of Jake brakes and lived for those moments when I took my foot of the accelerator and let the truck’s exhaust brake pitch in with stopping. That proved to be especially helpful on that downhill run in Eldorado Canyon.
The same luxurious appointments that won over a lot of fans to the new Ram 1500 pickups can also be found in Ram’s heavy-duty pickups, making the toughest jobs a little easier.
Bottom line, the only hiccup I had with the 3500 was during the downhill descent when I attempted to set the cruise control. I wanted to see how well the truck would handle keeping the truck at a steady speed while getting pushed by a 35.1K load. Despite three separate attempts, the system flashed a cancelation message on the dash which is fine because if I’m towing that kind of weight, I’d rather be the one in charge.