2020 RAM Heavy Duty
2020 RAM Heavy Duty
Heavy-duty pickups weren’t known for their opulence, but the Ram Heavy Duty trucks have gone a long way towards upending that assumption. With interiors ranging from nice to sumptuous, the 2020 Ram 2500 and 3500 are the only way to tow up to 35,000 pounds while ensconced in limo-like luxury.
Updates to the 2020 models are slight, the most significant of which are two new color options and the expanded availability of active-safety features. A new Night Edition is also available on Big Horn Laramie trims that blacks out the wheels and exterior trim.
Engine choices remain the same as last year: the standard 6.4-liter gas V-8 and a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel that can be had in one of two states of tune. The standard-output Cummins is rated for 370 horsepower and 850 lb-ft of torque. The high-output variant, which is only available on the Ram 3500, boasts 400 horsepower and a full 1,000 lb-ft of torque. Up to 35,100 pounds can be lugged behind a Ram 3500 HD with the high-output Cummins. Both diesels are about $10,000 upgrades.
With the standard 6.4-liter V-8, buyers enjoy 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. It pairs with an 8-speed automatic and can tow up to 14,970 pounds when equipped with the proper bed, cab, and trailering equipment.
Active-safety becomes more pervasive in the lineup this year, with all trims offering blind-spot monitors, and adaptive steering. Other optional equipment includes parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, automatic emergency braking, and active lane control.
This class of truck does not get tested by the government for crashworthiness nor fuel economy.
All prices reflect rear-wheel-drive models in the most affordable bed and cab configuration. All prices also include any applicable destination charges.
The sparsely-equipped Tradesmen opens the lineup at $35,440. It doesn’t sport much outside of a 5.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, air conditioning, and 17-inch wheels. Manual windows and locks are standard, as is a manually-adjustable vinyl bench seat.
The $39,590 Big Horn adds some exterior chrome trim, a carpeted floor, 18-inch chrome wheels, cloth upholstery, and power towing mirrors.
Moving into the most popular Laramie trim brings an 8.4-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather upholstery, power front seats, and dual-zone climate control. It starts at $51,045.
The $54,945 Power Wagon is next up. This trim largely reverts to Big Horn levels of creature comforts but adds a heaping of off-road equipment, such as special shocks, 33-inch all-terrain tires, a 12,000-pound winch, electronically locking differentials front and rear, and skid plates. Four-wheel drive is mandatory with the Power Wagon.
The Laramie starts at $58,345 and gets upgraded leather, heated seats and steering wheel, navigation, power-adjustable pedals, and real wood trim, among other luxuries.
The $63,345 Limited is laden with opulent touches, chief among them the 19-speaker audio system and a 12.0-inch vertically-oriented touchscreen. There’s also standard heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and blind-spot monitors.
The Ram 2500 takes its cues from the highly-lauded Ram 1500. Like the light-duty truck, there’s rectangular headlights and a bold grille up front, smooth flanks, and a big squared-off Ram badge on the tailgate. Despite being unabashedly a truck, the Ram 2500 maintains an air of elegance, with graceful lines and a sophisticated demeanor.
All this is in stark contrast to the angular, slab-sided Ford F-250, or the heavily-styled Chevy and GMC heavy-duty trucks.
Forget for a moment the towing specs, torque numbers, or payload capacities. Outside of the mechanical details, it’s the interior of the Ram Heavy Duty lineup that shines brightest. Though the Tradesmen is austere and the Big Horn not much ritzier, they still enjoy top-shelf materials for the price point, excellent fit and finish, and an elegant design. The Laramie and Limited ratchet all that up a notch, raising the bar for heavy-duty trucks. All this puts the Ram HD interior at the top of the class.
Front seats are comfortable in any guise, especially those equipped with leather and power seats. Support and comfort are in ample supply, and there’s no shortage of room for drivers and front passengers to stretch out. For the full effect, there’s heated and cooled seats available on some upper trims.
Crew Cabs are spacious as well, but it’s the Mega Cab that really delivers. Riding a 160-inch wheelbase, the Mega Cab has 43 inches of rear leg room, which is more than what some vehicles provide for their front passengers.
The infotainment system on the base model is just a 5.0-inch touchscreen, but most buyers will get their truck equipped with the 8.4-inch touchscreen with the latest Uconnect software. Used in most FCA products, this one of the better systems on the market. Even first-time users will quickly become experts using the simple and intuitive software.
Cargo capacity is no concern for a Ram HD truck. Two bed lengths are available, a standard 6-foot four-inch bed and a longer 8-foot bed. Bed tie downs are standard, and the RamBox cargo storage system includes lockable bins incorporated into the bedsides. Maximum payload capacity is 4,380 pounds for HD 2500 Series trucks and 7,620 pounds for the 3500 models.
Up to 35,100 pounds can be towed by 3500 models, while 2500 models can tow nearly 20,000 pounds when properly equipped.
The typical jouncy ride has been banished from the Ram HD trucks. Instead, buyers are treated to smoother, quieter ride than ever before. But there’s no getting around the fact that this is still a heavy-duty truck, though. Imperfections still filter through, but it’s overall much better than the one-ton trucks of old.
The improvement in ride quality can be accredited to the standard coil springs used in the rear suspension of 2500 Series trucks. These springs do a much better job in smothering out bumps and potholes than a traditional leaf spring design, which is what most heavy duty trucks continue to rely on. The Ram 3500 also uses leaf springs in the rear, which results in a diminished ride quality but allows it to haul and tow more than the 2500.
Engines have been improved as well, but both are venerable beasts. The Cummins turbodiesel has been around in its current 6.7-liter form for 13 years, and in that time it has seen its power output rise prodigiously. Currently, Ram can coax up to 400 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque out of this engine, but they only do so for 3500 models. The 2500 series lineup makes do with 370 horsepower and 850 lb-ft of torque.
In either tune, the Cummins makes towing an effortless exercise. A few minutes on the interstate and even trailers of 20,000 pounds will disappear from all but your mirrors. And Ram has tamed this beast a bit over the years, so no longer does it constantly roar and bellow from under the hood. But is it worth the $10,000 upcharge? For most people, probably not. But those who plan on regularly towing close to the max towing capacity of either the 2500 or 3500 would do well to order up the Cummins.
The standard 6.4-liter V-8 gas engine is a great option for everyone else. Its 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque is plenty of motivation, even for a truck this size. It is the payload leader of the lineup, hauling the aforementioned 4,380 pounds. And it can still tow up to 17,350 pounds.
Braking, steering, and handling are all still largely marginal compared to the light-duty vehicles most people drive, but buyers coming from older HD trucks will appreciate the improvements made in these regards. The Ram HD trucks might be unwieldy and slow to react, but they do their best and make baby steps towards improvement.
The Power Wagon deserves a brief mention here. Unlike the rest of the HD lineup, the Power Wagon prioritizes off-road shenanigans over towing and hauling capability. There’s a heap of off-road equipment that comes standard, and the result is a truck that can tackle most any terrain with ease. It’s not intended to be a high-speed desert runner like the Raptor, but it will make mincemeat of any trail or mountainside.
The 2020 Ram 2500 and 3500 deserve to be on the short list of anyone looking at purchasing a heavy-duty truck. With the nicest interior in the class, two excellent powertrains, and impressive capability, there’s little not to like about these trucks. We’d get ours in Big Horn trim in an attempt to keep the price down.
—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection