FCA debuts new Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty pickups

Nora Naughton Henry Payne
The Detroit News
People check out the 2019 Ram Power Wagon after its introduction Monday.

Detroit — The Ram 1500 pickup picked up the 2019 North American Truck of the Year trophy to open the 2019 Detroit auto show, and the brand will look to build on that success with its redesigned heavy-duty pickups.

Boasting a stunning, best-in-segment, 1,000 pound-feet of torque from its turbo-diesel engine, the Ram 2500 and 3500 debuted Monday in Cobo Hall. 

"Manufacturers like to come to the Detroit auto show and go big," said Ram chief Reid Bigland on Ram's big stage. "Well, you don't get much bigger than the Ram 2500 and 3500."

Ram also rolled out a brooding, luxurious 2500 Laramie Black edition as well as a turf-pounding Power Wagon model. The Power Wagon features front and rear locking axles, and front detachable sway-bar for serious off-roading.

Long the third-place finisher in the truck wars, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV has said it is looking to unseat at least one of its hometown competitors. After the success of the high-tech, luxurious light-duty Ram 1500, the 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty are engineered and designed to steal market share from FCA rivals Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. 

Ram came out swinging last year at the North American International Auto Show with a completely redesigned 1500, which gave GM and Ford a run in 2018.

The big Rams are the first heavy-duty trucks to cross the 1,000 torque threshold with a new 400-horsepower 6.7-liter Cummins High Output Turbo Diesel engine available on five of the six trims

"We are looking to raise the bar across the board," Bigland said. "It starts by taking the performance barrier and shattering it. This is the most powerful heavy-duty trick. Ever. We are announcing power that some thought was not even possible a few years ago."

Standard on the Ram heavy-duty trucks is a 6.4-liter, 410-horsepower Hemi V-8, which delivers 429 pounds-feet of torque. The highest-performing trucks can tow up to 35,100 pounds and haul 7,680 pounds of payload.

The Ram 2500 and 3500 carry over the big-rig styling on the outside, with a 30-percent larger grille that's more aerodynamic.

Active noise cancellation, anti-vibration devices and acoustic glass make for a quieter cabin, the company says, so the truck doesn't sacrifice comfort for capability. Interior noise has been reduced by 10 decibels. The standard, gas-powered, 6.4-liter V-8 delivers power through a new class-exclusive TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic. Ram says a new suspension with frequency-response damping shocks improves ride quality.

"No longer do you have to drive a heavy-duty and beat yourself to hell," Bigland said.

The 12-inch touchscreen that debuted on the light-duty trucks will be featured on all six of the heavy-duty trims — starting with the Tradesman work truck and working up to the more luxurious Laramie Longhorn and Limited models. The screen is now leveraged for utility in the heavy-duty trucks, clustering more of the controls in one place.

"All of the controls that are customary to somebody hauling a large trailer will be right there at the driver’s fingertips," Bigland said.

A redesigned center console has 12 storage configurations. Leather and wood-grain come with the higher-end heavy models. The Laramie Longhorn trim, for instance, will have barn-wood accents, metal buckles on seatback pockets, and wrapped and stitched leather throughout the interior.

Ram pickup sales, including light- and heavy-duty models, increased 7 percent in 2018 to 536,980 to capture 18 percent of the pickup market. In the last month alone, sales were up 47 percent. That's on the heels of Chevrolet's Silverado that sold 585,581 units, while the Ford sold 909,330 F-Series trucks.

Fiat Chrysler will build the new heavy-duty pickups at its plant in Saltillo, Mexico, where the previous-generation heavy-duty trucks will be immediately phased out. A manufacturing spokeswoman for the automaker says it still plans to bring heavy-duty production to Warren in 2020, but CEO Mike Manley has said he is rethinking that strategy.

The Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty go on sale in the second quarter.


Twitter: @NoraNaughton