If your needs are for heavy duty towing jobs, be it a horse trailer, fifth wheel size camping trailer or large utility trailer, Ram’s 2016 3500 dualie with diesel engine is for you. It has an astonishing best-in-class tow rating of 31,210 pounds and a payload of 7,390 pounds. The 3500 is a big boys pickup with loads of grunt.
The Laramie Limited trimmed test truck was powered by the optional 6.7L Cummins turbo-intercooled diesel I6 engine that produces 385-hp and generates a whopping 900 lb/ft of torque at a low 1,500 rpm. With the optional ($100) 4.10 rear axle ratio (a 3.42 is standard) and optional ($2,595) 6-speed automatic transmission, it’s enough to pull a mobile home off its foundation. And the combination carries a GVWR rating of an impressive 14,000 pounds.
Actually there are three variations of this mighty and proven diesel powerplant offered for the 3500: A 350-hp/660 lb/ft with manual transmission; a 370-hp/800 lb/ft with automatic; and the 385-hp with automatic. Plus there are Hemi V8 variations and a compressed natural gas model offered.
The 3500 is offered in three trim levels of Tradesman, SLT and Laramie with a sub-trim Limited that was tested. As such, it could easily compare to any luxury sedan with its perforated and heated/cooled leather front seats, heated steering wheel, 8.4-inch touchscreen display and 7-inch color driver information display. The former with Fiat-Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system, a smartphone available WiFi app, Bluetooth, GPS nav and switchable front and rearview camera systems that help navigate this monstrosity. There’s a two-tier glove box and a spacious console box. If you manage to fill them up, then there are two bins in front of the console box and two on each door.
In the back seat there’s more than ample leg and headroom for three burly adults. The rear 60/40 seat bottoms flip up against the bulkhead, which exposes two sets of fold out steel trays that form a flat load floor for added and protected cargo storage. Step-up into the cabin requires a 16-inch step onto the rails or 26 into the cabin.
The Ram’s 4-wheel drive system consists of 2H, 4H and 4L gearing plus there’s a trailer brake controller, alternate trailer height and tow-haul mode switches. Standard too is an anti-spin rear differential axle and stability control. Equipped with satellite radio and infotainment system, the 3500 owner can enjoy all the creature comforts offered in today’s sedans, and then some.
Ride quality on Nexen 17-inch tires is surprisingly not bad considering the trucks’ size, weight and dual rear wheels. With coil springs in front and leafs in the back, the 3500 rides firmly but is not punishing. However, this hefty hauler takes is a bit to acclimate to. With a wide turning diameter of 49.2 feet, that’s not so much the problem as remembering the back end is much wider (92 inches fender to fender) than the front (79.1 inches). So when turning or parking, this extra butt width has to be taken into consideration. On a two-lane road there’s only about a foot remaining on the curbside and a foot on the yellow/white line side in the lane. So the front end must be positioned accordingly.
Having a diesel powerplant, there is some noticeable diesel rattle at idle and under hard acceleration. But during highway cruise, the noise dissipates. One quirk with this diesel occurs on a cold day when first hitting the ignition switch. It doesn’t start right away until the internal glow plug warms the oil and innards. But once driven and the engine warms, the engine turns over immediately on restarts.
Now with this much capacity and heavy-duty capability, expect a heavy duty price. Base price on the Limited Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box tested started at $56,825. After adding the diesel option ($8995), Limited Package ($3,085) that includes heated second row seats, heated steering wheel, special badging/floor mats, leather, side steps, fifth wheel gooseneck towing prep group ($400), chrome bumpers ($250), center mount stop lamp with cargo view camera ($325), rear air suspension ($1,595), dual rear wheels ($1,200) and a delivery of $1,195, the bottom line escalated to $76,065. A lot of money, but a lot of truck that can go, haul and tow what no pricey luxury sedan can. This price also buys you Ram’s generous 5 year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.