After years of marketing both its light and heavy trucks under the Dodge umbrella, Chrysler elected in 2009 to establish Ram Trucks as a new truck-only brand that would trade off the excellent reputation enjoyed by Dodge Ram pickups and the high recognition of the Ram name and logo. Joining the full-size Ram trucks would be the mid-size Dakota (now the Ram Dakota), as well as all commercial vehicles built by the company.
Let’s take a look at the revitalized Ram Trucks lineup and examine what it has to offer those seeking a vehicle that can pull its own weight day-in and day-out on the jobsite, the campsite or while towing a heavy load from one side of the city to another.
The 2011 RAM 1500 is the flagship of the Ram Trucks division. Available in Regular, Quad and Crew Cab editions, this full-size truck can seat between three and six passengers. It also offers two available cargo bed lengths: six-feet, four inches and eight-feet. The Ram 1500 is notable for its suspension setup, which makes use of coil springs in place of traditional leaf units at the rear in order to improve on-road comfort and handling. The coil design doesn’t negatively impact hauling (max. 1,780 lbs) or towing (max. 10,250 lbs).
The base model 2011 Ram 1500 comes with a 3.7-liter V-6 that is good for 215 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission handles the gear shifting duties for this motor and fuel mileage is rated at 16-mpg combined. Next up is a 4.7-liter V-8 that increases power production to 310 horses and 330 lb-ft of torque while maintaining a nearly identical combined fuel economy rating of 15-mpg. The trump card in the Ram 1500 engine lineup is a 390 horsepower HEMI V-8 that displaces 5.7-liters. Also capable of generating 407 lb-ft of torque, advanced engine management allows the HEMI to match the V-6’s combined fuel economy figure. Both V-8 engines come with a five-speed automatic transmission as well as the option of four-wheel drive.
The 2011 RAM 2500 represents the first step in the heavy duty tier of Ram pickups. Offering a reinforced frame, a more task-focused suspension design (including rear leaf springs) and available features such as a trailer brake controller and a spray-in bedliner, the Ram 2500 is oriented towards getting the job done. Like the Ram 1500, the 2500 comes in three body styles (Regular, Crew and the enormous Mega Cab) and offers identical passenger capacity. Box lengths are also the same, but payload capacity increases to a maximum of 3,120 lbs and towing capacity leaps to a hefty 15,450 lbs.
A substantial contributing factor to the 2011 Ram 2500’s improved towing and hauling specs is the availability of a 6.7-liter turbodiesel engine. This engine churns out 350 horses and 650 lb-ft of torque from its six cylinders, and it can be matched with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The Ram 2500 comes standard with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine that puts out slightly less power than the Ram 1500 edition (383 horsepower and 407 lb-ft of torque), mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Both engines can be paired with optional four-wheel drive. Ram does not release fuel economy figures for its 2500 series of trucks.
The 2011 RAM 3500 offers the same body styles and bed lengths found on the 2500 model but amplifies its rugged suspension and chassis design to improve its towing and hauling ratings. 5,130 lbs can be transported in the cargo area of the Ram 3500, and when properly equipped the truck can handle 17,600 lbs of trailer. The Ram 3500 can be ordered in barebones ST trim or loaded up with comfort features to create a rolling office space. Unlike the 1500 or 2500, the Ram 3500 comes standard with dual rear wheels, which give it additional control and stability while towing. Single rear wheels can be selected as an option.
The 2011 Ram 3500 is only available with the 6.7-liter turbodiesel engine found in the Ram 2500 (350 horsepower, 650 lb-ft of torque), along with the same choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. In all Ram applications, the diesel engine features an exhaust brake in order to help reduce the strain on the truck’s wheel brakes while negotiating steep downhill sections of highway. Ram does not release fuel mileage figures for its 3500 series of trucks.
The 2011 Ram Dakota has in many ways become the standard of the mid-size pickup class due to its segment-leading towing capacity. The Dakota is capable of pulling a 7,250 lb load, is able to haul up to 1,800 lbs in its cargo bed and comes with the choice of either a five-foot, three inch box (Crew Cab) or a six-foot, four-inch box (Extended Cab). The Dakota is not offered in a Regular cab edition, which means all versions can accommodate at least five passengers (and as many as six in higher trim levels with optional front bench seats).
The 2011 Ram Dakota starts out with a 3.7-liter V-6 under the hood that is good for 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic sends that output to either the rear or all four wheels if part-time four-wheel drive is selected as an option. Combined fuel mileage for the V-6 Ram Dakota is rated at 17-mpg. A 4.7-liter V-8 engine is also available for those looking to take advantage of the pickup’s full capabilities, and it generates 302 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque while returning combined a fuel economy rating of 16-mpg. A five-speed automatic transmission is the only available gearbox, and four-wheel drive is once again offered as an option.