Big Ram truck a big hauler for big people
By Jim Bray
The 2015 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is one heck of a truck, big and powerful and equipped very well. It's also so high off the ground that shorter folks might find it a real chore getting in and out of it.
That was my experience, anyway, and it didn't help that my arthritic feet were giving me trouble at the time of my review. So, Murphy's Law being what it is, the media sample of this humongous hauler had no running boards, or steps, or any other way of facilitating easy entry for the diminutive. That meant I had to reach up as high as I could to grab the handle inside the cabin - just inside the door frame - and then do an awkward manoeuvre to get up there, one guaranteed to show the world just how graceless one person can be.
Getting out was a lot easier, thanks to something called gravity, though it was a long hop down. And if I had something in my hand, like an iPad, backpack or whatever, I'd have to leave it on the driver's side floor, slide down onto the ground, then retrieve my package.
Needless to say, I tried to limit these experiences to times after the neighbours had gone to bed for the night.
Once you're ensconced in this large pickup, however, you're greeted with a comfortable and luxurious vehicle that contains pretty well all the technology you could want these days. And boy, do you cut a swathe through traffic! I felt like I was 10 feet tall and covered with hair. Heck, Hummers run and hide - and if you're tired of bicyclists hogging the driving lanes, you can really intimidate the heck out of them! This is merely an assumption, of course; I'd never bother any of those wonderful cyclists who make our world such a better place.
The sample truck - officially called the Ram 2500 SLT Power Wagon Crew Cab 4x4 - came with a 6.4 litre HEMI V8 engine mated to a six speed automatic transmission. The Ram also has a "FuelSaver MDS" cylinder deactivation system, which is meant to make the massive motor munch a bit less manna than you might think it should given its 410 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm, torque of 429 ft.-lb. @ 4,000 rpm and the overall solid and heavy design and construction of the truck itself.
You can also choose from a 5.7 litre V8 or a 6.7 litre Cummins turbo diesel - and you can order the diesel with either a six speed manual or six speed automatic transmission.
However you slice it, this is a serious truck.
Alas, I'm not a truck guy, but I have friends and neighbours who are aficionados and they were impressed mightily by the big Ram. Since they refused to give me a boost up into the driver's seat I refused to take them for a ride - but if I had they'd probably have mentioned the Ram's ride quality. You'll never mistake it for anything but a big pickup truck but, that said, it's surprisingly civilized, thanks undoubtedly to its five link rear suspension and heavy duty shocks. Not exactly catlike, unless you're talking about a cat the size of a T-Rex.
The 4x4 is claimed to tow up to 7,004 kilos (15,440 pounds), according to Ram's website; I didn't tow anything, but the Ram gave the impression that I could have pulled my neighbour's house off its foundation if I'd wanted to - except I didn't think it until I'd taken the truck back.
As utilitarian as a truck like this is meant to be, that doesn't mean you have to do without the latest comforts and conveniences, and this particular Ram is Rammed full of stuff, to the tune of about 10 grand in the way of options. Not that the standard equipment makes the Ram seem like a horse drawn buggy, or course. Heck, no. Standard equipment includes a shift-on-the-fly Transfer Case, four wheel discs with ABS etc., stability control, tire pressure monitoring, a winch, skid plate shield, hill descent control, remote keyless entry, automatic headlights and trailer brake control.
The interior is very comfortable and if you're familiar with Dodge or Chrysler products the layout will be familiar - it's like their cars that I've driven. The standard cloth 40/20/40 split bench seat was replaced on the test unit by the optional premium version, which has 10 way power adjustment (though it doesn't pick you up from street level, unfortunately) and really nifty rear seats - you can fold the bottoms up against the backs and use the under seat bins for contraband, er groceries, complete with a flat panel that folds down over them and can be used as a base to carry the extra stuff you want to pile there so The Man is kept off the scent.
Naturally, you get stuff like air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and a tilt steering column. The steering wheel is multifunctional, with controls behind it and on its face. Those controls give you access to an abundance of electronic delights, thanks to the Uconnect system, which can also be operated via the 8.4 inch screen touch screen. The system gives you radio, navigation, a media hub, and more, and the Alpine audio is very good.
A couple of optional features I found extremely handy are ones that are becoming common on passenger cars, but I don't remember seeing them on a pickup before: rear view camera and a park assist feature.
The sample also came with the Luxury Group, a $725 suite of stuff like the steering wheel-mounted controls, the $1095 Comfort Group and its dual zone A/C and a heated steering wheel and front seats. The power sunroof added $1300 (well spent, in my never humble opinion) and more.
Creature features aside, the Ram and its competition are really all about the "truckiness" of a particular vehicle in this market niche, and even if you stripped all the high tech goodies and comforts out of this Ram you'd still have a robust and capable truck. Heck, it's so robust and capable I'm surprised they don't bill it as the "Battering Ram."
Or would that be politically incorrect?
Copyright 2015 Jim Bray
Jim Bray is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. His columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.
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