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2015 Ram 3500 REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/5/2017

Con: Diesel's lower output with the manual transmission.

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Interior: The 2015 Ram 3500 takes a page out of the Ram 1500's playbook, and the result is the nicest interior among all heavy-duty pickups. On the higher trim levels, soft-touch materials and tasteful stitching are abundant throughout the cabin, while the plush seats and metallic accents are almost too nice for work truck status. Interior storage is generous, with plenty of bins and pockets to supplement the dual gloveboxes.

As is typical in full-size trucks, there's plenty of room for passengers of all sizes; however, if you make regular use of the rear seats (and don't need a long cargo bed), you'll find that the Mega Cab is particularly accommodating in the legroom department. Interior storage is generous, with plenty of bins and pockets to supplement the dual gloveboxes. The unique RamBox feature places a pair of lockable compartments over the rear fenders adjacent to the truck bed.

Cabin controls are within easy reach and user-friendly, especially when the 8.4-inch touchscreen is specified. With large, logically located virtual buttons, reasonably quick processing times and ample functionality for smartphone users, this is one of the best interfaces of its kind in any vehicle. When equipped with the optional cargo-view and rearview back-up cameras, the cargo camera displays on the 8.4-inch screen, while the conventional back-up camera displays on a smaller screen in the rearview mirror. It's nice to have both cameras onboard, but in practice, it can be hard to see the back-up camera display.

Body: The 2015 Ram 3500 heavy-duty pickup is available in three cab styles: two-door regular, four-door crew cab and four-door Mega Cab (a jumbo crew cab). The regular cab comes with an 8-foot bed only, while the crew cab has either the 8-foot bed or a 6-foot-4 bed. The Mega Cab rides on the same wheelbase as the long-bed crew cab, but pairs an even bigger cabin with the short bed. Buyers can choose between single-rear-wheel (SRW) and dual-rear-wheel (DRW) configurations for each body style.

Three main trim levels are offered: Tradesman, SLT and Laramie. A few sub-trims add various features and equipment packages.

The Tradesman (regular cab and crew cab) is the bare-bones model that comes with black bumpers and grille, 18-inch (SRW) or 17-inch (DRW) steel wheels, automatic headlights, a limited-slip rear differential, a locking tailgate, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, air-conditioning, cruise control, an electronic vehicle information display, a tire pressure monitor, a tilt steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with USB/iPod integration and an auxiliary audio jack. Vinyl upholstery and flooring are standard, but a cloth bench seat is a no-cost option. Power windows and locks (including the locking tailgate) are standard on the crew cab, while regular cabs have manual controls. Available for the Tradesman and geared toward commercial users is "Work Grade" heavy-duty vinyl upholstery.

The SLT (all three cabs) adds chrome exterior trim, chrome-clad wheels, an integrated trailer brake controller, power heated mirrors, a power sliding rear window (manual on regular cab), an overhead console, cloth upholstery, carpeted floors, full power accessories, keyless entry, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch touchscreen interface and satellite radio.

SLT crew cab and Mega Cab Rams offer a Big Horn sub-trim (Lone Star for shoppers in Texas), which includes 18-inch alloy wheels (SRW) or 17-inch steel wheels (DRW), chrome grille slats, foglights, a 10-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls) and a 115-volt power outlet. Also optional are an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, a 7-inch color driver information center, satellite radio and Uconnect Access, a subscription-based smartphone app that provides WiFi, voice-to-text messaging and emergency assistance.

Next up is the Laramie (crew cab and Mega Cab), which has all of the above convenience and technology upgrades as standard, adding 18-inch alloy wheels (SRW) or 17-inch alloy wheels (DRW), two-tone paint, more chrome trim (including the bumpers), power-folding auto-dimming exterior mirrors, projector headlights, LED taillights, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, driver memory settings, a six-way power passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an upgraded 10-speaker audio system.

The Laramie's Longhorn sub-trim adds color-keyed bumpers, a spray-in bedliner, remote ignition, front bucket seats (with a full center console), upgraded leather upholstery, wood steering wheel trim, a navigation system, HD radio, power-adjustable pedals (with memory settings) and heated rear seats. The Limited sub-trim adds monotone paint, 20-inch wheels, automatic high beams, automatic wipers, the RamBox cargo management system (includes bedside storage compartments, an adjustable bed divider and tie-downs), keyless entry and ignition and special black leather upholstery.

Many of the upper trims' features are available on lower trim levels as options. Other option highlights include a load-leveling rear air suspension, a cargo-view camera, fifth-wheel trailer preparation and a sunroof.

Driving: Even though the 2015 Ram 3500 is built to tackle the most demanding of pickup duties, it remains comfortably composed in most everyday driving situations. The steering is responsive, and the truck tracks through turns in a confident manner. The ride is firm but not harsh, and the 3500 stays respectably composed over broken pavement.

On the highway, road and wind noise are nicely quelled. The diesel engine is a beast, providing plenty of power for towing and hauling heavy loads. It emits a telltale diesel growl under acceleration, but settles down to a murmur when cruising. We recommend either of the automatic transmissions with the diesel, as the extra torque you get compared to the diesel with the manual gearbox makes a big difference in towing ability.

What’s New: For 2015, the Ram 3500 adds optional heavy-duty vinyl upholstery for the Tradesman trim level and available power-folding mirrors.

All versions of the 2015 Ram 3500 are available with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Tradesman models feature a manually engaged transfer case for the 4WD system; an electronic transfer case is optional on the Tradesman and standard on all other Rams. A 5.7-liter V8 engine with 383 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque is standard, and it's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.

There are two optional engines for the 3500: a 6.4-liter V8 and a 6.7-liter turbocharged, diesel-fueled inline six-cylinder. The gasoline 6.4-liter V8 produces 410 hp (370 hp in Mega Cabs) and 429 lb-ft of torque and is backed by a six-speed automatic. The Cummins turbodiesel engine comes in three different states of tune. Equipped with the available six-speed manual transmission, it produces 350 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque. You can also get it with one of two different six-speed automatic transmissions. With the standard automatic, it makes 370 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque, while a heavy-duty Aisin automatic enables ratings of 385 hp and 865 lb-ft.

The Cummins comes with a big-rig-like exhaust brake, a useful feature that provides additional stability and braking power when managing very heavy loads.

Depending on body style and rear axle ratio, the Ram 3500 can tow up to 13,910 pounds and haul up to 4,480 pounds with the 5.7-liter V8. The 6.4-liter V8 can handle 16,370 pounds and 7,390 pounds, respectively, while the manual-equipped diesel is rated for 18,510 pounds and 6,680 pounds. With the diesel's regular automatic, those numbers go up to 22,550 pounds and 6,720 pounds. The diesel with the heavy-duty automatic wins top towing honors at 30,000 pounds, though its 6,580-pound hauling capacity is less impressive relative to the other powertrains.

Safety: tandard safety equipment for the 2015 Ram 3500 includes antilock disc brakes, front and side curtain airbags, stability and traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system. Optional items include adjustable pedals, rear parking sensors and two rear cameras: a standard rearview camera and a cargo-area camera aimed at the bed of the truck.

Pro: Monumental torque with diesel and automatic powertrain; high-quality interior; Mega Cab's roomy rear seat; quiet highway ride.

Edmunds Say: The 2015 Ram 3500 is a top pick for a heavy-duty truck thanks to its refined, well-equipped interior and astounding towing and hauling capabilities.

Introduction: If you're reading this review, we're guessing you frequently face some absolutely massive towing and hauling challenges. With an astonishing maximum tow rating of 30,000 pounds and a 7,390-pound payload peak, the 2015 Ram 3500 certainly makes for a very strong partner. But just because you need such extreme capabilities doesn't mean you have to suffer a truck that's as luxurious as a cement mixer. The Ram 3500 is highly civilized by workhorse standards, with a surprisingly well-trimmed interior, so you won't mind driving it under normal circumstances, too.

If a basic work truck is all you need, the Ram 3500 Tradesman provides sufficient creature comforts for most folks, including air-conditioning, cruise control, an audio system with USB/iPod connectivity and a pleasantly quiet ride. But if you've got a hankering for something more like a Texas-style limousine, there's always the ultra-luxurious Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn "Mega Cab" with its upgraded leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, heated wood-and-leather steering wheel and heated front and rear seats. With so many models and features to choose from, there's almost certainly a Ram 3500 that's tailored to your needs.

In addition to that unique Mega Cab (extra-large crew cab) body style, the Ram 3500 also offers the option of a load-leveling rear air suspension. Available for both single- and dual-rear-wheel trucks, it supplements the 3500's standard leaf spring rear suspension with a dual-mode airbag system that helps level out the rear of the truck whether you're towing or hauling. We also appreciate the Ram 3500's three available engines, including a midrange 6.4-liter gasoline V8 with robust performance that slots beneath the immensely capable (but costly) Cummins turbodiesel inline-6.

There are basically two other choices in this very heavy-duty truck class: the 2015 Chevy Silverado 3500HD (and its twin, the GMC Sierra 3500HD) and the 2015 Ford F-350. Neither matches the Ram's 30,000-pound maximum tow rating, but in real-world use these are all very capable trucks that can handle enormous loads without breaking a sweat. Where the 2015 Ram 3500 really sets itself apart is inside the cab, thanks to its high-quality materials, impressive array of creature comforts and user-friendly tech features. If you're looking for a big truck that's dependable on the job and still up for a good time on the weekend, the 2015 Ram 3500 is a great choice.

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