2014 Ram 3500 dually: Heavy lifter in comfort

Farm Forum

Owners of the 2014 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty dually are a breed apart from most full-size-pickup drivers. They need a “heavy lifter” — not just a nice pickup — that does double duty as a weekend work truck and daily driver.

My test-truck, a 3500 Lone Star Edition crew cab 4×4 long-box powered by a Cummins diesel engine, is a serious workhorse with just the right amount of creature comfort and bling. The “Lone Star” Edition is marketed to the Texas consumer and the “Big Horn” Edition to the rest of the country; both are priced identically and basically have the same content.

Lone Star/Big Horn Edition 3500 pickups with dual rear wheels are essentially upgraded SLT models. Base price for a 3500 SLT crew cab 4×4 with an 8-foot box is $42,415. The Lone Star/Big Horn package adds $1,135, dual rear wheels are a $1,200 option, the Cummins Turbo Diesel with exhaust brake costs $7,995, and the required Aisin heavy-duty six-speed transmission upgrade adds $2,895. Total cost is $55,640 plus $1,195 destination charge.

While not nearly as glitzy or luxurious as the top-line Longhorn model, the Lone Star/Big Horn Editions get significant pluses that boost luxury. The exterior treatment is pumped up with slotted 18-inch polished forged-aluminum wheels, a chrome grille with chrome insert, special badging on the tailgate, and fog lamps.

Inside, the package upgrades the spacious cab with a 40/20/40-split front bench upholstered in premium cloth, a 10-way power driver seat with power lumbar control, rear 60/40-split seats with seatbacks that fold to provide a load floor, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and remote start.

As part of a $440 Luxury Group package, passengers benefit from heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, 7-inch multi-view cluster, and an overhead console with garage-door opener.

Standard on the truck are power heated trailer-tow mirrors with puddle and signal lamps, automatic headlamps, power door locks, remote keyless entry with All-Secure, speed control, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with one-year subscription, Uconnect 5.0 audio and infotainment, and trailer brake control.

More important than this list of convenient amenities, the Ram 3500 customer is looking for work-truck capability. The dual-rear-wheel configuration is chosen by truckers who tow or tote extremely heavy loads because it provides improved towing and payload capacity, and enhances traction and stability.

The 6.7-liter Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel is the choice for optimal grunt. It cranks out 385 horsepower at 2,800 rpm and a superior 850 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,700 rpm. To handle this torque, the engine is partnered with a heavy-duty Aisin six-speed automatic transmission that features wide gear ratios which contribute to more-efficient shift performance and drivability.

The test truck’s standard 3:73 rear axle ratio is subbed with a 4:10 rear axle ratio for $50 extra. With the 4:10 option, the towing maximum is 28,930 pounds and payload capacity is 5,600 pounds.

Protecting the long bed is an optional $475 spray-in bedliner, and a $500 tri-fold tonneau cover hides cargo and adds to the truck’s appearance.

The 3500’s rear Hotchkis leaf-spring system can gain the assistance of a supplemental air-suspension system for $1,595. The supplemental airbags activate during high-load-capacity conditions, leveling the truck to improve stability and ride quality.

Standard on the SLT-based pickup is electronic stability control, anti-spin differential rear axle, trailer brake control, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock and selective tire-pressure display.

Upping the tester’s infotainment capabilities is an optional $505 Uconnect 8.4 access system. Combining the benefits of an entertainment center and mobile office, the system allows access to features such as radio, navigation, climate control, apps, and 3-D terrain maps via a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen. The system integrates Bluetooth wireless connectivity, voice command operation, and steering wheel-mounted controls. Backing the 259.3-inch-long Ram is made easier with a $250 ParkSense Rear Park Assist System and a $200 ParkView Rear Back-up Camera.

Despite its Goliath proportions, the Ram 3500 dually is surprisingly nimble and has a comfortable ride quality, which is best appreciated when its long bed is toting weighty cargo. It’s a highly capable workhorse — at home performing rigorous tasks and heavy lifting on a farm, ranch, or construction site.