We test drive the 2010 Ram 2500 HD Cummins Crew Cab, Laramie edition.
A year after the Ram 1500 got an update, Dodge engineers have turned their attention to its bigger brother, the 2500 HD. For 2010, the 2500 HD receives a better riding suspension and a hydraulic, fluid-filled body mount in the C-pillar which translates into surprisingly good passenger comfort, even in an unloaded truck. But the most noticeable thing about the 2500 is the more aggressive grille and hood styling, as well as the availability of a crew cab for those of you who found the regular cab too small and the mega cab too big.
When we first laid eyes on the 2010 Ram 2500 HD, we were taken aback by its grille. It reminded me of back in '94 when Dodge came out with their distinctive "bull nose" grille. In '94, I took an instant liking to the design. But with the 2010 model, my feelings were more ambivalent (although I will say that sometimes it takes a few months or a year before a new vehicle's look begins to grow on me). Fortunately, there's a lot more to this truck than its grille, and there's a lot to like. Significantly, one of the biggest things to like is the fact that the chassis and drivetrain are basically unchanged from last year. One reason that this is a good thing is because it gave the engineers the resources to work on the body and apply further tuning to the suspension. I'll get to the other reason later on.
Clearly, the most noticeable difference between this model and last year's is the body and styling. They've taken the bull nose look and ratcheted it up a few notches, giving it a more forward-leaning look and increasing the "power hump" of the hood. But it's not all Chuck Norris for 2010. The interior has been given a cleaner, more modern look. Our Laramie trim package spoiled us with all sorts of James Bond gadgetry:
Ample seating for three adults in the back, and easy entry/exit.
The redesigned interior and exterior resulted in some added weight so Dodge jiggled the front and rear spring rates to deal with the new weight distribution of the vehicle. That, plus additional suspension tuning produced a ride that is noticably improved, particularly when the truck was unloaded. It handled washboarded dirt roads and speed bumps with aplomb. No bucking or rear-end sliding. Remarkable for a 3/4 ton truck.
It came with a built-in trailer brake controller, 2" receiver hitch with 4- and 7-pin trailer connectors, and an exhaust brake, which was absolutely fantastic for long downhills when hauling our 4x4 trail rig on a car trailer.
This is a long truck. Only the Megacab would make it longer. Its backup video camera is a welcome feature.
The 6-speed 68RFE automatic transmission seemed like it was highly-tuned for fuel economy, because it did a fair bit of switching between gears. Far more than I would expect when driving a diesel with gobs of torque. But it was very subtle. Aside from the rocker-type gear selector that sits on the shifter knob, we loved the transmission. Speaking of fuel economy, the tailgate received a re-design that reduced its drag and also provided a discrete location for mounting the backup camera.
Of particular interest to Canadians who do winter plowing, the 2010 model uses beefier front axle u-joints.
Ok, so what's the other benefit for the drivetrain not changing from last year? Well, the 2010 Ram is still using the 6.7L I-6 Cummins turbo diesel. This engine is well-proven. More importantly, it also already meets the strict U.S.A. diesel emissions limits that take effect this year. And it does so without the added complication, maintenance and expense of a urea-injection system. Meanwhile, Ford and GM will be introducing new and unproven diesel engines utilizing urea-injection. Those new motors promise more horsepower and torque, but the Cummins' 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque are nothing to sneeze at, either.
The jewel in the crown. The proven 6.7L Cummins I-6 turbo diesel.
350 horsepower at 3000 rpm. 650 lb-ft of torque at 1500 rpm. Mmm. Juicy.
There were a few things we didn't like about the truck but they were minor. For starters, the steering response is a bit dull. But hey, this is a truck, not a sports car. The multi-use information display panel in the instrument cluster was very distracting and the information layout wasn't easy-to-read with a quick glance. We basically found ourselves looking at it far too often. The steering wheel-mounted controls for that multi-use panel and the console navigation/entertainment unit were also somewhat cumbersome to use. We found ourselves using the console controls themselves, rather than the steering wheel.
In summary, Dodge simply made a good truck even better and improved the creature comforts and styling as well. While the next couple of years will see some upset in the diesel truck market due to stricter emissions regulations, Dodge is already offering a tried and true performer which already meets those regulations. And when it comes to working trucks, tried and true is a big selling point.
Some comparison photos against our short box Quadcab Ram. The Quadcab is sporting a 2-inch front levelling kit and 35" tires.
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