Within the first two months of this year, all three domestic automakers had released the next-generation of their heavy-duty pickup trucks. It was RAM that came charging out of the gate introducing its all-new Ram Heavy Duty lineup at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit wowing crowds with its available Cummins engine laying down an astonishing 1,000 lb-ft of torque, and this truck was also the first to go on sale.
For this test drive review, we sampled the long and luxurious 2019 Ram 3500 Laramie Crew Cab 4×4 equipped with an eight-foot cargo bed and the aforementioned high-output Cummins engine.
2019 RAM 3500 Exterior
While the new Silverado HD and F-Series Super Duty do their best to stand apart from their respective half-ton models, the RAM Heavy Duty trucks still have a noticeable family resemblance to the ultra-stylish RAM 1500, such as the RAM 1500 Laramie we drove a couple months ago. This particular truck was the Crew Cab model equipped with an eight-foot cargo bed, and an amusing fact about this truck is that its 169.5-inch wheelbase is almost as long as the overall length of the Toyota Yaris Sedan we recently tested!
The biggest styling difference from 2018 to 2019 is the truck’s face, which is now even more imposing with a bigger grille, narrower headlights and, if you can believe it, even more chrome. Each trim level gets a unique front-end treatment, and the Laramie might as well be called the Max Chrome model with almost the entire face covered in chrome – the top-of-the-line Limited might be the most stylish trim level mixing chrome accents with body-colored bumpers. This truck also had chrome trailer tow mirrors and optional ($745) chrome side steps the stretched almost from wheel to wheel making it easier to reach cargo that is positioned toward the front of the cargo bed. Inside (and on top of) the bed, the Ram 3500 offers options like the $695 tri-fold soft tonneau cover, $565 spray-in bedliner and $165 LED bed lighting.
Aside from the new front end, the rest of the truck’s design seems to be a slight refresh from the previous model year instead of the total redesign that the half-ton 1500 model underwent, but this truck is still one cool-looking truck – arguably the best-looking heavy-duty truck since Dodge released the big-rig-styled 1994 RAM 3500.
2019 RAM 3500 Interior
Forget the updated exterior styling and available 1,000 lb-ft of torque, the biggest improvement made to the 2019 RAM 3500 is the interior. RAM made improvements to every aspect of this heavy-duty truck’s interior from class-leading features like the high-tech touch screen to high-convenience features like the power-operated spotter mirrors! Seriously, those small spotter mirrors are usually a pain to get adjusted properly manually, but RAM added a button to allow the power mirror controls to also adjust the smaller mirrors – it’s such a minor thing that makes a huge difference. Whether you’re getting this truck for work or pleasure, you’ll appreciate built-in conveniences such as the massive center console, two hidden storage compartments in the rear floor and the fold-out trays to make a flat-load surface when the rear seats are folded up.
Heavy-duty trucks like the 2019 RAM 3500 are obviously designed to be workhorses, but that doesn’t mean these trucks can’t be luxurious. The Laramie is positioned directly in the middle of the RAM 3500’s trim levels, and it brings a surprising amount of available technology and luxury. You just have to pay for it. The $3,995 Laramie Level 2 Group adds a 17-speaker Haman Kardon audio system, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear outboard seats, power-adjustable pedals, remote tailgate release and some added safety features, while the 12-inch Uconnect system is a $1,995 option. This massive, vertically oriented screen is a step up from the Laramie’s standard 8.4-inch screen, and it’s intuitive and easy to use. Our truck was also fitted with a $1,095 power sunroof and $545 for leather bucket seats and a wireless smartphone charging pad. Those are some steep prices to pay for options, but the end result is a heavy duty truck that feels more like a luxury car than a work truck.
2019 RAM 3500 Powertrain
It’s been exactly 30 years since Dodge/Ram first teamed up with Cummins for a diesel-powered heavy-duty truck, and the 2019 RAM 3500 celebrates this partnership in monstrous fashion. While the base engine in this truck is still the gasoline 6.4-liter Hemi V8 rated at 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, diesel shoppers now have two options when it comes to the legendary Cummins engine. For $9,100, buyers can opt for the standard 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel with 370 horsepower and 850 lb-ft of torque (which is a drop in power and torque from the 2018 model year), but serious one-ton truck buyers now have the high-output Cummins rated at 400 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque available as an $11,795 option.
Sadly, we didn’t have the opportunity to tow anything with this wannabe big rig, but with the optional high-output Cummins, this truck tows more than what should be legal without a CDL – 35,100 pounds. The unloaded handling is actually quite telling of this truck with the 3500 offering a smooth, quiet ride despite its leaf spring rear suspension (the 1500 and 2500 use a five-link, coil spring setup) and heavy-duty tires. Driving over rough streets, speed bumps or washboard dirt roads don’t result in the back of the truck getting loose. This suspension and tire setup does help maximize the 3500’s towing capabilities, which max out at 35,100 pounds for the RAM 3500 4×2 regular cab with the standard eight-foot bed; proving how much the dual rear wheels help a truck’s towing capabilities, this Ram 3500 4×4 Crew Cab, long-bed SRW maxes out at 25,150 pounds.
Unlike the gas Hemi and its eight-speed automatic, the Cummins can only be paired with a six-speed automatic – no more manual transmissions. An interesting side note for the transmissions is that the diesel engine uses a conventional column-mounted while the Hemi uses dash-mounted dial shifter. Heavy-duty trucks aren’t required to submit to EPA fuel economy estimates, but we did finish the week showing 16.8 mpg on the trip computer.
2019 RAM 3500 Safety
Benefiting from advancements made on the RAM 1500, the 2019 RAM 3500 offers the latest in advanced safety features. The aforementioned Laramie Level 2 Group also adds automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers and blind spot and cross path detection, while the $1,095 Preferred Package 21H brings a cargo view camera (mounted in the third brake light and in addition to the standard backup camera), a 360-degree backup camera and trailer reverse guidance. The $795 Safety Group adaptive cruise control with stop and full-speed forward collision warning.
2019 RAM 3500 Overall
Within the span of a year, RAM has completely overhauled its entire pickup truck lineup starting with the half-ton RAM 1500 last year and then the three-quarter-ton RAM 2500 (including the Power Wagon) and one-ton RAM 3500. RAM has continued to innovate in the truck market including the launch of the Cummins diesel in 1989 and then the iconic redesign in 1994, and the 2019 RAM 3500 puts the rest of the heavy-duty trucks on notice! No matter what you’re looking for, the 2019 RAM lineup has it.
If you need a truck for hauling, a base 2019 RAM 3500 starts at $36,540* (about $1,600 more than the 2500 model), but if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious to haul your fifth-wheel camper trailer, then $50,800* Laramie is a great starting point. This truck was practically fully loaded offering as much technology and luxury as you’ll find in modern luxury sedans, which don’t come cheap. As you see it, this well-equipped Laramie had an as-tested price of $79,740, and there are still two trim levels above this model. That’s a steep price to pay, but you’re also getting a lot of truck for the money.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation RAM dealership and test drive the all-new lineup of 2019 RAM Heavy Duty pickup trucks today!
* MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.