Reviews

2015 Ram Heavy Duty Walk Around



Ram Heavy Duty pickups got revised styling for 2010. For 2013, headlamps and tail lamps were updated, chrome and available power folding mirrors added, along with Longhorn’s long running boards. A spray-in bedliner and simple fifth-wheel/gooseneck out-fitting help the truck end of things. There were no significant changes for 2014 or 2015.

With a forward tilt to the grille and an upward, inward point to the headlights, grille and bumper, the heavy-duty nose looks like a stout blunt instrument, rather like the point on an anvil. There are four choices in grilles, the pinnacle a chrome mesh arrangement.

While the style and lights are from the 1500, only the latter are the same parts. The Ram HD’s grille is larger than that of the Ram 1500 models to allow more cooling air in, the bumper is reshaped, and the hood has a larger central bulge and faux louver contouring, but the easiest way to distinguish a non-dually HD from the 1500 is the gap above the bumper: The 1500 has no such gap.

Upper-trim trucks get projector headlamps with LED ancillary lamps, and LEDs in back. Taken from the 1500, they provide the same visibility improvements, and access covers are fitted for easier alignment and bulb changes.

Ram HD Crew Cab is comparable to competitor crew cabs in size and is about the same size as the Ram 1500 Crew Cab. The Ram HD Crew Cab has four forward-hinged doors.

The ultra-long Mega Cab uses the same rear doors as the Crew but adds interior inches behind the doors.

Crew Cab and Mega Cab both come with a 6-foot, 4-inch box. You can get an 8-foot box on any Crew Cab except Power Wagon. The short box looks stubby behind the imposing Mega Cab and you’ll want to consider a slider hitch if you tow a fifth-wheel; you can not get a Mega Cab long-bed as it would be unwieldy anywhere outside the Great Plains.

Dual rear wheel models (DRW), including the Mega Cab, use a single outside panel for the wide rear fenders to eliminate seams and fasteners that might prove problematic long term. And the bed sides are steel, for easier straightening than fiberglass if you ding one.

In terms of sleekness, Ram HD slots between the GM HD and Ford Super Duty pickups: perceptively bigger and more angular than the Silverado HD yet smoother than the Super Duty. Very mild fender flares of various colors are used on some trims. Power Wagon models offer a graphics package with plenty of wallpaper.

Roof clearance lamps, government-mandated for vehicles like dual-rear-wheel pickups that exceed a certain width, use clear lenses for a better-integrated look; the satellite antenna is between them so cab-over campers and contractor racks won’t knock it off. Upper-trim mirrors have puddle lamps. Towing mirrors have turn-signal repeaters and a separately adjustable, much larger wide-angle element at the bottom (in tow position); in the retracted position the outboard wide-angle element is very useful in traffic, tight trails and parking areas as you can view the rear tires. Worth noting, you can adjust the electric mirrors without having the truck switched on. We found the towing mirrors to be very good, providing an excellent view rearward; some offer power folding.

A RamBox is optional on 6-foot, 4-inch bed models. The RamBox houses large lockers along the top of each bed-side for stowing anything that will fit, including fishing rods and long-handle shovels or about a gross of your favorite beverage cans on ice. Downsides are a drop in payload and limited use of over-rail bed covers, racks or campers.

A tailgate lock is standard. However, the tailgate is not heavily damped, so it will thud if you just let it go. (Get a helper if you remove it because it’s heavy). On trucks with rearview cameras, the lens is far enough from the latch so you won’t scratch it opening the gate, and it gets decent protection and snow/ice rejection from the tailgate’s upper lip. A secondary rearview option places the camera near the center brake light atop the rear cab for easier kingpin hitching, and the load can be checked in motion (the standard camera image display moves to the inside mirror). Bed rails are protected from load scuffing, and the bed is contoured for 2x4s and 2x6s to make it dual-level. A spray-in bedliner is a factory option.

Interior

The Ram Heavy Duty cabin is basically the same as that of the Ram 1500; the main differences are features, shifter locations and the floor.

Materials and trim are appropriate by model line, be they the base truck or a Laramie Longhorn Mega Cab with Ram’s head embosses on the seatbacks and console and pouch-like map pockets on the seatbacks. We found no fit-and-finish issues. The Longhorn’s low-gloss woodwork is unique, and few shiny surfaces generate glare to bother the occupants. Although a vinyl floor is standard on only the base Tradesman model you can order it with a more upscale interior if it’s only your boots that get filthy. Thick mats designed for muck and slush are standard on the Outdoorsman but are available through Mopar accessories.

The Regular Cab has plenty of room for two people, three across if you don’t mind the floor hump or have a manual gearbox. The biggest guy we could find who claimed to be “325 on a good dayâ€� had no qualms about space.

The Crew Cab offers essentially the space of a Regular cab front seat in the back seat as well. Most Crew Cabs have a split folding rear seat and a center armrest, and all of them have three complete baby seat anchor sets and three adjustable headrests that reach high enough for adults. The back seats flip up for cargo space, with a flat floor underneath. Coat hooks are above the rear window. The rear window can be powered open/close and a defrost-able window is available on most models.

The Mega Cab is nine inches longer than the Crew Cab. It has an extra five inches of rear seat legroom (more than some Rolls-Royce sedans) plus space behind the reclining seatback, and with the seats folded flat offers up 72 cubic feet of lockable cargo space, considerably more than behind the middle row in a Chevy Tahoe SUV. But plan on a lot of AC use in warm climes, as the only vents in back are on the floor.

We found the seats quite comfortable and widely adjustable, whether in the buckets or the front bench split 40/20/40. The seat cushion and backrest adjust as a unit, unlike the separate component approach that makes you go back-and-forth to get both pieces where you like. Lateral support is notably improved over earlier models without adding any difficulty to entry and exit. Big 4WD trucks are by design tall but side steps are available. Power adjustable pedals are available that combine with a tilt wheel and power seat adjustments to accommodate most of the population. You can get a heated steering wheel and ventilated cooling front seats to maximize driver comfort; no telescoping wheel is offered.

Instrumentation varies by trim. Base models have temp/fuel on gas engines, fuel and DEF diesel exhaust fluid level on diesels, but details about cooling and pressure are available in the digital display between mph and rpm. Upper trims add two more instruments and a central 7-inch TFT (thin-film transistor) that’s configurable and calls up myriad information and graphics; e.g. exhaust braking horsepower, trailer brake gain, economy a few ways, etc. Regardless of gauge display all menus run from steering wheel spokes, and most models have audio controls on the back of the wheel spokes.

The center dash screen also varies in size from a simple radio-and-settings 3-inch touchscreen to the 8.4-inch with navigation. No vehicle is perfect but the Ram’s voice options work quite well and echoes other Chrysler products with the same screen. We had no visibility issues with any version screen with sun washout or using polarized lenses, and it’s quiet enough for easy hands-free phone or text-to-voice.

Switchgear is relatively straightforward, with audio and navigation controls above climate controls in the center stack, plus operating controls for the Tow/Haul mode, exhaust brake and so on; it gets busy on top-line models with all the switch blanks filled. On electric-shift 4WDs the switch is on the left side of the center panel and includes a Neutral position for being flat-towed. The trailer brake controller is below the headlight switch to the left about knee-high, and some drivers reported the steering wheel partially obscured it.

Side pillars are larger than in some cars but seating position means they don’t intimidate. The bodywork is reasonably well defined for close quarter maneuvering by new-truck standards, and the rear park sensors and/or cameras will get you within inches.

Interior storage is extensive with forty-odd places to put things of innumerable sizes. Upper and lower door pockets are complemented by a variety of shapes from the broad tray on the dash that we emptied on the first corner to the under-floor storage areas behind the front seats; you can’t reach these from the driver’s seat but the liners are removable for cleaning and locks are available.

The audio and entertainment systems bring plenty of options and sonic performance that benefits from a relatively quiet interior. Partial credit must go to the noise and vibration tuning that includes liquid-filled body mounts that help make this the quietest Ram heavy-duty yet without adding much weight.

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