Big On the Inside, Bigger On the Outside
To set some expectations, let’s start with the fact that the 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box, aka Ram 3500, is a true purpose-built vehicle for hauling heavy loads or, as Ram calls it: The Best Tool Box. The Best Tool. Sure you could buy the ever-popular Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan or one of Chevrolet Silverado or Colorado (or the GMC versions, Sierra and Canyon), but these are mere play things compared to the Ram 3500. Even the Ram 1500 equipped with its own diesel engine seems puny next to its big brother.
Clean Fleet Report’s 2015 Ram 3500 was powered by a 6.7-liter inline-six cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled Cummins diesel engine, mated to an Aisin, six-speed automatic transmission,
putting out 385 hp and 865 lb-ft of torque. (Also available are 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter Hemi V-8s.) The Ram 3500, as with all heavy-duty (GVWR [gross vehicle weight rating] over 8,500 pounds) vehicles, is not ranked by the EPA for fuel economy. However, in 407 miles of 80-percent highway/20-percent city driving we averaged 15.1 mpg, which, if the 32-gallon tank of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel was run dry, would have taken us about 480 miles down the road. The beauty of diesel engines is their efficiency, whether in a car or truck. In our case, we were running unladen with a curb weight of 8,319 lbs., so our fuel economy numbers were better than if we had been pulling a trailer or the bed was loaded.
Another factor for diesels is their ability to accommodate the use of biofuels. The Ram is certified for the use of up to B20 (20 percent biodiesel/80 percent petrodiesel) in commercial fleet applications. Renewable diesel doesn’t face as many restrictions since it meets the same specifications as petroleum diesel, though it is derived from plant or animal waste or residue.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Back to the Ram 3500 being a purpose built vehicle. The purpose, especially with the Cummins diesel and all that torque, is to pull stuff. And boy can it pull stuff, such as towing up to 29,010 lbs. or loading 5,680 lbs. in the bed. For our nicely optioned test truck, its purpose probably is focused on towing a horse or travel trailer, either with a hitch or in a fifth wheel configuration. It is easy to envision cruising the highway to an equestrian event in the comfort and ease of a Ram 3500.
Ram is upfront by saying “Heavy duty trucks generally have suspensions equipped for constant, heavy payloads. This can result in a harsher ride when unloaded.” It was true our Ram 3500 could have had a smoother ride, especially at 70 mph in the fast lane, but it wasn’t harsh or punishing, and we did not experience any surprises such as the rear end bouncing uncontrollably. The Ram 3500 utilizes a rear Hotchkiss leaf spring system and a supplemental air suspension system on both the single and dual rear-wheel applications. By adding supplemental air bags to the rear suspension, Ram engineers were able to soften the leaf springs, allowing for more unladed suspension movement. When a high-load capacity condition exists, the air suspension automatically fills the rear air bags to level the truck to improve stability and ride quality – even when pulling a best-in-class 29,000-pound load.
Body on ladder frames can squeak and rattle, but none of those were evident with the Ram 3500, which was impressive considering the weight, length, horsepower and torque we were hauling around. No one would confuse a truck of this size with being sporty, and Ram does not present it that way. We found the hydraulic assist power steering was programmed to allow for proper road feel. Entering corners was not a series of over or under steering to find the proper turn-in point, which on right hand turns is the key to not running the outside dually tire onto the curb and sidewalk. Having a feel for the road, whether in a sports car or heavy-duty truck, results in maintaining control of the vehicle, especially in emergency situations, which is crucial when driving a truck of this weight, width and length.
One more thing about driving a dually is that there are only inches to spare on either side before hitting the lane markers. The learning curve to keep the Ram 3500 centered mid-lane was not too steep, but paying attention at all times was important.
The 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel has a low, but satisfying, rumble upon start-up, but was quiet on the highway. The six-speed automatic has a low first gear that quickly shifts into second and, going
through the gears, the torque kicks-in rapidly with smooth and quick 35 – 65 mph acceleration with near-seamless gear shifts. We experienced about an 8.9-seconds 0-to-60, which, for a substantial heavy-duty truck, was impressive. I did not get the chance to test the 4X4 or towing capabilities, but did experience the Hill-descent Control feature. This system uses the antilock braking system (ABS) to control the truck’s downhill motion, providing a smooth and controlled downhill ride, in any terrain, without the driver needing to touch the brake pedal. If the vehicle accelerates without the driver input; the system will automatically apply the brakes to slow down to the desired vehicle speed. It was an eye-opener when at 10 mph on a steep downhill grade the Ram 3500 progressively slowed to about 6 mph without stepping on the brake pedal. I could only imagine how reassuring this safety feature would be when towing a horse trailer down an incline.
Control is paramount on a truck of this weight, width and length, making the brakes as important as any other system on the vehicle. Stopping was straight, from the Hydro-boost power-assisted, twin piston front and rear disc brakes. Aiding also was the Diesel Exhaust Brake, brake assist, rainy day and ready alert braking, Hill Start Assist, trailer brake control, anti-spin rear differential, with a four-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS) and stability and traction control. Even with all this braking technology, it is best not to tailgate, as stopping this beast is nothing at all like your daily driver.
Driving Experience: Exterior
One quick look is all it takes to see the 2015 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box was all business, or as Ram says, the design “upholds a bold presence.” The front end, dominated by the Ram signature grill and the very recognizable Ram’s Head badge logo, is all done in bright work, including very stylish chrome mesh work. The rounded sculpting of the hood blends into the slightly swept-back quad, Halogen projector headlamps, giving the Ram 3500 an aggressive, but non-threatening look. The cab, topped by five clearance lamps, leads to the eight-foot box that comes with a spray-in liner.
The box also comes with the fifth wheel/Gooseneck towing package that includes a seven-pin wiring harness and a four-pin wiring connector. The side view
reveals chrome, cab-length running boards and outside power and heated folding mirrors that rotate horizontally and vertically to accommodate trailer towing and the large rear fenders enclosing the dual 17-inch chrome wheels and the 235/80/R17 All-season tires. At the rear once again is the Ram’s head badge logo on the locking liftgate, a Class V receiver hitch and a very handy footstep that retracts under the left corner of the chrome bumper.
Driving Experience: Interior
How many strapping cowboys did you want to haul around? The crew cab on our Ram 3500 easily could accommodate three in the rear and a front passenger, all of whom would be riding in fine comfort. The Laramie Longhorn Package rear heated seat is leather all-the-way, with First Class airline legroom, and storage space under the flip-up seat bottom. Continuing the cowboy theme, the front seatbacks have saddlebag-type flaps and buckles so you will never be far away from the ranching lifestyle.
Up front the leather continues on the heated and ventilated seats that are wide and cushy. The driver seat is 10-way power adjustable (with memory) and the passenger is a six-way power adjustable seat. Finding a comfortable driving position was important to control this large truck. Along with the power adjustable seat, the pedals and outside mirrors are also power adjustable and have memory, the steering column tilts and the thick-rimmed steering wheel is heated.
The Ram 3500 is built for the mobile executive and includes ample storage space for computers, laptops, smartphones and writing surfaces to get all their work
done while on the road.
The gauges, including one showing the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) level, are within quick-glance viewing, and the knobs and switches are easy for the driver to reach and operate. The 8.4-inch color touchscreen display, includes GPS navigation and the Uconnect system. The infotainment system, with steering wheel-mounted controls, is among the most convenient and easy to use of all I have tested with an Apple iPad-like simplicity. The premium sound system’s nine amplified speakers, with surround sound, powered the AM/FM/CD/MP3 and HD Radio, with SiriusXM (one-year subscription included), voice command with Bluetooth, audio input jacks with iPod control, SD card slot and USB port. Also, the infotainment system is controlled by volume and channel selection knobs – a must to get Clean Fleet Report’s top rating for convenience and driver safety.
The Ram 3500 had convenience features such as a power sliding rear window, power front windows with one-touch down, power rear windows, power door locks, power and heated (with memory) foldaway exterior mirrors, A/C with automatic climate control and rear vents, floor mats, remote start, keyless entry, 12V and USB power outlets, tilt steering column, multiple cup holders, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera and cruise control.
Overall, the Ram had a very well laid-out interior with nice touches of real wood trim, top stitching, fine leather, the best outside mirrors I have tested and a high-quality sound system. All this delivers a pleasant environment where spending hours behind the wheel is a welcome experience.
Safety and Convenience
The 2015 Ram 3500 has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for Side and Frontal Crash, Rollover and Overall ratings. Safety features include six airbags, traction control, ParkSense rear park assist, ParkView rear back-up camera, Puddle Lights under the exterior rear view mirrors, Cargo View camera, remote start, engine immobilizer, security alarm and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS.)
Pricing and Warranties
Clean Fleet Report’s 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box had a base MSRP of $54,980. As tested, ours came in at $69,915, including the $1,195 Destination Charge.
The 2015 Ram 3500 comes with these warranties:
- Basic: Three-year/36,000-mile
- Powertrain: Five-year/100,000-mile
- Roadside assistance: Five-year/100,000-mile
- Rust-through perforation: Three-year/Unlimited-mile
Observations: 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box
If you have read this far, then you must have a need for, or at least an interest in, a heavy-duty truck for towing or carrying heavy loads. If so, then the Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie
Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box should exceed all your needs, including getting your passengers and you where you are going in style.
The fact that this truck might be driven much of the time empty of cargo or a trailer should not be a factor in not owning one. For its size, weight and length, the Ram 3500 reviewed here is very manageable around town and on the highway. For the business owner or company executive, the mobile office attributes will make it a good return on your capital equipment budget for years to come.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at firstname.lastname@example.org.