Eventually I’ll have a chance to test drive the Ram. Maybe this fall I’ll let you know if we go with the Ford or Ram and which truck trim package. For now, I’d like to discuss the build options available in the Ram. I’ve already written about in the Ford. I’ll not be writing about the Chevy/GMC.
It’s important to pass along from what I’m reading, the next generation Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks will be coming out in 2020. The next generation 1500 trucks are out in 2019 and there are plenty of photos to find on the internet. As of today, I’ve not found any confirmed photos of the next 2500/3500 generation trucks. And of course, Ford came out with their next generation truck in 2017.
I intentional skipped a few options the Ram had in common with the Ford which were covered in my Ford options blog post last month.
(Warning opinions ahead)
2018 Ram Options: (If we were to buy a Ram)
- Diesel engine, dual rear wheels with 4×4: (Yes) What sold me was having always purchased a truck with 4×4 and knowing already how often I’ve used it in the past. Just try finding a dually diesel without 4×4. Hard to do. A theme Karen and I have maintained when considering which trailer we want has been to not limit where we stay any more than necessary. We don’t want to limit where we drive any more than necessary either. I’ve read that even slick grass can sometimes be an issue when parking the trailer. A diesel is nice for the trailer weights we are considering (16,500 to 19,000 pounds) and the automatic or manual exhaust braking will be important for descending big hills. Most would agree, a leading reason to buy the Ram is its Cummins 6.7 liter I6 turbo diesel. Some say the Ram exhaust brake is the best of the big three brands.
- Aisin 6 speed automatic transmission: (Probably). A $2,695 option with maybe a 12% discount at a dealership puts its initial cost at $2,375. Transmission service intervals are twice as often as the Dodge 68RFE transmission. The high-output Cummins engine is only available if purchased with the Aisin transmission. The “regular” Cummins comes with less horse power and torque. Along with gear selection, one must be careful with the specifications you choose because of tow capacity. For example, the 2017 Ram dually diesels configurations which can handle at least 19,000-pound capacity are: 68RFE transmission and 4.10 gears only. Option in the Aisin transmission and any available gear ratio will work for 19,000 fifth wheels to include 3.42, 3.73 and 4.10 gears. Another benefit of the Aisin is a transmission oil cooler. Less chance of overheating a transmission while climbing a mountain is one less thing to worry about. A real towing beast. Some say Chevy’s Allison is no better than the Aisin. Get a towing chart for every truck year you are looking to purchase is my advice.
- Axle Ratio: (leaning towards 3.73 or 4.10). A numerically lower axle ratio results in lower engine rpm and improved efficiency. A numerically higher ratio improves acceleration, climbing grades, carrying loads or pulling a trailer. I’m thinking the 3.73 is a happy medium for those using the truck as a daily driver. If I was only towing with it, the 4.10 would be a no-brainer.
- Auto Level Rear Air Suspension: (No) A $1,595 option. I’ve read aftermarket products are slightly less expensive installed. The RAM auto level works only with a trailer hitched. I think I’ll wait and see if it’s needed. At the time of this writing, Ram is the only truck of the three major brands that offer a factory installed leveling system. You want to tow the trailer as level as possible so as not to put unnecessary weight in the wrong places such as the back axle of a two axle trailer.
- 5th Wheel/Gooseneck Towing Prep: (Definitely yes). This option provides mounting holes for a fifth wheel hitch and for a gooseneck ball, covers for these mounting holes, and a bed mounted 7-pin connector. This is called the puck system and allows for easy fifth wheel hitch removal in case you want to use the bed to haul stuff. When looking at the B&W hitch for the Ram I found it a few hundred dollars more than the Ford hitch. The holes for the Ram are spaced further apart for the legs of the beefy hitch.
- LED Bed Lighting: (Yes) It’s a $165 luxury item for sure. But if we are going to be on the road full time then why not. Safe way to keep your hands empty by not having to hold a flashlight.
- Headlights: Although not a selectable option, I sure do like the shape and function of the Laramie trim package headlights over the Big Horn.
- Factory Tri-Fold Bed Cover: (No) At $545 they are charging to much. I’ll have an after-market cover. I’d prefer a cover that can partially close during fifth wheel towing. We will have to make sure if we get a tool box or auxiliary fuel tank that it sits even with or below the bed rails. By the way, the newer Ford F350 has a much larger diesel fuel tank than the Ram so I’d be more likely to add an auxiliary tank to the Ram.
- 8.4” Navigation: (Yes with the Laramie Trim, Maybe with the Bighorn Trim). Uconnect includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen for displaying music info and climate controls, AM/FM radio, available satellite radio, integrated voice command, which includes hands-free calling, voice commands for radio functions and blue tooth streaming audio. I’ve read over and over again the Ram navigation screen, features and layout is second to none. It’s high definition and easy to see in the sun. The 2019 1500 Ram can option in a 12” screen – why? Maybe will come with the next generation Ram 2500/3500 in maybe 2020.
- Forward and Reverse Parking Sensors: (Yes). Ram’s got a leg up on the Ford here with their on/off switch which is great for backing up a trailer and not having to listen to the backup alarm. I understand you can turn it off on a Ford but have to page through a menu on your dashboard.
- Fold Electric Tow Mirrors: (Yes). I’ve had a chance to talk with a couple people who drive Rams. Generally speaking, most of the reading I’ve done resulted in finding out most prefer the Ford mirrors. But the Ram owners I’ve spoken with say the Ram mirrors in the tow position are awesome. They may not extend electrically, but they do have electric folding.
I hope I’ve been able to shed light on a few of the Ram options that are more unique. Hope it helps you decide on your own truck and I’d appreciate any feedback you have to offer. By the way, do any of you have a truck with the lighter cloth or leather tan interior? And if so, how is it holding up to staining?
I’m combing through the online truck sales sites. I know a few of these truck options might have to be sacrificed if I can find a slightly used truck at a very fair deal. Although our budget covers a new truck just in case. I’ve really appreciated your blog posts concerning your own decisions on a truck and absorbed every word. I’m believing there is also a 50/50 chance we might someday have a second vehicle to follow the truck and trailer. So, I’m keeping that in mind. Although Karen and I enjoy traveling together in the same vehicle. I’m also impressed with the resale prices on these expensive trucks. I attempted a small study on resale value between the Ford and Ram to no avail. Some say the Ram Cummins engine is more marketable as a used truck because commercial users want it.
Big Truck Big RV: 2018 Ram 3500 dually test drive and full review. Two-part video. Go to his YouTube page for a lot of truck information. Keep in mind he owns a Ford F450. In other videos he admits the Ram is a better value for the dollar. The video series does a good job at comparing smaller details between the Ram, Ford and Chevy.
Here is a good article on the Ram heavy duty truck transmissions, 68RFE and Aisin. Remember, the high output Cummins engine is only available with the Aisin transmission.
Roads Less Traveled blog post about why they went with the Ram 3500 dually, 4.10 gear, Aisin transmission.