Ram Truck Options

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.

2019 on the left and 2018 on the right. Wonder if the New 2500/3500 design will copy the 1500 series truck?

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?

Ram Leather – Really like this trim color

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.

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17 thoughts on “Ram Truck Options

  1. I’ll have to get you a link to our bed cover/tool box, Mark. We love it. A bit pricey, but it has worked like a charm. Also, I totally agree on the 4×4. Even a steep gravel drive in a campground can be an issue without it. Our older Ford backup alarm has a button….too bad the new ones rely on paging through the menu. That stinks.

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  2. As always, enjoy reading your blog posts. I wanted to chime in on our recent purchase to complete our combination. I read earlier you were looking at the 34RL2. Our custom one was completed by the factory 2 weeks ago. I drove from MA to OH on the IN border to pick it up and bring it home.
    The 2017 Ford F350 DRW 4.10 and 34RL2 combination towed like a dream. At 65mph on cruise control I got 10.7mpg. Parts of that route are very hilly and I never had any reason to complain. Extremely quiet and stable tow.
    I’m sure the Ram would have done al least the same. Just sharing.

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    • Thanks for the info Stephen. And the 34RLS is still in our top five so I’d be interested in your opinion on your new one. Congrads on the new trailer! I wish that trailer had cabinets over the TV for internet and tv equipment or is there another place to install it? What dealership did you buy your Cedar Creek at?

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      • I have been through every nook and cranny of this trailer while installing our 2 Victron Multiplus’s and 10kW of Tesla lithium battery modules. I give it a thumbs up rating.

        Problems I had found at the dealer: Loose exit window screws, an impacted shock absorber on the Trailair and a cracked spray port fitting by the front steps. These were fixed on the spot by the dealer.

        Problem I found after I got it to our summer spot on Cape Cod: the microwave vent fan blower was not converted to exhaust through the wall. I fixed this myself.

        I had Jeff Couch order this unit from the factory to our specification. If you buy there, or most anywhere, be sure to do a comprehensive PDI yourself. Just because the microwave vent fan runs make sure it draws too for example. I give them 3.5 of 5 stars because they should have caught the leak on their PDI. But man, the price sure was right……

        We stream everything so we need a WiFi booster, a cell phone booster and a streaming box. We use Plex media server and Nvidia Shields. The Jensen head already has a DVD player and we will never do satellite TV (though the trailer is prewired for two). So, our space required for home entertainment devices is minimal. There is cavernous room behind the 55″ livingroom TV to mount way more than someone will ever need. That made the cabinet moot to us.

        The search for info on the 34RL2 lead me to your blog.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The 34RL2 dropped to second place for us, just behind the Montana 3120RL. But mostly because of price. The 34RL2 is still ahead based only on our overall rating of what we most want out of a trailer. Waiting for the 2019’s to come out before making a final decision. We will most likely shop around for our top three and decide on one of them.

        Good to know about storage space behind the television!

        I may be hitting you up for some info on the trailer as we get closer.

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      • Hi Mark,

        Yes we ordered through Jeff Couch’s RV Nation. I’m not sure of the price for the Montana but this 34RL2 was super affordable for what it offers IMO.

        We ordered a 2018 but got a 2019. We added dual pane glass, Trailair pin box, upgraded quality king mattress, heat pump option, supplemental bedroom heater, receiver for bike rack, power theater seating, slide toppers, 2nd AC, 20cuft Resi fridge and 12 gal elec/lp water heater in place of tankless. It was less than $56k.

        I would be happy to answer any questions. Good luck with the truck decision!

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      • Stephen,

        Appears a typical cost for the 2019 Montana 3120RL is about $52 to $54K if one is willing to travel to Michigan. That’s without the Legacy package. Notably the Montana with the legacy package is what I used to grade it against what we wanted. Extra retail cost of Legacy package is $6,000. After discounts, maybe $4,200 for total Montana Legacy cost of $57,000 to $59,000.

        Appears you got a heck of a deal on your Cedar Creek. You specked it with about what we would want other than the second awning outside over the living room slide. We might skip the residential fridge and maybe the slide toppers. Anyway, I adjusted my spreadsheet and now the Montana 3120RL and Cedar Creek 34RL2 are tied at first place. I’m still watching the 2019 versions and waiting for the 2019.5 maybe. Perhaps I’ll just let Karen select the trailer from the top two that end up on our list:)

        Mark

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      • I’ll bet you could be happy in either the CC or the Montana. I know we could.

        “Perhaps I’ll just let Karen select the trailer from the top two that end up on our list:)” Heh, it’s what I did except her name was April. So now I have to learn to like a bathrobe that hangs on a hook in the elaborate bathroom. HA!

        Good luck and be well.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Another excellent article, Mark. I really appreciate your thorough research! Just wanted to chime in on the RAM and give you my experience with our new 2018 RAM 3500 Laramie. It’s a dually with the 6.7 liter Turbo Diesel Cummins engine and the Aisin tranny geared at 4.10.

    We just finished driving the northern route from CA to MI, which means we had to drive over the San Bernadino mountains as well as the Rockies. The owners manual recommended not to tow for the 1st 500 miles so I’m glad we got it a month before leaving. I made it to 440 miles before having to leave. We towed a 6′ x 12′ U-Haul packed to the limit with heavy furniture, exercise equipment, and heavy boxes of pots & pans and lots of books. I’d hate to see how much that thing weighed. I bought a 6,000 lb. Reese ball hitch to tow with, which required the reducer sleeve that came with the RAM.

    Another thing the owners manual recommended was to not drive over 50 mph for the first 500 tow miles. I tried that for the first 350 miles I think before increasing the speed to 55 mph until the 500 miles were up. There were times I had to speed up to pass a truck, but I tried to take it easy until I got to the 1,000 mile mark.

    One of the things I loved about this configuration was the comfort of the leather bucket seats with the cooling option. Even after driving 8 hrs. plus, the seats were still comfortable.

    The Diesel brake is a godsend! Using the tow/haul mode, once you start to brake the diesel brake kicked in and did a fantastic job of slowing us down those steep mountain roads. I barely had to use my brakes! Even coming off the exit ramps it was fantastic how quickly I was able to bring the truck down to those slow ramp speeds.

    I was also impressed with the fuel economy. For the bulk of the trip we were getting 15 – 15.5 mpg including our trip through the San Bernadino mountains. Colorado was not as kind as there were more steep ups and downs, and some crazy twists and turns, plus by then I was driving more in the 60 – 65 mph range when possible. I also had many more trucks to pass uphill. I had no problems with acceleration, even up the steepest mountain grades.
    I would have liked to drive faster more often, but the U-Haul trailer was a P.O.S. and got too bouncy on the rough roads. As a matter of fact, once we got to Michigan the U-Haul trailer ended up getting a flat tire. Fortunately, we noticed the nearly flat tire after we got out of the Cracker Barrell. I drove over to a gas station and by then it was totally flat.

    The U-Connect controls were super easy to figure out. I like how RAM gives you both a touchscreen and buttons or dials to carry out many tasks. Sometimes a button or dial is just more convenient. The navigation screen has some neat features like showing you what the speed limit is as well as a heads up as to which upcoming exits have fuel or food.

    The tow mirrors are great (when put up in the vertical position). There is literally no blindspot.

    I look forward to seeing how she does with a 35 foot Montana attached. Fortunately, unlike that crappy U-Haul trailer, the Montana comes with G-Rated tires.

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    • Excellent information. Glad you guys made it safely. I’d have to think it is good to get that mountain driving under your belt. I’ve got four things to complete before I go out and get a truck. Forcing myself to accomplish something. Friday the first of fourth should be done. The second and third are in the works. The last is selling a car or trading it in on the truck.

      Montana and the G rated tires will be nice. As I understand it the other manufacturers are going to have to step up with better rated tires as well. I read somewhere a new federal law requiring the tires must have 10% more weight capacity than what would normally be required by the trailers gross weight. Going to be seeing a lot less E rated tires in that price point.

      Have fun at your dad’s!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hands down Ram!!!! We have used the 4 wheel drive, we have ran it hard and long… and it hasn’t had a single problem…. I’ve had a lot of trucks and coming from the country most of my friends all have trucks ( big horse people) Fords just don’t go the distance… but you never know every year is different they just might prove me wrong!! Lol

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    • If people are looking at the three main players closely and without prejudices, surely they would agree the Ram is the best value for the money as well. Just my opinion…

      Do you guys have the Aisin transmission or would that have been an over-kill for the trailer ?

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