Truck Shopping Update

I had been wanting to finish up a post regarding why we deciding on a Vanleigh Vilano fifth wheel. And I’ll get back to that soon. However, for a change of pace I’ve been truck shopping and wanted to provide a few updates regarding this.

As you may recall I finally decided on a Ram 3500, having compared all three worthy brands.  I spent more time studying up on the Ram and Ford options compared to Chevy/GMC.  With a gross vehicle weight rating of 16,000 pounds, our future fifth wheel is a bit larger than what I’d feel comfortable towing full time without a diesel engine and dual rear wheels. If one estimates the front pin weight of a fifth wheel to be 20% of the total gross vehicle weight rating then I’d take an educated guess that our pin weight would be around 3,200 pounds at maximum. Add to that a 150 pound hitch, passengers, fuel, maybe a truck bed liner or tool box, or maybe a future external fuel tank and the weight adds up quickly.

When you start shopping around for a truck I highly suggest you consider the cargo capacity you will need. This will quickly limit the truck configurations you have to consider.  In my case, I am shooting for 20% more truck capacity than what I need which probably puts me at a 5,300 pound cargo capacity. This would be a worthy truck in case we ever decided to purchase a heavier trailer someday.

Here are my wants and must haves out of a Ram truck:

Must have truck options
·        Adjusting peddles (Karen is shorter than me. Be warned this is even an option in the Laramie trim level so don’t assume it’s standard)
·        Electronic folding mirrors (a must for parking in tight spots, drive-throughs)
·        Fifth wheel prep (with puck system in bed.)
·        Rear and front parking sensors
·        Rear camera
·        Aisin transmission with at least 3.73 gear ratio (a mountain climbing and descending beast)
·        Deiseal engine – Cummins high-output – Requires Aisin transmission option)
·        Four door crew cab long bed
·        Dual zone heating and cooling front passenger area
·        Dual  rear wheels
·        Electronic 4×4 – in my opinion required in a dually for resale purposes and traction even on wet grass.
·        Tow haul mode and exhaust braking (yes, like some other wants/musts, this generally comes with all newer trucks)
·        At least upgraded cloth seats
·        If a 2019 then get the LED headlights
·        Keyless entry
·        Drivers side electric adjusting seat
·        19,200 towing capacity which is 20% more than 16,000 pound fifth wheel
·        Cargo capacity (ask dealer to read door sticker – figure 5300 pounds min. which includes 20% safety margin)
·        Protection group with skid plates
·        Cold weather group
·        Steering wheel mounted audio controls to include phone
·        Side step running board. (Can be added later for maybe $800 per a dealer)
·        Locking rear deferential also called an anti-spin differential to lock rear tires together for traction
·        Rear wheel house liners  (protects underside of truck)
·        Theft system

Would be nice options
·        Front cooled and heated seats (probably the reason we are looking at the Laramie trim level)
·        Rear window defrost
·        Rubber floor mats – good ones that can be added later
·        Blind spot warning (only available in 2019)
·        Bed liner (can be added later)
·        Upgraded audio
·        Tire monitoring to include camper
·        8.4” U-Connect consul display (navigation optional)
·        CD player
·        Rear seat folding flat floor system (The 2019 1500 Rams have a flat floor but I’ve not heard, nor suspect, the 2019 3500 will)
·        Truck bed lighting – at least a single light above
·        Leather seats
·        Front bucket seats
·        Tailgate assist to make it easier to open and close.
·        Upgraded dash instrumentation
·        Push button start
·        Remote controlled start
·        Front driver and passenger electric adjusting seat
·        Heavy duty higher capacity single alternator
·        Front and rear mud flaps
·        Auto level rear suspension – only Ram has this as a factory option

And finally – any color but a black exterior. Yes I have color preferences but I’m not letting that stop me from a good deal.

I have been reading everything I can about the new Ram 2019, due to be announced on Monday in Detroit. I’ll spare you the details of what I have learned so far. If you are interested in discussing the 2019 just let me know in the comments section. My best guess is maybe a $3,000 increase in pricing compared to the 2018. Our budget would maybe allow for a new 2019 in the Bighorn trim level.

At this point I’m sticking with my theory the best option for us is a one year old truck and hence that is where my focus has been. Here is a blog post concerning why a one year old truck. The reason is best described as one can save around 22% off MSRP and perhaps get a few options outside the budget it bought new.

So far I have three trucks saved in my favorites that meet my criteria. I suspect with the 2019 models just around the corner there may be more to select from in a slightly used model. However – there remains a slight chance I’ll go for a new 2019. Much will depend on if the new pricing is within budget and if they are available when we are ready to purchase. I’d really like to order the fifth wheel or find it on the lot to be picked it up around May.

One last thought that has been a tremendous help while shopping for a truck with special attention to what options the truck has on it. has an awesome tool where you can enter a VIN and get a copy of the original window sticker!

Update: Within hours of posting this, I found a new article at a 2019 Ram Heavy Duty truck forum I’d been watching. Go here for the article link. What’s most interesting is the sales predictions for each truck trim level and engine. This article will give you a good idea what most people are buying, hence what most may be looking for when you eventually sell. In the 3500 Ram the Laramie is the most popular. And 95% of these trucks are 4×4. There are some decent photos of the new truck as well.


6 thoughts on “Truck Shopping Update

  1. Mark- we just got a 2018 Ram dually, based mostly on your posts as well as others. Its a Laramie and has everything you talk about (HD Cummins w/the Aisin 4:10 tranny and diff.) plus the air ride system. It was advertised as a “Demo” but it had 6k miles and the dealer’s owner’s son “used” it (apparently he’s into rodeos) so from my estimation it was basically a used truck but since it was never titled they could still say it was “new”. It also came with the 30k Mopar hitch which suggested to me they built that thing to tow, used it and then sold it. We feel we got a good deal so that’s what’s important. I do like how the 2018 rear seats have a “flat” folding system unlike what I’ve seen in the 2018 Ford 350s. The biggest thing we found on this truck is the lack of fuel economy and def economy- this beast eats both. We pulled a 14k Alpine(unloaded) from Shreveport, LA to El Paso (about 900 miles, give or take and not a lot of big mountains) right after Christmas and went through ~80gallons of diesel- this truck has a 32 gallon capacity. We also went through about 5 gallons of def. I do want to say a Big THANK YOU! without your help,as well as some others, we would never have found this and I’m sure anything less, we would have been unhappy with within a year! Cheers! Andy


    • Thank you Andrew. I tried to put it all out there when I post something, both the good and bad. Seems like whatever one buys, a dually truck, gas or diesel larger RV; anything better than 10 miles a gallon when towing is above average. I do wish Ram would have enlarged the fuel tank like Ford has done.

      900 miles is a long trip for sure.

      What source did you use to find the truck?


  2. The other day was 5 years owning our 2012 Chevy 3500. When we bought it, two years old and it only had 9500 miles on it, now the odometer is over 85,000. I asked Dave the other day what he’d buy if he was looking now, he said he’d go with a Ram. CCC is a very misunderstood and overlooked thing. I once had a tour guide at a factory tell me that you added the CCC to the hitch weight, this was in an aside conversation with me when he asked me what I thought of their new units. I then doubted myself so a quick search told me he was wrong, the sales manager at the factory got a quick call. I’m sure they went over a few things with the tour guide. Hope you find a good deal soon and get this step checked off.


    • Hi Faye,

      Truck cargo capacity is even more important if you are looking to upgrade your fifth wheel to a heavier one for sure.

      It took some time to wrap my mind around what people were describing as “appropriately equipped trucks”. There tow capacity charts help a lot where it basically boils down to first selecting the engine, cab, 4×4 or not, dually or not, axle ratio and transmission. Then the other added options reduces it from there. For example the Ram I’m most interested in on the chart shows a cargo capacity of 5690. The yellow sticker on the actual truck with options drops it to 5357.

      F350 dually has the best cargo capacity, even beating the F450 just because the 450 is a heavier truck due to larger brakes and such. If you want to pay the extra price for a Ford (which I’ve owned two). The technology coming out in the Ram 2019 heavy duty is going to challenge Ford’s.

      Many agree with these generations of trucks any of the big three are good trucks and the selection of which to buy is a personal thing. I’d certainly go one step further and say ya better consider the payload capacity.

      Friends have the Chevy and there is a lot of good things to say about it such as the rides the best. And you can’t go wrong with that engine/transmission combo. Interior is not bad at all. I’m not brand loyal and have bought two new Chevy vehicles in my lifetime. The front end on their newest heavy duty is different for sure if looks matter.

      Reading your guy’s blog! You are the go-to people for Grand Design Solitude information:


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