How I’d Spec It: 2015 Ram 3500
Trucks these days come with an insane number of options and possible configurations that cater to a wide variety of jobs. From hauling tools to a construction site to hauling your date to a fancy dinner on the nice side of town, modern trucks all have a place. But what’s the best set-up for all-out towing? Glad you asked.
Selecting the right equipment is important, especially when it comes to the powertrain. I’d opt for the mighty 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel and the optional Aisin six-speed automatic transmission. (Ram is the only truck maker that still offers a manual transmission, but the Cummins’ output is reduced when ordered with three pedals.) I’d also order the dual rear wheel package and the 4.10 rear end gearing.
Since over-the-road trucking doesn’t usually require jaunts through the mud, I’d leave off 4WD. It saves both cost and weight, the latter of which directed effects the truck’s total tow rating.
As for trim level and cab configuration, it all comes down to personal preference. For me, I’d opt for the Crew Cab and the Laramie trim level. Sure, choosing a base Tradesman in a single cab configuration is much less expensive, but wouldn’t be nearly as comfortable over long distances. The starting price for such a rig boils down to $46,400 – but that doesn’t include the powertrain upgrades mentioned above. I’ll get to that next.
Continue reading for the full run-down
Ram Trucks’ online configurator doesn’t visualize added options the way other online configurators do, so I’m left with stock images to illustrate. There are several cues to tell a Laramie trim level apart. Perhaps the easiest is the chrome, wire-mesh grille inserts standing in place of the horizontal chrome slats of Lone Star and Big Horn, the two trim levels below the Laramie. The wire-mesh grille also appears on the higher spec trim levels, including the Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited. The most obvious telltale sign is the truck’s Laramie badges plastered all over the place.
On a more important note, I chose the eight-foot bed over the six-foot, four-inch box. This allows easier towing of fifth wheel and gooseneck trailers, plus allows room for an aftermarket toolbox. This configuration will make parking and inner city driving a chore, however.
In keeping with the truck’s functionality, the Ram 3500 comes standard with front tow hooks – even on 2WD models – and a Class V, frame-mounted trailer hitch receiver. Also standard are folding trailer tow mirrors that expand 90 degrees (horizontal to vertical) to offer a larger rearward view.
When it comes to options, the Ram offers plenty. But sticking with the towing theme, here’s what I’d choose: The rear window defroster ($150), the center high-mount stop light with rear-view camera ($325), the fifth wheel/gooseneck towing prep package ($400), and the spray-in bed liner ($475). Lastly I’d opt for the rear air suspension package with auto leveling. The $1,595 system ensures the truck remains level regardless of payload or tongue weight, helping keep the front tires in contact with the road no matter what.
Since the interior is where the majority of time is spent, I wanted to make it nice. The Laramie trim level offers heated and vented leather seats, in both the 40/20/40 split bench or the twin bucket seats with the center console. For $500, I opted for the bucket seats, mainly to get the center console. It offers tons of cubby space and spots for odds and ends.
I also opted for the $500 Uconnect navigation upgrade. If I were going to equip the truck with aftermarket lighting or such, I’d get the dash-mounted auxiliary switches for $130 as well. Power adjustable pedals for another $150 make achieving the perfect driving position much easier, so that’s money well spent. The same can be said for the $150 Keyless Enter ‘N Go system with push-button starting with the proximity key.
All told, the leather-lined interior is a great place to spend time, especially if you’re trekking hundreds of mile per day.
Six-speed manual with 4WD shown
Now to the meat and potatoes of the build. Ram offers the 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 gasoline engines, but for pulling the big stuff, nothing beats the 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six turbodiesel. When mated with the Aisin automatic transmission, the engine is up-rated to its High Output version, offering 385 horsepower and a massive 865 pound-feet of torque. The engine offers an exhaust brake as well, giving more control to the driver on long downhill descents under load – just like a big rig.
Speaking of that transmission, the Aisin AS66RC offers six speeds and enough strength to handle 30,000 pounds on the hitch. Manual shifting capabilities allow the driver to downshift when decelerating or going down a steep grade. The Aisin’s Tow/Haul mode also offers altered shift points for better torque delivery when under load. It also downshifts more aggressively when braking. Opting for the Aisin does cost an additional $2,995, but the performance is worth the extra scratch.
The dual rear wheel package comes standard with the 3.73 gear set in the rear differential. For $50, I’d opt for the 4.10 gear set. This moves the truck’s towing capacity from 23,750 pounds up to 29,250 pounds – near the Ram’s maximum rating. However, this comes with a trade off. Yes, the 4.10 gears does allow for more towing, but highway speeds will require a higher engine rpm which consumes more fuel. If I weren’t going for all-out towing numbers, I’d stick with the 3.73 gears and keep a higher top speed and a lower revs on the highway.
So here’s where things get real. The basic Ram 3500 Tradesman equipped with the same Crew Cab, eight-foot box, and powertrain setup totals for $46,710 on Ram’s online configurator. Opt for the high-class Laramie trim level and that price jumps to $57,645 before options.
With all the goodies I loaded my theoretical truck with, the total comes to $62,090. That’s expensive, no matter how you break it down. Nevertheless, there is no other 3500-series truck that will out-tow the Ram.
The Ram 3500 is a beastly truck with a bold attitude and big rig-like characteristics. Both General Motors and Ford offers strong competitors to the Ram, but the GM trucks don’t match the Ram’s towing numbers and you’d have to jump up to the F-450 to break the 30,000-pound limit.
Keep in mind, towing this much weight legally necessitates having a commercial drivers license, so you’d better have a clean driving record and time to spend at the DMV. Unloaded or under 26,001 pounds GVW, however, anyone with a regular license can pilot this rig.
It’s hard to imagine a more manly truck than the Cummins-powered Ram 3500 dually. Perhaps by adding 4WD and the all-terrain tire option, the truck gains a more well-rounded resume, but for shear towing prowess, it doesn’t get much better than this configuration.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.