Is ram the next king of the hill? - Inside Perspective Editorial
At the heart of the current Ram Truck team exists a group of devoted truck enthusiasts. From the top tiers of the company to the engineers to the PR reps, it’s a welloiled machine, chock-full of people who are committed to making the product the best it can be. These are guys who could’ve left during the rough times and gone on to other things but chose to stay. The direct result of all the restructuring that followed the bankruptcy of 2009 left a small army of die-hard truck guys behind -- and they’ve made the most of it.
Not to steal a Ford slogan, but bold moves is the perfect way to describe Ram’s changes over the last five years. Bringing a modernera ½-ton diesel to market alone is proof that Ram isn’t afraid to try new things, and the public responded by purchasing them like hot cakes. Within three days’ time, the initial order of more than 8,000 EcoDieselpowered ’14 Ram 1500s had been filled by Chrysler dealerships.
As for the ’14 Ram 2500, a new, threelink, radius-arm-style front suspension was offered on four-wheel-drive models, and rear leaf springs went by the wayside. In an effort to improve both payload and ride quality, Ram introduced a more rugged version of the ½-ton’s link-coil rear suspension. And on top of that, optional rear airbags could be used in place of the coil springs, should the consumer want (or require) it. Stability accompanied increased hauling capability -- and great ride quality to boot.
It would be hard to forget the overbuilt Ram 3500 HD that was released in 2013. A new, high-strength, 50 KSI steel frame; Hotchkiss-style rear leaf spring suspension; 11.8-inch ring gear rear axle; beefier driveshafts; and a three-link, radius-arm-style front suspension paved the way for Ram to sit atop the gross combined weight rating wars. A 37,600-pound GCWR Ram 3500 HD already proved unstoppable with a ’13 Ford F-450 standing in its way (February ’14), and even with Ford’s improved numbers for ’15 F-450s, the F-350 will not be able to match the Ram 3500 in this department. And although it remains to be seen, I’m much more confident in the commercial-grade Aisin AS69RC automatic transmission’s ability to handle the 6.7L Cummins’ 850 lb-ft of torque than I am in the 68RFE.
Much like the teammate camaraderie that spawns championship clubs in professional sports, the guys I’ve met from Ram are loose and extremely down-toearth. In just a few minutes’ time hanging around them at this year’s Work Truck Show, I couldn’t help but notice how light the mood was (I did not get the same feeling over at the Ford and Chevy booths). This is the ideal working environment to make great products, and I don’t see Ram’s success slowing down at any point with these guys at the helm. For me, it’s nice to see one truck builder mixing things up, rather than simply doing more of the same. I’ll admit, I’m a Ford guy who’s actively rooting for Ram to have further success in this segment. With an 85 percent take-rate for the Cummins in its ¾-ton and 1-tons, and a potential 50 percent take-rate on the EcoDiesel-powered ½-tons, what’s not to like?