2019 Chicago Auto Show – First Look: 2019 Ram Heavy Duty Chassis Cab
Big-Truck Goodness in an Upfit-Friendly Package
The 2019 Ram Heavy Duty is a commendable-looking entry into the heavy-duty consumer truck segment, with a huge towing capacity and all-new frame and interior.
But if your tastes or your needs skew more toward the commercial side of things, don’t worry. Ram isn’t leaving you in the lurch.
At the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, Ram debuted its all-new Chassis Cab version of the 2019 Heavy Duty. In addition to the 3500, the Chassis Cab will also be available in 4500 (Class 4) and 5500 (Class 5) grades, as well as a unique Class 2 option with a 10,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating.
Each grade will come standard with Ram’s 6.4L Hemi V-8, which will be available with up to 410 hp and 429 lb-ft. In the Ram 3500, this engine will come mated to an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic, marking the first time a transmission with as many gears will be offered in the segment. The engine will receive a stout Aisin six-speed automatic gearbox in the Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs.
Furthermore, the Chassis Cab will be available with a 6.7L Cummins I-6 turbodiesel, which makes 360 hp and 800 lb-ft, the highest torque number of any Class 4 or 5 chassis cab truck. All Ram Chassis Cab diesels will come standard with an Aisin six-speed transmission, related but not identical to the one found in the gas-powered Chassis Cab. Regardless of engine option, the Aisin gearboxes are available with a power take-off option, allowing the use of snowplows, dump bodies, and other hard-working upfitter equipment.
In fact, Ram claims a segment-best payload capacity of 12,510 pounds, with a maximum towing rating of 35,220 pounds properly equipped. The maximum GVWR of a Ram Chassis Cab is 43,000 pounds. Those numbers are commendable, although the non-chassis cab Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD is capable of greater towing capacity, even when equipped with a bed.
One field in which the Ram Chassis Cab excels is in upfit friendliness. A C-channel rear frame section complements a fully boxed front, with the whole frame composed of 97 percent high-strength steel. The rear framerails are also designed with zero component interference above the rails and pre-drilled mounting holes, ensuring box bodies, flatbeds, and other vocational upfits can be installed with minimum drama. The rear chassis sections are available in four industry-standard frame lengths, with standard 34-inch spacing between rails. Thanks to the high-strength steel (and an aluminum hood), the truck loses up to 120 pounds compared to its predecessor.
For the first time, the Chassis Cab will be available in a hyper-luxurious Limited trim level. Appearing alongside familiar Tradesman, SLT, and Laramie trims, the Limited will be designed for the job foreman, the boss, or the hardcore overlander building an off-road daily driver. As on its Heavy Duty brother, the Ram Chassis Cab will be available with a variety of interior and comfort options, including the Uconnect 12-inch touchscreen with 4C navigation. A 17-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is also available. Five upfit-friendly auxiliary switches are available, and the 3500-only eight-speed auto is shifted via Ram’s controversial rotary dial.
Styling-wise, the Ram Chassis Cab follows the Heavy Duty into the future. A bold front grille with no crosshairs headlines the changes, proving that the company is doubling (or tripling) down on forcing that styling feature into extinction. The front styling is impressive, featuring an interlocking design that not only mirrors the interior but also sets the 2019 Chassis Cab apart from its predecessor—Ram also says the new front end provides increased airflow to the engine.
As on the Heavy Duty, the Chassis Cab is available with a long and impressive list of active safety features. All trim levels are available with active cruise control, forward collision warning, automated emergency braking, and more, marking the first time some of those features have been seen on a vocational truck like this one. You can bet other manufacturers will follow Ram’s lead, particularly Ford, whose 2020 Super Duty will be available with a wide variety of active driving assistants.
With everything that’s there to love about the Ram Heavy Duty as well as plenty of versatile straight-truck goodness, the Ram Chassis Cab should continue to be plenty popular with vocational customers and fleets. And the addition of active safety systems and the available Limited grade could even make it attractive to lifestyle buyers. Regardless, it’ll be sure to sell reasonably, and we can’t wait to live out our tow-truck fantasies behind the wheel.