When Dodge debuted its all-new HD 3500 Ram pickup at the recent Chicago Auto Show, witnesses were moved by its outstanding display of torque. Literally moved, as the big truck pulled a platform of media folk and engine displays -- weighing an estimated 32,000 pounds -- yards across the floor using only enough throttle to keep the truck idling in first gear.
The stunt demonstrated the sheer strength of the Ram's new inline-six 5.9-liter High-Output Cummins Turbo Diesel engine, which delivers 305 horsepower at 2900 rpm and 555 lb-ft of torque at only 1400 rpm when shifted by its manual six-speed transmission. Dodge rightfully boasts that this is the most powerful turbo diesel available in the 2500/3500 truck market, offering a tow rating of 23,000 pounds (Gross Combined Weight Rating). It may also be the most durable, engineered to have an average major overhaul interval of 350,000 miles and oil-change intervals of 15,000 miles instead of the customary 7500. While their displacements and cylinder counts are larger, Ford's 7.3-liter V-8 Power Stroke and General Motors' 6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesels don't quite measure up to the output of the High-Output Cummins, producing 275 hp/520 lb-ft and 300 hp/520 lb-ft, respectively.
The High-Output Cummins engine is impressive enough on its own, but that's not the only surprise in Dodge's 2003 all-new heavy-duty lineup: all hail the return of the legendary Hemi, now standard power in the 2500/3500 series trucks. The new 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi Magnum produces 345 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 365 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm. The modern engine features cross-flow aluminum heads with hemispherical combustion chambers, two spark plugs per cylinder for fast, efficient combustion, and a direct ignition system for a complete, consistent fuel burn. Rounding out the high-horsepower engine offerings is the familiar 8.0-liter V-10 Magnum, already known for its 305 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque.
Dodge has modeled these heavy-duty trucks from the striking 2002 Ram 1500 redesign, sharing its bold body styling. The similarity stems from the truck being designed from the get-go as a workhorse, with even the enormous horse-collar grille engineered to be large enough to accommodate the extra cooling needs of the heavy-duty powertrains yet to come.