The main attractions at a recent multi-day Ram media event were obviously the 1500 EcoDiesel and the ProMaster, but it was also the coming-out party for the new 3500 heavy duty application of the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8. Although sharing displacement with its high-output SRT sibling, Ram engineers were quick to point out the changes and differences on the HD application, which are numerous. A high-volume oil cooler, piston oil jet coolers, aircraft-grade, stainless steel gaskets and fasteners, and an integrated positive crankcase ventilation system. Cylinder deactivation and variable valve timing also contributed to economy and power gains over the standard 5.7-liter Hemi V-8.
We tested the new engine both unloaded and with an 8900-lb trailer. In both cases, the engine performed admirably, never feeling out-of-breath or overburdened. On some uphill inclines, the engine revved up to around 5000 rpm. That may be panic time for a diesel, but in our experience towing with gas engines, it's hardly unheard-of when towing a sizeable load up a grade.
While we're still of the mind that a diesel engine should be considered nearly mandatory equipment in an HD truck, we acknowledge that it's overkill for some applications, and for some buyers that need the capabilities of an HD truck, but can't swallow the $8000+ price of a diesel, there is room at the table for a robust gas engine option. The engine's 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque give it a 25 hp and 24 lb-ft edge over the Ford SOHC 6.2 V-8 in the Super Duty, and an even more decisive 50 hp and 49 lb-ft edge over GM's 6.0-liter Vortec 6000 in its HD models. For the time being, the 6.4 is being offered only as a gasoline engine, but engineers and product planners acknowledged a lot of the learning and hardware used on the 5.7 Hemi could be potentially be applied to the 6.4 for a CNG flex-fuel application.
| 2014 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty |
| BASE PRICE || $31,200 |
| VEHICLE LAYOUT || Front-engine, RWD/4WD, 2- to 6-pass, 2/4-door pickup |
| ENGINE || 6.4L/410-hp/429-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8 |
| TRANSMISSION || 6-speed automatic |
| CURB WEIGHT || 6450-7250 lb (mfr) |
| WHEELBASE || 140.5-160.5 in |
| LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT || 230.4-259.3 x 78.9-79.1 x 76.9-79.8 in |
| 0-60 MPH || 12 sec (TT est) |
| EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON || Not rated |
| ON SALE IN U.S. || Currently |