Ram pickup trucks have been playing the continual-improvement game lately, and the new 2014 Ram 2500 HD Laramie is no exception. After receiving extensive updates last year, Ram is at it again, fitting the 2014 2500 HD with rear air suspension, integrated fifth-wheel capability, and the optional 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 to its heavy duty three-quarter ton truck.
The 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 joins the 2014 Ram 2500 HD lineup straight from Chrysler's SRT group, where the 396 cubic inch Hemi powers the Dodge Charger SRT8, and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, among other things. For truck duty, Ram detunes the engine to make it less high-strung, and thus capable of handling the abuse its owners will no doubt throw at it. Under the hood of the Ram, the 6.4-liter V-8 makes 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. That's a pretty significant increase compared to the 2500 HD's standard 5.7-liter 383-hp and 400 lb-ft of torque V-8, and provides a solid alternative to the optional (and pricey) Cummins-sourced 6.7-liter turbodiesel I-6, which makes 370 hp and 800 lb-ft when equipped with the six-speed automatic.
Though the Cummins-equipped 2014 Ram 2500 HD will still out-tow the 6.4 Hemi 2500, it can't touch its unladen performance -- or price for that matter. The 6.4-liter Hemi costs just $1495 more than the 5.7-liter Hemi, while the Cummins turbodiesel will set a buyer back $8495, since the Cummins also requires a different six-speed automatic to handle all that torque. At the test track, our 2014 Ram 2500 HD Laramie tester accelerated from 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds, and crossed the quarter mile in 16.5 seconds, with a trap speed of 85.9 mph. That's quicker than the last Cummins-equipped Ram 2500 we tested, a 2010 model (our Truck of the Year, that year), which needed 9.2 seconds to hit 60 mph, and 17.0 seconds to complete the quarter mile at 82.3 mph. The 2014 2500 HD Laramie needed a fair amount of real estate to come to a stop from 60 mph, using up 139 feet of our test track. Though no 2500 HD owner will ever autocross their truck, they'll sure be happy to know that the 7076 pound truck managed a respectable 0.71 g average on the skidpad.
So how's the Ram 2500 HD 6.4 Hemi stack up with Chevrolet and Ford's big three-quarter ton gassers? Well enough, we suppose. The last comparable Super Duty we tested, a 2011 F-250 Lariat equipped with a 6.2-liter V-8 making 385 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque out-accelerated the more-powerful Ram, needing just 8.3 seconds to complete the quarter mile and 16.4 seconds to finish the quarter mile at a trap speed of 83.8 mph. The F-250 needed just a foot more to come to a stop from 60 mph, and averaged 0.64 g on the skidpad. The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD (the last gasser Chevy HD we tested), our 2011 Truck of the Year, also put out better acceleration numbers than the 2014 Ram. Equipped with the 6.0-liter V-8 making 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, the Silverado 2500 HD needed 8.3 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph, and 16.3 seconds to knock out the quarter mile at a speed of 86.2 mph. The Chevy needed 145 feet for the 60-0 mph panic stop, and managed 0.73 g average on the skidpad.
Though bench racing the Ram against its rivals is fun an all, it matters not one iota as to how owners are going to use the truck. You can really tell the 2500 prioritizes work first, comfort second, but it is still a comfortable enough truck," said Executive Editor of Truck Trend Allyson Harwood, "Acceleration is excellent with the new 6.4." Executive Editor Ron Kiino agreed with Harwood's assessment of the Hemi, "The 6.4 Hemi feels right at home in the HD. Plenty of pop, good torque, smooth; sounds muscular," he wrote. Though some wished for the Ram 1500's eight-speed automatic in its Heavy Duty big brother, most really liked the 2500 HD Laramie. Truck Trend Senior Editor Ed Sanchez sums up the 2500 HD well, "Some believe all HDs should be diesels, but the new 6.4 Hemi in the Ram HDs makes a compelling alternate case. Gutsy and willing, if you can't stomach the stiff price of the Cummins, and you don't mind the lower MPGs, the 6.4 seems game for all but the heaviest jobs."
As for the rest of the truck, one look through the log book reveals plenty of favorable impressions, especially in regards to its interior. "The dark interior treatment looks way richer than the GMC Denali's," said Kiino. "The 2500 has the best interior of the Rams," said associate editor Mike Febbo, "The darker colors really take the edge off the tackiness."
Our mid-level 2014 Ram 2500 HD Laramie tester started at $53,580, and when equipped with the 6.4-liter Hemi, four-wheel drive, and a few other choice options, it stickered for a not-unreasonable $59,250.
With the 2014 Ram 2500 HD Laramie, the truckmaker succeeds in making a compelling argument for a big gas-powered engine in a Heavy Duty pickup truck. With Ram on a roll with continual improvements, we can't wait to see what it's got in store for 2015.
|2014 Ram 2500 Laramie Limited Heavy Duty|
|BASE PRICE|| $53,580 |
|PRICE AS TESTED|| $59,250 |
|VEHICLE LAYOUT ||Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck|
|ENGINE|| 6.4L/410-hp/429-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8 |
|TRANSMISSION|| 6-speed automatic|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)|| 7076 lb (58/42%)|
|WHEELBASE|| 148.9 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT ||237.4 x 79.1 x 77.7 in|
|0-60 MPH|| 8.7 sec|
|QUARTER MILE|| 16.5 sec @ 85.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH ||139 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION|| 0.71 g (avg)|