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First Look: Ram Diesel-Powered 3500 HD and Ram 1500 Tradesman

A pair of new trucks for a wide range of needs.

by on Feb.09, 2011

The new turbo-diesel-powered Ram 3500 HD will be able to haul up to 30,000 pounds.

Few brand names are more clearly associated with a particular type of product than Ram, the Chrysler marque that specializes in pickups.  And the division rolled out a pair of new models, in Chicago, that should broadly expanding its appeal.

The Ram 1500 Tradesman will be targeted at “hard-working people” who need an affordable full-sized offering, said the brand’s CEO Fred Diaz, while the all-new Ram 3500 HD with its Cummins diesel powertrain, takes aim at those who need the maximum hauling power possible from a 1-ton truck.  All told, the 3500 will have a gross weight capacity in excess of 30,000 pounds.

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The Tradesman will offer 5.7-liter V8 power at a V6 price, suggested Diaz, a subtle reference to the new V6 offering that rival Ford, with its F150, is putting emphasis on.  At just $22,780, the Tradesman pumps out 390 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque, while still yielding 20 mpg on the highway.

Ram will offer the new Tradesman to those who need a V8-powered truck on a budget.

Ram will pitch the new model to “those people for whom their truck is their single most important tool,” said Diaz.

Tradesman, unveiled at the 2011 Chicago Motor Show and due into showrooms in the second quarter of the year, will be available with both short and long beds, and with either two- or four-wheel-drive.

Its big brother arrives on the market about the same time, noted Diaz, but it has a very different audience in mind.  The Ram 3500 HD aims to end the debate over who is king-of-the-hill when it comes to towing capacity.  The truck will pull a whopping 22,700 pounds, and when you add what you can stuff into the cargo bed, its gross combined weight rating is a full 30,000 pounds.

To haul all that, the upgraded Cummins turbo-diesel makes a stump-pulling 800 lb-ft of torque, up from 650 with the earlier diesel powertrain, and 350 horsepower.

The engine, Ram claims, has the biggest exhaust brake in the segment, which should help maintain control when towing downhill – while also reducing wear on regular brakes.

Significantly, Diaz noted, the Ram 3500 HD’s engine does not require the urea after-treatment needed with other diesels, reducing regular service requirements.

The Cummins turbodiesel will be offered as standard gear on all Ram 2500 and 3500 HD models with an automatic gearbox.

No price or fuel economy ratings for the big Ram diesel were immediately available.