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2010 Dodge Ram HD


While a world downsizes, there's still heavy lifting to be done

By Malcolm Gunn

2010 Dodge Ram HDFor big jobs that require brute strength along with equal measures of style and comfort, the tough new 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty fits the bill in a very big way.

The full-size Ram 2500 and 3500 models are truly imposing pickups that, with their abundance of firepower, appear ready and willing to devour every other pickup on the market.

If the Heavy Duty (or HD for short) appears vaguely familiar, it's because the design has been modified from the new-for-2009 Ram 1500-series light-duty pickups that arrived last fall. But with their massive grilles, bulging hoods and tall-in-the-saddle architecture, the HDs carry on a tradition of Dodge individuality that dates back to the Second World War-era Power Wagons.

As with its light-duty counterparts, the HD is available in Regular Cab, new-for-2010 four-door Crew-Cab and the extra-spacious extended-length four-door Mega Cab sizes. Each version can also be ordered in two-, or four-wheel drive.

A standard eight-foot (244-centimetre) pickup box is bolted to Regular Cab HDs, while Crew Cabs can be ordered with an eight-foot or 6' 4" (193-centimetre) bed. The latter is standard issue on all Mega Cabs.

2010 Dodge Ram HDDodge has placed considerable importance on providing HD fans with what they desire most, including all the comforts and amenities of a mobile office. The HD contains added cabin insulation plus a suspension tuned for a quieter ride than before. In addition, an available giant centre console includes an upper bin for stowing laptop computers plus a lower compartment that's suitable for hanging files. Then there are the extra under-rear-seat and below-floor compartments on Crew and Mega Cabs.

If the Ram's macho-plus silhouette fails to impress, Dodge has developed a range of stout powerplants that should make serious truckers salivate. First up is the return of the "Hemi" that's exclusive to the 2500 series. It's the same basic motor available in the light-duty Ram pickups as well as in a variety of Dodge and Chrysler sedans. This 5.7-litre powerhouse packs 383 horsepower (a gain of 28 over the 2009 model) and 400 pound-feet of torque.

However, the crowd-pleasing favourite remains the 6.7-litre inline six-cylinder Cummins-built high-pressure turbo-diesel. Of late, three-quarters of all Dodge HD trucks sold have been Cummins-equipped, and for good reason. Selecting this 2009 carry-over stump-puller that's optional on the 2500- (three-quarter-ton) series, but standard 3500-series, buys you 350 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of mountain-moving torque at just 1,500 rpm.

The Hemi gets a five-speed automatic transmission, while a six-speed manual (with an extra-low first gear that helps pull heavy objects), or optional six-speed automatic is offered on turbo-diesel trucks.

A major advantage offered by the turbo-diesel is its impressive durability. Dodge claims that the engine is good for 560,000 kilometres before requiring major service.

2010 Dodge Ram HDModel choices carry on pretty much as before, from the work-truck-basic LT, all the way up to the largesse-laden Laramie. Of the remaining in-between designations, the four-wheel-drive Power Wagon is easily the most off-road capable since it comes with locking front and rear differentials, skid-plate underbody protection, 32-inch off-road rubber and a 5,450-kilogram capacity winch, to name just a few items.

There are also a number of features designed just for turbo-diesel HDs, beginning with a category exclusive exhaust brake that's more commonly found on big-rig tractor trailers. When coasting, the system traps compressed exhaust gasses inside the engine's cylinders, forcing it to slow, which also slows the truck. The result is less wear and tear on the brakes and greater control for the driver when heading downhill with a heavy load.

Heavy duty? There might not be anything quite like it.

The 2010 Ram HD proves that North American automakers can still produce pickup trucks that are without equal anywhere in the world. And the HD is easily among the best of the best.

What you should know: 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy-Duty

Type: Two-/four-door, rear-/four-wheel-drive full-size pickup
Engines: 5.7-litre OHV V8 (383 hp); 6.7-litre OHV inline I6 turbo-diesel (350 hp)
Transmissions: Five-speed automatic (5.7); six-speed manual or six-speed automatic (6.7)
Market position: The Ram HD keeps the pressure on the commercial-grade competition with its powerful engine options, extra-roomy cabs and tough-truck image.
Points: Attractively restyled, but still retains unique Ram look; Cummins turbo-diesel a requirement for serious truckers; Mega Cab version is the largest pickup in the industry; Power Wagon model excels at off-road duty; Big-rig-type exhaust brake adds control, extends pad life; New F-series Super Duty due soon could have Ram HD and others playing catch-up.
Safety: Front airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control;
stability control.
L/100 km (city/hwy): n/a
Base price (incl. destination): tba

By comparison

Chevy Silverado HD
Base price: $36,300
Well-equipped pickup is tops in diesel power, lacks unique HD look.

Base price: $34,100
Powerful hauler offers roomy cabins. Stronger diesel option for 2011.

Toyota Tundra
Base price: $25,000
Lacks distinct HD version, but has strong V8, quality interior.

Malcolm Gunn is an automotive writer based in Moncton, NB, and a regular contributor to CarTest!

Posted January 27, 2010. © CarTest.ca TM

Note: Also see Bill Roebuck's report on What's new in pickup trucks for 2011.

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