First Drive: 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty trucks first drives dodge
2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty. Click image to enlarge

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Dodge Canada

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Review and photos by Howard Elmer

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2010 Dodge Ram HD

Chelsea, Michigan – Chrysler recently announced that “Ram” is to become its own brand. This changes the truck landscape, because Ram trucks will cease to be Dodges, and Chrysler says it will expand this new brand to include commercial vans (rebadged Fiats, no doubt) and perhaps even get back into heavy truck production. This is in addition to their recent expansion into the medium-duty sector, with larger trucks like 4500 and 5500-series models, which up-fitters use to build anything from tow truck bodies to ambulances.

But for the moment, the newest Ram is still a Dodge. The next-generation 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty pickup trucks were first seen at last year’s Toronto Auto Show and driven just last week at the Chelsea, Michigan proving grounds.

First Drive: 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty trucks first drives dodge
2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty; photo courtesy Dodge. Click image to enlarge

At the media introduction, it was obvious that Ram trucks were getting a push in the new Chrysler/Fiat brand structure. The first clue was the addition of a crew cab option, something the Ram HD pickup has never had. This is an obvious invitation to RV and boat haulers as the recreational hauling market buys crew cabs nearly 70 per cent of the time. Frankly, it was just a matter of time before Dodge woke up to the obvious. But in addition to the Crew (Dodge simply calls it a “Crew”) they are now the only ones to offer the unique Mega Cab as well. These cab offerings can be matched to either a 6-foot, 4-inch or 8-foot cargo box. As for trim, there are four distinct levels: ST, SLT, SXT and Laramie – a nice spread.

As of September 2009, sales in the automotive industry as a whole are still down as much as 15 per cent. By comparison, truck sales (as a whole) are down only four per cent, year over year. This speaks to the reality that truck buyers need trucks and Dodge needs steady revenue. So, it seems they have picked the right place to start.

First Drive: 2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty trucks first drives dodge
2010 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty; photo courtesy Dodge. Click image to enlarge

So, what about towing capability? This year Dodge has joined GM and Ford in offering an integrated trailer brake controller, one with a nifty feature: the gain settings and actual braking action appear in the centre screen (between the speed and r.p.m. gauges) as numbers and a bar graph. That saves looking down by your knee (where the controller is) and because it comes on each time you brake, monitoring the efficiency of the system is the same as keeping an eye on your speed.

What does all this add up to in terms of capability? Well, the 2010 HD Ram can tow up to 8,391 kg (18,500 lb) and carry 2,318 kg (5,110 lb) of payload. On all 3500 models with dual rear wheels, GCWR is increased to 11,521 kg (25,400 lb) with the 6.7-litre turbo diesel. Coupled to the automatic transmission and a 4.10 axle ratio, an additional 635 kg (1400 lb) can be added.

For those who also plough snow with their trucks, note that a higher front Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) of 2,495 kg (5,500 lb) has been added to all 4×4 models.