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October 1, 2013
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Mr. Truck 9-30-13

Over eight years ago speculation of a half ton diesel, all but died. All the truck manufactures had a diesel engine planned for half ton trucks. Then the economy changed.

Ram finally got serious about the truck race in 2013 with one innovation after another with a diesel in the Grand Cherokee, four corner air suspension on the 1500 and eight speed auto, 30k trailer towing in the 3500 and Smart Exhaust Brake, then a few months later for 2014, rear air suspension or coil for the 2500, rear hybrid air suspension for 3500 and the new 6.4L HEMI V-8. Wow, what’s left to improve on trucks? Ram just jumped ahead a decade in two years.

The V-6 EcoDiesel and TorqueFlite eight-speed are big news for a half ton, but for only $2,850 cost over a Hemi, that’s bigger news. With pickup truck heavy duty diesels costing over $8,000, coming in under $3,000, makes the half ton diesel an affordable option that could pay for itself before your last payment unlike the big brother diesels that may take over 150,000 miles to pay for themselves from fuel savings.

The VM Motor 3.0L V-6 water cooled Turbo charged dual overhead cam 24 valve pumps out 240 horses and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. Good for towing 9,200 pounds of trailer, like a good half ton should be rated to tow.

The Ram 1500 with 5.7L V-8 Hemi also has the eight speed option with 395 horsepower and 410 lbs-ft. of torque. The 2013 Ram 1500 introduced optional four corner air suspension from the Grand Cherokee. This was the clue that Heavy Duty Ram was leading us to the revolution in truck suspensions that semi-trucks adopted over three decades ago.

2014 Heavy Duty’s

New 6.4L Hemi gas engine fills the missing link for the Ram HD line up. When a diesel engine costs over $8,000 and diesel is $.70 a gallon more than gas, gas engines have found their place in heavy duty pickups again. It’s 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque. The new 6.4L HEMI is priced at $1,495 more than the 5.7L HEMI V-8.

Ram still offers a manual transmission with the detuned 6.7L Cummins diesel. It’s the only manual offered in half ton, three-quarter ton or one ton. Middle line Cummins 6.7L has the 68RE automatic and the top 6.7L Cummins High-Output diesel puts out 385 horsepower and 850 lb.-ft. of torque with the Aisin six-speed automatic used in the 4500/5500 Rams since 2007.

Ram 2500 for 2014 will have standard rear coil spring five link similar to what started in 2010 with the Ram 1500, but heavy duty and a progressive coil for more resistance as load increases.

But wait there’s more, if you don’t want coil, you can have an air bag. The air suspension levels by air pressure, in tow mode the truck drops one inch for less drag.

Load sensing will detect load and keeps the truck level with on-board air compressor and tank. This is the missing link with heavy duty trucks. I’ll drive these soon to see how they support a trailer and improve the ride.

The 2014 Ram 3500 is standard Hotchkiss leaf spring or optional air/leaf hybrid with traction bar instead of tracking bar like front axle.

Hotchkiss leaf suspension is 100 years old, semi trucks adopted air suspension over 30 years ago for better traction, better ride, level ride, better braking, better handling. Pinion angle, headlight angle don’t change. Ram calls it a supplemental air suspension because the main leaf spring is still there to center the axle. Rear axle front traction bar attaches from the front leaf eye hanger support to the center of the axle.

Air suspension uses purified air with a filter to absorb water in the tank and lines.

If you want to weld from your truck, optionally dual alternator in the 3500 puts out 440 amps.

New factory gooseneck hitch is interesting, gives the truck an extra large cross member, but the pucks for safety chains where the 5th wheel mounts don’t fit most safety hooks on the trailer chains. In-bed trailer wire connection on the 3500 dually will save some break downs from a pulled-apart plug wire over the tailgate.

All 2014 Ram Heavy Duties will now have the three link fork with the front coils. This improved stiffness, making the truck handle better on the 2013 one ton dually I drove. Ram Power Wagon also gets the new three link front suspension with more off road articulation and the new 6.4L HEMI.

The cooling system on the 2014 Ram Heavy Duty Cummins 6.7-liter includes a high-efficiency fan, dual radiators, dual transmission coolers and a low-slung intercooler.

Having a DEF gauge is great and having the fill cap in the diesel fill door has advantages as more stations will have a hose at the pump for DEF.

The fuel filter for Cummins diesel is larger with two filters and water drain.

Finally Electronic Stability Control for a dually. This helps driving safety in bad road conditions as well as stabilizing how an empty truck handles. ❖

Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over one million miles pulling trailers, Mr. Truck has a unique collection of truck and farm stories that will educate and entertain. Mr.Truck gave up his bib overalls and John Deeres in his quest to save the farm and moved to the big city to sell trucks. After selling trucks for 10 years, this farmer now writes for eight magazines and owns over two dozen websites, helping folks find the “Right Truck.” If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his website, www.MrTruck.net.


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The Fence Post Updated Oct 17, 2013 09:32AM Published Oct 21, 2013 02:52PM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.