Mr. Truck 2-22-10
February 22, 2010
Finally a full size Crew Cab and an 8-foot bed – good news for those of us that tow. The last crew cab long bed I remember was in the ’70s. No Urea (diesel exhaust fluid) like Ford and GM diesels for 2010’s new emission laws, this should prove to be a big price advantage for Dodge. Dodge will be the only truck left offering a manual and automatic transmission option when Ford’s 2011 Super Duty launches in the spring without manuals. New for improved ride is cab isolated hydraulic dampener, dramatically smoother ride, especially on dually’s.
Though the 2500/3500 pickup trucks won’t need urea, the commercial cab and chassis 3500/4500/5500 will use urea (diesel exhaust fluid is the official name.) Commercial trucks have different EPA tests and certification than class 2/3 pickup trucks. Dodge 3500 has heavy duty rear leaf springs with double overload leafs. On a dually the ride could be rough. Many over-the-road semi-trucks have air bags supporting their cabs. Dodge uses the same principle to improve the ride for 2010 with a hydraulic dampener supporting the rear of the cab. Crew cab configuration is the most popular, Dodge finally joined the party, though the Mega-cab is great as a limo with reclining rear seats and room to drool over, but only with a short bed. It’s still easier to tow gooseneck and fifth-wheel trailers and haul slide-campers with an 8-foot bed. The new Crew Cab replaces the Quad Cab.
2010 Dodge Ram 3500 Mega Cab is 9-inches longer than the Crew Cab. The new improved fenders are all metal and more aerodynamic than the round plastic bolt on fenders of previous Mega Cabs.
The 68RFE 6-speed automatic transmission has Electric Range Select, in manual mode using the plus and minus buttons on the shifter lever will allow you to shift to the highest gear that you want the transmission to go to, all without over rapping the engine. It’s like having a programmable manual transmission without the work. Tow/haul mode keeps the engine in maximum torque curve. You can manually shift the auto, I let the computer shift, then I did manually and I won. Torque Converter lockup in third, fourth, fifth and sixth helps the automatic transmission hold gears just like a manual transmission.
Dodge is the only pickup truck to have rack and pinion steering (on 4-by-2 only.) A couple of the semi-truck brands have rack and pinion now. This is what your car has and it’s tight steering with less effort. In my experience, Dodge has the lightest steering and less fatigue on long drives. Another feature for less driving stress and towing trailers in the mountains is the standard exhaust brake on the diesel engine which came out with the new 6.7L Cummins in 2007. This allows less wear on your truck’s brakes, transmission and your nerves.
The interior on the 2010 Heavy Duties is from the 2009 Ram 1500, a big improvement over the plain plastic in the previous model. The cab is quieter with triple-sealed doors and lowered-door openings. Storage compartments are everywhere with rear floor storage, more door pockets and also a new center console with double layers and a double door glove box. This truck is also equipped with some cool options like remote start, backup camera, lift assist on the tailgate, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled front and rear seats and a SIRIUS Backseat TV with three channels.
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The bigger trailer mirrors with full convex spotter mirror is twice the size replacing the corner fish eye spotter mirror. I don’t know how you tow without spotter mirrors; they show you the little cars sneaking up on your passenger side and which mail box your trailer fenders wiped out turning into your yard.
Power Wagon is back and is amazing how much front axle articulation it has when the front anti-sway bar disconnects for off-roading. It comes equipped like a H1 Hummer with locking front differential, Warn winch, 2-inch lift and 4.56 axle ratio. The new triple sealed doors and tighter body on the 2010 Ram really comes across in taking the Power Wagon off-road. You don’t hear squeaking or wind when bouncing off rocks or diving into mud holes.
Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over 1 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 Web sites, helping folks find the “Right Truck.” If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his Web site, http://www.mrtruck.net.