Of the six diesel-powered trucks we tested, the Ram proved to be the best. With the improved ride quality mentioned above, a very capable engine well suited for towing, integrated brake controller, and the strongest exhaust brake available, the Ram had all the bells and whistles the other 3/4-ton trucks had-but for nearly $10,000 less.
For 2011, the Ram Heavy Duty diesel gets a sweeping package of upgrades and improvements to help it keep up in the red hot towing race between Ford and Chevrolet. While horsepower is always a top notch, with diesels, torque and towing capability are king.
Now boasting the ability to pull a 22,700-lb. trailer, the one-ton Ram 3500 Heavy Duty gets a power boost to its venerable 6.7-liter Cummins turbo-diesel engine increasing its torque to 800 lb.-ft. The power increase is combined with other upgrades that raise the Ram's gross combined weight rating (GCWR) to 30,000 lbs.
The power comes courtesy of new programming. A revised performance calibration allows what Chrysler now calls the "High-Output" 6.7-liter, six-cylinder Cummins Turbo Diesel to reach peak torque at 1,600 rpm and exceed the previous model's output from 1,200 through 2,800 rpm. While peak horsepower remains unchanged (350 @ 3,000 rpm), the engine's new calibration delivers more than 40 additional horsepower at typical highway cruising speeds.
Getting that power to the wheels is a new higher-rated torque converter to improve engine/transmission integration for better towing capability on grades and optimizes engine performance. In addition to the new PCM and torque converter, the 800 lb.-ft. High Output Cummins-powered Ram Heavy Duty trucks receive a new crankshaft damper, reducing engine noise and vibration (NVH).
On thing that sets this diesel apart from Ford and Chevrolet is that it meets 2010 EPA emissions regulations without the need for Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF). While many diesel car and truck owners have come accustomed to having to keep DEF on hand, it's nice not to have to worry about it.