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2012 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty Review

Ram Truck brand continues to build on the award-winning 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty lineup. Ram Truck and Cummins have developed an enhanced High Output Turbo Diesel offering an unsurpassed 800 lb.-ft. of torque.
2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo
Additionally Ram HD also has a Max Tow package option for the Ram 3500 with a 22,750-lb. maximum trailer weight and up to class-leading 30,000 lb. Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR).
2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo
“Ram Heavy Duty truck owners need pulling power – 79 percent of them rate towing as extremely important,” said Fred Diaz, President and CEO, Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico — Chrysler Group LLC. “Reliability and engine performance are tied for second – named as extremely important by 73 percent of owners. 800 lb.-ft. of torque combined with Ram Truck’s unsurpassed 5-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and Cummins’ proven reputation for reliability – are a direct response to our customers’ high expectations. We stand behind our commitment to build great trucks with best-in-class capabilities.”
2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo -2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo -
The 2012 Ram Truck is about capability, including powertrain, towing and payload capacities, driving dynamics, premium amenities and styling that truly make it the ultimate heavy-duty pickup truck.
2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo
Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty pickups incorporate some of the design cues from the Ram 1500. However, the Ram Heavy Duty pickup’s larger grille incorporates a taller hood that includes louvers on each side. Access to the front winch (on Power Wagon models) and tow hooks lead to a unique front-bumper design. The new dual-rear-wheel fenders (3500 dually only) are integrated into the box stamping and offer a smooth aerodynamic appearance.
The 2012 Ram Heavy Duty will be available in eight distinct trim levels – ST, SLT, Outdoorsman, Lone Star, Big Horn, Power Wagon, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn in the third quarter of 2011.
Ram’s heavy-duty share of the heavy-duty segment in 2011 (May 2011) was 27.7 percent. Within the Ram brand, Ram Heavy Duty is 33 percent of overall Ram truck sales. (Source: Polk)
The truck segment is still one of the largest segments in the industry, with just more than 1.1 million units sold in 2010.
On average, Ram Heavy Duty’s buyer is predominately male (90 percent) and approximately 52 years old. Eighty-one percent are married and earn an average annual income of $99,000. Forty-three percent have graduated from college. (Source: 2010 Strategic Vision NVES)
Fifty percent of heavy-duty truck buyers use their trucks for work, and 100 percent use their trucks for fun and leisure.
2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo
Ultimate Hauling and Towing Capability
The backbone of the 2012 Ram Heavy Duty pickup is a hydro-formed, fully boxed frame with advanced torsional rigidity and stiffness. A coil-spring suspension setup is used in the front of the vehicle, while the multi-leaf spring design is maintained in the rear for heavy-duty capability. Front and rear shocks and springs are tuned for optimum ride quality and capability.
Suspension upgrades and larger front-axle U-joints, combined with increased front gross axle weight rating (GAWR), result in increased front-weight carrying capability—a must for larger snowplows.
Towing capability is a strong suit of the new 2012 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups, with a standard exhaust brake (diesel-equipped models). This feature reduces brake fade, prolongs brake life and provides confidence and safety when hauling heavy loads on downhill grades. Large front (360 mm) and rear (358 mm) brakes with integrated Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) increase brake life and braking stability.
For 2012, SLT, Outdoorsman, Power Wagon and Laramie and Laramie Longhorn models feature a standard integrated trailer brake control to provide better driver control in towing situations. Trailer brake control information is conveniently displayed in the Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC), which is standard on all models.
2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo
In addition, Ram HDs feature Electronic Range Select, which enables the driver to manually limit the highest available transmission gear, allowing manual upshifts and downshifts based on road speed and engine speed. A tow/haul mode switch enhances tow capability while towing.
Other tow-friendly features include trailer-tow mirrors with integrated turn signals, memory function and puddle lamps. The 7-inch x 11-inch trailer-tow mirrors offer impressive visibility with larger convex glass surfaces. Mirrors flip up and out in a vertical configuration for greater visibility around wide trailers. Trailer-tow mirrors are standard on Ram 3500 models. As an added convenience, a Class IV receiver is standard on all Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty pickups.
Ultimate Powertrains
Ram HD trucks continue to be the only heavy-duty pickups to meet EPA emissions regulations without the need for Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF).
In terms of power, the 2012 Ram Heavy Duty tops the charts with the available, legendary 6.7-liter Cummins High Output Turbo Diesel engine, which produces 350 horsepower (261 kW) at 3,000 rpm and a class-leading 800 lb.-ft. of torque (1083 N•m) at only 1,500 rpm.
The most durable and reliable engine in its class, the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel features standard oil-change intervals of 7,500 miles.
2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo
Backing up the available 6.7-liter diesel engine is a choice of a standard, class-exclusive G56 6-speed manual transmission or an available 6-speed automatic transmission. The 6-speed manual has an ultra-low first-gear ratio, which makes it ideal for heavy-hauling requirements, while the 6-speed automatic offers ease of drivability and towing.
The other choice for 2012 Ram Heavy-Duty customers is the standard 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 gasoline engine, which delivers 383 horsepower (286 kW) at 5,600 rpm and 400 lb.-ft. of torque (542 N•m) at 4,000 rpm. The 5.7-liter HEMI features a host of new technologies, including:
Variable valve timing (VVT)
Increased compression ratio
Active intake manifold with long runners for low-end torque
and short runners for high-rpm power
Improved cylinder-head port-flow efficiency
Reduced-restriction exhaust and induction systems
The 5.7-liter HEMI comes standard with a new heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission. It offers Electronic Range Select and tow-haul capability, which provide a unique shift schedule that minimizes gear hunting while towing heavy loads. It also provides automatic downshift capability while decelerating.
2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo
Two 4x4 transfer cases are available: the NV 271, a manual unit standard on ST and Power Wagon models; and the NV273, an electric shift-on-the-fly transfer case, standard on remaining models.
A choice of four axle ratios are available on new 2012 Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty pickups, depending on equipment level: 3.42, 3.73, 4.10 or 4.56.
Ultimate Off-Road Capability
The Ram Power Wagon returns for the 2012 model year. Power Wagon features additional ground clearance, electric-locking front and rear differentials, electronic disconnecting sway bar, Bilstein shocks, 33-inch BF Goodrich off-road tires, underbody skid plate protection, a 4.56 axle ratio for hill climbing and a custom-built Warn® 12,000-lb. winch that is accessible through the front bumper. The Ram Power Wagon features bold exterior graphics and a lower body two-tone paint scheme.
Power Wagon is equipped with features that are useful in extreme duty environments such as oil fields, border patrol, logging industry and emergency support, which validates its off-road, rugged DNA for personal and recreational use.
Ride Comfort
Suspension tuning and fluid-filled hydromounts improve damping through the frame-bending mode frequency in order to better manage shake and after-shake response. The result is reduced shake and improved ride.
2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo
Twenty-eight safety and security features
Ram employs a two-fold approach to safety: passive safety features, including pretensioning and load-limiting seat belt retractors and active safety features, including responsive steering, handling and braking.
Following are 28 safety and security features available on new 2012 Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty pickups:
Anti-lock brake system (ABS): Senses and prevents wheel lockup, offering improved steering control under extreme braking and/or slippery conditions
Advanced multi-stage air bags: Use either an Occupant Classification System or a low-risk deployment air bag for the front passenger
BeltAlert: Periodically activates a chime and illuminates an icon in the instrument cluster to remind the driver and front passenger to buckle up if a vehicle is driven without the driver being properly belted
Brake/Park interlock: Prevents an automatic transmission or transaxle from being shifted out of Park unless the brake pedal is applied
Child-protection rear door locks: Disable the rear doors’ inside-release handle via a small lever on the door-shut face
Constant-force retractors (CFR): Distribute force or load exerted on a seat belt and then gradually release the seat belt webbing in a controlled manner
Crumple zones: Designed to compress during an accident in order to absorb energy from an impact, decreasing transfer of that energy to occupants
Electronic brake-force distribution: Adjusts braking pressure front to rear based on weight distribution of passengers and cargo to minimize brake dive during hard braking
Electronic stability control (ESC): Enhances driver control and helps maintain directional stability under all conditions. Provides the greatest benefit in critical driving situations such as turns, and is especially valuable when driving on mixed surface conditions including snow, ice or gravel. If there's a discernible difference between what the driver directs through the steering wheel and the vehicle's path, ESC applies selective braking and throttle input in order to put the vehicle back onto the driver's intended path
Energy-absorbing steering column: The manual-adjust steering column utilizes two hydoformed coaxial tubes that move relative to each other in order to allow the column to move forward for enhanced energy absorption during a crash. The power-adjust steering column employs a calibrated bending element that collapses during column stroke for optimal energy management
Enhanced Accident Response System (EARS): Makes it easier for emergency personnel to see and reach occupants in the event of an accident by turning on the interior lighting and unlocking doors after air bag deployment. Also shuts off the flow of fuel to the engine
Height-adjustable seat belts: Allow occupants to raise and lower the shoulder belt. Encourage seat-belt use by offering a more comfortable fit
Hill-start Assist (HSA): Assists drivers when starting a vehicle from a stop on a hill by maintaining the level of brake pressure applied for a short period of time after a driver’s foot is removed from the brake pedal. If throttle is not applied within a short period of time after the driver’s foot is removed from the brake pedal, brake pressure will be released
HomeLink universal home security system transceiver: Stores three separate transmitter radio-frequency codes to operate garage-door openers, security gates, security lighting or other radio-controlled devices
Interior head-impact protection: Interior pillars above the beltline and instrument panel, including areas around windshield and rear-window headers, roof and side-rail structures and shoulder-belt turning loops specifically designed to limit head-impact force
Knee bolsters: The lower instrument panel and the glove box door are designed to properly position the occupant, enabling air bags to work effectively
Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) Child Seat Anchor System: Designed to ease installation of compatible aftermarket child seats
Low-risk deployment air bag: Front-passenger air bag that uses unique shape, venting, folding patterns, advanced inflators or a combination of these four technologies to position and inflate the restraint properly for a belted passenger, while also meeting federal safety requirements for out-of-position, small occupants and rear-facing infant seats. Occupants are advised to always sit properly in their seats with the seat belt fastened. Children 12 years old and younger should always be seated in the back seat correctly using an infant or child restraint system or have the seat belt positioned correctly for their age and weight
Parksense® rear park assist system: Assists at low speeds in reverse to detect stationary objects. Consists of visible (interior lights seen with rearview mirror) and audible warnings for the driver
Power-adjustable pedals: Allows brake, accelerator and clutch (if equipped) pedals to move toward or away from the driver in order to achieve a safe and comfortable seating position for improved vehicle control
Remote keyless entry: Locks and unlocks doors, and turns on interior lamps. If the vehicle is equipped with a vehicle-theft security alarm, the remote also arms and disarms that system
Seat belt pretensioners: During a collision, the impact sensors initiate front seat belt pretensioners to immediately remove slack, thereby reducing the forward movement of the occupants’ heads and torsos
Sentry Key® engine immobilizer: Utilizes an engine key that has an embedded transponder with a pre-programmed security code to discourage vehicle theft. When the key is inserted into the ignition, the controller sends a random number to the transponder and the engine is allowed to start. If an incorrect key is used, the engine will shut off after a few seconds
Standard side-curtain air bags: Extend protection to all outboard front- and rear-seat passengers. Each side air bag has its own impact sensor in order to autonomously trigger the air bag on the side where an impact occurs
Three-point seat belts: Provide front outboard seating positions and all rear seating positions in the Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy-Duty pickups with lap and shoulder belts
Tire Pressure Monitoring (TPM): Informs driver when tire pressure is too low. SLT, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn systems display actual tire pressure at each wheel. Pressure-sensor modules within the valve stems of all four road wheels send continuous radio-frequency signals to a receiver and the system (2500 only)
Trailer-sway Control (TSC): Reduces trailer sway and improves handling in adverse towing conditions caused by crosswinds and traffic. The system monitors the vehicle’s movement relative to the driver’s intended path, then applies alternating brake pressure to slow the vehicle and then increases the pressure on one front wheel in order to counteract the sway induced by the trailer
Uconnect Phone: Uses Bluetooth technology to provide voice-controlled wireless communication between the occupants’ compatible mobile phone and the vehicle’s onboard receiver. The handsfree option promotes safety, freedom, value and flexibility
Bold Exterior Design
Ram Heavy Duty pickups carve out a unique design with styling differentiated from the Ram light-duty lineup.
To accommodate cooling requirements of the 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel engine (perennially the most popular powerplant in the Ram Heavy Duty lineup with a take-rate of 84% percent), the Ram Heavy-Duty grille opening is larger than the light-duty grille. The larger grille incorporates a taller hood that includes louvers on each side. Access to the front winch (on Power Wagon models) and tow hooks led to a unique front-bumper design.
The Ram Heavy Duty grille includes a chromed surround with either black center billets (ST, SLT, Outdoorsman and Power Wagon models) or chromed center billets (Laramie and Laramie Longhorn models and Big Horn and Lone Star editions). The grille is body-mounted, while the bumper is frame-mounted.
Front and rear doors follow the style pioneered by the Ram 1500–a design that places the door cut to the side of the truck, rather than into the roof, in order to reduce wind noise and weight.
The dual-rear-wheel fenders (3500 dually only) are integrated into the box stamping and offer a smooth aerodynamic appearance.
The tailgate is sculpted for air flow, incorporating a spoiler in the upper part of the sheet metal. This tailgate also accommodates an available back-up camera for convenient trailer hook-ups and includes a lift-assist feature that makes raising and lowering a one-hand operation. Standard bedrail protection is included with both the 6-foot, 4-inch and 8-foot cargo boxes. The boxes feature bedrail caps that protect sheet metal from dents and scratching.
Interiors: Ultimate Comfort, Convenience and Appearance
Inside, the new 2012 Ram Heavy Duty offers abundant amenities, comfort and convenience. Many of the comfort and convenience features were first pioneered with the Ram 1500.
Interior appointments include soft-feel door bolsters and armrests and one-piece molded door panels for premium comfort. Seats are redesigned with improved power lumbar and lateral support, which creates a comfortable cabin on even the longest workdays. Six-ring instrumentation keeps track of vehicle functions, while many controls are arrayed in the center stack for easy access to buttons and knobs.
Other available features include two-tone upholstery with full-width contrasting stitching on the instrument panel; premium seating with heat and ventilation; heated rear seats; heated steering wheel; automatic temperature control; two-tone upholstery; memory seats, radio and mirrors; navigation; adjustable pedals and numerous infotainment options, including Uconnect Multimedia with a 30-gigabyte hard drive and an available first-in-segment 10-speaker surround-sound system.
Storage is top-of-mind with many work- and leisure-oriented customers, and Ram provides many more storage locations in its new 2012 Ram Heavy Duty pickups.
An available center console features an upper bin that is large enough to hold a laptop computer (with an accessible power outlet) and a lower bin that accommodates hanging files. In addition, the console offers several other storage compartments—room enough to store business tools and personal items.
Additional storage locations are built into the instrument panel, front and rear door panels, seat backs and even the floor. In the crew-size cab, two in-floor bins located in the rear footwells offer storage enough for 10 12-ounce cans. Bins have removable liners for easy cleanout. Upper and lower glove boxes provide a total of more than 800 cubic inches of storage.
The Ultimate Cab – Mega Cab
The 2012 Ram 2500 and 3500 Mega Cab models retain their title of best-in-class interior room in the segment, including:
Largest, longest cab (143.2 cubic feet, 111.1 inches long) total interior volume =142.6 cu.ft.
Largest interior cargo volume (72.2 cubic feet) cargo volume behind 1st row with 2nd row stored= 69.3 cu.ft.
Largest cargo volume behind rear seat (7.7 cubic feet) behind rear seat storage = 12.1 cu.ft.
Largest flat-floor load area (16.8 square feet) load floor 17.1 sq.ft.
Largest second-row leg room (44.2 inches) rear leg room = 43.3 in.
Largest rear-door opening (34.5 inches wide, 35.5 inches high)
Largest rear-door open angle (85 degrees)
First-ever reclining rear seats (22- to 37-degree seat-back angle)
Saltillo Assembly Plant
2012 Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty pickups are built at Chrysler Group LLC’s Saltillo Assembly Plant in Coahuila, Mexico. One of the company’s most flexible plants, the Saltillo plant produces the Ram 1500 regular cab, the Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty and Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs.
The manufacturing processes in use at the Saltillo facility provide the ability to balance production with demand and enable the plant to efficiently build low-volume vehicles that take advantage of market niches. As needed, the plant can quickly shift production volumes between different models within a single plant or among multiple plants. This not only allows the company to produce a high-quality product, but also to do so faster and at lower cost.
2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo2012 Dodge Ram 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty photo
Production of Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty pickups is enabled by the Saltillo plant’s recent expansion, which allows the facility to manage the added complexity of Ram Heavy Duty pickups’ chassis and suspensions, including two chassis lengths, regular, crew-size cab and Mega Cab versions, 4x2 and 4x4 variants, and single- and dual-rear-wheel models.
The Saltillo Assembly Plant has more than 1,700 employees on two shifts and is one of five Chrysler Group LLC manufacturing facilities in Mexico.

At a glance

Choice of legendary diesel- and gasoline-fueled powerplants
Available 6.7-liter Cummins® High Output Turbo Diesel automatic produces 350 horsepower (261 kW) at 3,000 rpm and 800 lb.-ft. of torque (1083 N•m)
The 6.7-liter meets the most stringent of 50-state emission requirements without diesel exhaust fluid - a class exclusive - and includes a standard exhaust brake (diesel models only)
Standard 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 delivers 383 horsepower (286 kW) at 5,600 rpm and 400 lb.-ft. of torque (542 N•m) and features variable-valve timing for greater efficiency and performance
New six-speed automatic transmission on HEMI-powered HD models
Standard electronic stability control (ESC) on single rear wheel models
Standard electronic trailer brake controller on SLT, Outdoorsman, Power Wagon, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn
New steering wheel with finger controls
New black front end on ST (Black grille, black front and rear bumper)
Ram 3500 Max Tow package features 22,750-lb. maximum trailer weight and up to 30,000 lb. Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)
Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) increases to 9,600 pounds from 9,000 pounds, a 600 lb. increase on crew cab and Mega Cab 4x4 models equipped with the Cummins Turbo Diesel engine
Tire pressure monitoring (TPM) system standard on Ram 2500
Unsurpassed powertrain limited warranty: 5 years/100,000 miles
Available premium front seats with heat and ventilation; heated rear seats; heated steering wheel; automatic temperature control; two-tone upholstery; memory seats, radio and mirrors; navigation; adjustable pedals and numerous infotainment options, including SIRIUS Backseat TV™ with three channels of programming, Uconnect® Multimedia with a 30-gigabyte hard drive and an available first-in-segment 10-speaker surround-sound system
Numerous storage options, including in-floor storage
Offered in three cab styles (regular cab, crew cab and Mega Cab) and two cargo-box sizes (6 feet 4 inches and 8 feet), single-and dual-rear-wheel configurations
Available in eight distinct trim levels – ST, SLT, Outdoorsman, Lone Star, Big Horn, Power Wagon, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn
Exterior styling differentiates light-duty and heavy-duty models with unique grille, hood, wheels, badges, and bumpers
More than 20 safety and security features available
B20 package available to fleet customers only


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